Q&A with Palmy Chomchat Silarat, Community Partner Fellow
Washington STEM is thrilled to have Palmy Chomchat Silarat join our team as a Community Partner Fellow. Read on to learn about Palmy’s career path and how she plans to use data science to further equity in STEM education.
Q. Why did you decide to join Washington STEM?
I joined Washington STEM as a part of my doctoral program opportunities because I wanted to utilize what I learn in school in the real world and make a positive impact on the community. With my interest in equitable social statistics, I discovered the need for research and evaluation at Washington STEM and chose to apply!
Q. What do equity in STEM education and career mean to you?
Equity in STEM education means many things to me. Idealistically, it means that every single individual who expresses interest in STEM education and careers will get an equal opportunity to follow their interests, achieve their goals, and live their dreams. In the real world, equity might look like making sure that young students get exposed to STEM topics early and often. It can also be ensuring equitable access to support services that will allow them to be on track for a STEM education and career or pushing for equally competitive salaries in the job market after graduation.
Q. Why did you choose your career?
Data science and analytics are extremely powerful. When used responsibly, they can make scalable, positive impacts, but when used without care, they can create segregation and inequality. The field of math and statistics was historically heavily tied to eugenics, which means that numbers are used to marginalize people. However, I argue that numbers and techniques themselves are not inherently inequitable; it depends on how people use them. My passion is to use data science as responsibly as I can. I am fascinated by this advancing field every single day and I hope to become more proficient as I grow.
Q. Can you tell us more about your education/career path?
I am going to simply give a chronological story. Although I’ve loved math ever since I was young, I did not have the confidence to pursue it in college. I was a classically trained concert pianist who always begged for permission to read music therapy research write-ups. Outside of training, I found myself sitting in math and science classes that weren’t required for my degree. After over a decade of training, I realized that I wanted to go back to crunching numbers and decided to pursue a research-based Master’s degree in Cambridge for a year. And after that pivotal year, I gained enough confidence and skills to officially start a career in data science. During the first year of the pandemic, I was contracted at a start-up that helps small local hospitals on the outskirts of Bangkok generate more income. As a researcher on the user analytics team, I was fascinated by how much impact I could make using data science; so I simply stuck with it.
Q. What inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who love surrounding others as they love themselves.
Q. What are some of your favorite things about Washington state?
Definitely nature and the people.
Q. What’s one thing about you people can’t find through the internet?
This is tough. Fun fact, I’m from Bangkok and Thai names are so unique. If you Google my name solely, there is already a 99% chance that you will find me in one second. But one thing that I am sure you can’t find on the internet is that I hate snowboarding, but I love sitting in the resort making hot ramen for my friends.