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Obituaries April 2013

1 April 2013 195 views No Comment

Damaraju Raghavarao

Stan Altan, Jagbir Singh


It is with profound sadness that we report Damaraju Raghavarao, the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Statistics in the Fox School of Business at Temple University, died suddenly from cardiac arrest brought on by a flu on February 6, 2013.

Raghavarao was born on January 5, 1938, the youngest of four children to parents Damaraju Lakhshminarasamma and Damaraju Venkatrayudu. Raghavarao’s future career was foreshadowed at an early age, doing well in elementary and secondary school, especially in mathematics. He completed his high-school education in 1951; bachelor’s in mathematics at Hindu College, Guntur, in 1955; and master’s in mathematics at Nagpur University in 1956, where he received the prestigious Khan Bahadur H.M. Malek Gold Medal for highest marks.

Raghavarao studied briefly with S.S. Shrikhande at Nagpur, but Shrikhande joined The University of North Carolina in 1958. Eventually, Raghavarao moved to Bombay University, completing his PhD under the supervision of M.C. Chakrabarti in 1961. Raghavarao remained at Bombay as a research fellow, where his interests focused on optimal nonorthogonal designs in the context of weighing designs and partially balanced incomplete block design association schemes. From there, he moved to Punjab Agricultural University, where he had the opportunity to apply much of the theory he had studied by carrying out field experiments on various crops. This work helped him develop insight into the practical side of statistics, an interest that remained with him for the rest of his life.

At Punjab Agricultural University, Raghavarao guided 11 students for either the master’s or PhD dissertation research and published his landmark book, Constructions and Combinatorial Problems in Design of Experiments.

In 1972, Raghavarao left India and joined The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a visiting professor. He then held a summer research assignment at Cornell University and spent 1973–1974 at the University of Guelph (Canada). In 1974, he joined the Fox School of Business at Temple University as a full professor and served the school for the next 39 years.

Raghavarao expanded his areas of research interest beyond his original constructions and combinatorial problems. He branched into sample survey methods, application of block designs in randomized response, group testing experiments, and partially balanced crossover designs. He developed a new class of designs useful in marketing, behavioral sciences, and inter-cropping experiments. He published eight books, more than 135 research papers, and guided the PhD dissertation research of 25 students.

Raghavarao served as chair of the statistics department on two separate five-year terms, served as director of the data analysis laboratory, and arranged four conferences on experimental designs. For his research contributions, he was appointed the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Statistics, and, in 1995, was awarded the Paul W. Eberman Research Award. He was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and Institute of Mathematical Statistics and a member of the International Statistical Institute. In 1999, his students and fellow academicians held a conference in honor of his 60th birthday. The conference was attended by leading researchers in experimental designs from all over the world. A special book, titled Recent Advances in Experimental Design and Related Topics, was published as a result of this conference.

During his more than a half century of professional productivity, Raghavarao taught and influenced countless students through his undergraduate and graduate courses. He was unusually dedicated to his students, always ready to provide wise encouragement during their moments of academic doubt and insightful counseling during the inevitable brick walls that confront those pursuing a difficult research topic. Always a friend and support to his academic colleagues, always ready to stand in and do whatever it took for his department to meet its teaching and research commitments. But more than his qualities as an exceptional teacher and scholar, Raghavarao was a man of great humanity. No angry word escaped his lips. He was a devoted father to his three children, daughters Venkata Lakshmi and Sharada and son, Venkatrayudu. No tribute to Raghavarao can be complete without mentioning his loving wife, Venkata Rathnam, who inspired Raghavarao’s academic achievements and was an exceptional mother to their children until her untimely death in 1989.

Raghavarao will be deeply missed not only for his scholarship and teaching, but also for the qualities that made him a man of such exceptional character and support to his family members, his colleagues, and his students. We mourn his passing.

Shayle Robert Searle

Shayle Robert Searle died on the February 18, 2013, in Ithaca, New York, after a short battle with cancer.

Shayle grew up in Wanganui, New Zealand, and earned his master’s in mathematics from Victoria University College, University of New Zealand. He was employed for a year as an actuarial assistant, and, in 1951, went to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as a research student. He earned his PhD at Cornell University and was employed as a research associate for a year by the animal husbandry department.

In 1962, Shayle became a research associate for statistics in the then Cornell Computing Center. In 1965, he joined the Cornell faculty in the biometrics unit of the plant breeding and biometry department of the College of Agriculture of Life Sciences, and became professor in 1970.

Shayle published numerous research papers and eight books and, in 1968, was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. He was a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and a member of the International Biometric Society and New Zealand Statistical Association.

In 1999, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and, in 1984, won a U.S. senior scientist award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Bonn, Germany.

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