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How to communicate as (minority) data scientists? Being a minority in data science can be tough. It can be tough to get into the field, and sometimes even tougher to make yourself heard in the field. Marieke Jackson, a former epidemiologist turned data scientist, shared how basic rules from improv have helped her navigate day to day challenges. Imagine you are working with an improv partner and you mention those pesky magical flying birds that poop jellybeans.


Our April meetup with Data Philly focused on the increasingly popular topic of Open Science. See below for the article that R Ladies Philly members Alice, Karla, and Amy co-wrote! This article originally appeared on Philly. What is open science? It’s like open data, but for research. Organizers of the R-Ladies Philly meetup offer an explainer based on talks from their most recent meetup. Many are familiar with the concept of open source in software development, but what is open science?


In February and March, R-Ladies Philly continued a longstanding community data project with the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) - Philly’s largest no-kill shelter. Last year, we helped PAWS analyze data from volunteer engagement to identify patterns associated with continued volunteering. This year, we worked with PAWS to understand important facets of their sheltering system, including 1) animals’ trajectories at PAWS, 2) the adoption process, 3) geospatial patterns of adoptions, and 4) public engagement via social media.


Our January meetup marked an important event in R-Ladies Philly history - our first ‘birthday’! We honored this occasion by celebrating what our community has achieved over the past year, and planning for an exciting 2019. Recap of our first year Alice and Karla started off by reiterating the founding principles of R-Ladies Philly: to create a welcoming, accepting, and representative community for R users in the Philadelphia area who espouse our values of diversity and gender equity.


We collaborated with Women in Kaggle Philly to provide an Introduction to Machine Learning (ML). ML is the science of getting computers to learn from data without explicit programming. ML has led to advances in speech recognition, tumor identification, self-driving cars, and many other arenas. You probably interact with ML every day! This meetup featured a lightning talk introducing some key concepts followed by a hands-on Kaggle competition tutorial. A brief introduction to Machine Learning Tamera Lanham, a data scientist at Elsevier, gave a lightning talk introducing ML.



Meet our board members

Darina Chudnovskaya, MSc

Darina is a data analyst at a hospital in the Philadelphia area. She uses R to run statistical tests and build models for epidemiological studies with the goal of developing patient interventions for disease prevention. She grew up in Philadelphia. Darina joined R Ladies Philly to meet other R enthusiasts.

Karla Fettich, PhD

Karla works as Head of Algorithm Development at Orchestrall, where she leads behavioral data analytics efforts and predictive model development for healthcare IT innovation. Currently, Karla uses R to create a new product that uses machine learning and predictive analytics to serve as a companion to nurse aides in their care for the elderly. Originally from Romania, Karla completed her B.A. in social and cognitive psychology at Jacobs University Bremen in Germany, her M.A. in social sciences at the University of Chicago and her Ph.D. in psychology and neuroscience at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Amy Goodwin Davies, PhD

Amy is a linguist-by-training and a data scientist. In particular, she is excited about developing her skills in text mining and natural language processing. Amy completed her PhD in Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, where her research focused on the grammatical representations involved with word recognition. Amy is originally from the UK. Before moving to Philadelphia in 2012, she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Chun Su, PhD

Chun is a bioinformatics scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she explores the influence of the molecular regulatory architecture on the genetic susceptibility for childhood diseases by analyzing genomics data. She completed her PhD in Biology at the University of Virginia, studying a family of parasitic plants that infect crops in Africa. She uses R extensively for statistical analysis and data visualization in her research. Chun joined R Ladies Philly to learn data science and socialize with local R users.

Alice Walsh, PhD

Alice is a computational biologist who works in pharmaceutical drug development and has lived in the Philadelphia area for the last ten years. She uses R to transform biomarker data from patients into useful insights that can help doctors make better decisions. Alice was inspired to start an R-Ladies chapter in Philadelphia after seeing a video of another R-Ladies meetup online.

Board Alumni

Katerina Placek, MSc
Co-Founder and Blog Chair: Jan 2018 - July 2019

Katie Cousins, PhD
Co-Founder: Jan 2018 - July 2018


R-Ladies Philly is fortunate to receive support from several amazing organizations. Contact us to learn more about becoming a sponsor.


R consortium


Penn Dental

Temple University Center City

Drexel LeBow College of Business

Penn Institute for Urban Research



Reach out by email if would like to help plan, sponsor, or host an event. We welcome volunteers!