Two Michigan Public Health faculty receive American Statistical Association awards

Bhramar Mukherjee and Jeremy Taylor.

Two University of Michigan School of Public Health faculty in the Department of Biostatistics were recent recipients of American Statistical Association awards for their contributions and advancements in statistical science.

Bhramar Mukherjee wins the 2023 Karl E. Peace Award

The Karl E. Peace Award for Outstanding Statistical Contributions for the Betterment of Society recognizes those who have made substantial contributions to the statistical profession and to society. The award was established in 2012 by Christopher K. Peace, son of Karl E. Peace, on behalf of the Peace family to honor the life work of his father. Recipients of the award have a demonstrated commitment to service for the greater good.

Bhramar Mukherjee is the chair of the Biostatistics Department at Michigan Public Health and is an active collaborator across campus and the founding director for the University of Michigan’s undergraduate summer program on big data. Her research interests include statistical methods for analysis of electronic health records, studies of gene-environment interaction, Bayesian methods, shrinkage estimation, analysis of multiple pollutants. She primarily collaborates on projects related to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, reproductive health, exposure science and environmental epidemiology. Mukherjee and her team modeled the SARS-CoV-2 virus trajectory in India during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been covered by major media outlets across the world.

Mukherjee said demonstrating impact leading to betterment of society through one's statistical work is a tall order for statisticians, who are often working behind the scenes.

“During the pandemic, our team plunged into COVID-related work without any plan, simply guided by our passion to contribute in some way,” Mukherjee said. “That work had a significant impact. I want to thank my team, who worked on various aspects of analyzing the pandemic. 

“Much of our life is just an amazing set of surprises— this award is one of them. My deepest gratitude to my nominators, my mentors, my students and to the Peace family for recognizing humanitarian data scientists and their contributions by establishing this award. Improving the human condition is a core principle of public health and being a statistician in a world-class school of public health has made all the difference in the philosophy I have embraced in my own work.”

Jeremy Taylor wins the 2023 Samuel S. Wilks Memorial Award

Established in 1964, the Samuel S. Wilks Memorial Award honors the memory and distinguished career of Samuel S. Wilks. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to statistics that carry on in the spirit of his work.

Jeremy Taylor, professor of Biostatistics at Michigan Public Health, is an active and prolific researcher and collaborator. He has worked in various areas of statistics and biostatistics, including Box-Cox transformations, longitudinal and survival analysis, cure models, missing data, smoothing methods, clinical trial design, surrogate and auxiliary variables. He has been heavily involved in collaborations in the areas of radiation oncology, cancer research and bioinformatics. He is the director of the Center for Cancer Biostatistics and the Cancer Biostatistics Training Program. His efforts with the training program provide crucial training and research experience for about a dozen trainees per year.

“I am greatly honored to be the recipient of the 2023 Samuel Wilks Memorial Award,” Taylor said. “The list of previous awardees reads like a who's who of statistics research over the last 50 years, so I feel very proud to join that list, but also rather surprised. I have worked in many areas of research and the work I have done has been greatly aided by the many talented faculty colleagues within the Department of Biostatistics here at the university, and also by the many outstanding PhD students I have worked with.”