Statistical problem solving for sepsis

Student in the Spotlight for International Women’s Day: Aline Kunnel

As an undergraduate, Aline completed an Advanced Science Degree and Honours with a major in Mathematics.

She is currently finishing up her PhD in the School of Mathematics. Her particular focus is on gene expression data for sepsis. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection and given its potential to lead to organ failure, it can be life-threatening.

Early detection and management are crucial. And this is where Aline’s research steps in. Her PhD develops a statistical framework using a hybercube for data, with a large number of predictors and a small number of samples, that has been able to identify genes association with sepsis.

On top of her study, she recently joined SAHMRI Women and Kids as a Health Data Analyst and is really enjoying it. She loves being able to use her skills to benefit research of Women’s and Infants’ health in a positive manner. In fact, it’s something she is passionate about.

What does she love about STEM?  

I absolutely love maths and statistics! I most enjoy that both fields are vital to solving a vast array of real-world problems. Maths is challenging, rewarding and fun. As we continue to move towards a data-driven world, there is a large need for individuals with skills to work with and understand data. Studying maths gives you the skills to do so.

My favourite part of my journey in STEM is that I can now use all the skills I learned from my studies and apply them in the real world to help research for women’s and infants’ health.

Does she have any advice for her younger self?

Say yes to new opportunities and try not to overthink. I understand that when you are young and in a new environment such as University things can seem scary or too far out of your comfort zone.  But I wish I was more confident and said yes to a lot more when I was younger. So, join student societies in first year, attend networking events, and do more summer internships!

If she could attend a personal or professional training opportunity, what would it be?

I love continuing to grow my knowledge base and skills. If I could attend a professional training opportunity, I would like to be brought up to date on the latest statistical software and all the new nifty packages that have been released.

What is something she is proud to have achieved in her career or life?

I am very proud of being a woman in STEM! I have got to experience some awesome things through studying maths including attending fun conferences like Hopper Down Under, meeting cool researchers, being a semi-finalist for the SA Young Achievers STEM Award, organising an ARC Centre of Excellence (ACEMS) retreat, celebrating Women in Maths Day, making the loveliest friendships, and making a positive impact through the Women in STEM Society. And that's not all!

What does she do in her spare time? What are her favourite hobbies and ways to unwind?

I have a big sweet tooth! I love to bake cakes and sweet treats in my spare time. The only con of baking is it takes much less time to eat than it takes to bake!

I also enjoy hiking and dancing.  I was a part of the hip hop dance club at university, but as I have commenced work, I have resorted to playing the video game Just Dance to satisfy my dancing desires! 


Tagged in computer and mathematical sciences, Women in STEM, Science, international women's day, homepage feed