2013 SSC Award Winners


Honorary Member

SSC Honorary Membership awarded to Bovas Abraham

Bovas Abraham

A 2013 recipient of the Honorary Membership of the Statistical Society of Canada is Professor Bovas Abraham. This award is intended to honour an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the development of the statistical sciences in Canada and whose work has had a major impact in this country.
 
Bovas Abraham is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at the University of Waterloo. He was born in June 1942 in Kerala, South India, where he attended school in the village of Kariamplave, Ranni, where his parents still reside. He attended the University of Kerala when this state installed the world’s first elected communist government. He has two brothers and a sister, and two wonderful daughters, Linzy and Linn and boasts that his wife, Annamma, is an exquisite cook and a creative quilter.
 
After graduation, he taught in a college in Kerala and refined his teaching skills in Cape Coast, Ghana, preparing students for the A-Level examinations of the University of London. By coincidence, while he was in Ghana, a coup overthrowing the government of Nkrumah occurred. Bovas continues to deny any involvement. A happier coup occurred in the same period when he married Annamma in 1967 while on vacation in Kerala.
Bovas obtained his MSc from the University of Guelph in 1971 and his PhD in 1975 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, under the supervision of George Box. After spending two years at Dalhousie University he moved to Waterloo. He has been a faculty member at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science since 1977.
 
Professor Abraham has devoted his considerable talent and energy to the statistical sciences in many different capacities. He is a former President of the SSC and the founding president of the Business and Industrial Statistics Section of the SSC as well as the founding president of the International Society for Business and Industrial Statistics. He was the Director of the Institute for Improvement in Quality and Productivity at the University of Waterloo for nearly ten years. He has been involved in graduate training, teaching courses and supervising Masters and PhD students since 1977. He has published extensively in time series analysis, quality improvement, and the management and implementation of statistical procedures such as designed experiments, SPC and is co-author of the popular books, Statistical Methods for Forecasting, and Introduction to Regression Modeling. He has also acted as an educator and consultant in a wide range of statistical applications in industry in Canada, Latin America, India, and the United States.
 
Bovas is also a recipient of many other awards. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute. In addition, he holds the Service Award from the International Statistical Institute (2007) and the William G. Hunter award from the Statistics Division of the American Society for Quality (2006).
 
The citation for the award reads:

 

“To Bovas Abraham, for his fundamental contributions to the statistical sciences, advances in time series analysis, statistical methods for quality improvement, and industrial statistics, for dissemination of statistical methodology through authorship of textbooks, and for his service as founding president of the Business and Industrial Statistics Section and President of the Statistical Society of Canada.” 


 
 

Honorary Member

SSC Honorary Membership awarded to Chris Field

Chris Field
A 2013 recipient of the Honorary Membership of the Statistical Society of Canada is Professor Chris A. Field. This award is intended to honour an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the development of the statistical sciences in Canada and whose work has had a major impact in this country.
 
Professor Christopher Arnell Field was born during an air raid seven decades ago in Portsmouth, England. His interest in statistics was sparked as a child in Sydney, Nova Scotia, collecting statistics on his favourite baseball team, the Brooklyn Dodgers. He received his BSc from Dalhousie University in 1964 and his PhD from Northwestern University in 1968. After graduation he served as an Attaché de recherches at the Université de Montréal and then as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Dalhousie. He was appointed Assistant Professor at Dalhousie in 1970, Professor in 1983, and Professor Emeritus after his retirement in 2005. He is proof of the existence of a statistics gene; his son Brian studied statistics, and similarly his grandson Trent intends to enrol in statistics at Waterloo.
 
Professor Field is one of Canada’s most broadly influential statisticians and educators and a gifted and dedicated teacher. He is also a devoted public servant, who, with great competence, has served Canadian statistics through leadership roles, as Chair of the NSERC Statistical Sciences Grant Selection Committee, as Director of Statistics at Dalhousie and founding Director of the Statistical Consulting Service, and in many other administrative roles at Dalhousie where the department has been shaped by his influence. He was President of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science, and President of the SSC, and has acted as the Program Chair for two of the Society’s Annual Meetings and as Local Arrangements Chair in two others. His research is an impressive record of deep theoretical developments tempered with an appropriate perspective that has advanced the applied side of the discipline, often not measured by the complexity of the underlying mathematics but by exposing its simplicity. He made early and important contributions to our understanding of the properties of M-estimators and was a pioneer in the application of saddlepoint approximations. His delightful book with Elvezzio Ronchetti, Small Sample Asymptotics, is a classic. More recently he has been involved with statistical genetics problems associated with fish and plant populations.
 
In recognition of the breadth of his contri-butions to the discipline, Chris was awarded the SSC’s Distinguished Service Award in 2004 and the Gold Medal in 2006. He is also a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.
 
The citation for the award reads:
 
“To Chris Field, for his fundamental contributions to the statistical sciences in the areas of robustness and small sample asymptotics, for his interdisciplinary research in biology, and for decades of devoted service to statistical consulting and education including his service as President of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science and President of the Statistical Society of Canada.”

 


SSC Gold Medalist

SSC Gold Medal awarded to Jeffrey Rosenthal

Jeffrey Rosenthal

 
The recipient of the 2013 Gold Medal of the Statistical Society of Canada is Professor Jeffrey Rosenthal. The Gold Medal is awarded to a person who has made outstanding contributions to statistics, or to probability, either to mathematical developments or in applied work.
 
Consider the following remarkable existence problem: there exists a Canadian statistician, part-time comedian, musician, born on Friday the thirteenth during the Canadian Centennial, who is quoted in the New York Times, who has appeared in Cadbury milk chocolate commercials, on William Shatner’s television program “Weird or What?”, on CBC television’s “The Fifth Estate”, and whose day job involves winning awards both for research and teaching and writing best-selling books.
 
Professor Jeffrey Rosenthal, of the Department of Statistics at the University of Toronto, demonstrates the existence of a solution to this problem, and his monumental achievements seem to guarantee uniqueness for decades to come. The son of mathematical parents in Scarborough, Ontario, Jeffrey graduated from Woburn Collegiate in 1984, from the BSc program in Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science at the University of Toronto in 1988, and with a PhD in Mathematics from Harvard University under the supervision of Persi Diaconis in 1992.
 
Since 1993, Jeff has been on faculty in the Department of Statistics at the University of Toronto. His research areas are probability theory, stochastic processes, and Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms, with applications to statistics and to interdisciplinary applications of statistics. His research has had a profound influence on the fields of probability and statistics, and his writings and many public appearances on the public understanding of probability and its applications. He has made fundamental contributions to the Markov chain theory and to the convergence analysis of Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms. His introduction of the “minorization conditions” in his influential 1993 JASA publication has a far-reaching impact and is widely cited. Jeff’s exemplifications of how to obtain a practical convergence, found in both this 1993 JASA and his 1992 Annals of Statistics articles, have become a standard practice for researchers to prove convergence of a MCMC algorithm. Jeff’s research interest is extremely broad and his contributions also range broadly, including slice sampler, convergence diagnostics, exact/perfect sampling, MCMC algorithm design, regeneration, and adaptive MCMC. A central theme of Jeff’s contribution is to obtain practical and useful theoretical results, for example accurate quantitative bounds, conditions for geometric convergence, practical perfect sampling, etc.
 
Jeff was named a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in 2005, received the CRM-SSC prize in 2006, and in 2007 was awarded the prestigious Presidents’ Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS award). He was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada in 2012. Jeff’s book for the general public, Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities, is being published in sixteen editions and ten languages, and was a bestseller in Canada. It led to numerous media and public appearances. Jeff has also published two textbooks about probability theory, and over ninety refereed research papers.
 
Jeff has contributed to probability and statistics in Canada and internationally in every corner of the spectrum, from the mathematical depth of his research in probability, his attention to applications, to the public understanding of risk and the role of probability and statistics in everyday life.
 
The citation for the award reads:
 
“To Jeffrey Rosenthal, for pioneering research in the probabilistic analysis of convergence of Markov chain Monte Carlo methods, randomised computer algorithms and diverse interdisciplinary applications of statistics. For excellence in education and his many contributions to statistical literacy in Canada and beyond.
 

Distinguished Service Award

Distinguished Service Award: Nancy Reid

Nancy Reid

The Recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Service Award of the Statistical Society of Canada is Professor Nancy Reid. The Dis­tinguished Service Award is intended to honour a person who contributed substantially and over a period of several years to the operation or welfare of the SSC.
 
Nancy Reid is University Professor and Canada Research Chair in Statistical Methodology at the University of Toronto. She received her BMath degree from the University of Waterloo in 1974 with a major in Statistics, her MSc in Statistics from the University of British Columbia in 1976, and her PhD from Stanford University under the supervision of R.G. Miller. Nancy returned to Canada in 1980 as an Assistant Professor at UBC, moving to the University of Toronto in 1986, where she has been ever since. She has served on the scientific advisory panels of the National Program on Complex Data Structures, the Centre de recherches mathématiques, the Fields Institute for Research in the Mathematical Sciences, the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and the Banff International Research Station. She served as Chair of the Statistics Department at the University of Toronto. She has served the Statistical Society of Canada in many roles, as Society President, Chair of the Awards Committee, and Editor of The Canadian Journal of Statistics, as well as local organiser of the 1983 Annual Meeting. She has served the statistical sciences in many other capacities as well: as President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, Vice-President of the International Statistical Institute, Associate Editor of The Annals of Statistics, Statistical Science, Biometrika, and of the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, among others. Her service to the scientific community through involvement in NSERC has been constant: on NSERC Council, Chair of the NSERC Liaison Committee for Statistical Sciences and most recently Chair of the Steering Committee for the Long Range Plan for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences Research in Canada.
 
In 1992 Nancy became the first woman to receive the Presidents’ Award of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS), awarded annually to a young statistician in recognition of outstanding contributions to the profession of statistics. In 1995 she presented the first Canadian Mathematical Society Prize-Lectureship for distinguished research by women in mathematics, now known as the Krieger-Nelson Prize Lectureship. In 2000 she was invited to give the Wald lectures at the Annual Meeting of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. She received a 2003 Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Achievement Medal from the University of Waterloo “for her internationally recognized research accomplishments in the field of statistics, and for her outstanding contributions to university education and professional societies.” In 2008 she received the Emanuel and Carol Parzen Prize for Statistical Innovation from the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University. In 2009 she received the Statistical Society of Canada’s Gold Medal.
 
Nancy’s research has had a profound influence on statistical theory, likelihood inference, and design of studies. Along with her colleagues she has developed higher order asymptotic methods both for use in applications, and as a means to study theoretical aspects of the foundations of inference, including the interface between Bayesian and frequentist methods. She is interested in a number of substantive areas, including inference from large-scale surveys, environmental epidemiology, and high-energy physics. In 1987, her paper with Sir David Cox on orthogonal parameters and approximate conditional inference was read to the Royal Statistical Society. This very important contribution to the fabric of statistical theory introduced the “Cox–Reid likelihood”, still a standard method for correcting the likelihood in complex problems. This paper continues to be widely cited, and has led to considerable further research by Nancy and others. She has also developed new methods for obtaining highly accurate inference from the likelihood function, in a joint research program with Professor Emeritus D.A.S. Fraser, O.C. This extends and develops ideas first promoted by Fisher in the 1930s and has led to deeper understanding of the foundations of statistical inference. She has authored over 80 journal publications in statistics as well as four books, including The Theory of the Design of Experiments with Sir David R. Cox (2000) and Applied Asymptotics with Alessandra Brazzale and Anthony Davison (2007).
 
Through her extraordinary dedication, prodigious energy and wisdom, Nancy Reid has been relentless in her support of the statistical sciences in Canada and internationally.
 
The citation for the award reads:
 
“To Nancy Reid, in recognition of her extraordinary service to the Statistical Society of Canada and to her many contributions to the community of statistical scientists in Canada and internationally at all levels.”
 
 

  

Pierre Robillard Award


Pierre Robillard Award: Luke Bornn

Luke Bornn

Luke Bornn is the winner of the 2012 Pierre Robillard Award of the Statistical Society of Canada. This prize recognizes the best PhD thesis in probability or statistics defended at a Canadian university in a given year.

Luke’s thesis, entitled “Modeling Latent Correlation Structures with Application to Agricultural and Environmental Science,” was written at the University of British Columbia under the joint supervision of Arnaud Doucet and James V. Zidek. In his PhD work, Luke focused on eliciting latent correlation structures in spatial and/or temporal systems. He explored latent representations of correlation structures, and looked at the use of graphical models, spatial warping, and latent space representations to build flexible yet scalable correlation functions. For the latter, he came up with a novel approach to modeling non-stationary spatial fields. This ingenious technique works by expanding the geographic plane over which these processes evolve into higher dimensional spaces, transforming and clarifying complex patterns in the physical plane. Throughout, he applied the proposed methods to agricultural and environmental systems.

Luke grew up in the Vancouver area. After completing his MSc degree at the University of British Columbia under the direction of Arnaud Doucet and Raphael Gottardo, he stayed on to do his PhD under the tutelage of Arnaud Doucet and James V. Zidek. During his graduate studies, he held visiting researcher positions at Los Alamos National Laboratories, at the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI), and the Université de Bordeaux. After completing his PhD in July 2012, Luke moved with his wife Katie and six-month old daughter Adelaide to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he joined the Harvard Statistics Department as an Assistant Professor.

The criteria used in selecting the winner of the Pierre Robillard Award include the originality of ideas and techniques, the possible applications and their treatment, and the potential impact of the work. The award is named in memory of Professor Pierre Robillard, an outstanding dynamic young statistician at the Université de Montréal, whose untimely death in 1975 cut short what promised to be a highly distinguished career.

Luke Bornn will present the results of his thesis in a special session at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada to be held in Edmonton, Alberta, May 26 to 29, 2013.


 

CRM-SSC Prize in Statistics

CRM-SSC Prize in Statistics awarded to Derek Bingham

 
Derek Bingham was born in 1968 in Pointe Claire, Quebec.  He lived in the Montreal region (from Beloeil to Dollard) while growing up, with a brief one-year stay in Hawaii.  His academic trajectory includes a DEC at Champlain College in 1988 and a BSc in Applied Mathematics at Concordia University in 1991.  After several co-op jobs that were entirely statistical in nature, he decided to pursue a MSc in Statistics at Carleton University where he received the Senate Medal in 1994 for his thesis work.  Derek also worked full-time at Andersen Consulting from 1993-1995.  He moved out west in 1995 to pursue his PhD studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU) under the supervision of Randy Sitter.  He received his PhD from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at SFU in 1999, winning the Governor General’s Gold Medal.  After graduation he joined the Department of Statistics at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor.  In 2003, he moved back to SFU as the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Industrial Statistics in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science.
 
Derek’s research interests lie in the area of the design and analysis of experiments in the physical and engineering sciences.  He has made contributions in the development of statistical methodology for the design and analysis of experiments on complex computer simulators, fractional factorial designs for multi-stage experiments and optimal robust parameter designs for product variation reduction.  Much of his research has been motivated through scientific collaborations.  For example, his work on fractional factorial split-plot designs arose from interactions with scientists in the forest industry.  Recent work on computer experiments and uncertainty quantification is the direct result of collaboration with scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the US National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Michigan’s Center for Radiative Shock Hydrodynamics.  A common theme in this work is developing a framework for assessing the uncertainty in predictions made from mathematical or computer models for physical processes.
 
During his career, Derek has published over forty papers in peer-reviewed journals and other refereed contributions.  His work has appeared regularly in top-tier journals related to statistics and experimental design, including the Annals of Statistics, the Journal of the American Statistical Association, Biometrika and Technometrics.  He co-authored a paper on variable selection in computer experiments that won the 2006 Jack Youden Prize for best expository paper published in Technometrics. He has also published many papers in high-impact scientific and engineering journals focusing on the application of statistical design methods.   He plays important roles in the statistics community in Canada and internationally, being Associate Editor for several journals, and being involved in research council and SSC activities including being on the Development Committee for the Canadian Statistical Institute.
 
Derek Bingham will present an overview of his work in a special session at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada to be held in Edmonton, Alberta, May 26 to 29, 2013.
 
The citation for the prize reads:
 
The CRM-SSC Prize 2013 is awarded to Derek Bingham, Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Simon Fraser University, for his outstanding contributions in the area of the design and analysis of experiments in the physical and engineering sciences, specifically in the development of statistical methodology for complex computer simulators, fractional factorial designs for multi-stage experiments, and for optimal robust parameter designs for product variation reduction. 
 

The Canadian Journal of Statistics Award

The Canadian Journal of Statistics Award: Zhong Guan, Jing Qin and Biao Zhang 

Zhong GuanJing QinBiao Zhang

The Canadian Journal of Statistics Award is presented each year by the Statistical Society of Canada to the author(s) of an article published in the Journal, in recognition of the outstanding quality of the paper’s methodological innovation and presentation. This year’s winner is the article entitled “Information borrowing methods for covariate-adjusted ROC curve” (Volume 40, no. 3, pp. 569-587) by Zhong Guan, Jing Qin and Biao Zhang.

In medical diagnostic testing problems, the covariate adjusted receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves have been discussed recently for achieving the best separation between case and control. Due to various constraints, the sample sizes for some covariate values are not large enough to support reliable direct estimations of ROCs for all the underlying covariates of interest. The authors develop statistical methods to effectively utilize the information provided by the data using the semiparametric exponential tilting models. In these models, the density functions from different covariate levels share a common baseline density and the parameters in the exponential tilting component reflect the difference among covariates. The new covariate adjusted ROC is much smoother and more efficient than the nonparametric counterpart. A simulation study and a real data application are reported.

Zhong Guan is an Associate Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Indiana University South Bend. He received his PhD in statistics from The University of Toledo in 2001. Before joining the faculty at IU South Bend in 2004, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Yale University School of Medicine. His research focuses on empirical likelihood method semiparametric and nonparametric models and bioinformatics.

Jing Qin is a Mathematical Statistician at the Biostatistics Research Branch in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. After graduating from the University of Waterloo (1992), he spent one year as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University before joining the faculty at the University of Maryland. Before moving to the National Institute of Health (2004), he worked at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for 5 years. Dr. Qin's research interests include the empirical likelihood method, case-control study, length bias sampling, econometrics, survival analysis, missing data, causal inference, genetic mixture models, generalized linear models, survey sampling and microarray data analysis. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2006. He was a winner of the Pierre Robillard award in 1993 (The best statistical thesis defended in Canada in 1992).

Biao Zhang is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Toledo. He completed his PhD in statistics at the University of Chicago in 1992. Before coming to the University of Toledo, he was a visiting assistant professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. From 2000-2001 Biao was a visiting associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Michigan. His areas of research interest include empirical likelihood, missing data analysis, ROC curve analysis, and semiparametric statistical inference under density ratio models.

The award-winning paper will be presented by Dr. Qin at the 41th Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada to be held in Edmonton, Alberta, May 26-29, 2013.

 


SSC Impact Award

SSC Impact Award: David Thomson

David Thomson

 
The 2013 recipient of the Statistical Society of Canada Award for Impact of Applied and Collaborative Work is Professor David J. Thomson, Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen’s University, Kingston. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by members of the SSC in collaborative research and applied work, the importance of which derives primarily from its relatively recent impact on a subject area outside of the statistical sciences, on an area of application, or on an organization.

David was born on 1942 in St. John, New Brunswick. He attended Acadia University in Wolfville, obtaining a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Mathematics and Physics in 1965. Soon after, he moved south to New Jersey, having been hired by Bell Telephone Laboratories into a development division, and to take part in their Graduate Study Program. Accordingly, through this program David completed an MS (1967) and a PhD (1971) in Electrical Engineering, both degrees granted by Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now part of NYU), while completing a set of internal courses on topics so new that textbooks did not yet exist.
 
When David originally joined Bell Labs, he was placed in the “Outside Plant” division, which was concerned with elements of telecommunications networks that are placed outside. This included long-line transmission systems, and from 1966 to 1977, while simultaneously working on his graduate degrees, David was involved with the WT4 Millimeter Waveguide Project, a work that was seminal in his eventual discovery and publication of the multitaper method of spectrum estimation. Following the conclusion of the WT4 project, David spent 1977 through 1984 on a team involved with the development of the first commercial cellular phone systems. As part of this work, David was awarded five of his eventual 27 patents. During this time, he was also promoted to Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, at the time the highest possible title at Bell Labs for a scientist or engineer.

In parallel with his work on cellular phone systems, David found time to write his best-known statistical work, the 1982 paper entitled Spectrum Estimation and Harmonic Analysis, published in the Proceedings of the IEEE. This paper has received over 1900 external citations, and has been highly influential in the related fields of geophysics, seismology, helioseismology and sig-nal processing. The key accomplishment of this paper was to explain why multiple data tapers are needed for spectrum estimation. This work gave a consistent estimator for power spectra and practical tools for harmonic analysis. Multitaper anal-ysis converted spectrum estimation from something in the realm of “black magic” to a rigorous scientific tool, correcting problems that had been known as far back as Lord Rayleigh and Sir F. Arthur Schuster in the late 1800s.
 
In 1983 David moved to the Mathematics of Communications Department within the mathematics research area of Bell Labs. He was fortunate enough to have a position that allowed tremendous flexibility in his choice of research, and from 1984 to 2000 David worked on projects in the areas of digital signal processing, robust statistics, electrical engineering circuit design, phase tracking and time delay problems, communications satellite failure analysis, magnetotellurics, and externally (to Bell Labs) inspired fields of seismology, paleoclimatology, gravitational lensing (astrophysics) and medicine.
David was recruited by Queen’s University in 2001, and since then has been a Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Statistics and Signal Processing in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In his 11 years with Queen’s, he has supervised 10 MSc and eight PhD students, and has seven additional students at various stages of their studies. Through his career at Bell Labs and Queen’s University, David authored or co-authored 130 peer-reviewed journal papers or conference proceedings, wrote over 300 technical reports, has been granted 27 patents, contributed 15 book chapters, and has received many thousands of citations.
 
David has also received a number of honours in his long career. He was a Green Scholar at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD, 1983), a Steinbeck Visiting Scholar at the Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute (1985), a Visiting Professor at Princeton (Statistics, 1993), an Adjunct Professor at Scripps (UCSD, 1993–1998), a Visiting Professor at Stanford (Statistics, 1996) and a Houghton Lecturer (MIT, 1996). He has also served as Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Information Theory (1984–1990), Chair for the Signals and Systems panel of the Commission C of URSI (1991–1999), Associate Editor for Radio Science (1996–2000) and was on the Panel on Physical Sciences (National Research Council, US Army Research Labs, 1997–2000). He has been elected as a Fellow of the IEEE (1991), as a Chartered Statistician (Royal Statistical Society, 1993), a Killam Fellow (Canada Council for the Arts, 2009–2011), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2010), and is a Professional Engineer (PEO). Since 2008 he has also been a member of the Space and Atmospheric Advisory Committee (SAEAC) for the Canadian Space Agency.
The Impact Award was given to David both for his creation of the multitaper spectrum estimator and its subsequent application of the associated theory to a multitude of scientific and technological problems. The technological applications of the multitaper method are myriad, including applications in Nuclear Test Ban Treaty verification, and ensuring accuracy of touch-tone phone signals against noisy backgrounds (for which several patents were granted). In science, David has contributed in significant ways to climatology, geophysics, and space and solar physics through detailed statistical analysis of large-scale time series data sets. His 1990 Nature and 1995 Science papers were the first statistical analyses of climate data that conclusively showed a relationship between global temperature and atmospheric CO2, and have been key contributors to further discussions about global warming.

Since 1990 David has tirelessly pursued a two-decade-long work exploring data series from a number of spacecraft (especially, but not limited to, the Ulysses project, on which he was Co-Investigator) and has had a profound impact on our understanding of interplanetary magnetic fields and the Sun. His recent discovery of the existence in numerous scientific data sets of signatures of buoyancy (g-) modes that are theorized to exist in the Sun is contributing to a strong change in scientific understanding of the structure of the Sun, its magnetic fields, and their relationship to our climate and environment on Earth.
 
Finally, David also contributed to robustness and improved error bounds in the magnetotelluric method, a geophysical technique that measures magnetic and electric fields on the Earth’s surface (especially the seafloor) and uses these measurements to determine electrical conductivity. From a statistical point of view, this problem can be viewed as regression with complex predictors and response, with the predictors being highly collinear and both the predictors and response being often contaminated by outliers. The magnetotelluric method has become standard in the field of geophysics, and is an important tool for scientists working to understand the structure of the sub-surface of the Earth.
 
David currently lives in Kingston, Ontario with his wife, Maja-Lisa, and their two cats, Loki and Selkit. They have two grown children and one grandson, and in his spare time David enjoys woodworking, reading about history and attending classical music performances. His love of the last, especially chamber music, produces both relaxation and inspires his creativity. David will deliver the SSC Impact Award Address at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the SSC.

The citation for the award reads:
 
To David J. Thomson, in recognition of his creation of the multitaper spectrum estimator, and its subsequent application to the related fields of geophysics, climatology and helioseismology; especially in connection with his discovery of the existence of solar g-mode signatures in scientific data.”