The Data Architect

Angel Hsu

Job:Director, Yale Data-Driven Environmental Solutions Group
Angel Hsu

Green cred: Hsu heads up Yale’s efforts in developing data-driven tools to inform environmental policy. In practice, that means coming up with useful, useable indicators and building software to track key environmental trends so policymakers can make better decisions when it comes to climate change, air quality, and conservation. (She’s also a one-time Grist contributor!)

What to expect in 2016: Early this year, the U.N. will begin to define metrics for measuring their lofty Sustainable Development Goals. Hsu argues that some measurements should come directly from people on the ground, especially in countries with little data infrastructure. “We need to be leveraging citizen engagement, crowdsourcing, big data, and smartphones,” she says. “That’s where the environmental movement needs to be heading.”

Bridging the gap: Hsu says that good data must be presented the right way if it is to help close the communication gap between scientists and policy wonks. “The communities that are developing complex algorithms do not speak the same language as policymakers,” she says. “If you talk to policymakers about 400 ppm, they’re going to tune out.” Hsu’s work finds her squarely between the two groups.

Best thing about living in Singapore: “The willingness to innovate” — and the food.