Honorary Doctorate awarded to Grace Wahba by The Ohio State University

Grace Wahba receiving the diploma from the Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson. Photo: Logan Wallace/The Ohio State University

Grace Wahba, Professor Emerita at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science by The Ohio State University at its Spring Commencement on May 8. The degree recognizes the monumental contributions she has made to Statistics and Data Science during and before her 51 years on the faculty at Wisconsin, with special mention of her contributions in the area of smoothing splines, generalized cross validation, and her pivotal role in the development of statistical learning. 

During the ceremony, Grace exhorted the more than 9,000 graduates in attendance to do their best. She said, “If it is worth doing at all, it is worth doing your best. Then you will have no regrets, win or lose.” She received thunderous applause from the crowd of 70,000 in attendance at Ohio Stadium. 

Grace Wahba receives copy of her own medal in special session 

As we have previously reported, the IMS created a new award last year, the IMS Grace Wahba Award and Lecture. This is an annual award honoring Grace Wahba’s contributions to statistics and science, “including pioneering work in mathematical statistics, machine learning, and optimization; broad and career-long interdisciplinary collaborations that have had a significant impact in the fields of epidemiology, bioinformatics, and climate sciences; as well as outstanding mentoring.” In future years the lecture will be given at the Joint Statistical Meetings, but as this was the first year of the award, the Wahba lecture was given at the IMS Annual Meeting in London. It was presented this year by Michael I. Jordan, “On the Blending of Statistical Machine Learning and Microeconomics.” In a special invited session on Wahba’s contributions, Grace was presented with her own copy of the medal that had been made in her image.

Bernard Silverman presented Grace Wahba with a copy of the medal created in her honor; [below] a close-up of the first copy of the medal to be struck at the mint.