Phillippa Spencer, Senior principal statistician, Dstl
I have worked for Dstl for 17 years, applying mathematical and statistical thinking across a number of areas such as cyber, artificial intelligence, data fusion, chemistry and biology. My analysis was used among healthcare workers in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak and I was a key expert in bringing the F-35 fighter into service.
I was also involved in the clean-up of Salisbury following the Novichok incident, where I applied statistical modelling to determine whether locations or vehicles were safe to use. More recently, I have been drafted in to support the Covid modelling effort. Patents included graph theory applied to forensic DNA profiles and artificial neural networks for the pre-symptomatic diagnosis of sepsis.
I joined the RSS very early in my career as I wanted to be a part of a professional body and understand the strategic intent of statistics as a field across government and the UK. I thoroughly benefit from being a part of the community and getting the regular updates. I always read Significance, giving me a wider a view of all the cool statistical stories that are taking place across the Society. Through being part of the RSS, I have had sight of the leaders in our field, something that should be profiled wider, and their journeys have inspired me to continue as a mathematical scientist.