Rong Zhu joined the BSU in 2020. She began her role remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and like all other members of the Unit, continues to work from home. Rong is a Research Associate at the Unit, working on breast cancer data. Read on to find out more about the research Rong is doing, her day-to-day schedule, and what she likes to do when she is not working.
What did you do before joining the BSU?
I worked as a research associate at the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics, Newcastle University before joining the MRC Biostatistics Unit. Before that, I completed my Ph.D. in Probability and Mathematical Statistics at Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.
What does a typical day in your role involve?
A typical day in my role involves reading relevant papers, analysing personalized breast cancer data, writing code, sorting out the research results, and trying to figure out new ideas to deal with the cancer data. I have weekly meetings with my line manager, Oscar Rueda, to report what I have done during the week and discuss some further questions. Our group also has regular team meetings to share interesting ideas and latest papers.
I also usually join the regular seminars and internal BSU Together meetings, which provide an excellent opportunity to learn something new and share ideas.
What is your work schedule?
Since I’m working from home during lockdown, my working time is very flexible. Usually, I start to work at 9.30AM, then have lunch at noon, and continue to work until 5PM. After that, I like to do some exercise, prepare the dinner, and have a rest. I usually continue to work before I sleep.
What does your work space look like?
I do not yet have an office at BSU because I started my role during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I still work from home now. All I need is a computer and a cup of tea.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am working on the copy number variation in breast cancer data. We focus on developing novel statistical methods to find out the patterns of genomic aberration and to estimate relevant biomarkers of tumour progression. This research can be used to predict the overall survival and provide a guideline to choose treatments that target different mutational processes.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love the data analysis process and feel excited if the result turns out as I expected. Well, I admit that sometimes the results are weird or not easy to explain, but this may be a good opportunity to find new problems.
It’s also really rewarding to see that the research we do helps to improve lives. This is the driving force for my work.
What is your least favourite part of your job?
The most challenging part for me is the terminologies related to genomics, since I have less background about genomics and my native language is not English. But there is always a benefit in overcoming difficulties.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Due to the lockdown, I spend some time doing exercises almost every day, such as yoga or gymnastics, in front of the video. I also love to go for a walk in the park and enjoy the sunshine with my husband at the weekend.
What advice would you give to anyone considering your role?
Timely communication and discussion with group members and your line manager are very important. When there are some questions that you are confused about or you cannot solve, it is helpful to discuss with others. I’m glad to work with wonderful colleagues at the BSU, who are enthusiastic and talented.
I also believe that having passion about your research field is important.
Blog post by Rong Zhu