Carnegie Mellon University
May 08, 2023

Kass Elected to National Academy of Sciences

By Abby Simmons

Abby Simmons
  • Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 412-268-6094

Robert E. Kass, the Maurice Falk Professor of Statistics and Computational Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. 

Kass joined CMU’s Department of Statistics & Data Science in 1981 and served as department head from 1995 to 2004. He also holds faculty appointments at the Neuroscience Institute and in the Department of Machine Learning. From 2015 to 2018, he served as interim co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a joint effort of CMU and the University of Pittsburgh, and on the CMU side, a precursor to the Neuroscience Institute. 

Kass’ early work focused on the geometrical foundations of statistics and on Bayesian inference. He co-authored the book "Geometrical Foundations of Asymptotic Inference" with Paul Vos and published a series of influential papers that led to him becoming the fourth most highly cited researcher in the mathematical sciences between 1995 and 2005, according to the Institute for Scientific Information.

In the late 1990s, Kass shifted his focus to applications of statistics in neuroscience. He has helped expand CMU’s excellence in computational neuroscience through research, training grants and graduate student training. In 2014, he co-authored the book, “Analysis of Neural Data,” with Emery Brown and Uri Eden.

In addition, Kass and a team of statisticians wrote "Ten Simple Rules for Effective Statistical Practice." Published in PLOS Computational Biology for the journal’s popular "Ten Simple Rules" series, the guidelines are designed to help the research community — particularly scientists who aren’t statistical experts or without a dedicated statistician as part of their team — understand how to avoid the pitfalls of well-intended, but inaccurate statistical reasoning. 

Kass has served as chair of the Section for Bayesian Statistical Science of the American Statistical Association, chair of the Statistics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, founding editor-in-chief of the journal Bayesian Analysis and Executive Editor of the international review journal Statistical Science.

In 2017, Kass received what is now called the Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies. He also is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Kass is among 120 members and 23 international members elected to the NAS in 2023, including alumna Jennifer Elisseeff (MCS 1994). CMU has been home to 23 NAS members, including 11 from the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.