Professor Christl Donnelly's inspiration: Lou Ellen Donnelly, Christl's mother

My mother stayed at home while I was growing up, providing my brothers and me with a full-time champion, confidante, and advisor. When I transferred into a school where I learnt nothing new for a whole academic year, she founded a non-profit organization (Unlimited Potential) to provide local children (including me) with learning opportunities the school did not. My parents even took the local school authority to court to improve education provision. When I was in high school, she didn’t mind when I covered the conservatory with bean seedlings in my experiment to characterise plant growth as a function of the pH of their water source. My mother always believed I could do anything I put my mind to, giving me the confidence to try new things and to try again when they didn’t work out.

About Professor Christl Donnelly

After studying maths as an undergraduate, I got my masters and doctoral degrees from Harvard in biostatistics. Working with a wide range of colleagues, I have worked at the interface of statistics and epidemiology to study disease transmission and control at University of Oxford and Imperial College London. I work on diseases affecting humans, livestock and wildlife, with some diseases (rabies, for example) affecting all of these. The most rewarding experiences have been analysing epidemics as they unfold and providing results to policymakers and affected populations immediately. Current urgent work centres on understanding the epidemiology of the 2019 novel coronavirus.