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Data Driven Modelling to Support Health Care

   Faculty of Social Sciences

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  Dr CSM Currie, Dr Stephen Onggo  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Health care services globally are in a state of flux due to the devastation caused by covid-19 (Currie et al. 2020). More positively, there has also been a huge increase in the amount of routinely-collected data within the health service. As a result, there is a need for a different style of decision support tool that uses up-to-date data to determine the current state of the system and finds the optimal strategy to follow.

This PhD will focus on the development of data-driven optimisation and simulation models that support decision-making. While your focus will be on designing the algorithms needed for real time stochastic optimisation, you will work with a partner from health or social care to apply these techniques to a real problem. The University of Southampton works with a large number of partners within health and social care and we will determine the right practical project for this work with input from the successful student. Previous PhD projects in healthcare have included working with an Emergency Department, an Intensive Care Unit and the Zambian health service.

The project is likely to involve the following pieces of work:

  • An extensive review of previous work in the area of decision making under uncertainty in healthcare systems, with a particular focus on optimisation via simulation.
  • Development of a model of a real system in health/social care.
  • Application of fast optimisation via simulation techniques to a real problem. While initial work will involve applying existing techniques, e.g. Currie and Monks (2021); Rhodes-Leader et al. (2018), this part of the project will also involve the development of new, faster algorithms that perhaps solve a different style of optimisation problem.
  • Communication of results via scientific papers and conference presentations.
  • The use of open science techniques to ensure that algorithms are made widely available and can be reused in other projects.

The right candidate for this PhD project will have a strong background in mathematics, good coding skills (any language is acceptable but work is likely to be carried out in Python), and an excellent ability to communicate with both academics and medical staff. The student should also be able to take the initiative and work independently.

Supervisory team. Christine Currie (Mathematica Sciences), , and Stephan Onggo (Southampton Business School).

Host Institution

You will be based at the University of Southampton, a research intensive university and a founding member of the Russell Group of elite British universities. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, Southampton was ranked 8th for research intensity. In 2017-18, Southampton has been ranked 5th in the UK for research grant income. Besides being recognised as one of the leading research universities in the UK, Southampton has also achieved consistently high scores for its teaching and learning activities. In the Research Excellence framework, 100% of Mathematics research impact and research environment was specifically rated as of internationally excellent or world-leading quality. The broad range of Mathematical Sciences at Southampton gives Southampton a unique ability to contribute to the scientific and social challenges facing society. The University of Southampton is a member of the Alan Turing Institute and has strong partnerships with NHS organisations in the south of England through its major NIHR funded infrastructure

(Biomedical Research Centre, Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care; Applied Research Collaboration, Wessex Institute and Clinical Research Network).

Southampton has an excellent track record for optimisation. Statistics and Operational Research groups have existed within Mathematical Sciences since the 1960s. In the early 2000s, the broad multidisciplinary nature of Southampton activity in these areas was recognised through the establishment of the Centre of Operational Research, Management Sciences and Information Systems CORMSIS, which spans Mathematical Sciences and Southampton Business School. Operational Research at the University of Southampton is ranked 33th in the world, and 7th in the UK, according to the latest QS World Rankings. You will be a member of CORMSIS for the duration of your PhD studies.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree in a numerate subject (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

How To Apply

Apply for the research degree programme PhD Mathematical Sciences in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Applications should be made online.

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

Funding Notes

For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.


Christine S.M. Currie, John W. Fowler, Kathy Kotiadis, Thomas Monks, Bhakti Stephan Onggo, Duncan A. Robertson & Antuela A. Tako (2020) How simulation modelling can help reduce the impact of COVID-19, Journal of Simulation, 14:2, 83-97, DOI: 10.1080/17477778.2020.1751570
Christine S. M. Currie and Thomas Monks (2021) A Practical Approach to Subset Selection for Multi-objective Optimization via Simulation. ACM Trans. Model. Comput. Simul. 31, 4, Article 20 (August 2021), 15 pages.
Luke Rhodes-Leader, David J. Worthington, Barry L. Nelson and Bhakti Stephan Onggo (2018) Multi-fidelity simulation optimization for airline disruption management. In Proceedings of the Winter Simulation Conference,
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