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Lina Massou, PhD

“To show up cases of women in STEM so as to motivate more young ladies that this is a path that they can follow and to assert more equity in our work conditions.”

Research associate

Introduce yourself in a few words

I’m a statistician and I’m working as a research associate in Primary Care Unit of the University of Cambridge. I have studied applied mathematics and I hold a PhD in applied statistics in social sciences. Having completed my studies in Greece I came in the UK in 2017 to cover a maternity leave. I stayed further in my post and now I have my own research project on multimorbidity in stroke survivors, I’m involved in many different projects conducted by others and I’m teaching biostats, epidemiology and statistical issues on routine data of primary care. I’m mostly interested in topics around cardiovascular diseases, primary care services, health inequalities, routine data, sexual minorities, multimorbidity, mental health, behaviour, health policy, data science and research methodology. I’m also keeping my interest in social sciences supporting, as a consultant, the Laboratory of Experimental and Social Psychology of the Panteion University in Greece. Through this collaboration, I’m investigating public trust in institutions, political ideology and social attitudes.

What is the most exciting thing about your work? 

I think that the most exciting thing about the work of a statistician who is not working in pure statistics, is the opportunity to work on many different projects and the need to face the multiple challenges that real data hides. It’s not that I’m working on a specific area, every few months or even weeks, I need to work on a completely different project; a clinical trial, a primary care topic, or a behavioural one, or a cancer related, or a small questionnaire with psychometrics. Having a background in applied mathematics and applying it in social sciences and health research allows me understand the role and the importance of asking the correct questions, of analysing the correct data in an appropriate way, the importance of people as units but also the power of the society. It’s like having many pieces of a puzzle and I feel lucky for this opportunity that my work gives me.

What is your favourite science fact? 

The invention of computers and the incredible work of Alan Turing on computer science. We wouldn’t being able to know as much as we know today, without his work. How we could understand and improve things without collecting and analysing the huge amounts of data that we have?

What inspired you to follow this career path? 

I love numbers because it’s the only global language and I knew since I was a child that I wanted to have a career related to numbers. On the other hand, I find amazing the concept of society; how people build their societies, how they interact with each other. So I tried to find a way to combine these two interests, a way to describe our societies. The part of health, came up as a job opportunity when I was post-graduate student – I hadn’t thought about it earlier because I didn’t know that research needs a multidisciplinary approach- but soon I realised how much useful could my approach be for a health-related project. And I really enjoyed my first experience so I decided to go on this path.

What is the biggest challenge that you faced in your career so far? 

My shifting from applied mathematics to social research.

What motivates your work? 

My interest to understand people, to hear their voice even if they express it indirectly. Do you have any role models?There are a lot of people that I’m admiring and with some of them I have worked or still been working with. I think that each one of them has influenced my choices and my approach in research. However, I would like to single out Prof Elias Mossialos with whom I collaborated when I was doing my first steps in health research. He taught me to keep my approach simple, to focus on the big picture, to be very precise in all stages of my research, and to look forward. He also made me to understand that data to which we can have access to, can make real difference in public life and that it is one of the responsibilities of a scientist to communicate the scientific evidence with patience and persistence and in a manner that every single person can understand the importance of science. What kind of advice would you give to your younger self just starting out?To have patience and ambitions and not to worry about the start since it is the end that it’s important.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

Reading books, taking photos, visiting museums and travelling.

What do you think we can do to close the gender gap and increase female visibility in STEM? 

To show up cases of women in STEM so as to motivate more young ladies that this is a path that they can follow and to assert more equity in our work conditions.

You can follow Lina @lina_massou

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