2020 Data Superstars

The Digital Health CRC 2020 Telehealth Datathon saw 79 people selected from a field of 192 applicants to join an eight-day marathon journey wrangling big data, learning to clean, analyse and report on a real-world database of over 136 million health claims.

We had some extraordinary and talented people working on this fascinating and challenging dataset from our Participant HMS. Here’s a snapshot of just some of our Data Superstars:

Catherine Jordan used her experience as a regional program manager for the WA Country Health Service to wrangle the Team 1 ‘Brady Bunch,’ who were from all over Australia – and says their funniest moment was attempting to get a group photo. “We had a lot of laughs in our daily team meetings – just keeping it real,” says Catherine (who can be found dragon boating on the Swan River in her spare time).Meseret Teferra, PhD student

Meseret Teferra is a final-year PhD student at the Medical Device Research Institute at Flinders University where his work includes design of a T-shirt that embeds a 12-lead diagnostic ECG (electrocardiograph). Mes says that Team 3’s complementary skills led to some great collaboration – and he discovered an affinity for the scripting language Python. Mes was born in Ethiopia and we were pretty thrilled to get a ‘thank you’ in his first language of Amharic: አመሰግናለው

Team 4’s Rikki Mitchell says the datathon helped legitimise his love for “late nights, junk food, caffeine and waaaaaaay too much screen time!” Rikki enjoyed the geospatial mapping during the challenges, and says a GPS is his favourite bit of technology. “I like to know where I am in relation to my environment.” Outside the datathon and his role as an analyst at WA Country Health Service, Rikki loves spending time fishing or diving in the Dampier Archipelago – no screens required.


Team 7 were dubbed the ‘TeleHealthTubbies’ thanks to their predilection for Teletubby memes in their social media posts. Emma Whitelock-Wainwright, who is working on a PhD at Monash University, says she had huge admiration for – as well as lots of fun with – her team-mates (some of them fellow PhD students). Emma’s cats Charlie and Lola (named for cartoon characters) were helpful assistants as she worked long into the night.

The Team 12 DataSisters included Dr Jacqueline Stephens, a project manager at Flinders University, who says her team all took on roles that played to their strengths and there was real collegiality in the group. Jacque even managed to review some of her team’s graphs while running a circuit around one of Adelaide’s beautiful rivers – “It was multi-tasking at its finest!” she said. “We are all women in STEM – and if that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is!” said her team-mate Mia Percival – and data analyst Arwa Siddiqui agreed. “So lucky I’ve got a team of fellow females in the telehealth space!” she wrote.

Former strongman CK Wee (qualified in the top ten of Singapore’s national Strongman competition in 2005 and 2006) said his heavy lifting days are in the past – but he’ll make an exception for big data. CK is a data engineer with eHealth Queensland and is researching healthcare AI as part of his doctorate.

CK was part of Lucky Team 13, along with Dr Urooj Khan, a lecturer at La Trobe with a penchant for gardening, traditional dressing, and painting whirling dervishes. “My cat Simba has been great company,” Dr Khan says.

Lucky 13 team mate Dr Kara Burns from Queensland Health joined the datathon to “open [her] horizons to the power of data in healthcare.” Kara’s impressive digital health resume includes putting a design-led Citizen Challenge in place to help people with spinal cord injuries – and she credits her Oura ring ‘digiceutical’ with changing her relationship to sleep.



This short snapshot gives you just a glimpse of the many marvellous talented data-wranglers who graduated from the 2020 Telehealth Datathon after an intensive week of real-life practice which upgraded all of their skills in big-data cleaning, analysis, visualisation and storytelling. Be sure to check out the #TelehealthDataChallenge social posts during December 2020 to find out more about our data superheroes in their own words.