Since joining the U. S. Bureau of the Census in January 1996 as a research mathematical statistician, Tommy Wright has served as Chief of the Center for Statistical Research and Methodology (formerly Statistical Research Division). The Center's researchers engage in collaborative work applying known statistical methods and in research for new and better statistical methods motivated by practical problems in data collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination.
Between 1979 and 1996, he was a research staff member of the Mathematical Science Section at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where his research focused on probability sampling and estimation, the design of sample surveys, and elementary applied probability and combinatorics.
He has over 30 years of undergraduate /graduate teaching experience in statistics and mathematics at Knoxville College; University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Graduate Program; University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and most recently Georgetown University where he has continued to serve as adjunct faculty since 2009. He was an ASA/NSF/Census Research Fellow (1993-1996) pursuing research into using probability sampling methods to improve the constitutionally required decennial census count.
Currently, he is actively engaged in the consideration of several problems: (1) optimal allocation of the sample in sample surveys; (2) apportionment methods for the distribution of seats in the U. S. House of Representatives following each census; (3) expressing uncertainty in rankings based on sample surveys; (4) understanding what interviewers do to obtain cooperation in government face-to-face sample surveys; and (5) thinking about a role for big data with official government statistics. These problems are all related to the Census Bureau's mission to provide quality data that helps leaders and decision makers maintain our nation's representative form of democracy.
Dr. Wright was born and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. He received the M.S. and Ph.D. in statistics from The Ohio State University, the M.S. in mathematics from the University of Tennessee, and the B.S. in mathematics from Knoxville College. His broad contributions in collaborative research (author of one book, editor of another, and author of over 40 papers in statistics and mathematics journals), teaching, and service have led to professional recognition: (I) Elected Member, International Statistical Institute (1989) and (ii) Fellow, American Statistical Association (1995).