Indian-American named first US chief data scientist

Washington, PTI | Updated : 20 February 2015, 11:31 PM

A 45-year-old Indian-American has been named the first chief data scientist by the White House to shape policies and practices that will help the US remain a leader in technology and innovation.

Dhanurjay ‘DJ’ Patil joins the White House following “an incredible career as a data scientist a term he helped coin in the public and private sectors, and in academia,” said Megan Smith, chief technology officer, the White House.

He would also be the Deputy Chief Technology Officer.

As chief data scientist, Patil will help shape policies and practices to help the US remain a leader in technology and innovation, Smith said.

Patil was named to the coveted position, in a move reflecting the growing prominence of big data as both a buzzword and a useful instrument in the management toolbox, said The Wall Street Journal.

He will help foster ties to help responsibly maximize the nation’s return on its investment in data, and help to recruit and retain the best minds in data science to join us in serving the public, Smith added.

Patil will also work on the Obama administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which focuses on utilising advances in data and healthcare to provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients, while protecting patient privacy.

In a memorandum to the American people, Patil said his role as chief data scientist will be to responsibly source, process, and leverage data in a timely fashion to enable transparency, provide security, and foster innovation for the benefit of the American public.

“Data will continue to transform the way we live and work,” Patil said.

Most recently, Patil served as the vice president of product at RelateIQ, which was acquired by Salesforce.

He has previously held positions at LinkedIn, Greylock Partners, Skype, PayPal, and eBay.

Prior to his stint in the private sector, Patil worked at Department of Defence, where he directed efforts to bridge computational and social sciences in fields like social network analysis to help anticipate new threats to the US.

As a doctoral student and faculty member at the University of Maryland, Patil used open datasets published by NOAA to make major improvements in numerical weather forecasting.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from University of California, San Diego, and a PhD in applied mathematics from University of Maryland College Park.

He has authored a number of articles and books explaining the important current and potential applications of data science.

First Published: Friday, February 20, 2015 10:40 PM
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