Anya Skatova

Can data offer insights into decision-making and wellbeing? Turing Fellow Anya Skatova explores the potential of using transactional data in population health research

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m interested in the new ways everyday behaviour can be measured by using digital footprint data. At the moment, I'm mostly working with supermarket loyalty card data. This data has the potential to provide a unique window into people's habits and lifestyle choices in relation to health. 

What has been the most memorable or rewarding moment of your career so far?

​Definitely receiving the email saying I was successful in securing the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.

And the most challenging?

Moving to the UK from Russia in 2006 for my master’s at Oxford.

You mention the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship you were recently awarded, can you tell us a bit about this?

The fellowship is focused on realising the value of transactional data - such as supermarket loyalty cards and banking data - for population health research. These datasets offer great potential to understand the behaviour that leads to, or is associated with, various health outcomes.

However, there are questions around how to do health research with these datasets. This includes issues around data governance, such as the ethics of working with data not collected for health research. There are also methodological questions, such as how representative the samples of data are and what the sources of measurement error are. It’s also important to consider in which areas of health these datasets can be most useful, and infrastructural issues, such as how researchers can access potentially sensitive data. I will be exploring these issues in my fellowship. 

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

​My late undergraduate mentor, Dr Alexader Erofeev, who influenced my decision to continue my education in the UK and who would be very proud of me now. Also, Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the artist Frida Kahlo and the jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald - all inspirational women with interesting life stories. 

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

​My toddler and endless to-do list. 

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Determined, passionate, reliable.