30 Remarkable Data Science and Machine Learning Experts to Keep on Your Radar

artificial intelligence
machine learning
Data Science

Top Data Scientists and Machine Learning Experts to Follow in 2020

With the creation of an incalculable number of data points across digital platforms from all over the world, data scientists and machine learning specialists are among some of the most sought-after resources that modern industry has to offer.

At Unearthed, we’re unlocking the potential of pairing extraordinary data talent with the energy and resources sector to create improvements to efficiency, culture, sustainability outcomes, and more.

Data science, machine learning or artificial intelligence fields have experienced triple-digit growth over the last 5 years - no matter where you are, these fields present an opportunity for you to apply clever thinking to tough problems, to solve technical challenges and develop the tools of the future.

We’ve spent the last 7 years at Unearthed building one of the world’s largest communities of startups, developers, and data scientists. Through partnerships with mining leaders like BHP, Origin, Newcrest, AngloAmerican, OzMinerals, Barrick & Komatsu we have awarded over $1M through Data Science challenges. Together, we run data science challenges to find solutions to some of the toughest problems they face today.

Maybe you’re just starting out in the industry or perhaps you’re already a seasoned pro - one thing is for certain: Staying on top of all the developments in this field can be tough. 

To help make it easier, Unearthed will be publishing a series of articles to showcase some of the best contributors, experts, thought leaders and content creators in our industry, so you can learn about them and stay on top of new developments.

Here, we unearth 30 data scientists and machine learning specialists that are setting performance benchmarks on an international scale.


Nuria Oliver

Director of Research in Data Science at Vodafone and Chief Data Scientist at Data-Pop Alliance

Multi-award winning data scientist, Nuria Oliver is the first female computer scientist in Spain to be named an ACM Distinguished Scientist and an ACM Fellow. A popular international keynote speaker, Oliver is the co-mastermind behind no fewer than 41 unique patents for data-driven solutions and over 150 scientific publications. Oliver is an advocate for young people - particularly girls - to pursue technology-orientated careers and regularly engages with the media for scientific outreach.


Dr Smita Nirkhi

Researcher and Author

Dr Smita Nirkhi has published 46 papers at international conferences, international journals, and hosts STTP workshops along with other training programs. Her particular areas of interest include soft computing, data mining, web mining, pattern recognition, MANET, digital forensics, machine intelligence, pattern recognition, and authorship analysis.


Yann LeCun

VP and Chief Scientist, Facebook

Yann LeCun is a powerhouse of data science knowledge that he’s eager to share - active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, LeCun is capturing everything from lectures through to debates and demos on everything to do with AI, machine learning, computer vision, robotics, and computational neuroscience. A Silver Professor of Computer Science, Data Science, Neural Science, and Electrical and Computer Engineering at New York University, affiliated with the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences & the Center for Data Science. He was the founding Director of Facebook AI Research and of the NYU Center for Data Science. He is the recipient of the 2018 ACM Turing Award, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (translated, this means a recipient of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest national distinction for military and civil accomplishment).



Siddha Ganju

Solution Architect at Nvidia Corporation

Siddha Ganju is an incredibly accomplished AI researcher who was featured in the Forbes 30 under 30. Currently working as a Self-Driving Architect at Nvidia, she previously helped build an automated meteor detection pipeline for the CAMS project at NASA, which ended up discovering a comet. She is a popular featured jury member for international tech competitions, including CES, has been published at top-tier conferences including CVPR and NeurIPS, and has also co-authored the popular book, O'Reilly's Practical Deep Learning for Cloud, Mobile and Edge.

Rory Boyle

PhD Researcher in Trinity College Dublin’s Whelan Lab (neuroscience)

Rory Boyle is a rising star amongst young data scientists and, still studying, has already won DatSci.Ai’s Best Data Science Student of the Year for 2019. Based in Dublin, Boyle’s entry to the prestigious award show involved taking open-access MRI data from Ireland, the USA, and Turkey, and developing a model of brain-predicted age differences (brainPAD). His findings included that the difference between a person’s predicated brainPAD and the subject’s actual age correlated strongly with poor performance in cognitive function testing. Ultimately, Boyle’s submission makes a significant contribution towards identifying those at risk of significant declining cognitive abilities.

Dr Fei-Fei Li 

Inaugural Sequoia Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University, and Co-Director of Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Institute. 

Dr Li previously served as Vice President for Google and Chief Scientist of AI/ML at Google Cloud, and is an extremely popular keynote speaker on the academic and influential conference circuit. Dr Li’s current research interests include cognitively inspired AI, machine learning, deep learning, computer vision and AI+healthcare. Dr Li has published more than 200 scientific articles in top-tier journals and conferences, including PNAS, Journal of Neuroscience, CVPR, ICCV, NIPS, New England Journal of Medicine, and many, many more. Dr Li is the inventor of ImageNet and the ImageNet Challenge, a critical large-scale dataset and benchmarking effort that has contributed to the latest developments in deep learning and AI. She is co-founder and chairperson of the national non-profit AI4ALL aimed at increasing inclusion and diversity in AI education, becoming a leading voice for advocating diversity in STEM and AI.



Andrew McMahon

Analytics Team Lead at Aggreko

The DataScience Foundation’s 2019 International Data Scientist of the Year, Andrew McMahon, took out the coveted top prize for the creation and implementation of a Data Excellence Strategy at Aggreko - a specialist in power, energy storage, and temperature and humidity control for the mining sector. A recognised contributor to the Journal of Materials Chemistry and Nature Communications, McMahon was due to be a keynote speaker at the 2020 DataFest Data Talent collider event in Scotland prior to the event being cancelled due to COVID-19.

Mathangri Sri

Head of Data at GoFood

Mathangri Sri has built a reputation for herself as a leader in world-class data science solutions and teams. Her experience has delivered data-driven solutions such as chatbots, pricing systems, credit scoring systems and more to India’s PhonePe, Citi, and Emirates NBD. Sri was a recent keynote speaker at Cypher2020, India’s largest Analytics and AI summit. With 20 global patents in data science under her belt, Sri also enjoys recognition from Analytics India Magazine as one of the top 10 data scientists in top 100 women in India. 


Lion Kontrorer

Offensive Security Team Leader for HackerU

Once a member of Israel's premium cybercrime unit, Kontrorer is a seasoned crime investigator and penetration tester with a keen talent in pioneering solutions to protect organisations from hackers. A key area of interest for Lion is how AI can benefit organisations to combat against cybersecurity threats in the future. Kontrorer is currently running red team operations for organisations all around the world whilst also training new rising stars of cybersecurity in Israel.



Dr Jaclyn Harron

Senior Data Scientist at Allstate Northern Ireland 

Previously working as a Statistician with the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, Dr Harron is now based at the Northwest Catalyst Innovation Centre in the UK and specialises in predictive analytics. Jaclyn has been working with data scientists within a computer vision startup to develop a suite of models predicting anything from gender and age to mood and facial recognition. In her most recent role, she uses R and Python to build predictive models in a Marketing environment.



Ravinder Pal Singh

Chief Information and Innovation Officer at TATA SIA Airlines

Acknowledged as one of the world’s top 10 Robotics Designers in 2018, Ravinder Pal Singh (Ravi) is an award-winning technologist (and a rescue pilot!). Now with 17 Patents to his name, his particular area of interest is making a difference ‘within acute constraints of culture and cash via commodity technology’. Ravi has delivered over 100 lectures and papers in Asia, Europe, USA and Africa in 2018-19, alone, and otherwise is an advisor to three global research firms.

Iqbal Kaur

Co-founder of Zylotech (formerly Dataxylo)

Iqbal Kaur specialises in predictive analytics for retail and customer analytics. She is trusted by multi-billion dollar organizations to create data science solutions, whilst also developing analytical solutions across retail, high tech and consumer business. Her experience includes creating a scalable analytics capability for Target Corp. through the aggregation of product innovation, talent, business process expertise and developing a futuristic analytics roadmap for Lowe’s Companies, Inc. And, when Kaur isn’t wearing her data cap, she can be found mountaineering. 



Dr Ankur Narang

Vice President, AI and Data Technologies at Hike

Since 2017, Dr Ankur Narang has been named as one of the top 10 data scientists in India by Analytics India Magazine and has also been awarded the Top 50 Analytics Award at MachineCon in recognition of exemplary contributions to machine learning and AI. And, with over 40 international computer science and machine learning publications and journals, he’s also gathered an impressive 15 granted US patents in the field. Dr Narang’s areas of interest and expertise include big data analytics, high-performance computing, distributed systems, and parallelizing compilers for the Healthcare, and Oil & Gas industries. He currently leads state-of-the-art research and development projects on Chatbots, Computer Vision, Speech Recognition and related AI and machine learning areas

Chris Arnold

Head of Product, Analysis & Modelling at Wells Fargo

Chris Arnold has made two names for himself - his own, and the ‘Data Whisperer’ - by creating high functioning data mart solutions across multiple industries. So what does the Data Whisperer think about the future of data science? 

“From my perspective, analytic expertise is the price of entry to a much more important game which is the future of business...If you look at businesses that have been heavily involved in data for years like credit risk and direct marketing, you’ll see their leaders grew up as analysts.” 

When The Data Whisperer isn’t heading up the Knowledge Service practice for Wells Fargo, he can be found surfing or giving lectures Data Visualization for UC Berkeley, where he covers data graphic design, intuitive use of complex analytics, and offers critical insights into business intelligence tools.

Monica Rogati

Former VP of Jawbone, Data Science and AI Advisor

Monica Rogati thrives on data into products, actionable insights, and meaningful stories. As the VP of Data for Jawbone, she focused on developing data-driven products that promote a healthier lifestyle and on finding stories in the UP wristband data. Prior to that, Rogati was one of the early members of the LinkedIn data science team, where she developed and improved some of LinkedIn’s key data products for matching jobs to passive candidates, discovering people you may know, and recommending groups you may like. With a strong background in applied machine learning (CMU CS PhD), data science, wearables and health, social network analysis, recommender systems and natural language processing, she has been listed in Fast Company's 100 most creative people in business and in Fortune Magazine’s Big Data All-Stars. When asked how to identify a data scientist, Rogati says:

“By definition, all scientists are data scientists. In my opinion, they are half hacker, half analyst, they use data to build products and find insights. It’s Columbus meet Columbo - starry eyed explorers and sceptical detectives.”

She has authored eight US patents and numerous papers that have appeared in top-tier peer-reviewed journals and conferences. Rogati remains an active voice in AI on social media and contributes articles to Medium.



Wes McKinney

Director of Ursa Labs, Creator of Python pandas project

An American software developer and businessman, Wes McKinney is an open-source software developer focusing on data analysis tools. He created the Python pandas project and is a co-creator of Apache Arrow, his current development focus. He has also authored two editions of the reference book Python for Data Analysis. McKinney is a Member of The Apache Software Foundation and also a PMC member for Apache Parquet. He is also the director of Ursa Labs, a not-for-profit development group focused on data science tools for Python and R powered by Apache Arrow, built in partnership with RStudio.


Dean Abbott

Co-founder and Chief Data Scientist at SmarterHQ

Dean Abbott’s forte is applying advanced data mining, data preparation, and data visualization methods to real-world data-intensive problems - including fraud detection, response modelling, survey analysis, planned giving, predictive toxicology, signal process, and missile guidance. In addition, he has developed commercial data mining and pattern recognition algorithms including polynomial networks, neural networks, radial basis functions, and clustering algorithms. A seasoned instructor, Abbott has taught a wide range of data mining tutorials and seminars for a decade to audiences of up to 400, including DAMA, KDD, AAAI, and IEEE conferences.


Kirk Borne

Principal Data Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton

An astrophysicist and a recognised top influencer in AI by Plugin, Borne offers regular insights into the world of data science via social media and his personal blog, Rocket-Powered Data Science. Borne spent nearly 20 years supporting NASA projects, including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Astronomy Data Center, and NASA's Space Science Data Operations Office. He was a contributor to the design and development of the new Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, for which he contributed in the areas of science data management, informatics and statistical science research, galaxies research, and education and public outreach. The observatory’s primary functions are to address the understanding of dark matter and dark energy, hazardous asteroids and the remote solar system, the transient optical sky, and the formation and structure of the Milky Way.



Mike Tamir

Chief ML Scientist & Head of Machine Learning/AI at SIG

Mike Tamir splits his time between SIG and Berkeley’s Data Science Faculty, whilst also sharing his wealth of experience and knowledge with the public. Speaking on the Podcast, Voices in AI, Tamir talks about his career and touches on a range of fascinating topics including comparisons between advanced AI and our personal experience of consciousness - are we are, perhaps, not so afraid that AI will create sentience but rather discover that we are not sentient beings, ourselves? Mike thinks we might land somewhere in the middle. Meanwhile, as a ‘speaker alumni’ of the MLConf and ReWork conferences, Tamir has spoken extensively about applying deep learning to combat ‘Fake News’. 


Doug Cutting

Chief Architect at Cloudera

Doug Cutting is a founder of numerous successful open source projects, including the Nutch web crawler, Apache Lucene, Apache Avro, and Apache Hadoop. Prior to Cloudera, Cutting was from a key member of the team at Yahoo! that built and deployed a production Hadoop storage-and-analysis cluster for mission-critical business analytics.


Hadley Wickham

Chief Scientist at RStudio

Co-author of the reference book R for Data Sciences, Hadley Wickham is, as he calls it, ‘nerd famous’ for writing R programs, including a range of tools with the Tidyverse. He has also produced tools for data import and software development, and his data-driven solutions have assisted Google, Facebook and Twitter, the New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - just to name a few. Speaking to Priceonomics some time ago, he reflected:

“Fundamentally learning about the world through data is really, really cool...The analyses that get me excited are not Google crunching a terabyte of web ad data in order to optimize revenue… [but rather] the biologists who are absolutely passionate about this one swamp fly and now they can use R and they can understand it.”


Kira Radinsky

Diagnostic Robotics Chairwoman & CTO

Previously the Director of Data Science at eBay, Kira Radinksy is currently working on improving healthcare availability, outcomes and costs to patients. And, as a medical data mining specialist, Radinsky took the opportunity whilst at Microsoft Research to develop predictive algorithms that recognized the early warning signs of globally impactful events, including political riots and disease epidemics. She has previously been named in MIT Technology Review’s 35 Young Innovators Under 35, and also in Forbes’ list of 30 under 30 rising stars in enterprise technology - and, last but not least, she was 2016’s Woman of the Year, as named by Globes Magazine. These days, she can be found as a keynote speaker at some of the world's dominant data mining and thought-leader business conferences, including Strata Big Data, WWW, WSDM, and TEDx. 


Peter Skomoroch

Machine Learning Executive & Entrepreneur

Previously, Peter Skomoroch helped LinkedIn, reporting to DJ Patil and Deep Nishar, as they grew from 400 to 8,000 employees. As Principal Data Scientist and Head of Data Products, Skomoroch managed data teams that focused on reputation, search, inferred identity and building data products, and was also the creator of LinkedIn Skills & LinkedIn Endorsements. Featured by the New York Times, TechCrunch and other prestigious publications, Skomoroch now takes part in international tech conferences as a keynote speaker.


DJ Patil

Former US Chief Data Scientist

Currently the Head of Technology for Devoted Health, DJ Patil is also a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School. Dr Patil was appointed by President Obama to be the first U.S. Chief Data Scientist, during which time he made significant contributions to data-driven criminal justice reforms, healthcare programs and national security initiatives. And, as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow for the Department of Defense, Patil directed new efforts to leverage social network analysis and the melding of computational and social sciences to anticipate emerging threats to the US.


Alon Halevy

Director at Facebook AI

Specialising in data integration, database systems, artificial intelligence, XML, and deep web, Alon Halevy previously spent 10 years at Google, leading the Structured Data Group in Google Research. We worked on various aspects of structured data and the web, such as Google Fusion Tables and WebTables, a search engine for HTML tables on the Web. Pre-Google, Halevy was a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Washington, and founder of Nimble Technology and Transformic Inc. On a personal note, Halevy loves coffee so much, he even wrote a book about it. 


Nando de Freitas

Principal Scientist for Google DeepMind

Hailing from Zimbabwe, Nando de Freitas is a researcher in the field of machine learning, and in particular in the subfields of neural networks, Bayesian inference and Bayesian optimization, and deep learning. Currently the Principal Scientist for the Machine Learning team at Google DeepMind, de Freitas defines his interests a desire to understand intelligence and how brains work; put holistically:

“I research intelligence to understand what we are, and to harness it wisely.”

Hilary Mason

Founder of Fast Forward Labs

Hilary Mason, an American Data Scientist and public speaker, has been ‘working on something new’ for the several months now and, with an impressive background like hers, details of whatever the new project is will be hotly anticipated. Remember Cloudera? They acquired Fast Forward Labs, which specialises in machine learning intelligence research, and made her the General Manager of Machine Learning. Mason has also been a Data Scientist in Residence for Accel Partners, on the board for the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology, and served as the Scientist Emeritus for Bitly. Mason has also raked in numerous awards, including being named in the Top 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company. You can follow her passion for data and cheeseburgers or her personal website.



Richard Socher

Chief Scientist at Salesforce

Richard Socher is the Chief Scientist at Salesforce and the founder of MetaMind which was also acquired by Salesforce. MetaMind’s purpose was to use deep learning AI  to analyze, label and make predictions on image and text data - ultimately, it was a general-purpose engine that was, at the time, specifically applied to medical imaging, radiology, sentiment analysis and satellite images. With a great love of math and language, Socher communicates his passions across a range of formats including social media, a personal website, public speaking, and media. And, when he’s not working with world-first AI solutions, Socher is enjoying adventure sports and photography. 


John Myles White

Author, Engineering Manager at Facebook’s Core Data Science team

With a body of published reference works and a Doctorate of Psychology from Princeton University under his belt, John Myles White has spent a great deal of time investigating how human beings make decisions. He has also garnered experience as a member of Research Staff in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). And, whilst at MIT, he developed data analysis libraries for the Julia programming language.


We hope you enjoyed our compilation of international data scientists and machine learning professionals. Join one of our Unearthed industry challenges for a chance to enhance your career prospects and forge new business connections. 

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