September 5, 2023
Staff Accomplishment

Early Career Scientists Win JSM Data Challenge Expo

PNNL takes top spot at prestigious JSM Conference for crime data analysis

2023 JSM Challenge Expo Winners

JSM 2023 Data Challenge Expo winners 

(Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is proud to have a large and talented team of statisticians and computational scientists. Many of those data and computational scientists attended and presented research at the 2023 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) conference and expo in Toronto, Canada. The JSM conference stands as one of the most prominent data science conferences globally, attracting thousands of attendees and offering hundreds of sessions each year.

Notably, early career data scientists David Degnan, Damon Leach, Natalie Winans, Sydney Schwartz, Jeremy Jacobson, Logan Lewis, and mentor Lisa Bramer, members of the talented Biological Sciences Division at PNNL, showcased their research through a talk and poster titled "Explaining modern trends in crime with current events" and went on to win the JSM Data Challenge Expo.

Every year, JSM chooses a complex dataset for participants to analyze and visually represent. Typically, the dataset chosen serves the community and nonprofits by providing data analyses that would not be available otherwise. This year’s challenge dataset came from the National Crime Victimization Survey, a self-reported survey that is collected annually. The team designed the analysis and visualization, and shared both a presentation and a poster. The award-winning analysis focused on the ability to identify crime patterns by correlating them with historical events and trends. The team also built a web application for others to explore the data and results.

"I've learned about the power of exploring new research areas. We are a team of biological data scientists and were challenged to branch out to crime data, survey statistics, and time-series analysis. These new skills are helping me broaden my understanding of potential solutions for problems in biological research, and I wouldn't have gained these skills if not for this experience,” said Degnan, PNNL biological data scientist and presenting author.

Achieving this victory represents a remarkable achievement for this group of young professionals. "This win further demonstrates the potency of PNNL’s team-based approach to problem solving, where having staff at all levels and different technical backgrounds contributes meaningfully to an elegant solution,” said Chris Oehmen, PNNL data scientist and Computational Biology group leader.

Published: September 5, 2023