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L to R: Fabian Reitzug, Abram Schönfeldt, and Eloise Ockenden

A team of three DPhil students from the Big Data Institute were among the nine student teams selected to participate in a recent Data Science Ideathon organised by Wellcome. 

Over three days, 100 participants (both student and researcher teams) were hosted at the Wellcome headquarters in London and worked on data-driven challenge questions around Wellcome’s priority areas: climate and health, infectious disease, and mental health. The challenges involved preparing various datasets to develop a rapid prototype of the proposed solution. The teams then pitched the idea in front of a jury of health researchers and practitioners and could win prizes. 

Eloise Ockenden, Fabian Reitzug and Abram Schönfeldt focused on visualising relationships between methane emissions and health outcomes which remain poorly understood. Their idea was to create a dashboard which allowed stakeholders to explore relationships at relevant spatial and time scales and to empower people to take local and regional actions to mitigate health impacts. The team combined global methane emissions data with health datasets on respiratory disease and mental health and created an easy-to-use dashboard that presented the data and policy actions using interactive maps and figures. 

Eloise Ockenden said ‘My experience at the ideathon was intense but a lot of fun. It was great to have a chance to be creative about manipulating different data types, and to meet new people also tackling health challenges through their research.’ 

Abram Schönfeldt said ‘It was both humbling and inspiring to be able to interact with people at such different stages of their careers, and with such diverse approaches to tackling major health challenges, such as the health impacts of climate change. From master's students, to lived experience consultants and eminent professors in geostatistics, the insightful interactions I had with people at the ideathon helped broaden my understanding of how we can make an impact on these challenges.’ 

Fabian Reitzug said ‘The ideathon was an incredible opportunity. By focusing on bold ideas and developing an effective pitch, we learned skills that don’t necessarily come naturally to researchers.’