Fritz Lekschas, PhD
Head of Visualization Research
I joined Ozette in June 2021.
I’ve always been fascinated by biology and how we can study complex biological problems by measuring some property, analyzing the data, and translating the results into insights. In the early days of my undergraduate work studying bioinformatics at the Free University of Berlin, I approached this problem through ontological data modeling, but always felt we need more than well-structured and fast databases. After all, it’s ultimately people who assign meaning to data, so we need effective tools that help extract insights. Additionally, as humans, our vision system is the most effective channel to perceive information, so during my graduate work in bioinformatics, I started researching data visualization. But data visualization alone is not enough — in a world that’s drowning in data, we also need to extract, summarize, and present data in intelligent and efficient ways. Or, in other words, we need computational tools such as human-centered machine learning that guide visual data exploration and help us discover insights efficiently. This desire is what pushed me to pursue a PhD in computer science at Harvard where I worked on pattern-driven visual data exploration of genomic data.
After getting my PhD, I was looking for an opportunity to hone both my passion for intelligent visual data exploration of biomedical data and my strong personal beliefs in helping others. An opportunity where my work would directly help advance science and human health. Most biotech startups focus on advancing a specific measurement technology or analysis approach, but making sure that the data is easily explorable and understood by the scientists is often an afterthought. However, at Ozette there is strong understanding that we need to advance all aspects to truly advance science: fast, accurate, and insightful analyses. After all, “the purpose of computing is insight, not numbers” as Richard Hamming said quite nicely. Together with the fact that Ozette tries to tackle this with a diverse group of smart, kind, and welcoming people, convinced me to take this incredible opportunity.
For me, no day is ever the same as there are so many different and exciting projects going on all the time. That said, I do think one overarching aspect that shows up every day here is the cross-disciplinary and collaborative nature of all our activities. I regularly work together with engineers, designers, interns, analysts, biologists, or methodologists. And that’s really where the magic and excitement is happening and allows me to grow professionally.