CDS Graduate Student Community Building Group Hosts First Neural Networking Event

The CDS Graduate Student Community Building Group (GSCBG) recently held the first ever Neural Networking event for our graduate students and alumni last month on April 15, 2022. The event was facilitated by GSCBG President, Sarvesh Patki. Event speakers included CDS PhD student, Omar Mahmood, CDS alum, Yash Deshpande, and industry professional and Lead Data Scientist at Revelio Labs, Dan Firester.

The first speaker, Omar Mahmood, is a four-year PhD student at CDS. His research focuses on graphical neural networks and biological network inference. Omar’s portion of the discussion focused on his experience as a student, how he initially became interested in data science, and what he potentially plans to do next following the completion of his PhD. Audience members posed a number of hot-topic questions during Omar’s segment that he was able to expound in his responses upon such as: What is the typical day as a PhD student? What are the pros and cons of entering the industry job market with a PhD? At what point did you decide to go into academia vs industry?

Yash Deshpande, the second speaker, graduated from our MS program in 2020. In his talk, Yash discussed his current role as a Machine Learning Engineer at healthcare startup, Fresenius Medical Care North America, and also gave tactical career advice on searching and interviewing for roles. One crucial point Yash made was the importance of being prepared for job interviews. This sounds like common sense but Yash’s breakdown of the benefit of having prepared answers for interview questions was quite useful. For example, a question might be: describe an instance when data helped you drive a business decision — having a practiced answer ready is helpful even though you’ll have to adapt it depending on the particular interview scenario. (Fun fact: Yash was featured on the CDS Admissions Podcast back in 2019 — you can check out his episode to hear his thoughts on the CDS admissions process.)

The final speaker was Daniel Firester, who is spearheading data science efforts at Revelio Labs, a tech startup that builds tools to help companies better understand their respective workforce. Dan covered a bit about his background and his current focuses at the company. Ultimately, he was tasked with working on bias correction models to better understand why people make career changes. Is it because employees want a higher-level position? Is it to impress other prospective employers or even their peers? During his overview on the company, Dan made one specific point that stood out. He highlighted how much he realized during his time at Revelio Labs the level of impact that can be made working in industry versus in academia. In the academic world, work may be done that is not immediately affecting the real-world whereas in industry, data scientists have the ability to directly influence company decisions.

Ultimately, it was an informative inaugural event, hopefully the first of many to come. To watch the event in its entirety, please visit the CDS Neural Networking Panopto Recording. For more information on GSCBG, please visit our Student Groups webpage.

By Ashley C. McDonald




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