“My entrance to statistics was accidental, and happened when I attended statistics lectures at the university to take notes on behalf of another student who could not make it to the lectures. Since then, in all my academic work, I enthusiastically majored in statistics”
Dr Alysha De Livera is an academic biostatistician/bioinformatician/data scientist at the School of Population & Global Health at the University of Melbourne. She completed her PhD in Statistics at Monash University on the topic forecasting time series with complex seasonal patterns. Her research has since focused on the application of statistics to a wide range of problems in medicine, biology and epidemiology, as well as practical statistical approaches and software to handle statistical issues that are motivated by these studies. In addition to research, Dr De Livera has engaged in a range of activities including lecturing, consulting, mentoring, contributing to courses in biostatistics/bioinformatics, and helps promote biostatistics in Australia. When not working, she is a dedicated mother, wife, volunteer, enjoying the best of the free but invaluable things that life has to offer.
What do you love most about your academic role in STEMM?
Being able to contribute to society, in terms of advancing knowledge, improving the quality of collaborative research, and supervision of postgraduate students inspire me. A renowned statistician, John Tukey said, “The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard”. I have chosen my backyard to be medicine, biology and epidemiology, and I greatly enjoy working in these fields on the projects that require complex data analyses, in particular those that combine biostatistics and bioinformatics.
What was the key thing that helped you get to where you are today?
Following my passion for statistics and data science. My entrance to statistics was accidental, and happened when I attended statistics lectures at the university to take notes on behalf of another student who could not make it to the lectures. Since then, in all my academic work, I enthusiastically majored in statistics.
What have you learnt during your career to increase your resilience?
I focus on my desire to make a difference and do not rely solely on one plan, bearing in mind that “a ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what a ship is built for” (a quote attributed to John Shedd). I believe in having a strong work-life balance as well as getting involved in a diverse range of activities other than research.
How do you cope with self-doubt? How do you cope with imposter syndrome?
Self-doubt/imposter syndrome is something I wish I had known earlier. I first heard about imposter syndrome at a STEMM event, and that only happened after I finished my PhD. Although imposter syndrome is no longer an issue for me, it resonates well with my experience during the PhD period. Despite being awarded a Dean List Fellowship for every year of my undergraduate degree at Monash University, the University award for best postgraduate student in Statistics, and concurrently receiving Dean’s Postgraduate Research Excellence Award, a CSIRO PhD Scholarship as well as the Australian Postgraduate Award to continue onto PhD, I still remember having intense feelings of undeserving to be a PhD candidate at the time. Over time I learnt to look back at how far I have come and proceed with determination when I start to doubt myself.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to women just starting their careers in STEMM?
When it comes to a STEMM career choice, follow your passion, as it is nearly impossible to achieve much without passion.
LinkedIn: Alysha De Livera