Tools for Discovery: Philip Poon

Philip Poon
Dr. Philip Poon

Dr. Ka Fai “Philip” Poon is an alumnus of the C4 Group where he studied systems characterized by coupled variability over a broad range of spatial and temporal scales. Examples of these canonical multiscale systems are neural networks and ocean systems. In these studies, the long-time dynamics modulate and are driven by short-time processes, giving rise to both complex behaviors such as pattern formation and chaos. 

He is now putting his mathematical modeling and game theory expertise to use as a data scientist for Unity Point Health

What do you work on?

I analyze healthcare data in order to improve patient outcomes. Our primary partners are physicians and managers working in healthcare facilities. We use data to help determine risky patient population that may warrant intervention and to drive decision making while reducing overall cost. 

What are your tools for analysis?

The healthcare data I use are warehoused and managed in SQL server. My tools for analysis are math and statistics-based softwares such as R, Matlab and python.

“At the end of the day, the ultimate tool for discovery is human intuition.”

-Philip Poon

Tools for Writing?

I use TeXshop and Overleaf for writing—these are stand-alone and web-based editors for LaTex. For non-LaTex-based documents, I usually just use Notes in Mac.

Tools for Collaboration?

Google Docs, Dropbox, and Overleaf ( are great tools for file sharing and manuscript editing with my collaborators. Apache Subversion is a version control system and an indispensable tool for collaborative code development.

Your ultimate tool for discovery?

Great passion for finding answers and curiosity for the unknown are the driving forces for every researcher including myself. We are living in a time when remarkable computing power is at our disposal, but at the end of the day, the ultimate tool for discovery is human intuition.  

— curated by Patricia Pointer