About Town

Women in STEAM – Elizabeth Parker, Ph.D, MPH

Elizabeth Parker | Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield | Senior Director, Principal Data Scientist

   Day at Work…Data scientists spend a lot of time digging through data to pull out insights. In order to do that, there is a lot of time spent in front of a computer screen. But I also have the opportunity to meet with clinicians and analysts to explore ideas that could influence models. I have a lot of trial and error on a daily basis, but when I find an algorithm that really works – it’s always worth the effort!

   Beginning Interests…Healthcare has always been my passion. Early on, I thought I wanted to be a physician. When I discovered the field of epidemiology, I realized I could help prevent people from getting sick – rather than treating them after the fact. It was a game-changer. 

  Career Evolution…I’m an epidemiologist by profession and have primarily been in the healthcare industry my entire career. But, because STEAM reaches every industry, I’ve been fortunate to explore other industries using the same approach and practices. 

  Love the Work…The reason I do my job is to bring useful information to people to help them make more informed decisions to improve their quality of life for those around them. It’s my biggest privilege to share insights about information I’ve analyzed to make changes for the better.  

   Surprising But True…Data science can be applied to any field. From lawyers needing to know criminal behaviors, vets needing to know what diseases may affect animals next year, retailers wanting to know future trends or musicians wanting to predict your playlist – each field of practice benefits from data science. 

   Advice…As mentioned, every single industry requires and uses science, technology, and math; so find your passion and apply those things to that field. For me, it’s healthcare. For you, it might be fashion, animals, or airplanes. When you find your passion and incorporate some practices that some people might find difficult, then you are setting yourself up for a lifetime career that you’ll LOVE!! Don’t be intimidated by math or science. Everything takes practice, so be patient with yourself. Lastly, make everything you do in the lab or classroom relate to your life. It all makes so much more sense when you change those Greek letters into real life scenarios.

These wonder women are redefining what “full STEAM ahead” means in Arkansas. With exciting careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics – each reflects WIT (Women in Tech) and true grit for making the most of every opportunity. Here’s to the powHER of knowledge.

Photography by Jamison Mosley

Inviting Arkansas

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