Meet the course leader: Dr Penny Holborn


Dr Penny Holborn, course leader for the new MSc Data Science, tells us why her interest in data inspires her to pass on knowledge to future data scientists.

Tell us about your background
I have always enjoyed learning about the application of mathematics and how problems could be related to the real-world. After graduating, I proceeded to study for my PhD in Operational Research, before becoming a research assistant. I was able to work on a wide range of projects with complex, and often, unstructured data. I did however, feel a draw to academia and the enjoyment I got from teaching others, which is why I have taught in the School of Computing and Mathematics for the last three years.

What do you specialise in?
I teach across a variety of modules which lend themselves to the area of data science, covering statistical analysis at a range of levels, operational research including optimisation and heuristic approaches and data mining techniques. I am also involved in an employability series for all students which aims to develop key employability skills and inform them of the varied career opportunities available to them.

What is it about data which inspired you to work with it?
I am passionate about analysing data to make a difference. We now live in a world surrounded by endless amounts of data which could hold the key to unlocking important insights from real-world systems, interactions and processes. From these insights, positive actions can be derived which can have significant impact on the World.

What research are you involved in?
I’m currently supervising a number of data science projects through the KESS II programme, looking at bringing together the expertise and knowledge from academia and industry to investigate real-world problems. For example, with NHS Wales Informatics Service we are in the early stages of developing an intelligent system to look at analysing X-ray images to predict whether a patient has a particular condition. I am also an Athena Swan Champion and driven to support the careers of women in STEM.