R.A. Fisher Award and Lectureship (Retired)

R.A. Fisher Award and Lectureship (Retired, Effective June 23, 2020)

 About the Award     Operating Procedure     Past Recipients

COPSS Statement on Fisher Lectureship and Award (released on June 23, 2020)

The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) is retiring the R.A. Fisher Award and Lecture, effective immediately. Dr. Kathryn Roeder, the announced recipient of this award for 2020, will receive the COPSS Distinguished Achievement Award and Lectureship, to be presented during the COPSS Awards and Address Session at the Joint Statistical Meetings that will take place virtually on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.

We take this action to advance a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive statistical community. It represents an important first step in a more comprehensive commitment to future diversity and inclusion across the generations in the statistics profession.  We acknowledge that not all statisticians will agree with this action. The path of equity and inclusion stimulates diverse perspectives on substance, pace and content of an issue, and consensus can sometimes be impracticable.  We emphasize our shared commitments to move forward to ensure a fair and equitable society and profession by starting with these steps:

  • Request the 2020 JSM Program Committee to create a COPSS special invited session with experts exploring Fisher’s role, and the role of statistics more broadly, in eugenics from diverse perspectives and how these different lenses perceive this history in our 2020 society. The session would be archived for public viewing on the COPSS website.
  • Convene a diverse committee of experts and members of our societies to create guidelines for naming/renaming COPSS awards and to suggest action-oriented strategies to increase and commit to diversity, equity and inclusion in our profession.
  • Create a public repository of discussion and teaching material on diversity and inclusion as well as on the history of statistics with respect to eugenics. This repository will be available to teachers and researchers to raise awareness and to promote a more welcoming, respectful and stimulating environment for all our members.

COPSS leadership acknowledges the differing passions and viewpoints on this matter and appreciates that everyone involved seeks positive outcomes for our respective societies and our profession. We recognize Fisher’s fundamental contributions in establishing statistics as a scientific discipline. We heard the voices of those who argued for further deliberation before finalizing a decision. We have confidence that we will all work together to achieve our common goal of a fair, just, and equitable society and profession. 

About the Award

The R.A. Fisher Lectureship was established in 1963 by COPSS to honor both the contributions of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher and the work of a present–day statistician for their advancement of statistical theory and applications. The Fisher Lectureship is a very high recognition of meritorious achievement and scholarship in statistical science and recognizes highly significant impact of statistical methods on scientific investigations. The award winner will receive a plaque and a cash honorarium of $2,000, and deliver the Fisher Lecture at the Joint Statistical Meetings. See also the Wikipedia page.

Purpose and History

COPSS established the R. A. Fisher Lectureship in 1963 to honor the contributions of Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher and the work of a present-day statistician. The Fisher Lectureship recognizes the importance of statistical methods for scientific investigations, and the list of past Fisher lecturers well reflects the prestige that COPSS and its member societies place on this award. The Lecture is to be broadly based and is to emphasize aspects of statistics and probability that are closely related to scientific collection and interpretation of data, the areas in which Fisher made outstanding contributions. It is anticipated that this lecture will be published in one of the COPSS society journals. Since 1982 COPSS has added a cash prize and a plaque to the Lectureship.

Award Committee

The Award Committee selecting the recipient will consist of six members. Each of the five charter member societies (i.e., ASA, ENAR, WNAR, IMS, and SSC), plus the COPSS Chair, appoints one committee member. These six committee members serve for a three-year term on a rotating basis. The award winner from 6 years previous to the current award is invited by the COPSS Chair to serve as the seventh committee member. His/her term is for one year. In the event that this Award winner is unable (or unwilling) to serve on this committee or is already on the committee, the award winner in the subsequent year will be invited by the Chair to serve and this person then serves for two years. For example, for the 2016 award, the 2010 awardee serves as the seventh member. If he/she cannot serve, the 2011 awardee will be invited to serve. The COPSS Chair appoints the chair of the award committee. Two new members, including the past awardee, are appointed per year.

Frequency of Award

The award shall be given every year if, in the opinion of the Award Committee, an eligible and worthy nominee is found. The Award Committee shall have the option of not giving an award for any year. The Award Committee may not split the award between more than one winner.

Nominations and Eligibility

The award is open to all regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or citizenship. Nominees must be living at the time of their nomination. Nomination submissions will be invited by October of the previous year and will close on December 15th. Prior nomination does not exclude a nominee from consideration in subsequent years. No member of the Award Committee, the officer of COPSS, or societal member of COPSS shall be eligible to receive the award during his or her term of service.

Eligible candidates are expected to adhere to the highest standards of statistical practice, professional conduct, and personal conduct; see the Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice published by the Committee on Professional Ethics of the American Statistical Association: https://www.amstat.org/ASA/Your-Career/Ethical-Guidelines-for-Statistical-Practice.aspx for more information.

Eligible nominations should be sent to the Chair of the Fisher Award Committee in PDF Format, and should include a nomination letter, the candidate’s curriculum vitae and contact information, and three support letters. Award Committee members should not prepare individual nominations or letters of support.

Selection Criteria
The criteria are excellence in contributing statistical methods for scientific investigations broadly based on and emphasizing aspects of statistics and probability that are closely related to scientific collection and interpretation of data, the areas in which Fisher made his outstanding contributions.

The Award Committee is responsible for the review of selection criteria and can recommend any modifications to COPSS.

Form and Presentation of Award

The award consists of a plaque, a citation, and a cash honorarium of $1,500. It is presented at the COPSS Awards and Fisher Lecture session at the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM), usually on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. local time. Reimbursement for reasonable travel and hotel expenses to attend the JSM to receive the award is provided to the recipient, if other funds are unavailable. The Fisher Lecture is generally 1 hour long with ample additional time for questions and discussion.

Important Dates

  • Members of the Award Committee will be appointed by September 30th of the previous year. Chair of COPSS will work with COPSS members to complete all committee appointments. Chair of COPSS will select the Award Committee chair. If any COPSS member society is unable to appoint their member by October 1st of the previous year, the Award Committee will proceed and complete its work without representation of that society.
  • Award recipient will be selected and notified by January 15th of the award year.
  • Chair of the Award Committee will work with the Secretary/Treasurer of COPSS to provide all the necessary information to the ASA/JSM Awards Coordinator by February 1st of the award year.

Committee Chair Responsibilities

  • Communicate the award criteria and selection process to Committee members.
  • Contact and encourage unsuccessful nominations from the previous award period to be updated and renominated. (COPSS Secretary should have previous unsuccessful nominations).
  • Organize and chair Committee discussion of nominees and selection of award recipient.
  • Inform the Award recipient of their selection by February 1st.
  • Inform all other nominators that a selection has been made.
  • Prepare the award citation.
  • Convey the award recipient’s name, contact information, citation, picture, and other relevant information to the COPSS Secretary/Treasurer by February 1st for preparing the article for publication and plaque.
  • Prepare presentation slides for the COPSS Awards Presentation at the JSM.
  • Introduce award and recipient at COPSS Awards Presentation at the JSM.
  • Send a complete list of unsuccessful nominations to COPSS Secretary for future re-nomination.
  • Communicate any recommendations for changes to any part of this document to the COPSS Chair and Secretary/Treasurer.

Committee Member Responsibilities

  • Work with the chair to adhere to the selection timeline.
  • Participate fairly and openly in the selection deliberations.
  • Request removal from the committee if other time constraints do not allow for adequate attention to the nominations and award process.

COPSS Secretary/Treasurer Responsibilities

  • Review and manage the expenditure of the Award Endowment Fund
  • Assist Committee Chair in correspondence, as needed.
  • Prepare articles about the Fisher award recipient for publication in AmStat News and IMS Bulletin and provide them to ASA Meetings department ASSA/JSM and IMS award coordinator by March 31st.
  • Prepare plaques and checks for presentation at the JSM.
  • Assist the COPSS Chair in preparing award presentation.
  • Prepare financial reports for the committee meeting at JSM.
  • Coordinate with Committee Chair and ASA staff on Awards presentation
  • Prepare a report of the award ceremony for IMS Bulletin and a Fisher lecture report for AmStat news by August 31st.
  • Prepare a call for nominations for the following year’s awards for publication in AmStat news and IMS Bulletin by August 31st.

COPSS Chair Responsibilities

  • Ensure that COPSS member societies name Award Committee members by August 1st of the previous year.
  • Select Award Committee Chair by August 31st of the previous year.
  • Help to orient committee members and the Award Committee Chair to their responsibilities.
  • Review potential conflicts of interest and other issues for the Committee Chair, if they arise.
  • Thank committee members and the Award Committee Chair to their responsibilities and solicit suggested improvements to the award process after the award cycle is completed.

Past Recipients

S. Bartlett
University of Chicago and University College, London
“R. A. Fisher and the last fifty years of statistical methodology” (JASA 60, 1965, 395-409)
Oscar Kempthorne
Iowa State University
“Some aspects of experimental inference” (JASA 61, 1966, 11-34)
John W. Tukey
Princeton University and Bell Telephone Laboratories
“Some perspectives in data analysis”
Leo A. Goodman
University of Chicago
“The analysis of cross-classified data: independence, quasi-independence, and interactions in contingency tables with or without missing entries” (JASA 63, 1968, 1091-1131)
Leonard J. Savage
Princeton University
“On rereading R. A. Fisher” (Annals of Statistics 4, 1976, 441-500)
Cuthbert Daniel
Private Consultant
“One-at-a-time plans” ( JASA 68, 1973, 353-360)
William G. Cochran
Harvard University
“Experiments for nonlinear functions” ( JASA 68, 1973, 771-781)
Jerome Cornfield
George Washington University
“On making sense of data”
George E. P. Box
University of Wisconsin
“Science and statistics” (JASA 71, 1976, 791-799)
Herman Chernoff
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Identifying an unknown member of a large population” (Annals of Statistics 8, 1980, 1179-1197)
George A. Barnard
University of Waterloo
“Robustness and the logic of pivotal inference”
R. C. Bose
University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill
“R. A. Fisher's contribution to multivariate analysis and design of experiments” (Early history of multivariate statistical analysis. Multivariate Analysis IV, Proc. Fourth International Symposium, Dayton, Ohio, 1977.)
William Kruskal
University of Chicago
“Statistics in society: problems unsolved and unformulated”
C. R. Rao
Pennsylvania State University
“Fisher efficiency and estimation of several parameters”
F. J. Anscombe
Yale University
“How much to look at the data” (Utilitas Mathematica 21A, 1982, 23-28)
I. R. Savage
University of Minnesota
“Nonparametric statistics and a microcosm”
T. W. Anderson
Stanford University
“R. A. Fisher and multivariate analysis”
David H. Blackwell
University of California, Berkeley
“Likelihood and sufficiency”
Frederick Mosteller
Harvard University
“Methods for studying coincidences” (with P. Diaconis) (JASA 84, 1989, 853-861)
Erich L. Lehmann
University of California, Berkeley
“Model specification: Fisher's views and some later strategies”
Sir David R. Cox
Nuffield College, Oxford
“Probability models: their role in statistical analysis
Donald A. S. Fraser
York University
“Statistical inference: likelihood to significance” (JASA 86, 1991, 258-265)
David R. Brillinger
University of California
“Nerve cell spike train data analysis: a progression of technique” (JASA 87, 1992, 260-271)
Paul Meier
Columbia University
“The scope of general estimation”
Herbert E. Robbins
Columbia University
“N and n - sequential choice between two treatments”
Elizabeth A. Thompson
University of Washington
“Likelihood and linkage: from Fisher to the future”
Norman E. Breslow
University of Washington
“Statistics in epidemiology: the case-control study"
Bradley Efron
Stanford University
“R. A. Fisher in the 21st Century”
Colin L. Mallows
AT&T Bell Laboratories
“The Zeroth Problem”
Arthur Dempster
Harvard University
“Logistic Statistics: Modeling and Inference”
Jack D. Kalbfleisch
University of Waterloo
"The Estimating Function Bootstrap" (Canadian Journal of Statistics, 30, 2000, 449-499)
Ingram Olkin
Stanford University
"R. A. Fisher and the Combining of Evidence"
James O. Berger
Duke University
"Could Fisher, Jeffreys, and Neyman have agreed on Testing?"
Raymond Carroll
Texas A&M University,
"Variability Is Not Always A Nuisance Parameter"
Adrian F. M. Smith
University of London
"On Rereading L. J. Savage Rereading R. A. Fisher"
Donald B. Rubin
Harvard University, and
University of Wiscounsin
"Causal Inference Using Potential Outcomes: Design, Modeling, Decisions"
For fundamental and innovative contributions to scientific investigation through the development and promotion of modern statistical methodologies including missing data methods, causal inference, the EM algorithm and multiple imputations, and for his considerable impact on applied data analysis and Bayesian statistics.
R. Dennis Cook
University of Minnesota
“Dimension Reduction in Regression” (Statistical Science, 22, 2007, 1-26)
For fundamental contributions to statistical analysis through his revolutionary research in the field of regression analysis that has led to numerous methodological contributions and innovations including influence statistics and regression graphics.
Terence P. Speed
University of California, Berkeley, and Walter &
Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
“Recombination and Linkage”
For his fundamental contributions to the field, spanning early work on spatial models and contingency tables, through his contributions to classical ANOVA, to his innovative research in statistical genetics and genomics, through which Professor Speed has profoundly influenced the theory and practice of statistical science.
Marvin Zelen
Harvard School of Public Health
“The early detection of disease – Statistical challenges”
For fundamental contributions to the development of biostatistical science, which have had huge and lasting impact on the design, implementation and analysis of clinical trials; and for his vision and leadership that have established biostatistics as a central discipline in modern biomedicine and public health in the US and around the world.
Ross L. Prentice
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and University of Washington
“The Population Science Research Agenda: Multivariate Failure Time Data Analysis Methods.”
For fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of statistical science; for his influential and innovative research in the areas of survival analysis, life history processes, case-control and cohort studies; and for his influential role in the conception, design, and implementation of the Women’s Health Initiative.
Noel Cressie
Ohio State University
“Where, When, and then Why.”
For pioneering advances in statistical methodology inspired by science and engineering, particularly in the areas of spatial and spatio-temporal statistics; and for his vision and leadership in the statistical modeling of uncertainties in environmental science.>
Bruce G. Lindsay
Pennsylvania State University
“Likelihood: Efficiency and Deficiency.”
For fundamental contributions to statistical theory that have had a profound impact on the practice of statistics; this includes significant results on mixture models, conditional score functions and composite likelihood that have influenced later developments in measurement error models and spatial statistics among other areas.
C.F. Jeff Wu
Georgia Institute of Technology
“Post-Fisherian Experimentation: from Physical to Virtual”
For fundamental contributions to the planning, analysis and interpretation of statistical studies that have had a profound impact on the practice of statistics, especially in engineering; this includes significant results on resampling methods, theory of experimental design and pioneering work in industrial statistics that have changed the way statistical studies are used to optimize products and processes.
Roderick J. Little
University of Michigan
“In praise of simplicity not mathematistry! Simple powerful ideas for the statistical scientist”
For outstanding statistical research in the modeling and evaluation of missing data, sample survey and causal inference; for the clear and comprehensive application of these and other methodologies in science and public policy arenas; and for diverse and effective professional and academic leadership contributions
Peter J. Bickel
University of California, Berkeley
"Big Data: Continuities and Discontinuities”
For groundbreaking contributions to semiparametric and nonparametric methods, adaptive estimation, and robust statistics; for applying in-depth and intricate theoretical analysis to realistic problems in the biological sciences; for penetrating and insightful analysis of scientific methodology which has yielded a lasting impact on our understanding of both theory and methods; and for exceptional training and mentoring of students, leadership of professional societies, and leadership of his academic department.
Grace Wahba
University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Positive Definite Functions, Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Spaces, and All That”
For fundamental contributions to many areas of statistics, including time series, splines, smoothing, nonparametric statistics, likelihood estimation, density estimation, and to interdisciplinary areas including climatology, epidemiology, bioinformatics and machine learning. In particular, her work in reproducing kernel Hilbert space representation and generalized cross-validation have become standard practice in scientific research and industry.
Stephen E. Fienberg
Carnegie Mellon University
“R. A. Fisher and the Statistical ABCs"
For wide-ranging and highly influential contributions to the theory and practice of statistics; for fundamental advances in methodology, interpretation and computation in the analysis of categorical data; for broad-reaching contributions to statistical methods for sample surveys; for seminal work on record linkage, privacy and social network analysis; for outstanding and prolific service to the profession and to society; and for being a role model, advocate and mentor to young statisticians.
Alice S. Whittemore
Stanford University School
of Medicine
“Personalizing Disease Prevention: Statistical Challenges”
For fundamental contributions to biostatistics and epidemiology, covering a wide range of topics from environmental risk assessment to genetic linkage analysis, genetic association studies and cancer epidemiology; for bringing her statistical and mathematical insight to bear on the collection and interpretation of scientific data; for her leadership in large consortia of cancer studies; and for being a role model for many young scientists.
Robert E. Kass
Carnegie Mellon University
“The Importance of Statistics: Lessons from the Brain Sciences”
For ground breaking contributions to several areas of statistics including use of differential geometry in statistical theory as well as theory and methodology of Bayesian inference; for strong commitment to the application of principled statistical thinking and modeling to problems in computational neuroscience; and for his strong dedication to training of students and users of statistics.
Susan A. Murphy
Harvard University
“The Future: Stratified Micro-randomized Trials with Applications in Mobile Health”
For scientific contributions to statistical theory and methods at the highest level and for fundamental advances in the innovative use of statistics to further behavioral and mental health research.
Paul R. Rosenbaum
University of Pennsylvania
An Observational Study Used to Illustrate Methodology for Such Studies
For pioneering contributions to statistical methodology for observational studies, important applications of such methodology to health outcomes studies, lucid books on statistical principles and methodology for observational studies and excellent mentoring.