Introducing Leigh Phan, Data Scientist

Leigh Phan recently began a new role in the UCLA Library’s Data Science Center as a full-time full-time data scientist. We asked Leigh a few questions about herself and her aspirations in this position.Leigh Phan standing in front of a plant wall

What goals/hopes do you have for this year as our new data scientist?
In this position, I most look forward to the opportunity to make data science accessible and understood to a wider range of participants. Data science, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) methods are ubiquitous and increasingly applied in our everyday lives, and it is essential to democratize knowledge of how these methods work and how our applications of data science affect society.

Based on my research support experiences in the past few years, there is growing interest in applying ML and AI methods to research. Whether an individual wants to better understand data science or is considering applying it to their work, one of my priorities is to make both the foundational knowledge and tools accessible and applicable in ethical ways.

How has your prior experience prepared you for this role at the UCLA Library?
My previous industry experience included working with large amounts of data on a global scale - from collection, to cleaning, to analyzing and visualizing - and involved regularly communicating technical processes to cross-functional collaborators and stakeholders. These experiences prepared me for my former role as data science facilitator in the Data Science Center, in which I taught workshops and supported UCLA students and researchers across a wide range of disciplines during various phases of their research.

What projects will you be tackling first?
This year, I hit the ground running by collaborating with UC Libraries to host the 2nd Annual UC-wide Love Data Week 2022, a week-long series of events and workshops about data. During Love Data Week, I led and co-organized the Data Ethics & Justice session, and I am currently planning a data ethics training program for local Carpentries instructors. In addition to consulting, I am examining ways our team can improve our consulting workflow.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to? and/or What do you like to do outside of work?
Whenever I can, I love to be outdoors, biking or hiking. Lately, I have also been watching classic and independent films I hadn’t seen before, particularly by international filmmakers, like Wong Kar-Wai. Since the Sundance Film Festival went virtual throughout the pandemic, it opened up the opportunity for many more to participate, and I really enjoyed seeing new releases and different styles and perspectives of storytelling.

We are delighted to have Leigh serving UCLA Scholarly Community. You can contact her at leighphan@library.ucla.edu.