Presidents' Award

 Most Recent Winner     About the Award     Current Committee     Operating Procedures     Nominations     Past Recipients     

Most Recent Winner 


2021 Presidents' Award 
Jeffrey Leek
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

For his influential work addressing high-dimensional data; for development of empirical tools for data science as a science with applications to meta-research, reproducibility, and replicability; for scaling (bio)statistics-centered data science education to millions of people worldwide; and for leveraging data science tools, educational technologies, and community partnerships to create economic opportunities in under-served communities.

About the Award

The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) sponsors and presents the COPSS Presidents' Award annually to a young member of the statistical community in recognition of outstanding contributions to the profession of statistics. The award, established in 1976, consists of a plaque and a cash honorarium of $2,000, and is presented annually at the Joint Statistical Meetings. See also the Wikipedia page.

Nomination Deadline for 2022 Award: December 15, 2021

Award Committee

2021 Award Committee (Annual)

Leslie McClure
Oct. 2019-Sept. 2022
Tianxi Cai
COPSS (Chair)
Oct. 2020-Sept. 2023
Francesca Dominici
Oct. 2020-Sept. 2023
Michael Kosorok
Oct. 2021-Sept. 2024
Paul Gustafson
Oct. 2019-Sept. 2022
Joan Hu
Oct. 2021-Sept. 2024
Nicolai Meinshauser
2016 Awardee
Oct. 2021-Sept. 2022
Purpose and History

The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) sponsors and presents the COPSS Presidents' Award annually to a young member of the statistical community in recognition of outstanding contributions to the profession of statistics. The award was established in 1976, consists of a plaque and cash award, and is presented annually. Prior to 2005 the award was given to a statistician not yet having reached his or her 41st birthday during the calendar year of the award. As of the 2005-2006 nominations cycle, the criteria were amended to those listed below to allow more flexibility for special circumstanes. As of the 2015-16 nominations cycle, COPSS authorized the selection committee to consider other special circumstances not covered in the criteria below, if described in the nomination letter.

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 Chair of COPSS 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 Chair of the Award Committee will be selected by the Chair of COPSS from among the members of the current Award Committee.

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 given year. The Award Committee may not split the award between more than one winner.

Nominations and Eligibility

The award is open to junior members of the statistical community regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or citizenship. Specifically, eligible candidates either i) will be under age 41 throughout the award calendar year, or ii) will be under age 46 throughout the award calendar year and will have received a terminal statistically-related degree no more than 12 years prior to that year. For example, an individual eligible for 2016 nomination under (ii) must have been born in 1971 or later with terminal statistically-related degree dated 2004 or later. The nominee shall be a member of at least one of the participating societies. Nominees must be living at the time of their nomination.

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: for more information.

Nomination submissions will be invited by October and close on December 15 of the previous year in which the award is to be made. Nominations may be made by members of any of the COPSS affiliated organizations. 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 nominations shall be based a nomination letter, letters of support, curriculum vitae, and other appropriate documentation as requested by the Award Committee.

Award Committee members should not prepare individual nominations or submit letters of support.  However, they should actively recruit nominations for individuals they feel would be competitive for the award.

Selection Criteria

The candidate may be chosen for contributions

  • to the development and/or application of statistics as a discipline;
  • comprising either:
    • a single contribution of extraordinary merit to the profession of statistics, or
    • an outstanding aggregate of contributions to the profession of statistics.
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. It is presented at the COPSS Awards and Fisher Lecture session at the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM). The amount of the award shall be such that the principal of the fund is left intact. 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 award will be presented by the Chair of the Award Committee or their designee. The recipient will be allowed time to acknowledge receipt of the award at the JSM.

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.
  • Call for Nominations in October of the previous year. Secretary/Treasurer of COPSS is responsible for assuring the call is publicized in the COPSS publications, including relevant WebPages, and will work with the Award Committee to find other outlets for the call.
  • December 15th of the previous year is the close of the nomination period.
  • Award recipient will be selected and notified by March 1st of the award year. The recipient will not be made public until the presentation of the award at the JSM.
  • 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 March 31st of the award year.

Submitting Nominations

Nominations should include the following information to the Presidents' Award Committee Chair as a PDF:
  • nominator’s name, address, email address, and phone number;
  • nominee’s name and title, institutional affiliation, address, and email address;
  • a summary of the action(s) that form the basis for the nomination, not to exceed three pages;
  • nominee's date of birth
  • up to five letters of support (support letters should not come from Award Committee members or members of COPSS);
  • a curriculum vitae containing professional positions held
At the 2015 COPSS business meeting, COPSS agreed to give the award committee discretion to consider nominees with extenuating circumstances that might have delayed professional achievements, as described in the nomination letter. The wording of the eligibility criteria did not change, but nominators should be made aware of this discretion.
Nominations should be sent to the Chair of the Presidents’ Award Committee, or to the Secretary or Chair of COPSS. Questions regarding the award will be referred to the Award Committee Chair and the COPSS Secretary/Treasurer. Contact information will be posted along with the call for nominations.

Committee Chair Responsibilities

  • Communicate the award criteria and selection process to Committee members.
  • Ensure distribution of copies of nominations 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.
  • Inform nominator of the recipient.
  • Inform all other nominators that a selection has been made, maintaining the confidentiality of the selection. COPSS Secretary/Treasurer will assist the Committee Chair as needed.
  • Write the citation, and convey the recipient’s name, the citation text, and the ASA/JSM Award Recipient Information form to the COPSS Secretary/Treasurer by March 31st for preparing the plaque.
  • Work with the COPSS Chair in the creation of the presentation slides.
  • Introduce award and recipient at COPSS Awards Presentation at the JSM.
  • Send complete application packets of unsuccessful nominations to COPSS Secretary for future renomination.
  • 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
  • Publicize award by November of the previous year.
  • Assist Committee Chair in correspondence, as needed.
  • Provide award information to ASA Meetings department ASA/JSM award coordinator by March 31st.
  • Prepare plaques and checks for presentation at the JSM.
  • Coordinate with Committee Chair and ASA staff on Awards presentation
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 1st 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

Peter J. Bickel
Stephen Fienberg
Tze Leung Lai
David Hinkley
James O. Berge
Ross Prentice
C. F. Jeff Wu
Raymond J. Carroll
Peter Hall
Peter McCullagh
Bernard Silverman
Nancy Reid
Wing-Hung Wong
David Donoho
Iain M. Johnstone
Rob Tibshirani
Kathryn Roeder
Pascal Massart
Lawrence Wasserman
Jianqing Fan
Xiao-Li Meng
Jun Liu
Andrew Gelman
Michael A. Newton
University of Wiscounsin

For ingenious and wide-ranging contributions to statistical theory and methodology, including Bayesian inference, the bootstrap, and tree reconstruction; for applications of statistical methodology, especially in genetics and genomics; and for outstanding training of graduate students.

Mark J. van der Laan
University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health
For his deep and sweeping contributions to several areas in theoretical and applied statistics, including multivariate survival analysis, local efficient estimation in semiparametric models, causal inference, dynamic treatment regimes, multiple testing, model selection, cross-validation loss-based estimation, and computational biology. Professor van der Laan has brought powerful statistical tools to bear on a wide array of applications involving high-dimensional data structures that often occur in epidemiology, genomics, and the medical sciences. The 2005 Presidents' Award honors Professor van der Laan for his signal success in bringing statistical rigor into many fields of the biomedical sciences.
Xihong Lin
Harvard School of Public Health
For fundamental contributions to statistical methodology and theory for longitudinal data and clustered survival data, including nonparametric kernel and spline methods as well as semiparametric regression methods, mixed effects models, and measurement error models. Also for statistical applications in health sciences; for outstanding editorial and professional services; for founding the highly successful ENAR mentoring workshop for junior faculty in biostatistics; and for outstanding work as a teacher and mentor.
Jeffrey S. Rosenthal
University of Toronto
For fundamental contributions to probability theory, stochastic processes, and Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms, with applications to statistics; for seminal contributions to the theoretical underpinnings of the convergence rates of MCMC algorithms; for his prolific record of collaboration, resulting in significant publications in economics, mathematical finance, artificial intelligence, and survival analysis; for outstanding mentoring; and for his extraordinary skill at the communication of some of the deeper ideas of our discipline through the media (print, radio, and television) and through the publication of a general audience book on probability in real life which, less than 2 years after publication, is in its 6th printing.
Tony Cai
University of Pennsylvania
For fundamental and wide-ranging contributions to the mathematics, theory and methods of statistics, including the theory and application of wavelets, block thresholding in wavelet regression, optimality theory, adaptation in nonparametric function estimation, confidence intervals in small samples, and methods for false discovery rate control; for applications to chemical identification, medical imaging and microarray data analysis; and for outstanding contributions to the statistical profession through extensive editorial work and mentorship of students.
Rafael Irizarry
Johns Hopkins University
For his wide-ranging and highly influential contributions to the theory and methodology of statistical science that underpins the analysis of time series and genomic data; for demonstrating the essential role of statistics to the advancement of modern genomic science and biotechnology; for advancing statistical practice through publication of open-source software and participation in the core development group of Bioconductor; for his leadership of multidisciplinary scientific teams; and for his outstanding contributions to statistics as an editorial board member and mentor of students and post-doctoral fellows.
David B. Dunson
Duke University
For his wide-ranging and fundamental contributions to the development of parametric and nonparametric modeling within complex Bayesian frameworks; for making significant concurrent scientific progress in machine learning through this development; for use of this methodology in substantive applications, notably in reproductive epidemiology; and for outstanding service to the profession as well as mentoring of students and post-doctoral researchers.
Nilanjan Chatterjee
Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, National Cancer Institute, USA
For outstanding contributions to the statistical sciences by ingenious methodological research with applications in epidemiology and genetics, including studies of gene-environment interactions, disease heterogeneity and genome-wide association studies; for fundamental contributions to the theory of case-control studies and complex retrospective sampling designs; for demonstrating leadership and a vision as a statistical scientist by actively collaborating in wide-ranging studies of cancer epidemiology and genetics and concurrently maintaining a vigorous methodological research program closely tied to cutting edge scientific issues; for exceptional mentoring and service to the profession and to the National Cancer Institute.
Samuel S. Kou
Harvard University
For groundbreaking contributions to stochastic modeling and statistical inference in single molecule biophysics; for pioneering the equi-energy sampler; for fundamental contributions to Bayesian, empirical Bayes and nonparametric methods; and for outstanding service to the statistical profession and contribution to statistical education
Marc Suchard
For extraordinarily wide-ranging and insightful contributions to the statistical sciences in the areas of Bayesian inference, computation and stochastic processes; for innovative statistical modeling and novel computational techniques for formerly intractable problems in molecular epidemiology, evolutionary medicine, phylogenetics, phylogeography, computational biology and emerging massive public health data sets; for a panoply of flexible, well-regarded and widely used statistical software tools for the applied sciences; for extensive and creative statistical applications across an impressive range of human inquiry; and for service to the profession as a prolific and dedicated mentor of the next generation of statisticians.
Martin J. Wainwright
For fundamental and groundbreaking contributions to high-dimensional statistics, graphical modeling, machine learning, optimization and algorithms covering deep and elegant mathematical analysis as well as new methodology with wide-ranging implications for numerous applications.
John D. Storey
Princeton University
For transformative and groundbreaking research on the theory, methods, and applications of inference methods, particularly significance testing applied to high-dimensional data analysis problems. For impactful development and application of statistics to modern biological and medical research. For service to the field of statistics in interdisciplinary activities.
Nicolai Meinshausen
ETH Zurich
For fundamental and ingenious contributions to high-dimensional inference, variable selection, multiple testing, graphical models, machine learning and causal inference for heterogeneous data.

Tyler J. VanderWeele
Harvard T.H. Chan School
of Public Health
For fundamental contributions to causal inference and the understanding of causal mechanisms; for profound advancement of epidemiologic theory and methods and the application of statistics throughout medical and social sciences; and for excellent service to the profession including exceptional contributions to teaching, mentoring, and bridging many academic disciplines with statistics

Richard J. Samworth
University of Cambridge
For fundamental contributions to nonparametric inference under shape constraints, nonparametric classification, high-dimensional variable selection and change point estimation; for many substantial contributions to the profession including editorial service, extensive service to statistical societies; and for the training and mentoring of junior researchers.

Hadley Wickham
R Studio
For influential work in statistical computing, visualization, graphics, and data analysis; for developing and implementing an impressively comprehensive computational infrastructure for data analysis through R software; for making statistical thinking and computing accessible to large audience; and for enhancing an appreciation for the important role of statistics among data scientists.

Rina Foygel Barber
University of Chicago
For fundamental contributions to statistical sparsity and selective inference in high-dimensional problems, for the creative and novel knockoff filter to cope with correlated coefficients, for contributions to compressed sensing, the jackknife, and conformal predictive inference; for the encouragement and training of graduate and undergraduate students.