Environmental flavour to RSS 2019 Honours list

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The Royal Statistical Society’s Honours list for 2019 has a distinctly environmental theme as it announces this year's recipients. 

RSS’s President Professor Deborah Ashby commented: 'The winners are all outstanding statisticians of different ages from around the world truly reflecting the Society’s very diverse membership.

'It’s particularly pleasing to see that the Gold and Barnett awards have both gone to statisticians who’ve made a huge contribution to environmental science, a most pressing issue that also provided the winners of RSS’s "Statistics of the Year", announced in December.'

The recipients this year are as follows. Citations for all of the 2019 awards are listed on our announcement page. The recipients will receive their awards this September at RSS’s annual conference in Belfast.



The Guy Medal in Gold: Stephen Buckland – University of St Andrews

For over 40 years, Stephen has pioneered many international developments in ecological statistics, including wildlife population assessment, biodiversity monitoring and modelling population dynamics. Additionally, Stephen has democratised statistics by leading the development of freely-available software (notably DISTANCE). 'This award came as a complete surprise to me,' Stephen said. 'The list of previous recipients is humbling. I feel that the award sends a strong message of support for applied statisticians, recognising not just one person, but the importance of teamwork, of developing methods to solve problems in other disciplines, and of making those methods accessible to user communities, through books, software and training programmes. I am very grateful to all my colleagues who have contributed through the years, and to the Royal Statistical Society for this recognition of our achievements.'



Guy Medal in Silver: Susan Murphy - Harvard University

Susan’s influential 2003 JRSSB paper on Optimal Dynamic Treatment Regimens proposed a methodology for estimating decision regimens that result in a maximal mean response, consistent with an elegantly-defined regret function and for use with experimental or observational data. Substantial follow-up work on multi-stage decision making has built on this paper. 'This wonderful award will help advertise the serious need for statistical scientists to contribute to the emerging field of sequential decisions in statistical reinforcement learning!' Susan said.



Guy Medal in Bronze: Jonas Peters – University of Copenhagen

For research on causal inference and related statistical methodology and theory. Notably two papers: 'Kernel-based tests for joint independence' (with N. Pfister, P. Bühlmann and B. Schölkopf), published in 2017, and 'Causal inference using invariant prediction: identification and confidence intervals' (with P. Bühlmann and N. Meinshausen). 'I could not feel more honored to receive the RSS Guy Medal,' Jonas said. 'Many thanks to all my wonderful collaborators. Causality tries to answer how we can improve systems by performing interventions. It may also help us to build robust models that can still be used if the system changes. It is an exciting and important research field. I feel that the award recognises that.'




Barnett award: Marian Scott – University of Glasgow

Marian has innovated statistical techniques applied to environmental issues such as radioactivity, water quality and air pollution. Her impactful work delivers statistically sound evidence supporting environmental science, policy, regulation and management. Marian said she was 'delighted' to receive the award, adding: 'Statistics and statistical models help us better understand and track changes in our environment, whether we are considering air or water quality, the loss of biodiversity, or extreme events in our weather.  I have been hugely fortunate in working together with ecologists, environmental scientists, geographers, chemists and physicists, as well as other colleagues in statistics, to help quantify our changing environment, something that is vitally important to us all.'



Research Prize: Tengyao Wang – UCL

Tengyao has given a new understanding to computational and statistical trade-offs; developed theory for multi-dimensional shape constrained estimators; and introduced a new paradigm and method for detecting changes in high-dimensional data streams. Tengyao said he was 'really excited' to win the award, adding: 'I hope that my pursuit of theoretical and methodological statistics can provide a more solid foundation to statistical methods as they get increasingly applied to every facet of our lives.'



The RSS has now opened nominations for 2020 Honours - read about them on our Honours page.

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