Unique Scientist: Dr. Jason Byrne

Time to meet Dr. Jason Byrne (He/him)! Dr. Byrne is a Senior Data Scientist originally from Ireland and working at Royal Mail in London, UK.

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a Senior Data Scientist working at Royal Mail in London, UK. I moved into data science 4 years ago after working in the field of solar astrophysics for 10 years. My PhD and postdocs were on the study of coronal mass ejections; large-scale eruptions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun that drive space weather conditions in the solar system and Earth. I gather resources and write articles about the transition to data science to help other aspiring data scientists or those looking to move from academia into industry or commercial roles [also tweeting from @DataScienceUni].

What made you want to become a scientist?
I grew up fascinated by astronomy and astrophysics, intrigued by the myriad observations and the theories of space-time and black holes. I remember watching Star Trek The Original Series from a very young age and being enthralled by space exploration, and my first visits as a kid to an observatory in Ireland where I could see real research and exploration happening in society. From then on I pursued physics through school and knew I wanted to continue studying it as a career.

“I remember watching Star Trek The Original Series from a very young age and being enthralled by space exploration […]”

Dr. Jason Byrne

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I am a gay man, having come out during my PhD when I started to feel confident in who I was.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
This question makes me feel boring!! I enjoy travelling, and moved from Ireland to Hawaii for 4 years postdoc before coming to the UK for the buzz of London – very different to island life but it’s a cool and diverse city. I took up street dance (until I broke my knee but I’m mended now I need to get back to the dance studio). I workout, swim a bit, like to go hiking, and sometimes play piano. I blog about data science (www.datascienceunicorn.com) and love reading all sorts from non-fiction to comics.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
Having moved from academia to a commercial role, I wish there wasn’t a negative perception of “leaving” science. So much of the work I do is still based on the scientific method and is heavily research & development driven. Collaborations across commercial or industrial entities and academic institutes should be made much easier and accessible, because with so much data and complementary resources to share it’s a win-win.

“Collaborations across commercial or industrial entities and academic institutes should be made much easier and accessible […]”

Dr. Jason Byrne

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
I almost want to say Gene Rodenberry for creating Star Trek with such noble and moral characters and plotlines. It instilled in me a sense of pride and respect for scientists, especially those associated with space research and exploration. But I’ve truly had some great mentorship through my science teachers in school who put me on the path to becoming a scientist. I first read Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” when I was 15 and that profoundly deepened my fascination with physics and solidified my want to study it further.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
Hmmm… a couple of months ago I published my first Medium story about my book recommendations for data scientists to read for their personal development and soft-skills growth. But really this week I’m proud of the new pride-themed socks & trainers I bought for pride month and plan to wear at London pride this weekend!


#QueerInSTEM

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