#75 Why We Need More Women Working in Data Science with Amy Daali, Ph.D. – Founder & CEO

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Amy is an Engineer and a multidisciplinary Data Scientist at USAA. She received her B.E degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas. Amy is an active promoter for women in STEM and enjoys teaching & organizing community events to increase women's visibility in the field. She previously served as the Women in Data Science Ambassador (WiDS) for the Global Women in Data Science group at Stanford University. She also founded San Antonio Data Science Meetup in 2016. 

Amy began her career at Southwest Research Institute as an Engineer, where she implemented various frequency estimation and tracking methods using Fast Fourier Transform techniques. After completing her Ph.D., she worked as a Postdoctoral fellow at the UT Health Science Center where she developed algorithms to extract insights and evidence into the effectiveness of a new drug using Advanced Image Processing Techniques. 

In this episode, Amy explains how she has always been curious about infinite intelligence. Currently, Amy is the CEO and Founder of Lucea AI - a Healthcare Analytics Consultancy that is passionate about solving challenging problems to benefit society. They accelerate your competitive edge, one algorithm at a time. The healthcare space is lacking artificial intelligence; Amy wants to offer all the help that she can. Amy believes in building communities; you cannot create good work by yourself. 

Then, Amy explains how her Ph.D. changed her entire future; she was not prepared for the amount of work it was going to be. It changed the way she finds problems, solutions, and accepts criticism. To graduate with a Ph.D., you need to create something no one has thought of before. Amy always says that if you can get a Ph.D., you can do anything. Her dad encouraged her to finish her degree; he would always remind her why she started it in the first place. Amy explains how her passion has kept her motivated.

Two years after getting her Ph.D., Amy realized she missed the collaboration and pace of the industry. Academia was slow-paced and included a lot of individualized work. As a consultant, you can learn so much more and at a faster rate. Another thing that is important to Amy is impacting society. She doesn’t want her skills to be used for entertainment purposes. After having kids, Amy became interested in the healthcare world. Being a mom made her a more compassionate person. We can use technology to better the diagnosis of patients; Amy’s first dataset she worked on was detecting breast cancer in women. 

Lastly, Amy explains what it’s like being a female in the data space. She doesn’t think she has been discriminated against; if something weren’t right, she would confront it. However, Amy does realize it is a lonely journey as a woman. She may only see one or two other females in the workplace. Women are scared of the word AI because when they attend data events, it is always men. Amy encourages women to join the world of AI – there are so many opportunities for them in this space. This is why Amy started the San Antonio Women in Machine Learning & Data Science Meetup. Stay tuned to hear how Amy keeps a work/life balance, what she’s most proud of in her career, and advice for aspiring data scientists. 

Enjoy the show!


We speak about:

  • [02:55] How Amy started in the world of data

  • [05:40] Amy’s professional background   

  • [07:40] Amy’s Ph.D. changed everything 

  • [13:00] Deciding to become an entrepreneur  

  • [17:45] Having kids inspired Amy to work in healthcare 

  • [25:20] Amy’s passion has kept her motivated 

  • [27:50] Being a female in the data space 

  • [35:40] About the Women in Data Science Meetup 

  • [42:00] Having a work/life balance 

  • [44:25] What Amy is most proud of in her career 

  • [49:30] Amy’s advice for aspiring data scientists 

Resources:

Amy’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amywdaali/
Amy’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/wdaali999?lang=en

Lucea AI LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/lucea-ai/about/

Lucea AI Website: https://www.lucea-ai.com

Women in Data Science: https://www.widsconference.org/ambassadors-2018.html

San Antonio Women in Machine Learning & Data Science: https://www.meetup.com/San-Antonio-Women-in-Machine-Learning-and-Data-Science/events/

IEEE Smart City Summit: https://attend.ieee.org/scs-2019/speakers/

Quotes:

  • “Data has the ability to help a lot of people.”

  • “If you can do a Ph.D., you can do anything.”

  • “I love the fast pace of the industry.”

  • “You don’t need a PhD to be a data scientist.”


Thank you to our sponsors:

UNSW Master of Data Science Online: studyonline.unsw.edu.au

Datasource Services: datasourceservices.com.au or email Will Howard on will@datasourceservices.com.au

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Amy Daali is based in San Antonio, Texas, USA.


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