Dr Kristy Robledo, a biostatistician from McGraths Hill, has won the Western Sydney Woman in STEM Award for her work in clinical trials in the areas of neonatology and gynaecological oncology.
Dr Robledo was recognised at the Western Sydney Women Awards 2022 gala dinner at Bankstown Sports, celebrating women pioneering in business, education, science and other endeavours.
Dr Robledo said she was "very surprised" to win the award, given the high calibre of nominees in her category.
"There's been a lot of big achievements for the group of collaborators and other bits and pieces I work on so it was really nice to be acknowledged for all the hard work I've been putting in during the pandemic while having kids," Dr Robledo told the Gazette.
"I was really surprised because it was such a competitive group of women I was up against. I was not expecting it at all."
Dr Robledo is an early career researcher working as a biostatistician at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney. She designs, monitors and analyses clinical trials in a variety of areas, and has had "some pretty big home runs lately".
This has included her collaborative work in a neonatal trial that found delaying clamping of the cord in certain premature births to allow the blood to circulate to the child for an extra minute could reduce the instances of death and disability.
"You don't need expensive medical equipment - you just need to wait a minute," Dr Robledo said.
Her statistical work on surgical treatment options for cervical cancer patients with colleagues has changed four different international guidelines, changing clinical practice in the field.
Dr Robledo leads her own research methodology, developing new methods for the analysis of biomarkers and their application in clinical trials.
She has published over 80 research articles in top tier international journals, and has been awarded over $4 million in research grants in the past five years.
Dr Robledo graduated from her PhD when she was 36 weeks pregnant with her first child in 2018.
She said the Western Sydney Women Awards were a reminder of "all the different hats" women wear, and how "women generally carry the burden of the family and fitting in the daycare pickups, the sick days" - which was exacerbated during the pandemic when grandparents weren't available to help out.
Dr Robledo said her award would help with her career advancement and acknowledgement of her contribution within the workplace.
She said the pandemic had been "a fantastic opportunity" for mothers who are working in a part-time role and don't have access to all the opportunities of their full-time counterparts "because they're rushing off to daycare and they have to look after their children".
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"The fact that we're working in a more virtual workplace and we do have the opportunity to jump in to a work appointment at seven at night and can do it at home ... what I'd really like to see continue is these hybrid environments," she said.
Dr Robledo wanted to send a message to young women about the opportunities for careers as statisticians - "there aren't many of us around so there are lots of jobs available", she said.
Western Sydney Women founder, Amanda Rose, created the awards to represent all women at different stages of business, education, family, and career across the Inner West, Greater West, Northwest, and Southwest of Sydney.
"It makes me so happy that these incredible women are able to be properly recognised and celebrated for all their hard work and determination. I'm grateful to our generous sponsors who are likewise thrilled to see such deserving winners," Ms Rose said.