Among the 70 regular members and 9 international members elected this year to the US National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is IMS Fellow Alicia Carriquiry. Alicia is distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences and professor of statistics at Iowa State University. Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.
During her 26-year career, Alicia Carriquiry has developed statistical methods to better measure food consumption, specifically, nutrient intake. Her work has also focused on mental health issues, which includes leading an ongoing effort by NAM to evaluate Veterans Affairs mental health services. Carriquiry says she was stunned to be recognized by the academy for her contributions to the field.
“I’m so honored, flattered and humbled. It’s very rewarding,” Carriquiry said. “In life you have successes and failures, and to receive a recognition like this makes you realize that all the hard work throughout your career was worth it.”
Carriquiry has worked with various government and health agencies around the world to improve health and nutrition. She says nutrient and food consumption data is often collected over a period of a few days. Since our diet varies daily, it is challenging for statisticians to develop models that can make long-term health recommendations. Carriquiry says finding ways to overcome those statistical challenges is important for creating effective policy and programs.
“It’s work that has a very direct impact on the well-being of various populations,” Carriquiry said. “For example, low vitamin A levels are associated with high incidence of night blindness, which affects many people in the developing world. We want to identify those needs so that we can do something about it, and with this data we can target assistance, education and supplementation programs.”
Carriquiry joined the Iowa State faculty in 1990, and leads the National Institute of Standards and Technology Forensic Science Center of Excellence based at Iowa State. She served as associate provost from 2000 to 2004. Carriquiry is also an elected member of the International Statistical Institute and a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.