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Dr Penny Holborn


Penny Holborn Position: Research Associate Email:
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 70986
Fax: +44(0)29 208 74199
Extension: 70986
Location: M/1.11

Research Interests

Operational Research Methods Applied to Healthcare

Mathematical Modelling (Specifically for Aneurin Bevan Health Board)

OR applied to Transportation and Logistics

The application and analysis of heuristic and metaheuristic algorithms

Statistical Methods and Applications

Research Group

Operational Research

Tutoring and Teaching Responsiblities

External Courses

An Introductory Course in data management

SAS data step, macro programming and SQL

Applied Statistics: An Introduction

Statistics for Beginners

Administrative Duties

Member of the Steering Group for Women in Science

Member of Operational Research Group

Maths Support Tutor





Current Research

My Research Associate post is jointly funded by Cardiff School of Mathematics and Aneurin Bevan Health Board, so my work commitments are accordingly shared between the two organisations. Within the Health Board, I am part of the Aneurin Bevan Continuous Improvement Modelling Unit where my specific role involves projects which include:

Optimisation: determining the most efficient use of resources.
Scheduling: assigning workloads and tasks equitably and efficiently.
Statistics: supporting teams with the interpretation and presentation of data.

Previous Research

The work presented in my PhD thesis concerns the problem of dynamic vehicle routing. The motivation for this was the increasing demands on transportation services to deliver fast, efficient and reliable service meaning systems are now needed for dispatching transportation requests that arrive dynamically throughout the scheduling horizon.

The focus of the research was the dynamic pickup and delivery problem with time windows, where requests are not completely known in advance but become available during the scheduling horizon. All requests have to be satisfied by a given fleet of vehicles and each request has a pickup and delivery location, along with a time window at which services can take place. To solve the DPDPTW, our algorithm is embedded in a rolling horizon framework, thus allowing the problem to be viewed as a series of static sub-problems.

The research began by considering the static variant of the problem using both heuristic and metaheuristic methods. For the dynamic problem, investigations were performed to identify how requests arriving dynamically should be incorporated into the solution. Varying degrees of urgency and proportions of dynamic requests were examined. Further investigations looked at improving the solutions over time and identifying appropriate improvement heuristics.

This continually increasing area of research covers many real-life problems such as a health courier service. Here, the problem consists of the pickup and delivery of mail, specimens and equipment between hospitals, GP surgeries and health centres. Final research applied our findings to a real-life example of this problem, both for static schedules and a real-time 24/7 service.



2nd Student Conference of Operational Research (SCOR); University of Nottingham, April 2010

Speaking of Science Conference; Cardiff University, May 2010

OR52; Royal Holloway, London, September 2010

IFORS; Melbourne, Australia, July 2011

SWORDS; Regional Meeting, Cardiff, October 2011

EvoCop; Malaga, Spain, April 2012

3rd Student Conference on Operational Research (SCOR); University of Nottingham, April 2012

OR54; The University of Edinburgh, September 2012

Poster Presentations:

LANCS Initiative Advisory Board Meeting; London, December 2011


Vice-Chair of the 3rd Student Conference of Operational Research (SCOR2012), held at the University of Nottingham.


Winner of the Best Presentation award at the 2nd Student Conference of Operational Research (SCOR); Nottingham University; April 2010.


PhD:- Heuristics for dynamic vehicle routing problems with pickups and deliveries and time windows; (Funded by LANCS, Cardiff University, 2013)

BSc Mathematics, Operational Research and Statistics (First Class Honours, Cardiff University, 2009)


Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

Candidate Associate of The Operational Research Society.

Positions Held

2013-Present: Research Associate, School of Mathematics, Cardiff University / ABCi, Aneurin Bevan Health Board

2009-2013: Postgraduate Student, School of Mathematics, Cardiff University

2009-2012: Undergraduate tutorial assistant, Cardiff University

2007-2008: Statistical analyst, Welsh Government (Undergraduate Industrial Placement)