Q&A With Data Science Expert Dr. Bonny McClain

Dr. Bonny McClain will present on ‘Data Visualization and Data Literacy’ at the 2020 WEDN Conference. She is a sought-after collaborator as a data analyst, data literacy and fluency coach and consultant as well as a healthcare journalist and advocate. Bonny is a member of the National Press Club, 500 Women Scientists, Association of Healthcare Journalists, and past member of the National Association of Science Writers. She is a Tableau User Group Leader and data analytics professional working to improve data literacy through education…making a big world seem smaller. We are excited to have her at WEDN 2020!


How did you become an expert in data science?

I think of it as a ‘career evolution’. As a self-described recovering medical writer, I basically was told what to write— it was a “Look over here”, “No, not over there” exercise in advanced administrative tasks. I decided to bring my analytic skills to the foreground and focus on the data. I successfully completed an Applied Analytics Executive course from Columbia School of Engineering where we were immersed in Python code and learning to ask critical questions and curate data to find answers.

What does data literacy mean?

The ability to read research and determine the probability of something being accurate is powerful. How else do you separate evidence from belief?

Any advice for economic developers who rely on data to sell their communities and to set policy priorities?

It comes down to asking questions, and then seeing how to answer them with the data. There are implications of the placement, emphasis, and omission of data and elements of the information. So, my advice is to carefully consider these tensions, and to become comfortable with them.

You are a journalist, entrepreneur, technical writer – how does data fit into all of these roles?

For the last five years I have been teaching data literacy and advanced survey research design to help collaborative partners ask better questions and learn to question answers. I am not big on titles – I have used “healthcare data fluency expert” but lately I am leaning toward ‘data curious human’.

What will be a take-away from your presentation for attendees of the Women’s Economic Development Network Conference?

I hope the audience will get a level-set, and be comfortable asking questions – like, ‘What information is missing here?’ so they are better consumers of data and data visualizations and also better able to present and interpret data for their own communications.

Connect with Bonny on Twitter @datamongerBonny  or on LinkedIn at Bonny McClain and check out her blog data&donuts.org.

For additional information about WEDN 2020 and to register click here.

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