2020 Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship Winner

Kathryn Roeder
Carnegie Mellon University

The 2020 Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship Committee selected Kathryn Roeder, Carnegie Mellon University to deliver the COPSS Lecture at the Joint Statistical Meetings in 2020. The citation for Dr. Roeder's plaque reads:

"For outstanding contributions to statistical science in the areas of mixture models, semiparametric inference, and multiple testing, and to the development of statistical methods aimed at finding the genetic basis of human disease, including the development of powerful methods for discovering genes underlying psychiatric disorders such as autism."

Dr. Roeder's talk is titled "Statistics and Genetics Offer a Window into Autism". The lecture can be viewed online.


A large number of genes have recently been implicated in risk for autism and these discoveries serve as a springboard for additional explorations into the neurobiology of the disorder. Quantification of gene expression, by sequencing RNA from either single cells or bulk tissue of brain, can be a critical step in such investigations. Each technology, however, brings analytical challenges. We address these challenges with novel statistical tools, including constructing a coherent hierarchical tree of cell types; novel nonparametric approaches to estimate cell-specific gene-gene networks; identification of critical marker genes using sparsity; and deconvolution to estimate subject and cell-type-specific gene expression.

Biography of Dr. Roeder

Kathryn Roeder is the UPMC Professor of Statistics and Life Sciences in the Departments of Statistics and Data Science and Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon University.  Dr. Roeder has developed statistical and machine learning methods in a wide spectrum of areas, including high dimensional data problems in genetics.  Her work focuses on statistical methods to reveal the genetic basis of complex disease.  She is one of the leaders of the Autism Sequencing Consortium, an international organization dedicated to discovering the genetic etiology of autism.  In 1997, she received the COPSS Presidents’ Award, as well as the COPSS Snedecor Award for outstanding work in statistical applications. She is a fellow of the IMS, ASA and AAAS.  In 2019 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.