Schaun Wheeler

I am not eager to rehearse My thoughts and theory which you have forgotten. These things have served their purpose: let them be. So with your own, and pray they be forgiven By others, as I pray you to forgive Both bad and good.

- T. S. Eliot

Schaun Wheeler

Senior Staff Data Scientist
Valassis Digital`
Schaun Wheeler is a senior staff data scientist at Valassis Digital, an advertising and marketing intelligence company. After building data science capabilities for the U.S Department of the Army and working as a data scientist in an educational travel firm and then an asset management startup, he founded and directed the data science team for Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City. His current work focuses on location semantics and the intersection of online and off-line behaviour. His broader interests include data science ethics, analytic design, and the creation of humane HR practices in the tech industry. He is a formally trained anthropologist.
Data Wrangling Machine Learning Probability and Statistics Python Visualization
  • Valassis Digital
    Senior Staff Data Scientist
    I'm the data science lead for our Consumer Graph team, which is responsible for all of the online and offline behavioral signals that drive our real-time bidding campaigns.
    2017 - Current
  • Success Academy Charter Schools
    Principal Data Scientist
    I built a data science team from scratch. Biggest personal contribution: I designed an algorithm to intelligently aggregate academic performance - current state and growth, at the scholar, teacher, or school level - in seconds. The process formerly took several days and a committee. I individually contributed the majority of code on machine learning projects and data visualizations, and taught/mentored analysts and data scientists in Python, SQL, and analytic design. I built ETL pipelines that integrated school operations, government, and extracurricular activity data into our core database, and structured analytics workflows to allow operational changes (school splits/merges, etc.) to take minutes instead of weeks. I also introduced a dashboard system (custom-built at first, then third party integration) that rapidly deployed user-friendly interfaces to meet user need without overwhelming analyst capacity.
    2014 - 2017
  • Infusive
    Data Scientist
    I reduced the cost of unanswered questions by reducing the total number of questions that required answers: I performed quality control on our database records to figure out just how much we could assume about our data and trained machine learning models, simulations, and visualizations to distill information in a way that allowed our stakeholders to wrap their minds around major lessons without getting overwhelmed by volume.
    2013 - 2014
  • WorldStrides
    Director of Research and Data Science
    My time split pretty evenly between building statistical models (market segmentation, customer retention), automating data management (lead tracking and processing, data curation), and managing the company’s web presence (search engine optimization/marketing, data-driven design). I managed two junior data scientists, a web developer, and two web designers. If a job was too big, too complicated, or too important to do in Excel, or if it required any amount of experimental design, it went through my team.
    2012 - 2013
  • United States Department of the Army
    Social Scientist
    I helped conduct the first (and to my knowledge, only) statistical model of improvised-explosive-device outcomes in Afghanistan. My text mining of detainee interrogation reports caught the attention of members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff within 24 hours of being published. My model of correlation between militant attacks/coercion and infrastructure development projects was incorporated into a major report for the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. But, truth be told, I’m more proud of my blog. For over a year, my posts were regularly distributed to a couple hundred strategic planners at the CIA and other intelligence organizations. I wish I could link to those posts, but they were all on the classified networks (even though I studiously avoided classified work). I suspect my blog posts had more impact than my official assessments ever did.
    2009 - 2012
  • Ethnographic Research
    Principal Investigator
    I landed in Bishkek in 2006 without a single contact in the entire country – I had paid a study-abroad organization to find me a Kyrgyz teacher, who met me at the airport, showed me to my apartment, and started giving me language lessons. By 2008, I had contacts in all seven provinces of the country, having conducted 70 in-depth interviews with people ranging from political activists to the imam of Issyk Kul province. I trained and deployed 21 local research assistants to distribute 1500 surveys across 29 locations, completing the $35,600 project one month ahead of schedule and $5000 under budget.
    2006 - 2008
What I do outside work
  • Learning
  • Cooking
  • Sports

Programs I mentor

I 'instruct', 'teach', 'solve doubts' and do 'hands-on activities'

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