Data in Bloom

Man with mohawk and glasses wears a white button-down shirt and lays in a pile of white, pink, red and orange roses.

Data in Bloom

By Kellyann Kerns

As a data scientist for the Sentinel program, Mark Taylor builds interactive dashboards that blend art and information to create visual data stories. Outside of work, he couples that same sense of artistry and data analytics, applying it toward a colorful passion: rose cultivation.

“Blending data science and art allows you to see all possibilities,” Mark said of how his dashboards help inform decision-making, both at work and in his garden. “A detailed visualization lets you see the future — what changes can and should be made for a better tomorrow.”

Working with a fast-growing community of rose enthusiasts, Mark is harnessing his passion for data science and horticulture to shape the environmental future of his home state of Utah.

From the Ground Up

Captivated by the elaborate garden of a childhood neighbor, Mark developed his appreciation for plants and design at an early age.

“I saw how a garden can change the entire look and feel of a space, creating an ambiance that transports you to a different world,” Mark said.

His passion grew after high school. He convinced his landlords to discount his rent in exchange for tending their properties. This experience helped Mark better understand roses, including the climate similarities between arid Utah and the world’s top rose oil-producing regions, such as Bulgaria and Turkey. Mark also discovered that because roses consume 50% less water than grass, they are both an environmentally-friendly and economical plant choice.

“Roses require at least six hours of sun a day, a good freeze and prefer groundwater to rain or irrigation, making Utah the ideal climate,” said Mark, who joined the Utah Rose Society — the state chapter of a national organization for rose cultivators — four years ago.

Using concepts inspired by his work as a Northrop Grumman data scientist, Mark began analyzing environmental and rose cultivation data and used his insights to implement a rose-focused landscape design at his home, decreasing his monthly water bill by more than half. His autonomous, self-molting gardens boast brilliant color and naturally ward off disease and pests, he said.

Branching Out

In 2022, Mark applied lessons and data from his own garden to found Perfume Punk, a co-op that uses water and soil analytics to engineer landscapes and create conservational gardens. During Perfume Punk’s first year, the organization saved clients more than 80 million gallons of water, averaging a decrease in landscape water use by 94%.

Water conservation is critical in Utah, including residential water consumption, which accounts for about 50% of annual residential water consumption statewide.

“Inspired by the strong values of Northrop Grumman, I wanted to pioneer the gardening and landscaping industry — creating a community culture dedicated to combatting and adapting to climate change, emphasizing employee value and focused on giving back,” said Mark.

Planting Seeds

In 2023, Mark logged 40 volunteer hours with the Utah Rose Society Board, a 501c3 nonprofit, which qualified him to gift a $500 service grant to the American Rose Society through the Northrop Grumman Community Service Grants Program. Mark also harnessed social media and partnerships with local nurseries to help Utah’s American Rose Society chapter bloom from 30 members to more than 200, cultivating the nation’s youngest average membership. For his efforts, Mark was recognized with the American Rose Society Rising Star award in 2023, the first Utahan in history to receive this honor.

Today, Mark has more than 200 rose varieties in his personal garden, with plans to double that in the coming years. Optimizing rose genetics has enabled him to apply his passion for data and innovation in a new way: hybridizing the perfect rose crossbreed specific to the Northern Utah region.

Mark also continues to educate landowners on using plants with purpose, sharing his dream of countering climate change through roses.

"Using design, business and engineering, we are determined to turn Utah into the world's largest rose garden, one parking strip at a time,” he said.

Life at Northrop Grumman

Your work at Northrop Grumman makes a difference. Whether you want to design next-generation aircraft, harness digital technologies or build spacecraft that will return humanity to the moon, you’ll contribute to technology that’s transforming the world. Check out our career opportunities to see how you can help define possible.

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