Six Leaders Who Are Revolutionizing Data Science

Six Leaders Who Are Revolutionizing Data ScienceWhat does it take to become a data science superstar? Meet six industry leaders who are revolutionizing the field of data science. From Silicon Valley to the corridors of Washington, D.C. – here’s a look at what makes these leaders stand out.

Yann LeCun, Director of AI Research at Facebook

Yann LeCun is the director of AI Research at Facebook, a division committed to raising the bar of machine intelligence through deriving knowledge from data – its theory, applications and infrastructure. An expert in machine learning and computational neuroscience, LeCun’s contributions in the areas of neural networks, computer vision and artificial intelligence are used in many products and services today.

LeCun is the founding director of the NYU Center for Data Science and was recently elected into the National Academy of Engineering. He holds a doctorate in computer science from Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris.

John Akred, Co-founder and CTO of Silicon Valley Data Science

John Akred knows how to bring together the tools of data science with techniques. He has more than 15 years’ experience in advanced analytical applications and architecture, with a focus on machine learning and predictive modeling.

Since 2013, Akred has been at the helm of Silicon Valley Data Science, a consulting company dedicated to helping organizations become more data-driven by unlocking the full potential of their big data.
“We bring a Silicon Valley approach to doing data science for our customers,” Akred said in an interview for the 2016 Apache Spark Maker Community Event. “We help them answer their strategic question of what should they do with data.”

Akred’s background includes a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in computer science specializing in distributed systems.

Carla Gentry, Founder of Analytical Solution

Carla Gentry is a data science veteran with more than 19 years in the trenches as a data scientist for Fortune 500 companies including Johnson & Johnson, Hershey, Disney, Firestone, Kraft and Kellogg’s. She recently joined Talent Analytics as a data scientist, to leverage predictive and workforce analytics for better hiring outcomes.

Gentry said in her LinkedIn profile, “You see ‘numbers,’ I see the future for great customer experiences. The possibilities that data mining, semantic and sentiment analysis can bring from structured and unstructured data is limitless; your data is the voice of the customer, are you paying attention? I know I am.”

Ranked in 2014 as one of the 10 big data pros to follow on Twitter, Gentry has a keen eye for industry trends. She holds multiple degrees in applied mathematics and economics from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Peter Norvig, Research Director at Google

Peter Norvig is research director at Google and co-author of “Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.” Norvig started his career as a research scientist before moving into senior roles and eventually spending three years with NASA as the head of its computational science division. He joined Google in 2001 and said he has “the best job in the world at the best company in the world.”

Norvig holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Brown University. His areas of interest include artificial intelligence, natural language processing and machine learning.

Hilary Mason, Founder and CEO of Fast Forward Labs

Native New Yorker Hilary Mason is a data scientist in residence at Accel Partners and the CEO of Fast Forward Labs, a machine intelligence research company advising companies on how to make the most of their data strategies with cutting-edge technologies and capabilities.

She describes herself on her eponymous site as an “enthusiastic member of the larger conspiracy to evolve the emerging discipline of data science,” and she enjoys giving talks to tech and non-tech audiences alike about the benefits of data, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Mason’s was previously chief scientist at Bitly; she is a co-founder of and co-host of DataGotham. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Grinnell College.

Philip Ashlock, Chief Architect of

Philip Ashlock is a future-facing technologist based in Washington D.C. and chief architect at, a U.S. government website which builds digital infrastructure to support government and civic development, with the goal of making high-value data sets available to the public.

Ashlock was responsible for the development of the Open311 standard, a collaborative model and open standard for better civic issue tracking. He is an alum of OpenPlans, a New York City-based civic technology organization. He earned a bachelor’s in art/design with a minor in computer science at Western Washington University.

Looking Forward

As organizations seek to make the most of their data, data scientists can look forward to a variety of exciting job opportunities in the years to come. Learn more about data science degree programs and explore the possibilities of a career in data science.