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About the Women in Data Science Series
A data scientist knows that some of the richest and most intriguing stories can be found in a data set.
To highlight the stories behind the women in data science at Booz Allen, we created an editorial series on the individuals who are solving today’s big challenges and redefining, in their own unique ways, what it means to be a data scientist.
Explore the profiles and get personal with women from a variety of backgrounds, skill sets, and experience who are part of our growing team of data scientists.
Lu Sevier is a big-picture problem solver. She’s lived around the world—Colorado, Egypt, Illinois, the Philippines, Virginia, Serbia—and tackles every challenge with a global mindset. An explorer at heart, Lu’s biggest ideas come from experiencing life around her.
When she was growing up, her dad was a stay-at-home parent. Because of that, Lu says, “My dad pushed us to do everything the boys did—because why not."
Lu dreamed of being an inventor. “I wanted to wear one of those lab coats and have big hair.” Now, as a data scientist who’s pioneered game-changing data science initiatives, she isn’t too far off from her childhood goal. (Though she says she’s “still working on the hair bit.”)
In college, Lu changed majors from international relations to biology, and during a summer fellowship in the Philippines, she worked to map its 7,000 islands to help create better evacuation plans during natural disasters. Inspired by the AidData fellowship, she decided to change her school trajectory and focus on coding.
“I didn’t really know any female technologists or computer science majors when I started college. I thought you had to be a math expert to do computer science,” Lu reflected. What she thought she knew, however, would soon change.
Once back in the U.S., she landed a mock interview with Booz Allen, during which someone mentioned the Field Guide to Data Science. Not yet a data scientist at the time, Lu pored through the pages, and thought, “Put me on whatever team created this.” Soon after, she started her new job at Booz Allen and found herself surrounded by the guide's authors—as her teammates. Lu’s first project was with the Center for Disease Control, and she later worked with the Veterans Experience Office. At the time of this publication, Lu is working with a client on fraud prevention.
“My dad pushed us to do everything the boys did—because why not.”
While she’s inspired by innumerable people around her, she’s especially in awe of the female leaders she works with. “Instead of assuming,” Lu explained, “they ask questions first so that they understand the full scope of a challenge.”
Lu’s client work is just one component of her contributions to the data science field. Just as the authors of the Field Guide to Data Science inspired her, Lu is motivating data scientists to use their skills to give back to the greater community.
To make hackathons more effective, Lu helped create a framework that helps data scientists evaluate a data set and assess the potential impact of finding a solution around it. This work is not only important to the ultimate impact of hackathons, but it also leverages the power of crowdsourcing and gives more data scientists an opportunity to solve social good problems.
Lu’s passion for purpose in her work doesn’t stop there. Lu and her teammates rolled out the Social Good Pipeline, which helps bring data-based problem solving to pressing societal issues. Its first victory? A hackathon that helped visualize the optimal placement of accessory dwelling units to make affordable housing more accessible in a local community.
If there’s anything that has surprised Lu, it’s how she’s breaking “the mold of what I thought consulting would be,” she says. “I don’t wear a suit every day—I get to zip around DC on my bike.” She lives her life on the go, and that’s how she stays fresh.
If you ever get a chance to talk to Lu, you’ll feel energized and optimistic. Her zest for life is contagious, and it’s safe to say that as long as she continues to solve problems, the world will be a better place.