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Call for Nominations: Rousseeuw Prize for Statistics

1 November 2023 No Comment

Statistics is a cornerstone of science, health, industry, economics, government, and more and benefits society as a whole. The Rousseeuw Prize for Statistics awards pioneering work in statistical methodology. The prize recognizes a statistical innovation—an outstanding contribution or tool that has had significant impact and found wide application in statistical practice with relevance to society.

The biennial Rousseeuw Prize for Statistics is awarded by the King Baudouin Foundation, a large public utility foundation in Belgium. The prize is named after its sponsor, the statistician Peter J. Rousseeuw, and focuses on the innovation rather than a single individual. This allows recognition of several individuals who made significant contributions. One of the goals of awarding the people who created such an innovation is to promote awareness of the important role and intellectual content of statistics and its profound impact on human endeavors.

The prize, which began in 2022, is awarded in even years. The award amount is $1 million for each prize, to be shared among recipients in case of multiple awardees, which is the hoped-for scenario. The award ceremony is scheduled for the fall of 2024 at KU Leuven.

For the purpose of the prize, statistics is defined as “the science and technology of obtaining useful information from data, taking its variability into account.” Statistical work in the above sense can be found under flags such as astrostatistics, data analysis, genomic statistics, quantitative finance, and time series analysis, to name a few.

There is no time window for the work in the sense that it would have to have been completed within a determined range of years. Likewise, there is no age limit on awardees. The awardees must be living persons, not organizations. If one of the main contributors is no longer alive, the surviving author(s) of the joint work can still be awarded, and the deceased contributor(s) will be named explicitly.

Nominations will propose a particular innovation as well as a list of awardees. Considering gender diversity when making the list is encouraged, when applicable. Self-nomination is not permitted. The nominations, including letters of recommendation, are to be submitted by February 29, 2024, on the website, which contains all information about the prize and nomination procedures.

The King Baudouin Foundation appoints an international jury consisting of 10 reputed statisticians. The jury will make a ranked shortlist of three options, in case some awardees do not accept the prize or are unwilling to be present at the award ceremony. To avoid undue pressure on the jury, its members are anonymous while they do their work.

The selection of the award is to be impartial and balanced. The members of the jury may not be related to the people on the shortlist through family ties or have been past or present life partners, PhD adviser–student pairs, or co-authors in the last 15 years. When selecting the award topic and awardees, the jury takes into account important contributions and contributors irrespective of gender, race, sexual orientation, ideology, or religion.

In October 2022, the inaugural prize went to a topic in biostatistics: causal inference with applications in medicine and public health. The laureates were James Robins, Miguel Hernan, Andrea Rotnitzky, Thomas Richardson, and Eric Tchetgen Tchetgen. They carried out this research mainly in the United States.

The 2024 prize can be awarded in any of the other four subfields of statistics:

  • General statistical methodology
  • Computational statistics and data science
  • Statistics in the physical sciences and industry
  • Statistics in economics and humanities

To ensure geographic diversity over time, the 2024 prize cannot go to work carried out in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or United Kingdom. Also, to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, the award cannot be in Peter Rousseeuw’s research areas.

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