What led you to astronomy and how does it tie into your job at CIBO?
“In high school, I took a telescope out to my backyard and was hooked by looking at the stars. It seemed amazing to me that people were actually paid to stargaze. I decided I wanted to be one of those people!”
“My work in astronomy was always more observational in nature rather than theoretical. I would go to a telescope, observe an astronomical object, analyze the resulting data and publish my findings. What I enjoyed most was talking to other researchers about how my conclusions fit in (or did not fit in!) with their findings. I also enjoyed writing code to clean and analyze data. I engage in very similar activities at CIBO, spending the majority of my time cleaning and analyzing data, as well as sharing my conclusions with others on the team.”
What is your favorite thing about being a data scientist?
“The initial discovery phase is my favorite because you don’t know exactly what you’re going to find. It usually occurs after you have done the cleanup work that’s critical but not always the most exciting. This is where your key contribution will be — to figure out what’s important in the data. You find key insights that weren’t known before and you get to share them with others. What could be better than that!”
What is one thing that would surprise people about data science?
“The sheer amount of that effort must be expended on pre-processing and data cleaning. It almost always ends up being a majority of the time and effort when you tackle a new data science project.”
What brought you to CIBO?
“I was drawn to CIBO because I wanted to have a positive impact with my work. CIBO has a strong focus on changing the way we understand agriculture in a way that will be beneficial across many sectors of the agricultural economy. In addition, from a technical perspective, it was also appealing to me to learn Scala and to be expected to use Bayesian analysis techniques in my work.”
What are your primary responsibilities at CIBO?
“Right now, my task is to get our cotton model working smoothly across the country. I’m leading a small team and making sure that the work we are doing is aligned with the goals and needs of CIBO’s core product offering. I also make individual contributions to the team, primarily handling our data ingestion and model validation tasks.”
“In the past, I’ve worked on the remote sensing team and helped to make contributions to our proprietary CIBO reliability score.”
What do you find the most rewarding about your work here?
“It’s a combination of being intellectually stimulated and having a positive impact on the environment. Especially with the sustainability emphasis, I believe that we’re tackling challenging but tractable problems. My work has a positive impact on the world!”
About Shane Bussmann
Shane Bussmann is a Senior Data Scientist at CIBO, a science-driven software startup. Prior to CIBO, he worked as the Lead Data Scientist for Understory, Inc. He holds a B.A. in Physics and Astrophysics, along with a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Arizona.