Welcoming our new Technical Lead

old-time-computerAfter almost two months of searching for the perfect fit, we’re very pleased to announce that Josh Shadlen has joined HRDAG as our new technical lead. Finding Josh was no easy feat. We were looking for what many people would call a “data scientist,” that is, someone with expertise in both computer science and statistics. These days, “data science” is one of the hottest fields out there.

Bringing the perfect mix of academic depth and thoughtful reflection, Josh stood out for us. With prior jobs including gigs at Silicon Valley startups and Twitter, he’s got high-level multi-disciplinary experience and—a trait dear to our hearts—a hacker’s curiosity. Josh will be on-site with us in our SOMA office and we’re looking forward to watching him run with some projects. He’ll spend his time working in python, Java, and R, further developing our data de-duplication framework, developing statistical analysis and web crawlers, recovering data, performing data archaeology, debugging, testing encryption software, and, something we’re happy about, helping to teach us good programming practices. There’s more, of course—but we think this is a good start.

“Josh brings a level of mathematical rigor rare among computer scientists, and we’re eager to learn more from him. His previous work in machine learning is an ideal fit for the new problems we want to tackle,” said Patrick Ball.

Megan Price also expects to learn a great deal from Josh and looks forward to seeing how he’ll advance the team’s projects. “Josh has an intangible quality that always makes me enthusiastic about working with a colleague— discussions with him make me want to up my scientific game,” she said.

“I’m really excited to bring my skills to bear on problems with real human importance,” Josh said. “I’ve wanted to work in human rights for many years, but I didn’t think opportunities existed for mathematicians. I can’t wait to dig in!”

Josh will begin officially with HRDAG on November 12. We couldn’t be more excited to hear Josh’s ideas about how we can improve our work!

Photo: San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive

Our work has been used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-governmental human rights organizations. We have worked with partners on projects on five continents.