Datacast Episode 15: Thoughts on Data Science from the perspective of a behavioral scientist with Nick Gaylord

Datacast’s 15th episode is my conversation with Nick Gaylord, currently a Senior Data Science Manager at Johnson and Johnson’s Health Technology. Give a listen to learn about his experience working in the Bay Area in the last 6 years, his transition from studying Linguistics to being a data scientist in the industry, and his advice for graduate students looking to make similar jumps.

Nick Gaylord has worked as a data scientist in the Bay Area for about the last 5 years. Currently, he’s a member of the Johnson & Johnson Health Technology team, and prior to that, he has worked in different fields ranging from small business revenue analytics to enterprise machine-learning-as-a-service platforms. Like many data scientists, he started out as an academic before transitioning to industry, in his case earning a Ph.D. in Psycholinguistics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013.


Show Notes

  • (2:06) Nick talked about earning his Ph.D. degree in Psycho-Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin.

  • (3:58) Nick discussed his Ph.D. dissertation, in which he looked at the role of domain-general decision making processes in human language comprehension.

  • (8:41) Nick talked about his teaching experience in graduate school, as well as why UT-Austin is a perfect place to study linguistics.

  • (12:29) Nick delved into his first job out of school as a Linguistic Associate at Lexicon Branding, a world’s premier naming agency with over 30 years of experience in the business

  • (14:50) Nick talked about his next role as a Data Scientist at Idibon, a dated AI-startup based in Silicon Valley that helped companies understand their language data.

  • (18:55) Nick mentioned his next job as a Senior Data Scientist at CrowdFlower (now known as Figure Eight), a human-in-the-loop ML and AI company based in San Francisco.

  • (23:19) Nick talked about his next Senior Data Scientist role — working on Engagement Lead at Change Healthcare, a healthcare technology company that offers software, analytics, network solutions, and technology-enabled services to help create a stronger, more collaborative healthcare system.

  • (26:28) Nick discussed his transition to become a Senior Data Scientist at Womply, a SaaS-based software that is powered by transaction and online review data for millions of small businesses.

  • (30:08) Nick talked about his current role as a Senior Manager in the Data Science department at Johnson & Johnson’s Health Technology group and shared the challenges of putting AI/ML algorithms into production in the healthcare domain.

  • (34:11) Nick shared his narrative of being a person who can facilitate communication between technical and nontechnical teams in the blog post “Drinks with a businessman” (with an anecdote including his grandfather).

  • (39:27) In reference to “A few thoughts on ML from the perspective of a behavioral scientist,” Nick shared his advice for data scientists who want to develop the core skills including being able to generate and test hypotheses, to think critically about unfamiliar data, and to gauge how much you trust your result.

  • (41:37) Nick shared his findings in his 3-part blog series title “Being a grad student is a lot like being a startup” (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).

  • (46:21) In reference to “Data science — the way I see it,” Nick talked about the methodological side of data science.

  • (49:05) Nick discussed how graduate students can leverage their skills to qualify for an industry role.

  • (52:17) Nick reflected on his efforts to stay active in academia while holding an industry job.

  • (54:09) Closing segment.

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