What is your role at the BSU?
What did you do before joining the Unit?
I completed a PhD in Statistics at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. My PhD thesis focused on statistical models to describe the natural history of breast cancer, based on breast cancer screening data collected by the Italian national health care system.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am part of the “STEpUP OA” collaboration, led by the Kennedy Institute at Oxford University, that aims at identifying molecular pathways of osteoarthritis, i.e. subpopulations of patients homogeneous for protein marker profiles such that clusters may have clinical meaning. From a methodological side, I am applying Bayesian statistical methods, such as Bayesian profile regression, a nonparametric outcome-guided clustering approach.
In addition, I am working to extend and tailor some of these methods to the osteoarthritis data, where a particular focus on the problem of variable selection is needed.
More generally, I always like to start from a real world application and then develop suitable methodological tools to deal with it.
What does a typical day in your role involve and what keeps you motivated?
My typical day can involve several different activities and this contributes to making the job interesting. I try to find a balance and devote the appropriate amount of time to keeping myself updated with the relevant literature, discussing work with my collaborators (statisticians and clinicians) and planning the following steps and goals of our research projects, including trying to find ways to answer research questions, implementing models, running statistical simulations and data analyses, and writing down the results in scientific articles.
Parallel to this, from time to time there are seminars and conferences to attend – hopefully soon in person again – which are essential to broaden my overview on the research field and my network of contacts.
What is your work schedule?
I don’t follow a strict schedule, except for meetings involving other collaborators and I can be very flexible with my working hours. However, I try to organize my time in the best possible way to leave some spare time for other activities.
What does your workspace look like?
I only need a desk, preferably in front of a window, a laptop and some paper to take notes or write down some calculations. I like alternating between working from my office and working from home or a café.
I very much enjoy having a chat with my colleagues and drinking a coffee together as a relaxing break from work.
What is your favourite and least favourite parts of your job?
My favourite part is developing research ideas and discussing their potential with my collaborators. I also find the most practical part of my work very exciting, which consists of implementing the models and applying them to real data.
My least favourite part is writing the articles and making them ready for submission to a journal.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Spending time with friends, discovering nice corners (and pubs!) of Cambridge, and on the weekends, exploring new places in England. I really enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking and cycling, when the weather allows. On rainy days, I like spending the day reading a book, watching a movie or doing some cooking experiments.
What advice would you give to anyone considering your role?
Just make sure you enjoy the job and the research topics you are working on. I think that being passionate about your work is the most fundamental ingredient to find motivation and reach results.