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Jason Rute

Lead Data Scientist, Ph.D.

What brought you to CIBO? 

“What attracted me to CIBO was the extra attention that both the science and engineering teams paid to their craft. At CIBO there was a strong culture of principled approaches, including functional programming, Bayesian statistics, science-based modeling, and solid software testing. The teams were highly collaborative, blending engineers, scientists, and data scientists together, which allowed me to combine my interests in both coding and data analysis.”

What inspired you to pursue a career in data science? 

“I’ve always enjoyed solving challenging problems. After earning a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, I went to work for a medical software company where I spent a lot of time helping customers track down bugs in the software. I later received a PhD in Mathematical Sciences at Carnegie Mellon on work combining probability theory and computation. After my postdoctoral work at Penn State, I decided to leave academia and pursue data science. It is a great fit for my background and allows me to solve challenging problems with real-world data.”

What is your favorite thing about being a data scientist? 

“I really enjoy problems that don’t have an immediate solution. In data science, one has to dig into the data, write code, make plots, ask questions, and just ponder. If one is fortunate, after all this work, the picture starts to clear up and one can begin to see what is really going on. It is this stage that I love. It’s the joy of discovery and getting to share that discovery with others.”

What is one thing that would surprise people about your field of work in data science? 

“Data science is much more than fancy algorithms and advanced tools. The majority of good data science is taking the time to carefully look at the data and understand what is going on. It’s great to do the fancy stuff but you also need to take the time to explore and think about simple plots and regressions.” 

What kinds of things do you think we should be doing to encourage more people to pursue a career in data science? 

“We need to encourage more underrepresented groups to explore data science and the STEM fields. While it’s important to learn the foundation of math, statistics, and programming, we should also emphasize the joy of discovery, exploration, and creating something new. For anyone interested in data science, I recommend that they find a topic that excites them and a corresponding data set. (There are so many free datasets out there.)  They should then take the time to explore the data, learning the tools as they go. (You know you are doing it right when you get so engrossed in your project that you forget to eat dinner.)”

What are your primary responsibilities at CIBO? 

“When I first joined CIBO, I helped code and design statistical algorithms. My role then transitioned as I led the project to infer management practices for our crop model. Now I manage the development of our proprietary productivity score and I’m responsible for producing our required deliverables on time. I work on both designing and analyzing our algorithm as well as coordinating with other teams to make sure we have all the needed data.”

What do you find the most rewarding about your work here?

“CIBO has a strong culture of collaboration and teamwork. I get to work with a number of very smart and talented individuals who are all willing to take the time to help each other out. Unlike data science roles at other Internet companies, my work is not focused on increasing marketing demand or click-through rates. Instead, we work on creating useful tools, such as our productivity scores, which increase transparency in the agricultural marketplace. It’s exciting to be at a startup where everything is new and moving fast, and where each of us is responsible for owning and executing on a significant portion of the company’s mission.”


About Jason Rute

Jason Rute is a Lead Data Scientist at CIBO, a science-driven software startup. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with a Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University. 

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