PyDev of the Week: Lorena Mesa

PyDev of the Week: Lorena Mesa

This week we welcome Lorena Mesa (@loooorenanicole) as our PyDev of the Week! Lorena is an organizer for the PyLadies Chicago group and a director at the Python Software Foundation. You can check out some of the things that she is up to on her blog or via her Github page. Let’s spend a few moments getting to know her better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):


Hmmm … I have been told that I’m a bit eclectic. So let’s start with the basics, in my day to day gig I am a proud member of GitHub’s software intelligence systems team as a data engineer. In my etc hours I do such things as co-organize PyLadies Chicago and serve as a Director for the Python Software Foundation.


Things I do for fun?

  • I’m an avid runner having taken on the Chicago Marathon 13 times now. Why? I encourage you to read Haruki Murakami’s “What I talk about when I talk about running” before you ask me that.
  • Jazz, italo disco, and loud 1980s ballads are equal parts guilty pleasure for me. Meaning of course I’ve been learning the sax and getting pretty good at it lately. (Yes, I can play Careless Whispers).
  • I’m learning Klingon –

You can find my random musings when I post on my personal blog at on such things as traveling, tech, and other tidbits.


Why did you start using Python?


I began using Python as an Obama for America (OFA) staffer around 2008. At the time I was pursuing my political science degree from Northwestern and working on the Latino Vote team for OFA. Some of the tasks we were looking to accomplish as a part of our outreach included identifying and ultimately predicting patterns of Latino voter behavior. Luckily we had many technologists on hand who helped us think about how we could do this, and given the data set and tech we were using for outreach (yes, this is the early days of social media … Twitter how novel!) programming was an obvious fit. I had the stats background, understood the problem space, and before I knew it was writing my first Python “programs” to help us target and reach our desired voting demographic.


What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?


I am not a classically trained computer scientist, far from it actually. Coming from social science research and applied mathematics when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in engineering I jumped two feet into a coding immersion program. This predated the data science bootcamps and masters we see today, therefore it was a full stack program teaching me JavaScript, SQL (which I already knew), and Ruby. JavaScript became a quick friend. JavaScript was such a different and at times strange entity, but I loved how it invited me to think differently and solve different problems. Namely I was using JavaScript for data viz. I have since fallen in love with functional programming and fully enjoy Scala.


Thanks for doing the interview!

from The Mouse Vs. The Python

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