The BioStrand Interviews: Meet Georgios Triantopoulos
In the second in our continuing series featuring members of the invaluable transdisciplinary talent at BioStrand, we would like to introduce Georgios Triantopoulos, a core part of our data science team since 2020.
A keen believer in continuous learning, Georgios’ academic credentials include dual multidisciplinary masters degrees spanning AI, big data analytics and electronics & communications.
In addition, he lays a lot of emphasis on self-learning with the conviction that applying personal initiative to constantly upgrade and acquire one’s data science skills is the only way to stay ahead of the curve in the constantly evolving data science practice.
Consequently, Giorgios brings a vital T-shaped profile to his active role in the development process of BioStrand’s data platforms. His deep experience and skills in machine learning, data mining, artificial intelligence techniques and information retrieval combined with his multidisciplinary perspective of data science in genomics and biological analytics dovetail perfectly with our mission to revolutionise genetic research and empower life sciences, researchers.
What software or tools do you use every day?
Though I have trained on tools such as Python, R, Java, SQL, Tableau, Power Bi and Hadoop, the main programming language I use is python along with common python libraries like NumPy, pandas, Matplotlib, PySpark, statistics, scikit-learn. In terms of everyday tools, I use quite a range including Git, AWS SageMaker, Docker, Gephi and Confluence for planning, structuring and documenting my work.
According to Amazon, AWS SageMaker is becoming a key tool for some of the more demanding practitioners of machine learning. Given your strong background in ML, what are some of your recommended best practices and tips for users?
As always, make sure to organize all your files with names that are both compact as well descriptive. Also, the solution makes it really simple to easily label your datasets that there is no need for users to manage the workforce required for such a manual task. On a similar note, there is a range of services that are available, from image detection to chatbots and time-series forecasting.
So it is important to familiarize oneself and take advantage of them in order to optimize one’s workflows. And finally, integration with Github repositories can yield some tangible benefits.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am working on a project that will simplify and streamline the workflow for normalizing metadata from multiple sources, say, Pfam, GeneOntology, Taxonomy, assigning them to protein sequences and then extracting sequence-related information from relevant volumes of scientific literature. So, I am developing a program that will identify epitopes and paratopes within protein sequences.
Using the Biostrand platform, I can then identify all the associations/relationships between these epitopes and paratopes and the human microbiome. And finally, I am working on a data visualization module that uses graph representations to make it easier for users to spot patterns, correlations and outliers.
What project are you most proud of and why?
A project that I am particularly proud of is one that had immediate real-world implications. This was a project where my team was able to apply the HYFT™ paradigm to find a connection between SARS-CoV-2 and the human microbiome.
This connection had already been studied from a clinical perspective. But we were able to successfully identify the similarities at the sequence level and thereby provide an exact elucidation of the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and the human microbiome.
One of the reasons this project is especially notable is because of the plethora of biological challenges and hurdles involved. But we were able to make it work by pulling together as a cohesive team, keeping communications transparent and constructive and focusing on delivering the project on a tight timeframe.
Soft skills are becoming an essential part of the successful data scientist's repertoire. What are some of these skills that have helped you in your career development?
Communication, collaboration and a professional work ethic.
As data scientists, we tend to have a lot of cross-disciplinary interactions with multiple stakeholders. I have found that effective communication plays a crucial role in ensuring that those interactions are as productive as they are pleasant. As data scientists, we need to develop the skills required to communicate complex information effectively. Needless to say, the ability to listen and respond is very critical as well.
Collaboration is key to ensuring that data science projects are always aligned with user expectations and business objectives. So, you need to have the social and intellectual temperament to work closely with people with different backgrounds, personality types, domain interests and management roles.
Maintaining a professional work ethic, in terms of ensuring consistent quality and time management, exhibiting a positive attitude, and demonstrating a disciplined approach to fulfilling my responsibilities, has been extremely important to me.
Are you reading any interesting research papers we should know about?
I am reading something extremely interesting though it is not, in this case, a research paper. I am currently in the middle of a very interesting book dealing with science, technology and mathematics called “Algorithms to Live by: The Computer Science of Human Decisions” by Bryan Christian and Tom Griffiths.
The authors explain the mathematics of human decision making and demonstrate how algorithms developed for computers can also tackle human questions. For me, it was an exciting realization that the same types of algorithms that I use within a data science framework can, to a certain extent, regulate the world around us as well.
What do you do when you’re not working on data science projects?
Photography is one of my passions. Though I am more oriented towards abstract and street photography, lately I have been exploring the genre of documentary photography. I am also currently taking Dutch language lessons and teaching myself how to play the guitar.