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Statisticians Honored by COPSS

1 October 2017 15 views No Comment
Wendy Lou, COPSS Secretary/Treasurer

    The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) presents awards annually to honor statisticians who have made outstanding contributions to the profession. For 2017, four awards were presented on August 2 during the Joint Statistical Meetings in Baltimore.


    Tyler J. VanderWeele of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is the recipient of the 2017 Presidents’ Award. This award is presented annually to a young member of one of the COPSS participating societies in recognition of outstanding contributions to the profession. The award citation recognized VanderWeele “for fundamental contributions to causal inference and the understanding of causal mechanisms; for profound advancement of epidemiologic theory and methods and the application of statistics throughout medical and social sciences; and for excellent service to the profession, including exceptional contributions to teaching, mentoring, and bridging many academic disciplines with statistics.”

    In his acceptance speech, VanderWeele remarked, “It is from the foundation provided by statistics that so many other disciplines are able to proceed.”


    Xihong Lin of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is the recipient of the 2017 Florence Nightingale David Award. This award, sponsored jointly by COPSS and the Caucus for Women in Statistics, is granted biennially to a female statistician who serves as a role model to other women by her contributions to the profession through excellence in research, leadership of multidisciplinary collaborative groups, statistics education, or service to the professional societies. The award citation recognized Lin “for leadership and collaborative research in statistical genetics and bioinformatics and for passion and dedication in mentoring students and young statisticians.”

    In receiving her award, Lin encouraged junior statisticians, especially young women students, to pursue [their] passions and dreams.


    Aurore Delaigle of the University of Melbourne is the recipient of the 2017 George W. Snedecor Award. Biennially, the award honors an individual who was instrumental in the development of statistical theory in biometry with a noteworthy publication in biometry within three years of the award date. The award citation recognized Delaigle “for fundamental and ground-breaking contributions to the statistical theory of group testing of pooled laboratory samples and for contributions to measurement error methods and density estimation.” The award recognized the publication, jointly written with Peter Hall, titled, “Nonparametric Methods for Group Testing Data, Taking Dilution into Account,” which appeared in Biometrika.

    Delaigle dedicated the award to her collaborator, mentor, and friend Peter Hall, who passed away last January. She stated, “Working with him … will forever be one of the most amazing experiences in my life.”


    Robert E. Kass of Carnegie Mellon University is the recipient of the 2017 R.A. Fisher Award and Lectureship, which honors both the contributions of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher and the work of a present-day statistician for advancement of statistical theory and applications. This annual award recognizes outstanding scholarship in statistical sciences that has had a highly significant impact of statistical methods on scientific investigations. The award citation recognized Kass “for ground-breaking contributions to several areas of statistics, including use of differential geometry in statistical theory as well as theory and methodology of Bayesian inference; for strong commitment to the application of principled statistical thinking and modeling to problems in computational neuroscience; and for his strong dedication to training of students and users of statistics.”

    During his lecture, Kass shared lessons he learned from collaborations about the role of statistics in science and emphasized that statistical thinking, the internalizing of the statistical paradigm, contributed not only to science but to citizenship.

    View the webcast of his lecture, “The Importance of Statistics: Lessons from the Brain Sciences.”

    Nominations are sought for the 2018 awards. View information about award criteria and nomination procedures.

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