Employee Spotlight: Patrick VanMeter, Data Scientist

08/29/2022 Employee Spotlight

“The work is more dynamic and the impacts of my work are more immediate.”

This is the ninth in a series of interviews with the Certilytics employees behind our market-leading healthcare predictive analytics solutions.

Patrick joined the Certilytics team less than a year ago, transitioning from academia. The data science team provides him an opportunity to apply his research skills to build cutting-edge solutions that help our customers uncover savings opportunities and succeed in value-based care.

Learn more about Patrick in this Q&A below:

Q: Hi Patrick! How long have you been with Certilytics?

A: I joined in November 2021, so a little over nine months.

Q: Working for Certilytics marked a big transition for you from academia. Can you tell us about that?

A: I did my Ph.D. research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I focused on experimental plasma physics. Plasma is a distinct state of matter (not a solid, liquid, or gas) that occurs when a gas gets so hot that it can conduct electricity. It is the most abundant form of matter in the universe, and has important applications in nuclear fusion energy. I mostly worked on projects related to understanding the X-rays emitted by a plasma, and really developed my data analysis skills. After I graduated, I worked as a postdoc at the Mayo Clinic, where I focused on the physics and applications of X-ray computed tomography (CT). This was my introduction to the healthcare industry, and also where I really began to work more closely with machine learning/AI.

Q: How did you become interested in data science?

A: Although we didn’t call it by that name, I would say that I was doing “data science” basically my entire time in academia. Fitting models, looking for patterns in data, building visualizations, etc. So when I started to look for a career outside academia, it was a natural choice.

Q: What’s your role at Certilytics?

A: I work mostly on the research side of the data science team. We experiment with the new techniques and technologies to both improve existing product offerings and develop new ones.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working for Certilytics?

A: The data science team has provided me a great opportunity to transition from academia to an industry role. I still get to research interesting topics and solve problems, but the work is more dynamic and the impacts of my work are more immediate. It’s really the best of both worlds.

Q: What advice would you give someone just entering the data science field?

A: This really depends on background, so I can only speak for someone who, like me, comes from a more traditional scientific field. The biggest thing is to just try and set aside some time to familiarize yourself with the core data science skills/tools that you do not already use in your research. The website Kaggle has some nice (free) courses which are a good place to start. As much as you can, try to work some of these into your normal workflow.

Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

A: Outside of work I like to hang out with friends, play with our dog, bike around town, and explore new places. I currently live in Wisconsin, so like everyone else here I try to spend as much time outdoors as I can in the summer while the weather is still nice. A couple of years ago I got into sailing, so I am hoping to pick that back up again soon too.

Q: What’s something people may not know about you?

A: At the beginning of the year, my wife and I got a goldendoodle puppy named Pluto. Over the last eight months, he has gone from 3 pounds to over 50!