Christl Donnelly, professor of statistical epidemiology at the Imperial College London has been selected to be the Royal Statistical Society William Guy Lecturer for 2016-17.
The RSS William Guy lecturer is a prestigious volunteer role, and is intended to recognise fellows with a successful track record in undertaking school outreach activities. The RSS William Guy lecturer is supported by the RSS to deliver lectures to school students in the UK in the academic year 2016-2017.
Following an open call and a highly-competitive selection process, Professor Donnelly will be giving a small selection of RSS William Guy Lectures throughout the academic year 2016-17. Her proposed talk is 'Statistics and epidemiology: How numbers help control diseases', which explores the important roles for statisticians and epidemiologists in controlling outbreaks such as Ebola, Zika, SARS and foot and mouth disease, all of which are diseases that she has worked on.
Following degrees in Mathematics at Oberlin College, Ohio and Biostatistics at Harvard University, Professor Donnelly moved to the University of Edinburgh in 1992, then the University of Oxford and Imperial College London, where she is Professor of Statistical Epidemiology in Imperial’s School of Public Health. She studies the spread and control of infectious diseases to ensure that the strategies used to combat and control outbreaks of infection are as effective as they possibly can be.
She has given talks and interactive presentations at schools and the Big Bang Fair, and public lectures at the University of Bath, Cambridge Science Festival and elsewhere.
The lecture is named in honour of William Augustus Guy (1810-1885), an early medical statistician and past RSS president. Past lecturers have been drawn from industry, education and academia, and have lectured on a wide variety of topics.
Title and synopsis of William Guy Lecture 2016
Statistics and epidemiology: How numbers help control diseases
The Ebola and Zika epidemics have brought infectious disease outbreaks and their control into everyone’s consciousness. The media images are of doctors and nurses in full body protection treating patients. But there are also important roles for statisticians and epidemiologists analysing the data collected about the patients, including when they got sick, who they contacted and where they live.
I explain epidemic growth – how diseases spread if each person infects two others, for example. I explain why Ebola is seen by many as a bigger global threat than malaria, despite the fact that many more people die of malaria each year. I also explain why some diseases are easier to control than others (comparing SARS to influenza).
The talk will be filled with examples of diseases I have worked on including: BSE/vCJD, bovine TB, foot-and-mouth disease, SARS, influenza, dengue, MERS, Ebola and Zika.