CRM-SSC Prize in Statistics 2008

Paul Gustafson
CRM-SSC Prize in Statistics

Paul Gustafson, Professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of British Columbia (UBC), is the 2008 winner of the CRM-SSC Prize. His contributions to Bayesian statistical methodology and its application to epidemiology have had an immense impact in statistics, biostatistics and public health.


Within 15 years of his Ph.D., Paul has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of Bayesian statistical inference, to the implementation of the Bayesian paradigm in the health sciences, and to the development of computational algorithms for Bayesian inference. His work displays a deep knowledge of the foundation of statistical reasoning and a true ability to make substantial contributions to diverse domains of application. He has written key papers in several areas of statistics such as survival analysis, the analysis of count data, computational methods, and disease mapping. He has made solid methodological contributions through his collaborative work with epidemiologists, medical researchers, and psychologists.

 Paul obtained his B.Sc. in Mathematics in 1990 and his M Sc. in Statistics in 1991 from the University of British Columbia. He completed his Ph.D. in 1994 at Carnegie-Mellon University. He shared Canadian bonds with his supervisor Larry Wasserman, the 2002 recipient of the CRM-SSC award. Paul is a third generation SSC-CRM winner since Larry Wasserman' adviser, Rob Tibshirani, was the 1999 recipient of this award. He held a Postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia in 1994, where he was appointed Assistant Professor in 1995, Associate Professor in 2000 and Full Professor in 2005. In 2001, he obtained a UBC Killam Faculty Research Fellowship. He is grateful to his colleagues and students at UBC for a stimulating and collegial academic environment.

 Paul holds research grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the National Program for Complex Data Structure (NPCDS), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. These grants are a tribute to his research and show the breadth of his scientific activities. In 2007, he was one of the first recipients of the Discovery Accelerator Supplement of NSERC, a special research grant for outstanding researchers who show strong potential to become international leaders in their field.

 Paul Gustafson is a leading international expert in Bayesian analysis. His 2004 book entitled “Measurement Error and Misclassification in Statistics and Epidemiology: Impacts and Bayesian Adjustments,” published by Chapman and Hall, was well received. It documents the impact of measurement error in explanatory variables and details Bayesian adjustment methods for both continuous and categorical variables. It uses modern Markov Chain Monte Carlo techniques to implement the proposed methodology.

 In a provocative 2005 discussion paper in Statistical Science, Paul questions the conventional wisdom that a Bayesian model with parameters that cannot be identified from the data should be simplified. Surprisingly, he argues that it may be more appropriate to expand the model. Even more astonishingly, he establishes an asymptotic theory for the identifiable parameters in non-identifiable models.

 Paul has served on selection committees for CIHR, NSERC, and NPCDS. He has been an Associate Editor for The Canadian Journal of Statistics (CJS), the Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference, Lifetime Data Analysis, and Statistics in Medecine. In 2007 he became Editor-in-Chief of the CJS. He has also served as President of the Biostatistics Section of the Statistical Society of Canada. In addition, he made important contributions to the training of highly qualified personnel; he has supervised 2 postdoctoral fellows, 3 Ph.D.'s and 13 Master's degrees. Paul Gustafson's impact on statistics has been truly inspiring.

 Paul has four siblings; two are lawyers and his brother Stephen is a mathematics faculty at UBC. He is married to Reka, a public health physician in Vancouver, who is extremely supportive of his research endeavours. She deserves credits for thoughts and advice about the applied side of epidemiology and health research more generally. Paul and Rika have three children, Joseph, Lucas, and Anna. Their hobbies include skiing, soccer, and tennis.

 Paul Gustafson is the tenth recipient of the CRM-SSC Prize. Previous winners of the award were Christian Genest (Laval), Robert J. Tibshirani (Stanford), Colleen D. Cutler (Waterloo), Larry A. Wasserman (Carnegie-Mellon), Charmaine B. Dean (Simon Fraser), Randy Sitter (Simon Fraser), Jiahua Chen (Waterloo), Jeffrey S. Rosenthal (Toronto), and Richard J. Cook (Waterloo).