Mar 31, 2014

Rao Prize Conference: report

Runze Li writes:
The Penn State Department of Statistics held the 2013 Rao Prize Conference on October 5, 2013 to honor the 2013 Rao Prize winner Herman Chernoff, Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and of Statistics at Harvard University, and the 2013 P. R. Krishnaiah lecturer Stephen E. Fienberg, the Maurice Falk University Professor of Statistics and Social Science at Carnegie Mellon University. This conference was co-organized with the 2013 Penn State Bioinformatics and Genomics Retreat. About 200 researchers, including statisticians and biologists, attended this conference.

The conference program consisted of two plenary speakers, five invited speakers, and more than 40 posters by graduate students. The plenary speakers were Chernoff and Fienberg. The invited speakers were Francesca Chiaromonte, a professor of statistics at Penn State; Jiashun Jin, a professor of statistics at Carnegie Mellon University; Shaw-Hwa Lo, a professor of statistics at Columbia University; Adam Smith, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at Penn State University; and Tian Zheng, an associate professor of statistics at Columbia University. More information about the conference is online at

One of the highlights of the conference was the awarding of the 2013 Rao Prize to Herman Chernoff. Chernoff is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a winner of the Townsend Harris Medal and the Samuel S. Wilks Award, and a fellow of the IMS and the American Statistical Association. He was the president of the IMS in 1968. He has received honorary doctorates from the Ohio State University; the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology; La Sapienza, the University of Rome; and the University of Athens.

This conference also highlighted the 2013 P. R. Krishnaiah lecturer, Stephen E. Fienberg. An IMS Fellow, Fienberg is a recipient of the COPSS Presidents’ Award, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Statistical Association and a winner of its Wilks Award. He was IMS president in 1999.

The C. R. and Bhargavi Rao Prize was established to honor and recognize outstanding and influential innovations in the theory and practice of mathematical statistics, international leadership in directing statistics research, and pioneering contributions by a recognized leader in the field of statistics (see the call for nominations in the box on page 17). The Krishnaiah lectureship, which began as the P. R. Krishnaiah visiting scholars program in 1992, honors the memory of P. R. Krishnaiah by inviting outstanding researchers in statistics to deliver lectures at Penn State. More details are on the web at

From left to right: Herman Chernoff, Bhargavi Rao, C. R. Rao, Stephen E. Fienberg

Below: Poster session during lunch break


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