Alison Appling, PhD

Biography

I am passionate about the process of transforming data into understanding. I participate in that process in two ways: As an ecologist and biogeochemist, I study the movement of energy, carbon, and nutrients through rivers, lakes, and floodplains to better understand how those ecosystems function. As a science communicator, I build interactive web-based data visualizations that tell a broader public audience about USGS research and activities.

What these data-rich projects have in common is that they require a lot of creativity, expertise, and collaboration...but also a lot of grunt work, because our datasets are often large and messy. My focus as a data scientist is on minimizing the grunt work in the data transformation process. To do this, I find existing software tools that support efficient data pipelines, build new tools when needed, and identify common patterns that help scientists to use those tools effectively. I share these tools and ideas primarily through collaboration with research and visualization teams, and occasionally via formal training efforts.