datascience@berkeley Students Respond to Making a Difference in Data Science

The opportunities to utilize data science skills are virtually endless. The backgrounds and interests of the students working toward a Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) degree in the datascience@berkeley program are varied across many industries, so we decided to ask our students the following question:

How do you hope to make a difference in the data science field going forward?

“For some context, I’m currently a user experience (UX) researcher, and my background before the MIDS program was in qualitative research. I joined the program because I’m determined to find new and interesting ways for data science and user experience/design thinking to play off each other. In the realm of customer research, I feel like we’ve hit a plateau. Each discipline recognizes the need and value of the other, but they still act mostly independently. We can do better. I’m inspired by this case study [Design Thinking and Data Science] documenting a partnership between IDEO and Datascope Analytics, where each company tried to use the best practices from the other to tell the customer’s story in a new and interesting way. The results are compelling, but for me, it’s just the tip of the iceberg — I see each organization as having the potential to help the other develop the way it understands its customers. For now, I’m thrilled to be on a team that indulges me while I explore this rich intersection of data science and design thinking. But longer term, I hope to bring some fresh ideas to how data scientists and UX researchers understand their customers through a stronger interdisciplinary partnership.” – Sam Zaiss, datascience@berkeley Graduate

 “I want to apply data science to medical research. There are few people with a combination of clinical knowledge and an understanding of big data. I hope to be a leader in applying the skills I gain from the MIDS program to health care.” – Nihar Patel, datascience@berkeley Graduate

 “I hope to help people and organizations become smarter about how they use data science in their strategies and decision making and I hope to help them try to apply data science to less traditional areas or industries. I hope to have a more strategic and holistic impact rather than focusing on a particular technical skill.”  – Elizabeth Peters, datascience@berkeley Graduate

 “Right now, by necessity, data scientists are focused on technical challenges — acquiring, storing, and analyzing large-scale data takes a lot of time and effort. Going forward, I hope I can use my researcher’s perspective to help shift the focus from just dealing with Extract Transform Load processes to asking the important questions and finding the answers. Sure, we’ll still have to do all that low-level work, which admittedly I really enjoy, but as the tools develop and the field matures, I hope that we as a community put more emphasis on what matters: the creation of new knowledge. Luckily, the MIDS program shares this perspective and helps us as students develop our research and critical thinking skills, in addition to all of the technical coursework.” – Carson Forter, datascience@berkeley Student

Want to learn more about the datascience@berkeley student body? View our class profile.