I was born in 1979 in Turkey. I always had a passion to build things. Of course the media changed over time: Lego blocks, words, musical notes, programming constructs… but the process was always the same. Envision it, build it, make sure it is elegant and beautiful, something you can be proud of and surely it will fuel the next cycle.
I took an interesting path by pursuing a degree in Environmental Engineering first which at the time was hailed as the job of the future. I had my side projects of course, like singing and playing the guitar in band, designing flyers and book covers not to mention leading a team that produced interactive product catalog, yearbook and educational CD-ROMs. Ah.. Good ol’ Macromedia Director and Lingo.
During my Masters, my education came a step closer to my future profession as I focused on computational modeling, while not losing touch with the hands-on environmental scientist within. I’ve seen my fair share of diatoms among other, not so pretty things. Mathematica was certainly one of the prettier things.
I came to the US in 2004 for my PhD to work in a computational fluid dynamics lab but took courses on information systems and database design in addition to the regular Civil Engineering curriculum. My work focused on application of semantic web technologies (OWL/RDF), interoperability standards (ISO 19xxx series, OGC‘s GML, O&M, SensorML…), webservices and GIS to change the way hydrologists communicate with sensors, discover, gather and understand data. Out of which among many other things came Hydroseek search engine that was mostly coded in JAVA and relied on Jena framework‘s OWL reasoner.
In 2006, I met Jim Gray who convinced me to join Microsoft Research. It was shortly after his untimely loss, when I joined his lab in San Francisco, CA. I built a similar tool named SciScope ground up with a custom built triple store and simple inference engine in C# and with much bigger scope in terms of data coverage and the size of the knowledge base allowing cross-database queries across several heterogeneous database systems in addition to collaboration (collaborative tagging, sharing datasets, comments, annotations) and visualization capabilities. Visualizations ranged from 2D time series plots of sensor observations to density visualizations with area-weighted aggregations (hydrologic units, ecoregions…) creating on-the-fly thematic maps that rely on color as well as elevation/extrusion (spatial bar chart) by taking advantage of OLAP. SciScope was showcased to United Nations in February 2009 and at World Economic Forum in January 2009. During this period I also led the development of APIs compliant with Open Geospatial Consortium standards for .NET platform.
After 2.5 years in Microsoft Research, I joined High Performance Computing team and later SQL Server Information Services team as a Program Manager to help address visualization and big data & big compute problems of domain specialists like myself through parallel and distributed computing including in memory (MPI) and disk bound (Dryad/Hadoop) workloads. I worked with a lot of experts in different domains such as finance, actuarial and biotech in this period and wrote a good amount of R and Python code for a number of scenarios ranging from risk assessment and stock pricing to traditional BI (classification/clustering of structured data) as well as social media and clickstream analytics. In 2011 I joined Lync team as a Program Manager. After shipping Lync 2013, Microsoft’s enterprise unified communications solution in the Office suite, I jumped back into the data realm by joining Tableau where my teams focused on statistics & calculations features, query optimization and technical partnerships over a 5 year period shipping countless features.
Currently I’m the Head of Product Management at Descartes Labs in charge of Product Management, Competitive Intelligence and User Research functions.