Data Scientist Ista Zhan to Join Dominici Lab

Ista Zahn will join Francesca Dominici’s lab as Senior Manager of Data Science and Software Development, beginning Monday, March 4th.

Ista is a data scientist with experience in psychology, public health, economics, and related disciplines. He is a passionate proponent of open and reproducible research methods and tools. Since earning a Masters degree in social psychology from the University of Rochester in 2008, Ista has worked on suicide prevention for the Department of Veterans Affairs, studied mental health trajectories of war-affected youth at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and supported high-impact research as a data science specialist at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard.

Ista has expertise in data visualization, statistical modeling, machine learning, cluster computing, and data management and manipulation. He is an expert R programmer who also enjoys programming in Python and Haskell. Ista was an early adopter of literate programming and notebook-based approaches to statistical computing and manuscript preparation such as RMarkdown, Jupyter Noteooks, and Emacs Org Mode. In his teaching and consulting work he tirelessly advocates for the adoption of workflows and pipelines that maximize re-use and reproducibility.

Specific tools and skills aside, Ista’s main focus for over a decade has been on producing research that is accurate and reproducible. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but Ista is convinced that it can be achieved by employing sound statistical methods, adopting best practices, and remaining vigilant to our own biases and motivations. He is thrilled to bring his skills and passion for open and reproducible research to the Dominici lab, and looks forward to working together to develop improved statistical tools, methods, and applications.