Hello!  I'm Jess Behrens!

About Me

Data Scientist

Accomplished, multifaceted analyst with a background in ecology.  Proven expertise spanning traditional & geo-statistics, machine learning, data visualization, cartography, and relational database technology. Success applying multiplatform information technologies and relational databases in environmental, public health, and other settings for reporting, analytical, and cartographic purposes.


Data Visualization & Network Analysis

Tools: Access/VBA/SQL, R, Gephi, python, & excel.

Having always loved to play & watch basketball, I decided that publicly available data on the Men's College Basketball Tournament was an ideal way to learn data science. I've put together 4 interactive python visualizations to illustrate some of what I've learned during this process of finding, cleaning, transforming, analyzing, & visualizing the data.

Statistics & Database Programming

Tools: Access/VBA/SQL, R, SAS.

I first learned to write SQL code as part of the West Nile Encephalitis Monitoring program 20 years ago. I've used SQL code w/VBA for numerous projects & ERP integrations since. Trained in statistics using SPSS, I've become familiar with SAS & R for multiple projects that span basic descriptive statistics to complex regression analysis.

Map in Grass

Geographic Information Systems

Tools: ArcGIS, QGIS, MapINFO, R

​As a trained cartographer, I have 14 years of experience working with most of the major GIS packages.  While I've worked most with ESRI's ArcGIS products, including the Network, Spatial, Geo-statistical, & Modelbuilder extensions, I also have experience in R, QGIS, & MapINFO.

Note on Patent US2017/0212992

  •  While at Northwestern 2012-2016, the university chose to explore the possibility of a patent  that is based on an idea of mine for developing high resolution, interpolated population distribution rasters using a combination of simulation tools.

  • I did all of the exploratory & confirmatory work for them on this project because it was my idea & dated to a project I had when I began graduate school in 1997. I made it work.

  • In late 2016, I was informed by the university that they would not be pursuing a full patent.  I left their employment in December 2016.

  • They then chose to pursue a full patent (20170212992) 3 months after I left (March 2017).

  • Northwestern did not contact me or my attorney by email or phone to let me know they had made the decision to proceed with a full patent . This is in spite of having contacted me for other reasons.

  • I am concerned that current & former employees of the university familiar with my work may be experiencing a conflict of interest with respect to my employment within this specific area of research as well as the use of Geographic Information Systems generally. I have alternate sources that can speak to my use of GIS.

  • I have never, to my knowledge, signed a non-disclosure or a non-competition agreement with the university. I can be employed doing GIS work for anyone, anywhere, anytime & does not violate any agreement with them.


  • Actively engaged in continuing research around the development of small area estimates of disease using Electronic Health Record diagnosis data. 

  • This work is based around the same goals as Patent Publication# 20170212992, which grew out of my own work & began as an idea of mine in 1997.

  • Pursuing research of methodological improvements in this patent that will enable me to apply for a new patent.

  • Continuing research into the use of GIS to model the relationship between large, primarily academic, emergency rooms & systemic destabilization of ER wait times, with the Chicago region being the primary focus.

Research Analyst

  • Using igraph in R & Gephi, performed social network analysis & visualization of an author citation network focused on 50 years of cancer research (>5000 clinical trials & >28,000 authors).

  • Integrated jupyter notebooks (python), python for QGIS, & ArcPy to automate the API based process of downloading Open Street Map road data for various environmental projects.

  • Applied Python & R to create random & conditional forest machine learning models for the classification & visualization of road entropy in Peruvian villages for environmental projects.

  • Utilized Postgresql, excel, python, & R for data management on projects.

Research Data Analyst

  • Applied ordinary least squares, geographically weighted, & logistic regression methods in a SAS & ArcGIS based iterative regression analysis of penetrating trauma wounds & liquor licenses.

  • Employed distance weighted economic measures & price elasticity in an ArcGIS, Access (T-SQL), & VBA based analysis of Emergency Department wait times in Chicago Area hospitals.

  • Spearheaded research into the use of Monte Carlo, machine learning (Kriging), & geostatistical simulation as tool’s for developing precise epidemiological risk estimates from EHR diagnoses.

  • Employed factor analysis, PCA, & k-means cluster algorithms to develop a national scale dataset of transformed census data elements by census block group for use in predicting epidemiological risk.

  • Utilized SAS, SQL, excel, & python for data management & transformation.

Epidemiology Specialist

  • Spearheaded technical & cartographic support for the Missouri ESSENCE program by undertaking data management (SSRS)/spatial & statistical analysis of Missouri ESSENCE data in SAS & ArcGIS.

  • Developed regression model for the 2009 H1N1 flu season using ESSENCE, SAS, ArcGIS, and Microsoft Access.

  • Authored SAS & VBA code to automate the production of a time series study of 2009 influenza season.

Health Data Analyst

  • Played critical role in gathering, tabulating, and analyzing data from diverse governmental agencies to compile comprehensive biennial report using Access, VBA, & Excel on state health service sector.

  • Provided statistical support, analysis, & data management in SAS, SPSS, & Excel.

GIS/Database Analyst

  • Spearheaded new property restrictive area covenant check process by coordinating with franchise development, legal, & IT departments to ensure concordance with existing franchise obligations.

  • Liaised with programmers to improve a Minnesota Map Server (MMS)/dimensional model SQL Server based intranet mapping system, shortening duration of site selection & approval process.

  • Created multiple T-SQL batch process stored procedures to integrate Hilton Hotels Restrictive Area Covenant text data from our SQL Server with a companywide ERP system.


Degrees & Institutions


As a student in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology (GDPE), I did my research & thesis with the CDC's Division of Vector Borne Infecious Disease (DVBID). My focus was on Geographic Information Systems & Remote Sensing. Developed significant Access & SQL skills working on the West Nile Encephalitis Monitoring Program.


Ongoing, active application of social & economic network modeling to a 15 year study of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.  Involves application of economic & evolutionary game theory, specifically a measure called the ‘Key Player’ index, to Tournament teams.  This project involves extensive use of Jupyter Notebook, python, VBA, & R, specifically the use of random & conditional forests.


My coursework focused on medical & cultural anthropology while also minoring in geography

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