Meet a Data Scientist: Ciera Martinez, PhD

13 February 2023

In early January 2023, I had the privilege of speaking with one of the top 100 most inspiring Hispanic/LatinX scientists in the US, Dr. Ciera Martinez. Dr. Martinez shared her love of plants became the focus of her education and career. She also shared tips for students and researchers who are interested in beginning their journey into data science.

Professional portrait of Ciera Martinez at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science.


Dr. Ciera Martinez has been interested in plants since she was a young child, which eventually led her to pursue a Bachelor’s in biology at Northeastern Illinois University and a Ph.D. in plant biology at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Martinez delved deeper into her research as NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in the same department at UC Davis and completed a subsequent postdoctoral fellowship at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS). It was during her graduate and postgraduate studies that Dr. Martinez fell in love with data science and open science principles.

Current Role

Upon completing her postdoc, Dr. Martinez was hired as a Research Lead of Biodiversity and Environmental Data Science at BIDS where she studies how organisms adapt in response to the environment. In addition to her research, Dr. Martinez advocates for the adoption of open science principles to fuel scientific access and innovation.

For anyone who is new to data science, Dr. Martinez strongly recommended learning by doing rather than passively reading or watching tutorials about various methods and programming languages. She also said the most motivating and sustainable way to begin is to find a topic that you’re passionate about. Dr. Martinez is also on the planning committee for ImageXD 2023 which convenes researchers who work with images as a primary source of data to learn about the latest developments in a variety of fields.

Outside of Work

Dr. Martinez is involved in several multidisciplinary projects. She regularly shares her data science expertise with audiences and organizations that share her commitment to open science and strive to make the field more inclusive. One of these projects was partly funded by ADSA and is called Data Science by Design (DSxD). DSxD is a community of practice that celebrates and supports those who leverage creative mediums, design thinking, and storytelling to convey practice and insights of data.

When Ciera isn’t contributing to and growing data science communities, she is deepening her skills in ceramics and knitting.

How to connect

Dr. Martinez is always looking for collaborators. Find out how to get in touch with her by checking out Dr. Martinez’s profile in the CDN Member Directory which shares links to her website and social media profiles.

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