Lawrence D. Brown (1940-2018), Miers Busch Professor and Professor of Statistics at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, had a distinguished academic career with groundbreaking contributions to a range of fields in theoretical and applied statistics. Moreover, he was an enthusiastic and dedicated mentor to many graduate students. This award was established with funds from Brown’s family and friends. Donations to this fund can be made through here under “IMS Lawrence D. Brown Ph.D. Student Award Fund.”


Eligible applicants will compete to be one of three speakers at an invited session as part of the IMS Annual Meeting. The award will also include reimbursement for both travel and the meeting registration fee (up to $2,000 in total for each recipient).


Applicants must be

  1. IMS members (joining at the time of applying for the award is permitted; join here, student membership is FREE)
  2. Current Ph.D. students (i.e., have not yet received their Ph.D. degree) at the time of the application deadline who are studying an area of statistical science, probability or machine learning;
  3. To be able to present at the IMS Annual Meeting.


The deadline to submit an application is MAY 1st with winners announced by November 1st. The winners will then present their paper at the IMS Annual Meeting the following year. The award application and the meeting abstract submission/registration will be managed separately.

Application Materials

When you are ready, you may apply using the form here.

For the application you will need:

  1. IMS Membership – Be sure you are currently a member of the IMS. You can join here. Student membership is FREE.
  2. Cover letter (with email address; include paper title along with all authors and their affiliations).
  3. Current CV.
  4. Research manuscript. This is a draft paper that has not been accepted or published in any journal by the application deadline of each year. The paper can be no longer than 40 pages total (including references or any supplements) using U.S. letter-size paper with 12-pt. font, double-spacing, and at least 1-inch margins on each side. The paper should be submitted with identifying information removed (i.e., no author and/or affiliations).
  5. The name and email of your PhD advisor (or a standing faculty member if student does not have a Ph.D. advisor) .  A request will be sent to them to submit a letter that includes: (1) attest to the fact that the applicant is a current Ph.D. student; (2)  confirm that the submitted research is part of the student’s Ph.D. dissertation; and (3) the advisor must describe the student’s specific contribution to the submitted research.

Selection Process

The award winners will be determined using a process that incorporates input from the other applicants through peer reviews and the IMS Committee on the Brown Award. The purpose of the involvement of student applicants in the evaluation process is to provide them with an opportunity to learn about other topics in statistics and to understand the peer-review system.

The outline of the evaluation process is as follows:

  1. The selection committee will ensure whether each applicant satisfies the eligibility requirements. Only those that do so will proceed to the next stage.
  2. Peer-review screening may be used to generate a shortlist of applicants: The selection committee may randomly assign each applicant to review a certain number of other manuscripts. Any conflicts of interest will be taken into consideration when assigning peer reviewers. Each review must contain the information of both a rank (without ties) and (anonymous) comments.
  3. The shortlisted applicants will be determined by the selection committee who may take into consideration the peer-review comments and rankings.
  4. The selection committee will review the papers and make the final decision of the 3 awardees.  The committee may take into account peer reviews provided on the submitted paper and the reviews provided on other papers by the nominee.
  5. Winners will be notified by November 1st. Registration and final abstract submission shall be in accordance with IMS Meeting or JSM deadlines.

This process is subject to adjustments based on changes in the conference timelines and/or the volume of applications.

About Lawrence D. Brown

Lawrence D. Brown (1940-2018), Miers Busch Professor and Professor of Statistics at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, had a distinguished academic career. He was known for his groundbreaking work in a broad range of fields including decision theory, recurrence and partial differential equations, nonparametric function estimation, minimax and adaptation theory, and the analysis of call-center data. His research was recognized with numerous accolades. He was an IMS Wald Lecturer and won the Wilks Award from the ASA, to name just two. Brown was also a Fellow of both IMS and ASA. Moreover, his accomplishments were recognized beyond the statistical community as a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

What placed Brown apart was his equally enthusiastic dedication to service alongside his research. As Co-Editor of the Annals of Statistics or IMS President, for example, he showed his commitment to the statistical community. As a member of the Board on Mathematical Sciences of the National Research Council, through his testimony to committees in the U.S. Congress, 2 and from his work on the decennial U.S. Census, he demonstrated his dedication to improving society. This keen sense of service also extended to mentoring young researchers. He valued teaching and advising students, for whom he always found time and energy to advise. In addition to his own Ph.D. students, Brown mentored many postdocs and junior faculty members. In 2011, he was recognized for these efforts as a recipient of the Provost’s Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentoring at the University of Pennsylvania.

It is evident that Brown made a difference to the world in which he lived. Brown’s firm dedication to all three pillars of academia—research, teaching, and service—sets an exemplary model for generations of new statisticians. The IMS Lawrence D. Brown Ph.D. Student Award advocates for the values by which he lived.

Read more about Lawrence Brown here: A Conversation with Larry Brown and here: