International Prize in Statistics Awarded to Nan Laird for Methods of Analyzing Data from Longitudinal Studies

The 2021 International Prize in Statistics has been awarded to US biostatistician Nan Laird, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Biostatistics (Emerita) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in recognition of her work on powerful methods that have made possible the analysis of complex longitudinal studies.

Studying the impact of air pollution on human health required the collection of data on people over time. Existing analysis methods in the late 1970s/early 1980s for such data required many assumptions that often were not true for longitudinal data. Nan Laird proposed a framework and implementation to loosen these analytical constraints and revolutionized the analysis of data collected over time on individuals. The awarding of the International Prize in Statistics to Nan Laird recognizes a statistician who contributed methods that reflect a fundamental shift in statistical practice and has enriched the analysis of data collected over time in a host of scientific disciplines.

The International Prize in Statistics

Five leading international statistics organizations have collaborated to launch the biennial International Prize in Statistics. The prize recognizes the “major achievement” of an individual or team in the field of statistics. Simultaneously, this prize helps raise media and public awareness of the growing importance of statistics to modern life and promotes understanding of the myriad and diverse ways statistics affects the lives of every person alive today.

The primary objective of the International Prize in Statistics is to call public attention to the important role statistics, data analysis, probability, and the understanding of uncertainty have played in the past and are playing today in the advancement of society, science, technology and human welfare, with a decided focus on current developments. Another leading objective is to identify penetrating and valuable insights and advances in statistics that can help achieve the primary objective.

The first International Prize in Statistics was awarded in July 2017, to David R. Cox. Bradley Efron received the award in 2019.