Introducing Priyanka

Hi Priyanka! What perspective do you bring to MDAP?

Well, I hold Bachelor of Technology and Masters of Science degrees in Bioinformatics with computer science specialisation. Essentially, I have been trained to work across multiple disciplines and build ‘data-intensive’ bridges to facilitate multidisciplinary research.

I have worked on all kinds of projects like software testing for a career assessment tool, communications for bioinformatics, building protein modelling tools, visualisation in cancer bioinformatics, genomics analysis for sexually transmitted diseases, health informatics for infectious diseases and so on. Thus, MDAP seemed like a perfect fit for a science and technology ‘generalist’ like me.

Can you tell us about an interesting or challenging problem in your time at MDAP?

We have so many interesting projects across disciplines at any one time. This is, of course, really interesting. At the same time, it is challenging because when we work on a project from a new discipline, we want to make sure we strike the right balance by bringing valuable skills from our own discipline and also learning something new with our collaborators!

What are some of the solvable, difficult and wicked problems on your horizon?

I always feel infrastructure and computing challenges are solvable in health and biomedical research. Finding the perfect middle ground for innovation, precision and efficiency to support research needs in health and biomedical research is a difficult problem. And I don’t think there are any wicked problems on my horizon that can’t be fixed, maybe I am too optimistic!

Tell us about your latest adventure, or next planned one outside of MDAP.

I am planning on renting a camper van to drive around South Island of New Zealand with my mother in early June. The travel restrictions globally are rapidly changing as we speak as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, which I am working on aside from MDAP at the Peter Doherty Institute currently. Fingers crossed we can make it across the Tasman!

Another ‘adventure’ of sorts is my imminent foray into delivering a keynote speech at an international data conference, the RDA 15th Plenary in Melbourne this month. There, I will talk about the role of data in a rapid and coordinated response to infectious disease outbreaks. If you will attend, please come along to support me, and other MDAP team members who will be participating at this event and also the adjacent C3DIS conference. Here’s a handy guide to collective contributions at these two conferences.

In the context of a rapidly evolving global environment and UoM’s research strategy, what would you most like to explore, challenge or innovate in your work in the future?

I have a keen interest in embedding interdisciplinary research evidence into policy making. One of the many things I want to do is to combine humanities, social sciences and health informatics to inform policy making to improve healthcare service delivery. Watch this space.