UF ISE Welcomes New Faculty in Data-Driven Modeling for Healthcare Systems

Karen Hicklin, Ph.D., will join the faculty of the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of Florida as an assistant professor in August of 2020. Her research is primarily focused on mathematical modeling of stochastic systems with an emphasis on statistical and decision analysis as applied to healthcare and service environments.

Upon joining UF, Hicklin will continue her research in the area of public health, where her goal is to not only improve the way health decisions are made for an individual, but what is best for the overall community.

“Karen’s research is pushing the limitations of current mathematical modeling approaches in the healthcare area by accounting for societal factors. She is also developing large-scale simulations of treatment processes that capture demographics of substantial population segments. We are fortunate to have her joining the department,” said David Kaber, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering.

Currently, Hicklin has developed a decision model that determines the number of people to test and treat for HIV in one year. This helps to reach the 90-90-90 goal, which states that 90% of individuals who are HIV positive know their HIV status, 90% of individuals who are infected are receiving treatment and 90% of those who are being treated are being treated with viral load suppression.

In addition to this, Hicklin is also working on a systematic review of racial disparities for maternal mortality in the United States and is in the process of developing a decision framework for how women, who have uterine fibroids, make decisions about their treatment to maximize overall quality of life. While at UF, Hicklin plans on expanding her research even further by combining decision science and social epidemiology. She hopes to evaluate the effects that stylized interventions can have on the disparities in mortality for African American women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“This work has been both rewarding and impactful. It has the potential to change the way decisions are made in healthcare while also improving current health conditions. I look forward to continuing this work and journey at the University of Florida,” said Hicklin.

Hicklin received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Spelman College, a master’s degree in mathematics and statistics from Georgetown University and her doctoral degree in industrial engineering from North Carolina State University. She is currently serving as a postdoctoral trainee in the Cancer Health Disparities Training Program through the Department of Health Behavior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.