Blog / Friday, 30 November, 2018

An exciting year ahead for the Data Science Society



Driven by our founding mission to help bridge the gap between university and industry, the Data Science Society will continue to create an inclusive environment for our members and partners to learn and network. This first term of 2018/2019 has been busier and more successful than ever, and we have plenty more in the pipeline for 2019.

In September, we launched our brand new website; and expanded our committee team to help us to deliver even more and increasingly diverse workshops, seminars and events. We began by hosting a welcome event attended by 230 keen, data science enthusiasts from across the university. This led to a surge of new members from a diverse range of backgrounds, each bringing an array of different experience and expertise. Since then, we have hosted (often bi-) weekly events, from technical training to professional development opportunities and presentations from guest speakers.

These have included an Introduction to Data Science, led by our very own President Lisa Johnson-Davies who defined what data science is and what it means to be a Data Scientist, before offering an opportunity to interactively employ the techniques discussed in a practical data exploration. Lisa also ran a 3-week Python series aimed at introducing newcomers to coding through three sessions covering:

• The Fundamentals of Python
• Pandas and Exploratory Data Analysis
• Data Visualisation using Matplotlib.

Sarah Gadd and Verity Tether then ran a beginners R workshop with a Halloween theme which saw members put their new skills to the test by simulating data to graph cute pumpkins.

We have also been working closely with many commercial partners this term, including Tableau, who held an introductory session demonstrating the importance of good data visualisation for better exploring data. This was supported by who discussed the adoption of Tableau across their business, and the shift this has created to open up data analysis to broader areas of the business.

Our founder Lawrence Ning Lu also shared his advice for developing an impressive CV and gathering extra-curricular skills and expertise to stand out from the applicant crowd in an interview process. Chahana Subbaiah took 150 of our members to an members-only meet-and-greet at KPMG’s Leeds office.

We have also welcomed guest talks from academic speakers, including Professor Alison Heppenstall, who shared her work looking at practical and theoretical applications of spatio-temporal data, giving us a preview of future potential projects and an insight into life as an academic researcher.

Finally, building upon the society’s success over the past two years taking part in the Hiscox team data challenge, and our own challenge in partnership with Trivago in June (which saw our three winners accompany our founder Lawrence Ning Lu to the Trivago head offices in Germany this month) we have this year launched our own series of data challenges. Our first is currently underway. Five brave teams are fervently battling it out to provide the best solution to a dental themed task led by Sarah Gadd. Who will the judges crown our first Leeds Data Science Society Data Challenge winners?

We’ve got plenty to look forward to as well, we’ll be welcoming speakers from various Civil Service Departments, running a machine-learning Python workshop and setting off this year’s second data challenge next semester. We’ll also be running a wintery mini-challenge this December on twitter too – just keep your eyes on our feed to take part!