Data Science Masters

July 26, 2019

Incoming Student Profile: Meet Ruian Yang

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Ruian. I was born and raised in Zhengzhou, China. I moved to Seattle in 2012 and started my undergrad at UW majoring in Biochemistry. While working in a Biophysics lab during my third year, I developed interests in math and programming and decided to also pursue a minor in Applied Mathematics.

Tell us about your professional background to date.

I joined the Assay Development team at the Allen Institute for Cell Science after graduating from UW in 2016. The Allen Institute for Cell Science is a non-profit research institute, whose goal is to understand and predict cellular organization, behavior, and dynamics using human induced pluripotent stem cells. I started as a research associate mainly working on quality control and testing the gene-edited stem cell lines. The institute generates a large amount of imaging data. I was really attracted to the quantitative analyses one can perform with these data. I gradually transitioned my role in the team to the computational side and switched my title to scientific data engineer.

Currently my job at the institute mainly involves image processing, feature extraction and quantitively analyses for image-based assays of cell organization, dynamics, states, activities, and functions. I work with experimental biologists and image analysis experts to extract and interpret information from 3D fluorescent microscope images. We also work with other teams to build machine learning models to predict cellular structures and dynamics.

What made you decide to become a data scientist?

As a stem cell biology researcher, one the most exciting and challenging parts of my job is analyzing data quantitatively to decipher cellular organizations and behaviors. I would like to be able to identify important questions and apply data analytic tools to answer them. I would also like to be part of stem cell research community to help understanding fundamental questions in cell biology. In the future, I hope to use my knowledge as a data scientist to expand the research to other cell types and include more conditions to gain insights about how cells function as individuals as well as in groups. My dream is to then learn how the underlying mechanisms can be used to help people suffering from cellular diseases.

What attracted you to the Master of Science in Data Science program at the University of Washington?

I am intrigued by the multidisciplinary aspect of the program as well as the wide variety of courses available, both theoretical and applied. As my next step of training, I believe that this program will better equip me with the skills and resources needed to develop statistical methods to analyze data.

I also appreciate the evening classes, which allow me to work at the same time and apply what I learn in school directly to work.

What do you like most about living in Seattle?

I have been living in Seattle for seven years and I’m glad to be able to stay here. The Pacific Northwest is just so beautiful and is a great place to get outdoors. Seattle is also a dynamic and fun place to live. It has so many good coffeeshops, restaurants, and bars for you to explore. I love seeing how the city is growing and developing. I’m excited for more changes and opportunities.