TechBoard Summer Spotlights: Angela Li

We’re back with the TechBoard Summer Spotlight series and next up is our wonderful TechTeam Co-Chairwoman, Angela Li. Angela is a fourth year economics and public policy major, and spent this summer doing policy research using data science. She also launched R-Ladies Chicago and is helping make the data science community more gender diverse! Read on to learn more.

Q: What are you doing this summer?

A: I am working for the Center for Spatial Data Science at UChicago.

Q: How does this relate to TechTeam and the broader world of Civic Tech? What do you like about it?

A: I’m using data to look at housing affordability and policy effectiveness in an urban setting. The idea is to use data science methods and tools to understand how a citywide policy can affect prices in an area, with a focus on spatial aspects when analyzing results. I enjoy the work I’m doing because it’s a combination of urban policy, geography, economics, and computer science, which are all things I’m interested in. I’m also picking up many useful research and programming skills along the way.

Q: Do you have any golden nuggets of wisdom to share with our followers?

A: It’s more important than ever to pick up tech skills so that you can answer questions that make an impact. Or perhaps more accurately, you need to have a willingness to learn those skills — you don’t have to come in with them. A lot of what I’m doing is learning how to use tools that work with spatial data in particular, which is something I didn’t know that much about before this summer. I’m also working with a lot of open data, and can say for a fact that I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing this summer without public portals that allow me to access that data.

Q: Have you done anything exciting this summer?

A: With the support of the women in my office, I started a Meetup called R-Ladies Chicago, which seeks to increase gender diversity in the R programming and data science communities. By empowering women to acquire data skills, we’re increasing the potential for them to use technical tools like R to create civic change.

Q: What are you most looking forward to with TechTeam starting back up in the fall?

A: I’m looking forward to hearing about all the interesting things that TechTeamers have been up to this summer — ranging from software engineering in Silicon Valley to policy research in DC! We also have an exciting set of workshops planned for the fall led by our curriculum chairs, Annie and PJ, that you should definitely attend if you’re on campus.

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