Apply a solid crop sciences background to become a data scientist

The knowledge I gained during my undergraduate time in Crop Sciences allowed me to pursue a career in data science. As a data scientist at the John Deere Technology Innovation Center at the University of Illinois Research Park, my team encounters a variety of data in the company. This could include machine data, social media data, and crop data. Because we are in the agriculture industry, domain knowledge is an important factor for the company’s success. As a Crop Sciences alumna with a concentration in Plant Biotechnology & Molecular Biology, I learned about the entire farming process from how to run experiments at the DNA-level to how farming machinery works in the field. When working on projects with my team, having a deeper understanding of the data not just from a numbers point of view but from a practical point of view as well, increases my ability to provide more innovative analyses and derive more practical insights. 

The foundation I built in Crop Sciences provided me a stepping stone to earning my Ph.D. in Informatics, also at the University of Illinois. I was able to take my agronomic knowledge and combine it with technology, by discovering how areas like data science could benefit the agriculture industry. This led to my part-time student work at John Deere and eventually a dissertation focused on social media and agriculture. I really enjoyed my time in Crop Sciences and there are so many different directions it can take you.