This year’s recipient of the Gold Medal of the Statistical Society of Canada is Paul Gustafson, University of British Columbia (UBC). The SSC’s prestigious award is bestowed upon a person who has made outstanding contributions to statistics or probability, either to mathematical developments or in applied work. It is intended to honor current leaders in their field. Paul was selected “in recognition of his seminal contributions to the foundations of inference, particularly Bayesian robustness, sensitivity analysis, and model identifiability; for exceptional advances to recognize the limitations of observational studies due to mis-measurement and other inherent obstacles, along with effective statistical tools to counter those limitations; for fundamental contributions to methodology for biomedical applications and epidemiology; and for his outstanding record of mentorship and service to the statistical science community in Canada and internationally.”
You can read more about Paul’s life and work at https://ssc.ca/en/awards/2020/paul-gustafson-ssc-gold-medalist-2020, primarily written by Will Welch. The following is extracted from that profile:
Paul was born in the UK in 1968, but moved to Canada when he was 10. He enjoyed his BSc (Mathematics) and MSc (Statistics) at UBC so much that, after completing his PhD at Carnegie Mellon in 1994 under Larry Wasserman, he returned to the campus, first as a postdoctoral fellow and then as an Assistant Professor.
Paul has been a Bayesian since his MSc studies; his PhD thesis proposed formal schemes to assess the sensitivity of posterior inferences to the choice of prior distribution. Currently he is interested in Bayesian approaches within the domains of causal inference, evidence synthesis, measurement error and partial identification.
Paul’s publications range from deep theoretical insights to important applied work, often in the same paper. Much of his research program is inspired by biostatistical and epidemiological applications, and he frequently collaborates with health scientists on a range of medical conditions. His two books, Measurement Error and Misclassification in Statistics and Epidemiology: Impacts and Bayesian Adjustments (2004) and Bayesian Inference in Partially Identified Models: Exploring the Limits of Limited Data (2015), reflect Paul’s interest in understanding what combinations of modelling assumptions and prior information will yield inferences that are usefully narrow, rather than uselessly wide.
At UBC, Paul has been an important mentor. He has supervised or co-supervised 13 PhD students, 24 MSc students and four postdoctoral fellows; many have gone on to academic positions. He has also taught at all levels. His considerable service to the department includes two stints as Acting Head and the current Headship since 2019. Paul also played a pivotal role as founding Co-Director of UBC’s Master of Data Science program, which welcomed its first cohort of students in 2016 and is now heavily subscribed.
Beyond UBC, Paul has taken on a variety of editorial and service commitments, nationally and internationally. His work has previously been recognized with the CRM–SSC Prize in 2008 and an ASA Fellowship in 2011. Additionally, he is a two-time recipient of an NSERC Discovery Grant Accelerator Supplement.
Paul is enduringly grateful for “support and foolishness-filtering” from his wife, public health physician extraordinaire and occasional collaborator, Reka Gustafson.