January Feature: Kerim Tshimanga

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

Every month, we are going to feature one person in STEM and share their unique story about when, how and why they became interested in their field. They will share what they are working on and some fun facts about their work. Here is our second interview with M.U.S.E. mentor, data scientist and machine learning engineer, Kerim Tshimanga!

Q: Hey Kerim, tell us a little about yourself!

A: Hello, I'm Kerim; from and located in the LA area! I'm a mixed first generation american; with my father from the D.R. of Congo and my mother from Turkey. 

Q: What are you currently working on in your STEM field?

A: I work as a Data Scientist/Machine Learning Engineer working at a startup called Deep 6 AI in the LA area. Our core product is a doctor-facing application for finding patients for clinical trials. My work largely centers around machine learning approaches to natural language processing, building/maintaining big data processing pipelines for processing medical records, and also collaboration with clinical researchers at our client hospitals.

Q: Did you always want to work in a STEM field?

A: I have wanted to work in STEM from a very young age, but my specific interests evolved over time. I explored a myriad of interest until I settled on Physics part way through high school. I did research in organic electronics for a few years starting in my last year of high school, and then I transitioned into focusing on theoretical condensed matter physics.

Q: How did you become interested in your field?

A: By the end of undergrad I had taken all of the graduate courses relevant to condensed matter theory and planned to take a gap year before applying to graduate school for either condensed matter theory or mathematical physics. Ultimately, however, I decided not to go down the road of academia and started re-branding myself as a data scientist which I felt was a field where I could still exercise some of the muscles I'd built up as a physicist.

Q: What hobbies do you have outside of work?

A: I'm a boulderer. Next question... Just kidding but yeah I only really make time for bouldering outside of work. I started climbing in the Summer of 2012 and by now being a [rock] climber accounts for a considerable portion of how I identify as a person. It's great. Go find your local climbing gym. Get started. There are tons of nerds in climbing.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a scientist, go to graduate school or have a STEM career?

A: I like the fact that I work in healthcare. It makes it very easy to care about what my work is for, which does a lot to keep me motivated. At this point, I question whether I could ever work in a company that isn't trying to affect positive social change.

Q: Any parting thoughts?

A: Take ownership of your growth and education. You'll demand/get more out of school and the other resources available to you if you see them as tools for furthering your own educational and professional goals. Don't wait for someone else to say it's time to learn.

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