©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.
IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)
A career path that began with studying infectious diseases and led to analyzing terabytes of game data may seem a circuitous route. For Brendan Burke, though, the applied math skills he picked up as an undergraduate biology and political science major, the programming skills he added as a bioengineering graduate student, and his use of the two as a research scientist led to a job in the booming IT field of data science.
“A lot of the skill set I developed very specifically for biology could be applied in very commercially viable ways,” says Burke, who earned both of his degrees from Stanford University and worked at the California school as a scientist. As head of player science at Playnomics, a Silicon Valley company that uses game data to develop player analytics, the math and computer science skills he used to determine how many touch points a virus requires to spread across a population now help him understand how people interact with games. “Something in data science gets your creative juices flowing when you see something that you built for an entirely different purpose can be used in all of these other ways,” he says.