Taking on Data Science with Mathematics: Alumni Spotlight on Brian Munson

Brian was a Fellow in our Winter 2017 cohort who landed a job with Quantworks.

Tell us about your background. How did it set you up to be a great Data Scientist?

I was a research mathematician and professor before deciding on a career change. Having a deep knowledge of math really helps me understand how things work, whether it is the theoretical ideas behind fancy algorithms or reading a piece of code and deciphering what it does.

What do you think you got out of The Data Incubator?

Confidence in my code-writing ability. A polished resume and an important talking point with employers in my capstone project.

What advice would you give to someone who is applying for The Data Incubator, particularly someone with your background?

Do a real-life project, and develop an app from the ground up to prove you can contribute at all levels of software implementation, from thinking about data storage solutions to data analytics tools for processing all the way to the UI. All of it’s important, and you need an example of what product development looks like.

What is your favorite thing you learned at The Data Incubator?

The most enjoyable week for me was learning Scala while doing a project with Spark. Learning a new language can be slow and frustrating, but it is totally worth the perspective you gain on the languages you already know. I also enjoyed the coding challenges for getting me to think more seriously about things like computational complexity.

Could you tell us about your Data Incubator Capstone project?

I created a web app for processing and visualizing streaming tweets. A top-ten list of hashtags doesn’t tell you about interrelationships between topics, so I built something to detect more subtle relationships between tweets with differing hashtags. I was able to uncover a spambot network on Twitter by identifying an anomalous piece of a visualization of data from the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

And lastly, tell us about your new job!

I just joined Quantworks as a Senior Modeler. I will be developing and coding mathematical models in support of analytics projects for our clients and partners.

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