ACEMS Statistician Selected as a Superstar of STEM

Science and Technology Australia (STA) selects Dr Nicole White as one of its new Superstars of STEM.

Nicole is a statistician and Research Fellow with the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation at QUT and an Associate Investigator with ACEMS.

The Superstars of STEM program's goal is to provide role models for girls and show that STEM is for them.


Dr Nicole White

“Growing up in regional and rural Queensland, my view of mathematics was very confined to the classroom. I never really had any opportunities to talk with female scientists,” says Nicole.

“For me, this is a great, new opportunity to share my passion for maths and stats, to show young women where a career in that field can take them.”

For Nicole, she's using maths and stats to impact the health and medical sector. Her latest work is with the COVID-19 critical care consortium, analysing COVID-19 patients' data admitted to intensive care.

“I’m working with ICU specialists from around the world. We’re using data to try to work out how different management strategies used during the pandemic have impacted patient outcomes,” says Nicole.

Earlier this year, the Queensland Government awarded Nicole an Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship to support this vital work, in partnership with The Common Good, an initiative of The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation.

“This is a great opportunity to apply skills in mathematics and statistics to be able to generate insights from the data being collected. This helps inform clinical decision-making which is often time-sensitive," says Nicole.

Nicole completed her PhD in statistics at QUT in 2011. As an Associate Investigator with ACEMS, she has researched the value of big data analytics for informing decision making in health services.

"I've been thinking about my PhD journey and my time with ACEMS. I've been incredibly lucky to have internationally recognised statisticians like Kerrie Mengersen, Adrian Barnett and others supporting me along the way,” says Nicole.

Kerrie is a Distinguished Professor of Statistics at QUT and a Deputy Director and Chief Investigator with ACEMS. Adrian is a Professor of Statistics at QUT and an Associate Investigator with ACEMS.

Nicole is one of 60 women from around Australia chosen to be a Superstar of STEM. In addition to being a role model, she wants to show girls that STEM is a collaborative venture. Especially statistics.

“I think all statisticians are collaborative by nature. In my case, I work with healthcare providers trying to make a difference in patient care. But in general, statisticians get to work with a variety of people across disciplines and industry, and I think it’s one of the things that makes it such a great career,” says Nicole.

In a more data-driven world than ever, Nicole says it's essential to get more people with the skills to handle and analyse that data.

“I hope the Superstars of STEM program will equip me with the skills to spread that message and challenge society’s assumptions about women in the mathematical sciences,” says Nicole.