Stratford mathematician Dr Martine Barons, a former student at Stratford-upon-Avon College, has recently had some of her research published in the British Medical Journal’s highly respected publication BMJ Open. Along with her colleagues, Martine had been investigating the factors which could predict how long a heart patient would live following rehab and she used her mathematical expertise to analyse data from nearly 3,000 patients.
Martine’s research indicated that life expectancy could be predicted by a patient’s fitness level, rather than factors such as BMI. It also showed that even if patients were relatively unfit at the start of rehab, by improving their fitness they could extend their life expectancy to that of those who were already in better shape, confirming that fitness is the key to extending life.
Commenting on her research, Martine said: “It is very exciting that my work has been judged good enough to be published in such a prestigious journal. It is also very satisfying to use maths to help people; it was the fact that you can use maths to make people’s lives better that brought me into research. My grandad had several heart attacks, so I know how debilitating those can be. Treatments are improving all the time and if my work can make even a small contribution to that ongoing improvement, I will be very happy.”
Martine’s success is all the more remarkable because she stepped out of a career in accountancy to concentrate on bringing up her family. It was only after spending twenty years as a full-time mother to her three sons that she took up mathematics as a second career.
Her journey towards her maths career began at Stratford-upon-Avon College. The College offers great benefits for those who want to return to work after a career break or wish to switch careers and study a new discipline. Martine’s first step was therefore becoming a mature student at Stratford College to study for her A-level Mathematics.
Gay Gott, one of Martine’s A-level teachers, remembers Martine well. “We awarded Martine the prize for Mathematics during her studies. She did not always find it easy, but in mathematics as in life, a willingness to keep trying is the key to success and Martine’s tenacity led to very high achievement in A-level and beyond.”
This first step at Stratford College prepared Martine for her subsequent studies: a degree in Mathematics from Coventry University, where she developed a keen interest in Mathematical Modelling, followed by a Masters and PhD in Complexity Science from the University of Warwick. Martine now works in the University of Warwick’s Department of Statistics and is chairman of the West Midlands branch of the Institute of Mathematic and its Applications.
In addition to her PhD research success, Martine is using her mathematical skills to guarantee the survival of bees. She is currently spending time in Australia, helping to develop a system which would assist policy-making groups such as DEFRA who have responsibility for ensuring a thriving bee population. Her research is looking into the myriad of factors on which bee populations depend, from natural phenomena such as climate, insect diseases and predators, to human influences such as farming practices and the use of pesticides.
In recognition of her work with bees, Martine was recently welcomed as a member of the Stratford-upon-Avon & district Beekeepers’ Association.
Stratford-upon-Avon College is delighted that they enabled Martine to take her first steps towards her highly successful new career. They are extremely proud of her achievements and wish her continued success in her future endeavours.
For more information on any of Stratford-upon-Avon College’s courses, please visit www.stratford.ac.uk or call the College on 01789 266245.