Past Meetup

Women in Data Science Conference Screening + career panel

This Meetup is past

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We will livestream portions of the Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference, host our own local career panel, and end with a pizza social!

WIDS aims to inspire and educate data scientists, regardless of gender, and support women in the field. ​This one-day technical conference is located at Stanford but will be connected to regional events around the world, from Barcelona to Bangalore. It provides an opportunity to hear about the latest data science related research in a number of domains, learn how leading-edge companies are leveraging data science for success, and connect with potential mentors, collaborators, and others in the field. For more information and to see the portion of the conference agenda we'll livestream (listed at 9:00-12:10 pm PST) visit

We will stream talks from the conference and then host our own, local career panel. We'll end with a pizza social, sponsored by the Duke University Statistics Department. This is a great opportunity to meet fellow NC data scientists as well as listen to the great lineup of speakers!

Our local panelists include:

- Tonya Balan, Professor of Practice, NC State University

- Gayle Bieler, Director of the Center for Data Science, RTI International

- Radhika Kulkarni, VP of Advanced Analytics R&D, SAS

- Melissa Nysewander, Director of Data Science, Fidelity Investments

- Laine Thomas, Ass't Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Duke University


12:00-3:10 pm Livestream of the Women in Data Science Conference

3:10-3:30 BREAK

3:30-5:00 Local career panel

5:00-6:00 Social hour, with pizza and drinks sponsored by the Duke University Department of Statistics


The MeetUp will be held in Building GX, room 002, on the SAS Campus. Here is a map to the SAS campus ( You may park anywhere in the parking lot outside the building. When you enter the building follow the signs to the room.

When you RSVP you will be asked to provide your full name for SAS Security. When you arrive at the SAS security gate, give them your name and then follow the directions on the map to arrive at Building GX.


Tonya Etchison Balan is a Professor of Practice teaching Business Analytics in the Poole College of Management at NC State University. She has extensive experience as a practicing statistician and spent over 10 years as the Director of Analytics Product Management at SAS Institute working with customers in such diverse industries as health care, financial services, government, and consumer packaged goods. Balan received her PhD in Statistics from NC State University and currently holds adjunct appointments at the Wake Forest University School of Business and UNC's Kenan Flagler School of Business.

Gayle Bieler directs the Center for Data Science at RTI International. Her team works on many interesting scientific research projects across RTI, all aimed at improving the human condition--from solving national and international problems to working in our local communities, from public health to criminal and social justice to global health and education. In three years, they’ve grown from 4 to 20 staff, worked on dozens of projects, presented their work at conferences, at Universities, to the federal government, to international governments, and at the White House; they’ve created open source tools and applications, become thought leaders in data-driven justice, and appeared in local and national media.

Radhika Kulkarni oversees software development in many analytical areas including Statistics, Operations Research, Econometrics, Forecasting and Data Mining. In her role as an OR expert at SAS Institute, Kulkarni was influential in driving the recognition of Operations Research as a key component of business analytics solutions in several areas including Finance, Retail, Marketing, Hospitality and Supply Chain. She is an active member of INFORMS and serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Advanced Analytics at NC State University and The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University.

Melissa Nysewander is Director of Data Science at Fidelity Investments, where she’s worked across the firm on a number of different subject areas, including customer analytics, fraud, and has recently began to focus on Workforce Analytics. In a previous life, she was a real scientist, with a PhD in Astrophysics from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a career in both astronomy and environmental science.

Laine Thomas’ primary interest is causal inference methods for comparative effectiveness studies, particularly using large data sets such as registries, Medicare claims and electronic health records that have long-term longitudinal follow-up. She is a co-investigator on the NIH-supported Statistical Methods for Complex Data in Cardiovascular Disease and primary investigator on the AHRQ-supported Matching Methods for Comparative Effectiveness Studies of Longitudinal Treatments. She uses causal inference methods in collaborations in cardiovascular disease (CHAMP-HF, ORBIT-AF registries; ACTION-NCDR and CRUSADE registries linked to Medicare; ARISTOTLE and NAVIGATOR clinical trials) and uterine fibroids (COMPARE-UF). She teaches causal inference courses in the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Masters and PhD programs at Duke University.