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Meet CreativeLive’s Terry Lang: Turning Data Into Compelling Courses

by Topher Kelly
CreativeLive Staff Profiles

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Today, we are proud to introduce you to our data analyst Terry Lang. Terry does more than crunch numbers; she a member of the product team responsible for understanding which courses are the most helpful for students and how to continue to provide high quality courses for our community. She is also has a PhD in computational chemical biology. Here’s a bit more about Terry, aka “T-Bone.”

What do you do at CreativeLive?

I work as a Data Analyst. In general, my job is to make sure that different types of data are accurate and easily accessible. For example, I help provide data that allows us to figure out which of our courses are successful and why so we can make sure we continue to provide courses that have content that is interesting to our students.

What inspired you to go into data analysis?

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I have always been interested in getting to the root cause of a problem. When I was doing research, I used data and models to understand exactly what was causing and curing disease down to the level of atoms. At creativeLIVE, I use data to help understand what students want to learn and continue to provide high quality, relevant courses.

Why is your favorite part of your job at cL?

My favorite part of my job is when I present data in a new way to someone and they say ‘Cool! That’s super useful!’

What did you study in school?

My undergrad degree is in Chemistry and Biochemistry with a minor in English Lit. I have a PhD in Computational Chemical Biology.

What was your first job and where else did you work before cL?

My entire career before creativeLIVE involved doing basic lab research. For my PhD, I developed software that helped experimentalists design better drugs to treat viruses, particularly HIV. Afterwards, I worked in a lab developing software that helps detect how proteins move and then connecting that motion to how proteins become broken in diseases like cancer. When I moved to creativeLIVE, my goal was to use my skills in basic research and data analysis to help lower barriers to education.

Do you have creative hobbies?

I’m really more of a crafter and I tend to dabble. My house is full of various skills I’ve dabbled in including silk screening, glass fusion, charcoal sketching, crocheting, counted cross-stitch. I also like trying new recipes and then fiddling with the ingredients to make them work with what’s available at the farmers market or what my friends can eat (vegan, gluten free, no nuts, hates cheese, etc).

Who or what inspires you in your creative endeavors?

Mini-challenges tend to be the most inspiring for me. What can I make with these weird mushrooms I just bought at the farmers market? Make mushroom stroganoff! Can I make bread with a bread machine at home with no salt that’s as good as from the store with salt? Heck yeah! I’m hanging out with a bunch of girlfriends who are knitting, what can I crochet in one sitting? Cutest cell phone case ever! What can I make my notoriously hard-to-shop-for brother for Christmas on a $10 budget? Beer charms with planes, trains, and automobile buttons!

Who is your favorite cL teacher and why?

I don’t have a good answer for this one. I mainly watch for content rather than for particular instructors. Whether it’s to pay attention to the source of natural light in a picture, make limoncello from scratch, gain insight into how to pose myself in pictures in a flattering way or figure out how to fly to New Orleans for vacation for free, I have learned something from every single course I have watched.

If you were a CreativeLive instructor, what would you teach?

I used to teach a class on how your body protects you from germs, complete with experiments, for kindergarteners. I also taught a forensic chemistry class for 6-8th graders to help determine who stole Mr Boots’ cookies. I’d probably teach one of those.

What’s the strangest/most awesome thing you’ve ever done in a job?

I was paid to travel to Copenhagen to give a talk on my research. I climbed the mountains above Telluride to over 12,000 feet during a break for a conference, though that was technically recreation 🙂

Where do you see education going in the future?

Upcoming generations are going to HAVE to be lifelong learners because the world is changing so quickly. As a result, education is going to focus more on thought processes and skills rather than memorization of facts. It will also increasingly be crowd-sourced to help lower barriers to people helping each other out and to increase how quickly new knowledge can be passed around.

What’s your favorite family tradition?

Basically every year since I’ve been 6, I have gone with whatever family or friends are nearby to a Japanese steakhouse for dinner. If you’re not familiar, the chefs cook in front of you on a hibachi grill and do all kinds of crazy tricks with their knives and flip shrimp into their hats and set things on fire. Totally awesome!

Most life-changing (non-creativeLIVE) class you’ve ever taken?

As a professional academic I’ve taken a TON of courses so it’s hard to pick just one. I think my favorite was in undergrad was probably International Negotiations where we were assigned to be on either Pakistan, India or the US strategic team and asked to settle a nuclear disarmament treaty. In addition to learning about the history and political context of the region, I developed some really useful skills in persuasion and negotiation.

What do you do with cLers outside the office?

The majority of the time I’m hanging with cLers it’s either exploring restaurants or bars around the neighborhood. Our company is located in a really fun part of the city with lots of interesting places to eat and drink so we have lots to choose from.

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Topher Kelly

Topher Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and editor at CreativeLive. Follow Topher on Twitter@Topher_LIVE.