Marta Blangiardo

Marta Blangiardo has been working as part of the RSS-Turing Health lab to help predict COVID-19 prevalence from wastewater

Tell me about your research

I am a professor of biostatistics and lead the Biostatistics and Data Science theme of the MRC Centre for Environment and Health, where I mainly work on environmental epidemiology. I’m currently developing spatio-temporal models and exploring some of the statistical challenges that these types of models pose. I have undertaken extensive work on air pollution and noise pollution, but have also worked on pesticides and recently on wastewater.

What aspect of your work is most exciting you right now?

Working on statistical modelling for climate change is exciting me at the moment. From a “one health” perspective, it is crucial to understand how changes in our climate impacts humans, as well as animals and ecosystems. I am working on this in the UK and Europe, mostly on the effect of temperature and heatwaves on population health. However I’m also am involved in some exciting work on scorpions with Brazilian collaborators.

What are the challenges of your research?

There are so many challenges - which makes my work even more interesting! I usually work with very large datasets, which makes the statistical inference computationally intensive. However, the biggest challenge is how to disseminate the results of spatio-temporal probabilistic models to policy makers and to the general public, something that needs to be carefully planned.

What’s been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Having my first book published and my first research grant funded. And both happened on the same day!

Can you give us a taster of what you’ll be discussing at AI UK?

I am going to be talking about some of the work on wastewater I have been doing as part of the RSS-Turing Health lab. I will show a spatio-temporal model we have developed to predict the distribution of viral concentration everywhere in England at high spatial resolution and how this can be used to predict COVID-19 prevalence.

When not working what can you be found doing?

I have two very active young children, so I am always going on walks and bike rides. I love reading and running, hoping to run the London Marathon one day!