Jonas Almeida Discusses How Data Help Reveal Our Natural World
, by NCI Staff
In recognition of NCI's 50th anniversary and the Power of Data, Jonas Almeida, Ph.D., Chief Data Scientist in the Trans-Divisional Research Program, and Dr. Warren Kibbe of Duke Cancer Institute discuss what data means to them and to the field of cancer research in the Cancer Data Science Pulse blog of the NCI Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology. A preview of Dr. Almeida's interview is presented below.
What made you fall in love with data?
Dr. Almeida: I share a similar view of using science to know more about our natural world. For me, this started when I was very young. I grew up in Angola in a place where animals appeared to want to “tell you stories.” In fact, I was told as a child that the only reason the animals didn’t actually talk was because “I didn’t listen.” I was particularly intrigued by an ant colony where all sorts of dramatic things occurred throughout the day. Yet sometimes, the ants were nowhere to be found. I had recently learned to write my numbers (this was a long time ago) and decided that every hour I would count how many ants walked across a given path. To my huge surprise, their wanderings kept a schedule, and I could trust my notes to tell me when and where to find them. I will never forget how surprised I was at that discovery. And many years later, when told in school that biology was too complex to be reproducible, I knew that wasn’t true. It can be solved through science using data!