Carnegie Mellon Press Release: October 17, 2003
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Press Release

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
October 17, 2003

Carnegie Mellon Statistics Professor Named Chairman of Committee on National Statistics

PITTSBURGH—William F. Eddy, a professor of statistics at Carnegie Mellon University, has been named the chairman of the influential Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT), a standing committee of the National Academies, starting July 1, 2004.

CNSTAT serves to contribute to a better understanding of important national issues by working to improve the statistical methods and information on which public policy decisions are based. Its current projects include studies of data confidentiality, methods for assessing discrimination, cost-of-living indices for federal entitlement programs and research into better census methods. The federal government spent more than $4.6 billion on statistical programs during fiscal year 2003.

"Nearly every decision that's made now depends on statistics. It's become a fundamental part of science," Eddy said.

Eddy, who has been at Carnegie Mellon since 1976, is the university's second professor to serve as CNSTAT's chairman. Stephen Fienberg, the Maurice Falk University Professor of Statistics and Social Science, chaired CNSTAT from 1981 to 1987. Eddy said it is an honor for Carnegie Mellon's Statistics Department to be able to claim two CNSTAT chairmen, and a reflection of the growing influence of the department's brand of interdisciplinary statistical research.

"Statistics as a science had become pretty ingrown, so people tended to do their research as individuals, and not to reach out into applications, but that's changing rapidly, in part because of Carnegie Mellon and what goes on here," Eddy said.

Eddy's own work is testament to the multidisciplinary nature of statistical research at Carnegie Mellon. Currently, his research focuses on the data generated by functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), a technique used by cognitive neuroscientists to chart brain activity. Eddy is studying other types of imaging as well, and he works closely with scientists in a range of disciplines.

Eddy is a member of the board of directors of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, a beacon for cross-disciplinary statistical research. He has served on several National Research Council panels and committees, and he is a lifetime National Associate of the National Academies. He previously was chairman of the National Academies' Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, making him the first person to chair both the academies' statistics committees.

The Department of Statistics is one of eight departments in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the second-largest academic unit at Carnegie Mellon. The college emphasizes interdisciplinary study in a technologically rich environment, with an open and forward-thinking stance toward the arts and sciences.


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