In Part 2 of her interview last Wednesday, engineer and data scientist Lillian Pierson shared her thoughts on women in STEM and gave us some details on the experiences that she has had as a woman working in data science and technology. She also expressed her thoughts on the importance of getting women into STEM in order to change the dynamics of these traditionally male-dominated fields.

 

Today, in the third and final part of her interview, Pierson dishes details on her upcoming book, “Data Science for Dummies,” and gives us an idea of what we can expect from her in the future.

 

MUIPR: We’ve talked a lot about your experiences, your motivations — now, I want to talk a bit more about your upcoming book, “Data Science for Dummies.” Can you tell us a little bit more about what exactly you plan on covering in this book; what is your approach?

LILLIAN PIERSON: So probably about two thirds of the book are basic primers for basic topics that make up data science. I’m working on my R chapter now — R programming language — and Python, and SQL for extracting data, and I just kind of give a primer on that sort of thing. Then I talk about statistics and mathematical modeling, data visualization. It’s a very hands-on approach, like not only how you do this [but] the purpose. Like, if this is your goal, then you can achieve that by doing this. So [there’s] not a lot of theory. And then the part that I find more fun, I mean I like the data visualization part, but I really like the applied stuff. So I have a whole section on, like, data driven marketing, data journalism, [and] data science for environmental good stewardship. Then there are whole sections on open data, and free tools. I’m really big on open access to everyone. Free tools for people for data visualization and analysis, for different levels of people, and open data sources — I get really deep into that, too, because I think it’s important to keep everything widely available.

 

"Data Science for Dummies" is set to hit shelves on March 9, 2015 (barnesandnoble.com)

“Data Science for Dummies” is set to hit shelves on March 9, 2015 (bn.com)

MUIPR: I think you’ve kind of touched on this a bit then, but my next question would be what do you hope readers will be able to take away from this book? I think one of your goals seems to just be expanding people’s understanding of the field at large; would you agree?

LILLIAN: Yeah, there’s a whole breadth in the field, there are a lot of different areas. So even if you’re working in one area of data science, there could be whole areas that you haven’t worked in or that you haven’t done a lot of work in. And then some people haven’t done anything at all. So the book is written for purposes of helping people understand what goals they can achieve through different data science methods, so then they can say, “Okay, that looks interesting to me,” or “I’m interested in learning how to do that.”…It’s kind of like a road map.

 

MUIPR: With everything else going on and with everything else on your plate, what made you decide this was something that you were interested in taking on as well? What was it about this project that made it so important to you?

LILLIAN: Well, I had already been writing about data science for a few years, so a book is just a pretty remarkable opportunity for me, especially a “Dummies” book. I was actually boarding a plane in Bangkok going to Bali, and I checked my email right before getting on the plane, and I had an email saying, you know, “Do you want to write this book. We need you to write 350 pages in, like, 15 weeks.” And I was just like, “No way!” I just got on the plane thinking, “I can’t believe they just sent me a book deal.” It’s been exciting and scary and challenging, and I hadn’t felt ready for it. Now that I’m almost done I’m thinking I was ready for it, but it was just scary.

 

MUIPR: I can only imagine how exciting and overwhelming it is all at once, but we’re sure it’s going to be fantastic!

LILLIAN: Thank you. Yeah, I’m pretty happy with the way things have gone so far. I’m working with my editor now, to maybe do some sort of review program…I mean, I haven’t gotten firm and concrete permissions from him, but I’d like to have an early launch review program, and I’m going to be doing talks and stuff like that, so I’m excited.

 

MUIPR: That’s awesome! So aside from what we might hopefully be seeing with an early launch, when can we expect to see the book on sale?

LILLIAN: It’s going to be out in March. So it’s coming up. And my editor — I’m super excited — he mentioned that we’re going to have a discussion, but it’s looking like I’ll be doing another title pretty soon after “Data Science for Dummies.”

 

MUIPR: How exciting! So you’re finishing one, and you’re already starting to think about the next.

LILLIAN: Yeah, I don’t know, it’s just been pretty magical. I went out on my own, I quit my job, I moved to Thailand, and, you know, life has been pretty darn magical since then. But, I mean, it’s a lot of work. I never get to stop working, like, ever!

 

MUIPR: But you love what you do, so it works for you.

LILLIAN: Yes, exactly. I want to do this. I love this.

 

Pierson’s book is available for pre-order now at barnesandnoble.com and other online retailers.

 

Be sure to check back next Wednesday to see who we’ll be featuring next in our Women Leaders in STEM series!

 

If you are a woman working in STEM and are interested in being featured in our ‘Women Leaders in STEM’ series, shoot us an email at blog.muipr@gmail.com or tweet me @tamarahoumi