Data Science Masters

June 19, 2020

Incoming Student Profile: Meet Alison Gale

Hi Alison! Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in Virginia in a suburb of DC. I majored in Computer Science at Brown University, but outside of my major, I was very interested in Math and Economics. During my final semester, I took an Intro to Data Science class which helped spark an interest in the field. Outside of school and work, I really enjoy being outdoors so I can often be found hiking, running, or playing soccer.

Tell us about your professional background to date.

After graduating in 2014, I moved to Seattle to work as a software engineer at Google. On my first team, I worked on a product that was then called DoubleClick Search, but has since been rebranded to Google Marketing Platform. I focused on developing a suite of chart building tools that enabled customers to create reports detailing key metrics of their ad campaigns. This was my first professional exposure to the power of analyzing and visualizing large sets of data, and I really enjoyed learning about what features our customers needed to better understand their datasets.

Currently I’m working on Google Cloud, focusing on frontend development. Initially I worked on the user interface, but more recently I’ve been focusing on front end infrastructure. This includes things like how our app initializes, handling navigation between pages, and supporting migrations to the latest technologies. The main goal of my work is to improve the reliability and performance of the application.

What made you decide to become a data scientist?

Throughout my professional career, I kept finding myself drawn towards projects that involve analyzing and visualizing data. On my current team, I’ve driven many efforts to analyze the performance of our application. Identifying the slow parts of the application will allow us to focus our efforts to improve performance. Becoming a data scientist will provide me with more tools to analyze and improve performance for our end users.

Outside of work, I’m a big fan of women’s soccer. While there is extensive analysis of the men’s game, there is a lack of coverage and analysis of women’s soccer data. It would be awesome to apply data science techniques to analyze and visualize women’s soccer data.

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

I was attracted to the fact that the program has a part-time option while still being an in-person program. I’m really looking forward to taking what I learn in classes and applying it to problems I’m facing at work. Additionally, the program puts a lot of work into keeping the content and curriculum relevant for work in industry. The special topics classes and capstone project sound like great ways to engage with industry professionals and learn practical skills.

What aspects of the program are you most looking forward to this fall?

It has been a while since I’ve been in school so I’m looking forward to being in an academic environment again. I loved math in college but I haven’t worked with it much in the last six years so I’m looking forward to diving back into topics like probability and statistics.