Alumni Profile: Yanjin Li ('17MA, Statistics)

January 06, 2020
Yanjin Li

What is your current role?
I am a Data Scientist II who studies algorithms.

What are you working on now?
My work involves API (application programming interface) development, algorithm/framework designs, and implementations of large-scale online advertising data. Outside of work and school, my friend and I started a project called Fashion Black Box that leverages technology to solve challenges in the fashion industry. We believe that technology will encourage faster growth in the fashion industry, both for the consumer and for the designer.

What drew you to your field?
I always read machine learning- and algorithm-related papers out of habit. From these, I learned the concepts of anomaly detection and change detection.

What lessons from graduate school have you found useful in your professional life?
Studying applied data science taught me how important it was to improve my programming skills. My statistical inference courses gave me a solid theoretical foundation, especially when inventing new algorithms and frameworks, and my machine learning courses gave me an understanding of machine-learning algorithms and their relationships. These are three very essential areas to master in order to become a successful data and/or algorithm scientist.

What is your favorite memory from your graduate years?
While in New York City, I was also modeling for some individual designers during New York Fashion Week. This experience gave me a completely new perspective on the world. During the school year, I also devoted myself to some data science projects related to the fashion industry. New York City and Columbia University help me to think outside of the box and to think boldly.

What are your passions outside of your work?
I am passionate about putting technology into the fashion industry and learning new technologies. On weekends, I usually hang out with my husband and our two dogs (both are rescues adopted from a local rescue center). We often bring them to Yoyogi Koen, a park near our home where the major 2020 Olympics stadiums will be located.

What is next for you, professionally or otherwise?
I will further my education in mathematical informatics and become a PhD student at the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology at the Yamanishi Lab researching model-change detection in online advertising platforms. My five-years goals include becoming a scientist who can innovate and develop my own algorithms, publishing papers in peer-reviewed journals, and staying involved in OSS (open-source software) development.