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People News for February 2010

1 February 2010 No Comment

Grace Wahba


Grace Wahba is the inaugural recipient of Cornell University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. The award honors the many outstanding Cornell alumni who have made influential, far-reaching contributions to statistics.

Wahba, IJ Schoenberg-Hilldale Professor of Statistics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earned a bachelor’s in mathematics from Cornell. In addition to receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award, Wahba is a member of the National Academy of Sciences; a Fellow of five societies—including the American Statistical Association and Institute of Mathematical Statistics—and a recipient of the Elizabeth Scott Award, Gottfried E. Noether Senior Scholar Award, Emanuel and Carol Parzen Prize for Statistical Innovation, and Wald Lectureship. She also received an honorary DSc from The University of Chicago.

Wahba presented her award seminar, “Examining the Relative Influence of Familial, Genetic, and Covariate Information in Flexible Risk Models,” October 21, 2009, at the DSS colloquium. David Ruppert introduced Wahba and presented her with a plaque at the start of the lecture.

Shelemyahu Zacks


Nitis Mukhopadhyay, University of Connecticut-Storrs

The department of mathematical sciences at Binghamton University hosted a mini-conference December 5, 2009, to honor statistics professor Shelemyahu Zacks. Some of his colleagues, collaborators, friends, and former students gathered to celebrate his life and more than 50 years of research. Ten invited paper presentations were made, covering diverse topics.

Zacks grew up in Tel Aviv, Israel, and earned his bachelor’s in statistics, mathematics, and sociology from Hebrew University in 1955. He went on to earn a master’s in operations research and statistics from the Technion in 1960 and a PhD in operations research from Columbia University in 1962. He published his first research paper in the bulletin of the Research Council of Israel in 1957 on wind-produced energy and its relation to wind regime, followed by numerous influential papers. He has authored or co-authored seven books, including The Theory of Statistical Inference, published by Wiley in 1971.

Zacks has received many honors and awards, including Fellow of the American Statistical Association, Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute and received an honorary PhD from the University of Haifa. Zacks received the 2008 Abraham Wald Prize in Sequential Analysis, jointly with Nitis Mukhopadhyay, for their paper, “Distributions of Sequential and Two-Stage Stopping Times for Fixed-Width Confidence Intervals in Bernoulli Trials: Appli­cation in Reliability.”

Celebrating Zacks’ distinguished career of more than 50 years and his path-breaking research contributions, “Recent Advances in Theory and Applications of Statistics” includes 44 invited papers written by Zacks’ friends, collaborators, admirers, and former students. The Festschrift was published in two issues of Communications in Statistics – Theory & Methods.

Zacks and his wife, Hanna, with their two sons and their families gathered for the dinner at the end of the mini conference. The Festschrift and a commemorative plaque were presented to Zacks at the dinner.

More about the contributions and career of Zacks can be read in “A Conversation with Shelemyahu Zacks,” written by Mukhopadhyay and published in Statistical Science.

Sastry Pantula

ASA President Sastry Pantula and three other ASA members (Ram Tiwari, president of the International Indian Statistical Association (IISA); C. R. Rao, The Pennsylvania State University; and J. S. Rao, University of California, Santa Barbara) were honored by a ceremony of felicitation during the 2010 IISA-ISPS Conference in Visakhapatnam, India, last month. Felicitation is a traditional recognition ceremony in India. Honorees and their spouses are draped in a shawl and presented with flowers and other gifts and mementos. Here, Pantula and his wife, Sohba, are felicitated. Standing directly behind Pantula is C. R. Rao. In the upper right corner is K. S. Rao, one of the conference organizers. Presenting the plaque is the vice chancellor of Andhra University, Beela Satyanarayana.

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