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Dr Sonya Crowe
Clinical Operational Research Unit
4 Taviton Street
Tel: +44(0)20 7679 4953
Fax: +44(0)20 7813 2814
  • Lecturer in Operational Research
  • Clinical Operational Research Unit
  • Dept of Mathematics
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences
My home discipline is Operational Research (OR), which means I use analytical methods such as problem structuring and mathematical modelling to address problems in the delivery of healthcare. OR is regularly used by government and industry, and is increasingly applied within healthcare to inform policy, strategy and operational decisions.

I came to OR through a background in physics, having gained a PhD in experimental quantum magnetism in 2005. Following that, I worked for the Government Operational Research Service as a senior OR analyst, including a post at the Department of Health, before joining UCL’s Clinical Operational Research Unit in 2009.

During my time at UCL, I’ve worked on OR projects relating to a variety of areas in healthcare, collaborating closely with clinicians and other experts to ensure my projects are informed by and relevant to their experience. This has involved providing an external perspective to pressing policy questions in a responsive programme of research with the Department of Health and working closely with a number of local healthcare providers on issues such as clinical outcomes and patient flows.

Research Themes
Research Summary

My research focuses on the use of information, analytical approaches and modelling to support those planning, delivering and evaluating health services.

Since joining UCL’s Clinical Operational Research Unit, I’ve worked on projects relating to a variety of areas, including:

  • risk modelling in congenital heart surgery
  • modelling concerning the use of bridging technologies in heart transplant programmes
  • evaluating the potential role of pneumococcus vaccination in an influenza pandemic
  • informing public health policy on blood-borne vCJD transmission
  • modelling to inform decisions on the childhood national immunisation programme
  • data analysis and modelling to understand current global provision of skilled birth attendance
  • analysing the effect of cleaning criteria in malnutrition prevalence estimates
  • data analysis concerning newborn care practices in rural south east Asia

For more information about these projects please see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/operational-research/what_we_do.

Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellowship

At present I'm enjoying a three-year Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellowship. At the centre of my fellowship research is a quality improvement project in which I’m contributing to the development of evidence-based recommendations for improved follow-up care services for infants discharged from cardiac surgery in the UK. At present, mortality rates within the first year post-discharge from infant cardiac surgery are similar to in-hospital mortality rates but have received far less attention. I’m part of an NIHR-funded study that is gathering evidence concerning risk factors and parental and professional views on barriers to accessing healthcare after discharge. My focus is the application of Operational Research (OR) techniques to translate this diverse range of evidence into the makings of a practical and feasible service design aimed at improving outcomes and reducing inequalities. This includes developing models for exploring what an effective service would need to look like, based on the knowledge and information available about how the service works, and how limited resources can be targeted most effectively to infants with different levels of clinical risk and social vulnerability.

My overarching research agenda within the fellowship is to study the role that this type of analysis plays in the complex decision-making process of designing a better service, with the aim of identifying ways of improving how OR is delivered. To do this, I'm conducting (under the guidance of Prof. Naomi Fulop and other experienced social scientists at UCL's Department of Applied Health Research) a parallel ethnographic study of the contextual barriers and enablers of my core OR project. This includes interviewing my clinical and academic collaborators about their processes of decision making and their perceptions of the role of OR within that, and observational fieldwork throughout the duration of the project. I'm using this information to adapt my OR methods and approach contemporaneously so as to be more effective in this project and will be looking to draw more generalisable lessons to share within my OR community at the end.

Teaching Summary

I lead the Clinical Operational Research Unit’s MSc module in Operational Research, which is part of the MSc in Mathematical Modelling run by the Mathematics Department at UCL. I contribute teaching in the areas of Optimisation and Queuing Theory.

01-OCT-2017 Deputy Director of the Clinical Operational Research Unit Clinical Operational Research Unit University College London, United Kingdom
17-OCT-2016 Lecturer in Operational Research Clinical Operational Research Unit University College London, United Kingdom
01-NOV-2013 – 16-OCT-2016 Senior Research Associate Clinical Operational Research Unit University College London, United Kingdom
01-MAY-2013 – 30-APR-2016 Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellow Clinical Operational Research Unit University College London, United Kingdom
05-JAN-2009 – 30-OCT-2013 Research Associate Clinical Operational Research Unit University College London, United Kingdom
01-DEC-2007 – 04-JAN-2009 Senior OR Analyst Government Operational Research Services Department of Health, United Kingdom
01-JUN-2006 – 01-DEC-2007 Senior OR Analyst Government Operational Research Services Export Credit Guarantee Department, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2017 FHEA ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow – Teaching and Learning in Higher Education University College London
2006 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Physics University of Warwick
2002 MSci Master of Natural Science – Physics University of Bristol
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