Emily poses under an archIf you could see what might happen in the future, would you want to? If you found the genie in the bottle, do you have your three wishes ready? Unless you have a flux capacitor handy or Aladdin turns out to be non-fiction, what you really need is a data scientist. Look no further, Emily Fashenpour, lover of math and seeker of adventure, has a vested interest in bringing together climate research and actionable future planning. Her roadmap runs straight to protecting the things we love, building resilience into our most trusted necessities and continuously learning new ways to solve for challenges facing the planet we call home.

Getting started

“Let me teach you to code!” A persistent, and frequently declined request from Emily’s tech dad did not turn out to be her first foray into the world of computer science. Instead, a friend’s invitation into the robotics space sparked an abiding love for coding and mathematics. Jump ahead and Emily stacked the education deck at Southern Methodist University, graduating with a B.S. in Computer Science, minors in Mathematics and Spanish, and followed it up with an M.S. in Applied Statistics and Data Analytics for good measure. And to quote Emily herself, “Dad was right, I love to code.”

While data science combines principles and practices of mathematics, statistics, artificial intelligence, and computer science, Emily takes it a step further by incorporating her personal purpose to share knowledge, improve people’s lives, and teach. Eager to bring it all together to positively impact climate change, enter AT&T’s Technology Development Program (TDP).

Catching a Glimpse of the Future

TDP is designed to provide rotational exposure in multiple business disciplines in the AT&T technology space, Emily kicked off her unique experience in the AT&T Chief Data Office and is currently a Data Analyst working on AT&T’s Climate Resilience Program.

“I realized being able to work like this and having a tangible impact, is so incredibly important to me. It gives me drive to want to go in to work. At the end of the day it is going to help people. It gives me clear insight into how connecting changes everything.”

Turning climate science into actionable intelligence is the intersection where Emily’s data science expertise meets opportunities to leverage cutting-edge climate change data from the U.S Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. With particular focus on inland flood data and its impact on AT&T facilities and assets, her ingenuity has resulted in specific enhancements made to bolster resilience and preparation for areas most likely at-risk to flooding. Ensuring infrastructure planning teams have the future look they need by translating projections into risk assessment, flood risk scores, and mitigation recommendations, helps communities stay connected in times of crisis.

Taking this show on the road

Presentation sheet with graphs and data "Making Data Actionable: How Local-Level Climate Projections Help Communities Become More Resilient"

Click the image to get a closer look at Emily’s work

Emily with coworkers

Resilience, fortification, and preparedness is critical not just to the future of businesses like AT&T, but for the communities we serve. In collaboration with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, AT&T participated in the building of the Climate Risk and Resilience (ClimRR) portal. The goal? Make climate data publicly available to local communities. Making the knowledge bite sized is where Emily had a chance to bring full circle her passion for helping people when she presented at the American Geophysical Union’s Scientific Conference. Networking with fellow scientists from NASA, NOAA and organizations equally invested in discovering tangible use cases for climate data.

The future proofing doesn’t stop there. As part of the next steps in furthering this innovative work, Emily is building a machine learning model capable of projecting short-term flood risk. Her model, which she’s developing in coordination with team member Chris Holle (also a TDP grad) and meteorologists from the AT&T Weather Operations Center, will transform short-term forecasts and improve how our company integrates climate data into flood preparedness recommendations at the site level.

“The Technology Development Program has felt like a safe place to learn and grow. I’ve been able to expand many skills, like presenting in front of large or executive audiences, which has been huge for an introverted-leaning person like myself. They are truly invested in us and eager to see us learn and succeed.”

The power of passion and purpose combined has set Emily on a path that is already making changes come to life. We can’t wait to see what comes next!

Learn more about the Technology Development Program