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Javier Rojo Wins 2010 Don Owen Award

1 July 2010 No Comment

Javier Rojo (left) and John Schoolfield

The Don Owen Award for 2010 was presented to Javier Rojo on April 9 at the Conference of Texas Statisticians on behalf of the San Antonio Chapter. Following the presentation, Rojo presented a talk describing the summer education programs and symposia he has organized. He also shared his personal experiences as a collegiate baseball player and how he switched to a career in statistics after suffering an injury that ended his baseball career.

Rojo earned his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1984 and is a faculty member in the department of statistics at Rice University. He accepted this position in 2001 after serving 17 years as a professor in the mathematical sciences department at The University of Texas at El Paso. Since 2005, he has also served as an adjunct professor at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In addition to his teaching activities, he serves as chair of the PanAmerican Advanced Studies Institute.

Rojo is a Fellow of the ASA, Institute for Mathematical Statistics, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a chartered statistician of the Royal Statistical Society and a member of the International Statistical Institute, the Bernoulli Society, and the Econometric Society. He also has been elected as a Sigma Xi (Scientific Research Society) Distinguished Lecturer. He is an editor of the Journal of Nonparametric Statistics.

For the ASA, Rojo is currently a member of the Noether Award Committee and has served on the Committee on Outreach Education, Committee on Minorities in Statistics, and Committee on Professional Ethics. He was also the Section on Nonparametrics representative to the Council of Sections, chair of the Committee on Fellows, and program chair for the International Biometric Society – WNAR at JSM in 2000.

Rojo also has been active in his support of the Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native Americans (SACNAS). In recent years, he has focused on increasing the presence of statistics at the SACNAS annual meetings, frequently serving as the chair and speaker for statistics sessions.

Rojo has published many articles and technical reports in various outlets, including the Journal of the American Statistical Association and Annals of Statistics. At Rice University, he has directed three completed PhD dissertations and is supervising two PhD candidates. He also directed two completed PhD dissertations at Centro de Investigación en Matemáticas in Guanajuato, México. While at The University of Texas at El Paso (which did not have a PhD program), Rojo encouraged and mentored eight master’s theses, although master’s candidates were not required to submit a thesis.

While he was a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, Rojo was mentored by Erich L. Lehmann, with whom he maintained a strong collaborative association that resulted in Rojo’s development of the Lehmann Symposia, which are designed to showcase ongoing developments in theoretical statistics. He is also editing the collected works of Lehmann for a two-volume set to be published by Springer.

Rojo is the founder and principal investigator for the Rice University Summer Institute of Statistics, a 10-week summer program funded by the National Science Foundation and National Security Agency designed for undergraduates to participate in team projects spearheaded by top scientists. Students also have an opportunity to meet with NASA scientists and biostatisticians at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This program has been successful in encouraging students to embark on a graduate school statistics or mathematics program.

Through his service to the PanAmerican Advanced Studies Institute and his association with CIMAT, Rojo has made enormous contributions to the promotion of statistics in Mexico and El Salvador. He was honored by his election to the CONACYT Sistema Nacional de Investigadores as a level-three researcher. He also has served as a plenary speaker for the Mexican Statistical Association and the Mexican Mathematical Society.

Rojo symbolizes all the qualities of Don Owen, which this award embodies. The Don Owen Award is presented annually by the San Antonio Chapter of the American Statistical Association and Taylor & Francis.

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