Abdel has played a determining role in generating a truly symbiotic cross-disciplinary collaboration between statisticians, environmentalists, ecologists and policy makers. He unified disparate scientific efforts under the same roof of The International Environmetrics Society (TIES) and the journal Environmetrics, for which he served as founding President and Editor, respectively. Indeed, by his bold exploration of new research directions and, in particular, statistical aspects of water quality control, Abdel managed to build a solid bridge between mathematics, statistics and environmental science; he has become a leading figure of environmetrics, a new and very actively developing branch of statistical science. Some of his most recent research activities had a substantial impact on national and international management and preservation of water resources. He was involved, among others, in issues concerning the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the assessment of the Canadian Water Quality Index, the program on the National Assessment of Water/Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities, and the National Agri-Environmental Standards Initiative.
Abdel was born in Zagazig, Egypt. He studied mathematics at the University of Cairo (B.Sc. 1964; M.Sc. 1968). He then came to Canada and pursued doctoral studies at the University of Waterloo. He completed his thesis in 1973 under the joint supervision of William F. Forbes and Ross L. Prentice. He then began a career as a Research Scientist for the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington, Ontario. Since 1980, he has also been a part-time Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at McMaster University, and he was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Ontario (1986-96) and at the University of British Columbia (2001-5). During his career, he also held Visiting Professorships at the Université de Metz (France, 1983-4), at the Università degli Studi di Genova (Italy, 2002-3), and at Sultan Qaboos University (Oman, 2006-7). He was Visiting Professor for shorter periods at the University of Kuwait (1998, 1999), Masarykova Univerzita Brno (Czech Republic, 1998, 1999), and King Saud University (Saudi Arabia, 2000).
Abdel’s curriculum vitae lists over 100 peer-reviewed articles, 12 papers in conference proceedings, 3 book chapters, and 17 other publications in scientific series. In addition to founding the journal Environmetrics in 1989 and serving as Editor in Chief until 2009, he was Co-Editor in Chief of the Encyclopaedia of Environmetrics, an Associate Editor for 7 different journals, and an Editor for 10 books and special issues of journals. Currently he is the interim Editor in Chief of the International Statistical Review. Furthermore, he supervised 10 M.Sc. and 3 Ph.D. students at McMaster, 1 Ph.D. at the Université de Metz, and 4 postdoctoral fellows. Finally, he also organized no less than 14 environmetrics conferences.
Abdel’s outstanding work and involvement in the statistical community earned him several awards and distinctions. In 2001 TIES established the Abdel El-Shaarawi Young Researcher’s Award, given to an environmental statistician under the age of 40. Abdel is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA), and a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. He received the Twentieth Century Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to environmental statistics, the 1996 Distinguished Medal of the ASA Section on Statistics and the Environment, the 2008 University of Waterloo - Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Achievement Award, and The Excellence Award from the Government of Canada in 1995.
Abdel has been married to Sylvia Rose Esterby since 1976. They have collaborated in environmetrics research and the founding of TIES. They have two daughters, Nadia and Sarah. Nadia is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and Sarah is in her final year of Arts and Contemporary Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto. Abdel enjoys outdoor life, camping, travels, walking, reading, and world affairs. He is also interested in world history, particularly in the history and philosophy of science. He enjoys playing squash and watching soccer and tennis on television.