Rachel Thomas

Rachel Thomas, PhD

Founder and Researcher, fast.ai and USF Data Institute


Dr. Rachel Thomas is a co-founder of fast.ai and a researcher at the University of San Francisco Data Institute. She has a PhD in mathematics from Duke University, and previously was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow and a data scientist and software engineer at Uber. She is currently researching how to make deep learning more accessible and easier to use.

Dr. Thomas has worked on a variety of technical projects including: Computer model of irregular biochemical processes in children with Down Syndrome and AutisM, Markov models of outcomes for different HIV treatments, Uber’s neighborhood-based dynamic “surge” pricing algorithm, Refactor of Uber’s largest codebase into a service oriented architecture, and Monte Carlo simulator for an energy company with $25B yearly revenue

A talented educator, Rachel has taught Calculus I & II and the full web development stack, including deployment, data structures, and algorithms. Dr. Thomas is passionate about increasing diversity in tech, and she has helped over 100 women transition into careers as software developers through her teaching and mentoring. Rachel is a popular author on diversity in tech, and her writing has received approx 250k views, been translated into Spanish and Portuguese, made the front page of Hacker News, and been included in newsletters from O’Reilly, Fortune, CrunchBase, and MatterMark.

Rachel graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College with a degree in mathematics, computer science, and linguistics, and won the Brinkmann prize for top mathematical paper. At Duke University, she was awarded the James B. Duke Fellowship and a Howard Hughes Fellowship.