October 20, 2021

Employee Spotlight: Dr. Erika Dunn-Weiss, Senior Core Data Scientist

Dr. Erika Dunn-Weiss, Senior Core Data Scientist

Our mission at Protenus is to advance the science of healthcare by bringing together creative and skilled individuals who are passionate about the security, usability, and applicability of health data. As this information becomes more voluminous, comprehensive, and, as a consequence, more vulnerable, we are building scalable, insightful solutions that address critical issues preventing the efficient, safe, and effective delivery of patient care.

Our team comprises a diverse group of people who come together to achieve this shared mission. To give a glimpse into our culture and highlight the diversity of our team, we’ve asked Erika Dunn-Weiss, Senior Core Data Scientist, to share more about her experience working at Protenus. 

What's your role at Protenus, and what do you do?

As a senior core data scientist, I use data analysis to detect patterns of behavior that correspond to patient privacy violations. I use those insights, as well as feedback from our customers, to build and train machine learning models to generate a privacy violation suspicion score for every patient record access.

What did you do before coming to Protenus?

Before I came to Protenus, I earned my B.S. in math from the University of Chicago, and my Ph.D. in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University. My graduate research focused on vision: in particular, how we learn to become visual experts (think of radiologists). I also studied comparisons between computer vision and biological vision by investigating artificial neurons and ensembles ‘under the hood.'

What initially attracted you to Protenus?

I had three essential criteria while job-searching: 

  1. 1. Meaningful work that had a positive impact 

2. Interesting and challenging problems
3. A company culture that was clearly inclusive and supportive, with a tangible commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and the humility to pursue areas of growth 

Protenus checked all of those boxes! Beyond that, I felt an instant sense of belonging when I interviewed with the other data scientists; Protenus feels like home.

What's your favorite part of your job?

I love developing new research avenues with my colleagues. First, because the problems we think about are really interesting and important, but also, because my colleagues are brilliant, skilled, deeply thoughtful, and humble people. I love working together to push our research to new levels of technical rigor and thoughtfulness; we continually check in with the big picture to identify which problems are the most important, and reflect on the best way to solve those problems.

What's the most important thing you've learned since starting at Protenus?

Because of the close relationship that the data scientists have with our customers and customer success managers, we are constantly gaining insights into how we can improve our product. The flip side of that relationship is our commitment to creating AI that is interpretable and as unbiased as possible. This builds trust in our analytics and makes working with our product intuitive. I have learned a lot through this relationship, and I have thought more deeply about the future of AI as a result.

How has working at Protenus impacted your career?

Working at Protenus has helped me hone my technical skill set, especially in Spark, Scala, and cloud computing.

What has surprised you the most about working at Protenus?

I have been really impressed with how sincerely Protenus values work-life balance. Many other companies use unlimited PTO as a way to get employees to work more, but at Protenus, there is genuine understanding that life happens — especially for parents and especially during COVID — and vacation time is valued and expected, too! I think this is just one part of the highly supportive culture that we have on our team and throughout the company.

In 10 words or less, how would you describe the culture at Protenus?

Caring, collaborative, thoughtful, humble, honest, family- & dog-friendly, fun

Interested in joining the Protenus team? Check out our current job openings. 

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