A few months ago I was chatting with a friend, who is pregnant, about a new newsletter she was enjoying. She told me how Brown University Economics Professor Emily Oster has written a lot about her experiences with pregnancy and parenthood, and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, through the lens of data transparency. Though these particular topics have been the emphases of her most recent work, she argues that lessons learned can be applied to all areas of medical interactions.

As someone who has had plenty of experience with medical professionals, recommendations, and diagnoses, I was intrigued. Oster’s main thesis…

Loops were probably the first thing I learned as a new coder that made me feel like I was really starting to get — and like — this coding thing. It was complex enough that I felt like I was really learning something new, understandable enough that I really felt like I got it, and useful enough that I knew I was learning something I would use throughout my career. Loops were (and still are) one of my best coding friends, so imagine my dismay when I learned about the several other techniques that out-perform them. But being a…

The first thing I learned as a data science bootcamp student was how to use Git and GitHub. And then I cried. Working off of the anxiety I felt starting this daunting program, I had done prep work on Python, statistics, linear algebra, basic model-building, and more, but on Day 1 we were learning something I’d literally never seen before. This certainly didn’t help with said anxiety.

Since then, I’ve figured out enough about GitHub to get by, and thankfully I haven’t cried over it again, but there is still plenty that trips me up about it. Some frustration…

Years ago, this pre-data-scientist was a college student and pre-veterinarian. I may not remember anything about the molecular biology pre-requisite courses that ended up being for naught once I decided to switch tracks, but one class that does stick with me was the one in which I conducted animal behavioral research at the Saint Louis Zoo. Over a two-month period I spent 40 hours observing Tembo and Haji, the two spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) in captivity at the zoo.

Group of spotted hyena cubs
Group of spotted hyena cubs
They get a bad rap, but look how cute!

Background

I could write an entire blog post about the biology and social structures of spotted hyenas, but this is a…

Davida Rosenstrauch

Former museum professional, future data scientist

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