QIMR Berghofer Institute of Medical Research

Bachelor of Science (Mathematics and Statistics) (Honours)
PhD (Mathematical Statistics)

Helping to solve the country’s toughest public health issues is all in a day’s work for Leesa Wockner, a Biostatistician at QIMR Berghofer Institute of Medical Research.

Having  always loved the logic and theory of statistics, and after being exposed to research early in her Bachelor of Science studies,  Leesa quickly realised where she wanted to put her skills to practical use.

“I love the satisfaction of helping scientists and clinicians with their statistical problems,” she says.

“I’m working on cutting edge projects, like methylation patterns in brain tissue of patients with schizophrenia, or the transmission of dengue fever by mosquitos. There certainly is never a dull moment!”

While studying at UQ, Leesa participated in a paid UQ Summer Vacation placement, which gave her six weeks of valuable work experience in a statistical and mathematical project.

This experience confirmed Lessa’s interest in pursuing a research-related career.

“UQ is held in high esteem, particularly in the mathematics and statistics disciplines, and this was certainly a factor when choosing where to study,” she says.

“And being able to demonstrate this hands on experience from my work placement was definitely beneficial when it came to finding a job,” she says.

After completing her PhD in Mathematics Lessa worked at the Institute of Medical Biometrics, Epidemiology and Informatics (IMBEI) at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Medicine, Mainz, Germany, for one year.

In addition to her role in the health sector, Lessa and her team are working to develop and extend the boundaries of current statistical knowledge.

Often collaborating with teams around the country and the world, they work on numerous projects including developing better methods for analysing longitudinal data and reoccurring events.

“With each new project I am constantly learning and acquiring knowledge from  different areas of science and discovering how this can being practically applied,” she says.