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M for Maths or for Magical?

By Caroline Haig, Biostatistician at the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics

Sangita with a horse

Hi, I’m Caroline, I’m a Biostatistician and I came into STEM from school because I was good at Mathematics. I hadn’t even heard of Statistics until my 3rd year at the University of Stirling where I was doing a degree in Mathematics, and the Statistics module was by far my favourite of the whole degree, I fell in love with it instantly and I knew (or hoped) that it would be part of my career. I moved to the University of Glasgow where I did an MSc and a PhD in Biostatistics.

Biostatistician isn’t a career that many people know about. I usually end up telling people it’s a mixture of maths and medicine, and the response I generally get is either “I hated maths at high school”, or something like “what’s 1658 times 2545?” (4,219,610, my very clever calculator tells me).

During my MSc, I learned about the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, part of the Glasgow Clinical Trials Unit, and thought, “That’s where I want to work”. I’ve now been there for almost 10 years. I work in all areas of medical research - one day I could be looking at the efficacy of a proposed new treatment for dementia, the next, what might contribute to heart attacks, or potential treatments for Long Covid. No two days are the same.

I lecture about Clinical Trials. During my Mathematics degree, I couldn’t even speak to a small group of people in a seminar, the thought was terrifying. Then somehow, a few years later, I found myself standing at the front of a lecture theatre with over 200 students looking at me. Once I got started, I really enjoyed it, and now I look forward to lecturing. Had someone told me that 15 years ago, I’d have laughed… or maybe cried. The future certainly holds surprises

Glasgow University

At UofG, we do a lot of work to make everyone feel welcome. Alongside being a Biostatistician, I co-founded my institute’s LGBTQ+ working group, where we tackle issues faced by LGBTQ+ students and staff. I’m also learning British Sign Language, as part of a team focusing on inclusion of Deaf people. My institute holds the Gold award for this inclusion scheme.

The M in STEM isn’t simply Mathematics as people tend to think of it. It has so many applications and careers, which can be incredibly valuable and rewarding. M for Magical?


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