Mary Thompson, Distinguished Service Award 2014
Professor Mary Thompson is the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Service Award from the Statistical Society of Canada. This award honours an individual who has played an important and substantial role in fostering growth and success of the Canadian Statistical Sciences community through leadership in the SSC. Mary’s many years of strong and effective leadership have greatly benefited our society and this award is a fitting recognition for her commitment to our discipline and profession.
Mary obtained her undergraduate degree in Mathematics at the University of Toronto and her Master’s and doctorate at the University of Illinois. Upon completing her graduate studies Mary was appointed at the University of Waterloo where she spent the balance of her career. She is currently Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science.
Mary’s statistical research has included the development of estimating function theory, the foundations of survey methodology, applied probability and biostatistics, and her contributions have been highly influential. In addition to advancing statistical theory and methods, Mary has a commitment to addressing important societal issues through public policy and health research. She continues to play an important role in the International Tobacco Control Study, a global longitudinal study examining the effect of government policy on smoking behaviour in over 20 countries. In 2010 Mary and her collaborators Geoffrey Fong and David Hammond were among the first to receive a Top Canadian Achievement in Health Research Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Medical Association Journal. She is recipient of the Gold Medal of the SSC (2003), Fellow of the American Statistical Association (1985), Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (1998), and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2006).
Mary has an outstanding record of leadership at the University of Waterloo, having held the position of Chair of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science (1996-2000), Associate Dean (1988-1991), and Acting Dean (2001). She was also instrumental in the formation of the University of Waterloo’s Survey Research Centre, for which she served as co-Director from 1999 to 2013. She has supervised more than 25 PhD students and numerous Master’s students, and in 2007 she received the Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision from the University.
Within the Statistical Society of Canada, Mary served in many capacities including the Finance Committee (1987-89), the Awards Committee (1989-92), the Editorial Board of The Canadian Journal of Statistics (1992-95), and the Research Committee (1993-2000). Her leadership positions have included Treasurer (1985-87), President of the Survey Methods Section (1993-94), and President of the SSC (2003-04). Mary also served on the NSERC Statistical Sciences Grant Selection Committee (1992-95; Chair 1994-95) as well as the Steering Committee for the NSERC Reallocation Brief (1996-98).
Throughout her career Mary has demonstrated a commitment to equity and diversity in academia through serving on or chairing Advisory Committees at the University of Waterloo such as the Women in Mathematics Committee (1975-77, 1993-95) and the Female Faculty Recruitment Committee (2002) as well as the Committee on Women in Statistics (1977, 1981-84) of the American Statistical Association. In 2010 she received the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies Elizabeth L. Scott Award in recognition of her efforts to further the careers of women in academia.
Most recently, Mary’s thoughtful and effective leadership as Chair of the Canadian Statistical Institute Development Committee (CSIDC) was instrumental in establishing a framework for a major initiative recommended in the NSERC Long Range Plan for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, having joint sponsorship from the Fields Institute, the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and the Centre de recherches mathématiques. These funds have helped strengthen the position of the Statistical Sciences in Canada by the establishment of the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI), a national institute with the mandate of advancing research in the statistical sciences and promoting the discipline. Mary has served as the Scientific Director since its inception in 2012.
Leadership takes many forms and the examples above are a tangible reflection of traditional measures. In addition, however, Mary leads by example, as a thoughtful and balanced administrator, influential and dedicated researcher, and a talented and supportive mentor. She is an exceptional role model in the many facets of her career and, as a community, we are extremely fortunate to have benefited from her leadership in the Statistical Society of Canada over these many years.
The citation for the award reads:
“To Mary Thompson, for important contributions to the SSC and the Canadian statistics community, notably as President and Treasurer of SSC, President of the Survey Methods Section of SSC, Founding Scientific Director of CANSSI, Chair of the Canadian Statistical Institute Development Committee, Chair of the NSERC Statistical Sciences Grant Selection Committee, member of the Statistics Canada Advisory Committee on Statistical Methods, member of the Editorial Boards of CJS and Liaison, and a career of leadership and innovation in statistical research and training.”