Jo-An Occhipinti

Head, Systems Modeling, Simulation, & Data Science, University of Sydney

Associate Professor Occhipinti (née Atkinson) is Managing Director of Computer Simulation & Advanced Research Technologies (CSART); and Head of Systems Modelling, Simulation & Data Science with the Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney. She has experience in leading transdisciplinary teams that work at the intersection of systems science, data science and health sciences to improve the health and wellbeing of populations through the development of interactive decision support tools. These tools are used by health departments and service planners to forecast the impact of alternative decision options before they are implemented in the real world; saving both time and resources. A/Prof. Occhipinti works in partnership with government departments, policy agencies, program planners and researchers in health and social sectors, and implements a participatory approach to model development. This approach facilitates transparency of model structures, logic and assumptions, and enables the compilation of the body of evidence, data, expert and local knowledge in a way that captures the complex and dynamic nature of our most challenging health and social problems. In bringing together researchers with policy end users and deeply engaging them in the process of developing these models, the developed tools incorporate context specific insights from policy and practice, are driven by policy priorities, and help build consensus for collaborative action.

A/Prof. Occhipinti has led work in the application of system dynamics modelling, agent-based modelling, discrete event simulation, and hybrid methods to provide decision support capability to address challenges such as suicide prevention, mental health service planning, alcohol related harms, tobacco control, childhood overweight and obesity, diabetes in pregnancy, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, state-level health system service planning to improve hospital performance, child protection service system reform, and homelessness.

A/Prof. Occhipinti has more than 20 years’ experience in health service delivery and clinical research in Australia, as well as public health operational research to inform strategy for disease control and elimination in the Asia-Pacific region. Her research interests have included exploring human behavioral and system-level influences on intervention effectiveness; exploring acceptability of new and existing technologies for disease prevention; and the design of strategies for community engagement in prevention initiatives. More broadly, A/Prof. Occhipinti’s experience and interests have been in fostering national and international partnerships between policy agencies, research institutions, and civil society to facilitate capacity building, innovation and research translation to improve population health.

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