Ahna Girshick is a research scientist passionate about connecting humans and technology in beautiful and beneficial ways. Her goal is to produce radical innovations grounded in rigorous data science for positive social impact. She brings a unique perspective arising from her diverse experience in computer and human vision, machine learning, data science, information visualization, human-computer interaction, and genetics.
Her research has revealed that human brains integrate visual information according to a statistically optimal algorithm and has established scientifically robust parameters and guidelines for the perception and design of 2D and 3D displays. In a novel linking of human behavior, neural networks, and digital image analytics, Ahna applied machine learning to reverse-engineer the statistical structure of the brain’s prior expectations of its visual environment, producing a widely-cited Nature Neuroscience paper demonstrating that seemingly irrational perceptual biases have rational perceptual and biological bases. In addition to lab experiments, Ahna has conducted web experiments studying the effect of design choices on the visual perception of data visualizations, demonstrating how to maintain visual perceptibility across design variations. She has developed novel visualizations of 3D medical CT images and programmed analyses of fMRI images. Ahna has published her scientific findings in top journals such as Nature Neuroscience and SIGGRAPH, and received press from The New York Times and Science News.
Ahna holds a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota, a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in Vision Science, and performed her postdoctoral research at New York University as an NIH Fellow. In her spare time she has moonlighted as a producer of creative music visualization apps with musicians Philip Glass and Björk that have been praised by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, and WIRED; and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, NY.
She was previously a Senior Data Scientist and Head of Product at Enlitic, a San Francisco startup on MIT Tech Review's 50 Smartest Companies List, dedicated to improving medicine via deep learning technology. She is currently a Senior Computational Research Scientist at Ancestry DNA.