Luke Bornn, Pierre Robillard Award 2013
Luke Bornn is the winner of the 2012 Pierre Robillard Award of the Statistical Society of Canada. This prize recognizes the best PhD thesis in probability or statistics defended at a Canadian university in a given year.
Luke’s thesis, entitled “Modeling Latent Correlation Structures with Application to Agricultural and Environmental Science,” was written at the University of British Columbia under the joint supervision of Arnaud Doucet and James V. Zidek. In his PhD work, Luke focused on eliciting latent correlation structures in spatial and/or temporal systems. He explored latent representations of correlation structures, and looked at the use of graphical models, spatial warping, and latent space representations to build flexible yet scalable correlation functions. For the latter, he came up with a novel approach to modeling non-stationary spatial fields. This ingenious technique works by expanding the geographic plane over which these processes evolve into higher dimensional spaces, transforming and clarifying complex patterns in the physical plane. Throughout, he applied the proposed methods to agricultural and environmental systems.
Luke grew up in the Vancouver area. After completing his MSc degree at the University of British Columbia under the direction of Arnaud Doucet and Raphael Gottardo, he stayed on to do his PhD under the tutelage of Arnaud Doucet and James V. Zidek. During his graduate studies, he held visiting researcher positions at Los Alamos National Laboratories, at the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI), and the Université de Bordeaux. After completing his PhD in July 2012, Luke moved with his wife Katie and six-month old daughter Adelaide to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he joined the Harvard Statistics Department as an Assistant Professor.
The criteria used in selecting the winner of the Pierre Robillard Award include the originality of ideas and techniques, the possible applications and their treatment, and the potential impact of the work. The award is named in memory of Professor Pierre Robillard, an outstanding dynamic young statistician at the Université de Montréal, whose untimely death in 1975 cut short what promised to be a highly distinguished career.
Luke Bornn will present the results of his thesis in a special session at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada to be held in Edmonton, Alberta, May 26 to 29, 2013.