Profile
Christina Pagel
Curriculum Vitae

Education:
St Paul's Girls' School in London, Oxford University, King's College London, Imperial College London, Birkbeck College London

Qualifications:
11 GCSEs, 4 A Levels (Maths, Further Maths, Physics, English), BA in Maths, MSc in Quantum theory, PhD in Space Physics, MSc in Applied Statistics. I also have 2 Masters in history.

Work History:
After my first MSc in Quantum Theory, I worked in business for 2 years because I didn't know what I wanted to do. I learned how to write computer code for that job and made some great friends  and realised that I missed science. So I went back to university to get my PhD. After that, I worked as a physicist in Boston, USA for 3 years and then came back to London to start as a researcher at UCL using maths for the NHS. 14 years later, I'm still here but now I run the unit!

Current Job:
Professor of Operational Research and Director of the UCL Clinical Operational Research Unit

Employer
I work at University College London where I lead the Clinical Operational Research Unit which sits in the Department of Mathematics.

About Me
I'm a Professor at University College London and I use any type of maths I can to try to help the NHS

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I live in London with my husband and cat. I love doing outdoorsy stuff like hiking, mountain biking and kayaking and this what I spend my holidays & weekends doing. During the week, I like to go out for meals, go to the theatre and to do escape rooms! Plus take advantage of the all the quirky things London has to offer.
I love watching crime dramas on TV but I am also a Love Island addict every summer!
My pronouns are she/her.

How I Use Maths In My Job:
The part of my job that uses maths is turning people’s real life problems into mathematical equations that can then be used to help answer the problem.
The main bits of maths I use are statistics & probability, but these do depend on some algebra and you have to be very comfortable with ratios, proportions & percentages. It’s also important to be able to write computer code, since that is how we analyse health data.
Most of what I do also uses real life patient data and so I need to understand how data is collected & what it means too.

My Work
I use mathematics to help doctors in the NHS make decisions

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I studied maths at university because I originally wanted to be a physicist and I did end up doing my doctoral degree (PhD) in Space Physics. But after working in that area for a few years, I decided that I wanted to do something that was more directly helping people and I came to University College London (UCL) to apply maths to health care.
The sort of maths I do is called “Operational Research” but all that means is that whatever you do needs to be solving a real problem that someone has – and you use any mathematical method that works to solve it. It’s a really practical bit of maths which is why I love it – I get to see how my work is used in the NHS every day.
Here are some examples of things that I am working on now:
 Working out where in the country specialised children’s ambulance teams should be placed to help them get to sick children as quickly as possible
 Helping the NHS to track what happens to children born with congenital heart disease and how tracking can help the NHS to get better at treating these children.
 Helping the NHS decide how to prevent cyber attacks (e.g. computer viruses) on their computer systems
 Using artificial intelligence methods in intensive care to spot if a sick child is getting worse as quickly as possible so that their treatment can be changed

My Typical Day
I lead a team of 10 mathematicians and most of my job is making sure that everyone knows what they are doing and that our projects are on track. I am in work from about 9:30am to 6:30pm and my day is split between meetings (23 hours a day), catching up with email, writing reports of our work and working with doctors and other academics to find new problems that my team can work on.

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I get to work about 9:30am and spend about 30 minutes going through emails and dealing with anything urgent. I normally have at least 2 to 3 hours of meetings a day (sometimes more!) where we decide what things to do next. I do end up doing quite a bit of work at home in the evenings and at weekends though… 🙁
I also spend a lot of time writing reports of our work for publication (i.e. academic articles), reading other people’s reports and commenting on them, and writing applications to the government and big charities (like the British Heart Foundations) for money that lets me hire new people for the team to work on new problems in the NHS.
Because I lead the team, I also have a lot boring administrative work to do which takes up a surprising amount of time.
But the best bits of my job are what I do when I’m not doing any of the above – and that’s actually solving problems by using maths and writing computer code to analyse data and then also meeting with doctors and other academics to brainstorm new ideas for research which can be really exciting.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate, friendly, helpful
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My brother
What's your favourite use for maths in everyday life?
Using maths to work out which sports teams are good (like in Moneyball)
What did you think about Maths when you were in school?
I thought it was really boring until A Level when it got much more interesting!
What did you want to be after you left school?
A theoretical physicist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
a Doctor or a politician
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Taylor Swift
What's your favourite food?
Pasta
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Dog sledding in Lapland
Tell us a joke.
Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9
