U.S. News and World Report ranked both data scientist and statistician in the top 10 of its Best Jobs of 2022. Statistical ideas are often introduced as part of doing science, but statistics and data science can also contribute to large-scale scientific inquiry, looking at problems like countering proliferation or adopting artificial intelligence and machine learning to defend against national security threats. 

Dr. Alyson Wilson, Associate Vice Chancellor for National Security and Special Research Initiatives at North Carolina State University, delivered a lecture to the 2022 virtual National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) entitled “So You Want To Be a Data Scientist.” 

“We have a motto: Data Science is for everyone,” Dr. Wilson explained. “A lot of people think about it as a field isolated to some specialists, but we are starting to see that data is getting bigger and faster and more diverse. Thus, it is impacting more students across disciplines.”

As a keynote lecturer, Dr. Wilson discussed her career as a statistician and data scientist, through past experiences included working for a small business, a national laboratory, a policy think tank, and as a professor. She addressed questions about the difference between statistics and data science, the kinds of classes one might want to take if interested in these careers, and the kinds of problems one might work on.

“I predict that 30 years from now, it will be unimaginable that every person won’t be handling big data themselves,” Dr. Wilson said.

“When I was a delegate at NYSCamp (WV 1985), it was the first time I saw the breadth, depth, and excitement of science,” Dr. Wilson said. “What I still love about camp is the curiosity being encouraged; being shown that science is cool!”
About the National Youth Science Camp: Hosted in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia since 1963, the National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is a residential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program designed to honor and challenge some of the nation’s rising leaders and provide them with opportunities to engage with STEM professionals and participate in exciting outdoor activities. Typically, two delegates are selected to attend camp from each state and the District of Columbia. In partnership with the U.S. State Department, we also host international delegates. Past countries represented include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago. Housing, meals, transportation, and supplies are provided to participants at no cost. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, now for the 3rd consecutive year, the 2022 National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is an entirely virtual experience.