Christopher A. Field, Honorary Member 2013
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 contributions 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.”