Statistical Society of Canada Gold Medal Awarded to Robert Tibshirani


  • Date: 28 August 2012

Robert John Tibshirani, a professor in the Department of Health Research and Policy and in the Department of Statistics at Stanford University is the winner of the 2012 Gold Medal of the Statistical Society of Canada. This award is the highest distinction bestowed by the SSC. It is given annually to a Canadian statistician or probabilist who has made outstanding research contributions to statistical sciences and is intended to honor a leader in the field.

thumbnail image: Statistical Society of Canada Gold Medal Awarded to Robert Tibshirani

Rob Tibshirani studied statistics and computer science at the University of Waterloo (BMath, 1979), University of Toronto (MSc, 1980) and Stanford University (PhD, 1984). His PhD thesis was written under the supervision of Bradley Efron. He was an Assistant Professor (1985-89), Associate Professor (1989-94) and Professor (1994-98) at the University of Toronto. In 1998 he joined Stanford University as Professor.

Rob’s contributions in the statistical sciences place him in the uppermost echelon of researchers worldwide. He has made exceptional contributions to methodology and theory for the analysis of complex data sets, smoothing and regression methodology, statistical learning, and classification, and application areas that include public health, genomics, and proteomics. Some of his best-known contributions include the Lasso, which uses absolute value penalization in regression and related problems, Generalized Additive Modeling, and Significance Analysis of Microarrays (SAM).

Rob has also made exceptionally broad and important contributions to genetics, medicine, public health, traffic safety, and other scientific areas. His current research focuses on the analysis of high-dimensional data, with a special focus on applications in genomics, proteomics, and computational biology. Rob co-authored the first study linking cell phone usage with car accidents; this widely cited article played a role in the introduction of legislation that restricts the use of phones while driving. He is one of the most widely cited authors in the entire mathematical sciences.

Rob’s exceptional contributions in research have been recognized through various awards and honors. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the American Statistical Association, and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He won the worldwide COPSS Award in 1996, the NSERC Steacie Award in 1997, the CRM-SSC Prize in Statistics in 2000, the University of Waterloo Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2006, and he was an IMS medallion lecturer.

Rob has also served the profession in many capacities: as Associate Editor for many journals including The Canadian Journal of Statistics, as program chair for conferences such as the SSC meeting, and through memberships in professional committees and panels for organizations such as ASA, IMS and NSERC.

Rob received his Gold Medal at the 40th SSC Annual meeting held in Guelph, Ontario, June 3 to 6, 2012. The citation that accompanied the award reads:

“To Robert John Tibshirani, for pioneering work in the development and implementation of statistical methodology in many important and evolving fields such as the bootstrap, generalized additive models, statistical learning, high-dimensional data analysis, multiple hypothesis testing, significance analysis of microarrays, and for broad and important contributions to genetics, medicine, public health, traffic safety and other scientific areas.”

Rob will deliver the Gold Medal Address at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Society to be held May 26 to 29, 2013 in Edmonton, Alberta.

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