Kenneth P. Burnham selected as the 2013 Sacks Award winner

Kenneth P Burnham was selected as the 2013 Jerome Sacks Award for Cross-Disciplinary Research. The award was announced at the 2013 Joint Statistical Meetings in Montreal, Canada. The annual award, named in honor of Jerome (Jerry) Sacks, the founding director of NISS, was established in 2000 to recognize “sustained, high-quality cross-disciplinary research involving the statistical sciences."

The Awards Committee of the NISS Board of Trustees, which selected Burnham for the  award, cited his "outstanding and influential contributions to statistical ecology with novel methods of inference, data analysis, and computation used throughout the world."

Burnham was unable to attend the reception and awards ceremony, but wrote the following statement to express his gratitude:

"I am honored, and pleased, to receive the Jerome Sacks award for sustained interdisciplinary research. I am a statistician (M.S., Ph.D.); however, I also have a degree (B.S.) in biology. For 41 years I have worked at the interface of statistics and wildlife-fisheries-ecology. Most of this time I have been “embedded” in the wildlife discipline working as a team member. This is not consulting; this is being a fully involved member of a team, with me having a good understanding of the subject to which I apply my statistical expertise: so to say, I can speak the applied subject matter language. This is necessary to having a long-term cross disciplinary career, a career that has been very rewarding and fulfilling to me.

 "Whereas, for most of my career I was employed by wildlife organizations, hence not a statistics
department, I made sure to keep my identity as a statistician. I have kept close contact with other statisticians (and certainly worked with many), and I read both literatures. I routinely attend statistics conferences and wildlife-ecology conferences; but I make it clear I am a statistician. Over the course of my career this “identity” issue is one I have thought about and worked to maintain. I urge others doing long-term cross disciplinary statistical research and application to not let themselves become isolated from statistics colleagues.

"I have contributed to the theory and application of capture-recapture and distance sampling methods and models, and to model selection. Such theoretical research has lead to working on real and important issues; this applied work has been at times stressful, but in the end, has been very rewarding. For example, I have worked on the analysis of the Northern Spotted Owl demography data since 1989. Other contentious subjects I have been involved in include endangered fish (e.g., salmonids), abundance estimation of marine mammals, waterfowl harvest, and illegal killing of elephants for ivory poaching. I reiterate, in all cases I have been part of a team working on these issues.

"The most satisfying research has come from long-term collaborations. In particular, I acknowledge and thank my wildlife colleagues of more than 37 years, Drs. David R. Anderson and Gary C. White. There are others I have also worked with for many years. Successful long-term cross disciplinary statistical research is not possible without great subject matter collaborators; I have been fortunate to have such colleagues.

"The Jerome Sacks award is great for the profession, in my opinion; and I am honored and delighted to receive this award. Thank you."

Burnham  is an emeritus professor at Colorado State University and an independent consultant. Previously, he was  a statistician and senior scientist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Biological Resources Discipline and the Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Colorado State University. His area of interest includes design of studies for sampling biological populations, especially for estimation of population abundance and population dynamics parameters. He also specializes in statistical inference methods for ecological, wildlife, and fisheries studies, and data-based modeling of biological processes, including model selection and assessing model selection uncertainty.

He is a member of the American Statistical Association, the International Biometric Society, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, The Wildlife Society, the Ecological Society of America and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute.

As Sacks award recipient, Burnham receives $1,000, and his name is added to a plaque at NISS that lists all recipients of the award, who also include:

Elizabeth Thompson of the University of Washington – 2001

Max Morris of Iowa State University – 2002

Raymond Carroll of Texas A & M University – 2003

Douglas Nychka of the National Center for Atmospheric Research  – 2004

Jeff Wu of the Georgia Institute of Technology – 2005

Adrian Raftery of the University of Washington – 2006

Cliff Spiegelman of Texas A&M University – 2007

John Rice of the University of California, Berkeley – 2008

Ramanathan Gnanadesikan, retired from Telcordia Technologies 2009

Sallie Keller of IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute 2010

Emory Brown of MIT  and Harvard  – 2011

William Q. Meeker, Iowa State University – 2012

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 by Katherine Kantner