Carnegie Mellon University
August 09, 2013

News Brief: Joint Statistical Meetings Honor Five From Carnegie Mellon

Contact: Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 /

PITTSBURGH—Five professors from Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Statistics were honored at the 2013 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) — the largest gathering of statisticians held in North America.

Robert E. Kass, professor of statistics with additional appointments in the Machine Learning Department and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, received the Outstanding Statistical Application Award from the American Statistical Association (ASA). The award recognizes the authors of a paper, published within the past two years, that demonstrates an outstanding application of statistics in any substantive field according to impact in the field and novelty of statistical treatment of the problem. Kass was honored for "Assessment of Synchrony in Multiple Neural Spike Trains Using Loglinear Point Process Models," which was co-authored with Ryan Kelly of Google and Wei-Liem Loh of National University of Singapore. The paper solved the fundamental and challenging problem of assessing precisely-timed coincident firing of two or more neurons.

Statistics Professor Larry Wasserman, who also has an appointment in the Machine Learning Department, was invited to give the annual Reitz Lecture, which serves to clarify the relationship of statistical methodology and analysis to other fields. Wasserman's talk, "Topological Inference," focused on the problem of inferring geometric and topological features of point clouds and functions for things such as estimating clusters and manifolds, filaments detection and ridge estimation.

Christopher Genovese, professor of statistics, was elected fellow of the ASA for outstanding professional contributions to, and leadership in, the field of statistical science. Genovese was recognized for fundamentally important contributions to statistical theory and methodology and their applications to diverse scientific problems; for using scientific problems to inspire new statistical theory; for innovation in statistical pedagogy and for service to the ASA.

To celebrate his 70th birthday, two special sessions were held in honor of Stephen E. Fienberg, the Maurice Falk University Professor of Statistics and Social Science: "Would the Real Steve Fienberg Please Stand Up: Getting to Know a Population from Multiple Incomplete Files" and "Session in Honor of 70th Birthday of Stephen E. Fienberg and His Nearly 50 Years of Statistical Practice." Fienberg is also a faculty member of the Machine Learning Department, Cylab and i-Lab.

As a past winner of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) Award for the best statistician under the age of 40 and in honor of the 50th anniversary of COPSS, Kathryn Roeder was invited to participate in a panel of past COPSS Award winners to discuss the "Past, Present and Future of Statistics." Roeder is a professor in the Department of Statistics and Lane Center for Computational Biology.

JSM was jointly held in Montreal, Canada, Aug. 3-8 by the ASA, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the International Biometric Society, the International Chinese Statistical Association, the International Indian Statistical Association, the International Society for Bayesian Analysis, the Korean International Statistical Society, and the Statistical Society of Canada.

This year (2013) has been designated the "International Year of Statistics" to highlight the central importance of statistics in managing a 21st-century data overload.

For more information on CMU's Department of Statistics, visit