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From PhD Astronomer to Data Scientist

30 Aug 2016, 15:00 UTC
From PhD Astronomer to Data Scientist
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Like so many other recent graduates I have decided to trade in research in academia for research in the tech industry.A few years ago, about half way into my PhD program, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after I graduated. Would I enter the nomadic post-doc life? Am I actually qualified to do anything else? It was at this time I took a class simply called Data Analysis in Astronomy. This class really opened my eyes to a multitude of tools such as: principal component analysis, k-mean clustering, and many other statistical techniques. We had to do a final group project where we developed a facial recognition routine using PCA. This was a fun assignment and really got me thinking about a career where these tools are used in an applied way like this.The other formative experience was listening to a talk by an astronomy professor/data scientist where he talked about some of the under appreciated results of statistical analysis. For example, he talked about how in Florida right before a hurricane, Targets/Wal-Marts were experiencing a huge spike in sales of a specific item, but it wasn't an obvious one. Not tissue paper, nor bread, nor eggs, nor ...

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