Professor Ruth King smiling for the camera

I am an Applied Statistician. I develop new methods and techniques for analysing different types of data, particularly in the areas of ecology, epidemiology and, most recently, within medical applications.

Professor Ruth King

My work involves a combination of different aspects: constructing models to describe the processes that generated the data; applying different computational techniques to fit the models to the data; and ultimately interpreting the results obtained in light of the given application.

Some of the particular challenges that I have addressed include, dealing with incomplete data; combining different forms of data; developing efficient computational techniques; and dealing with different types of heterogeneity within the observed data. As an Applied Statistician, a significant (and particularly interesting) part of my work involves close collaboration with other scientists to fully understand the data and application area.

I enjoy problem-solving and, growing up, I was an avid Agatha Christie reader – always trying, and sometimes succeeding, to work out ‘whodunnit?’. To me, applied statistics is a natural extension of this: evidence collected in order to determine who the culprit was, translates into the observed data which we can interrogate in order to answer questions of interest. It is often intricate, non-obvious, details that we wish to extract from the data, and this needs to be done in a rigorous mathematical framework. Statistics provides an evidence-based approach to problems which can change or improve our understanding of systems – and hence can have a real impact, for example, with regard to medical intervention, treatments, government policies, conservation management, etc. Wherever we look, data is making a difference to how we understand the world.