Awards & Recognition > Awards and Scholarships

Samuel S. Wilks Award

Kanti Mardia

2013 Samuel S. Wilks Award Winner

Kanti Mardia of the University of Leeds, United Kingdom

For extensive work covering a wide span of applied and theoretical research, including seminal results in shape analysis, spatial statistics, directional data analysis, and bioinformatics, with special applications to geostatistics, protein structures, and hidden Markov modeling; for the dissemination of statistical thought and innovative ideas through the establishment of statistical centers such as the Centre of Medical Imaging Research and the Centre of Statistical Bioinformatics; and for his influential publications and insightful guidance of future generations of statisticians.

The Award

The Samuel S. Wilks Award, one of the ASA's most prestigious, was established in 1964 to honor 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.

The Wilks Award includes two cash benefits: $500 is provided by Friends of the U.S. Army to honor Wilks' contributions to Army research programs and $1,000 is provided by a fund created by Alexander M. Mood to honor Wilks' teaching skill and life-long development of outstanding statisticians. This second award was established in 2008 at $1,000, but will increase by 3% annually.


The Wilks Memorial Award is bestowed upon a distinguished individual who has made statistical contributions to the advancement of scientific or technical knowledge, ingenious application of existing knowledge, or successful activity in the fostering of cooperative scientific efforts that have been directly involved in matters of national defense or public interest. You can support the statistical profession by nominating people who meet these qualifications. The committee will only choose from among the nominees submitted.

Nomination and Award Dates

Nominations are due by April 1 each year. The award is presented at the Joint Statistical Meetings in August the same year.

Responsibilities of the Award Recipient

The award recipient is responsible for providing a current photograph and general personal information the year the award is presented. The American Statistical Association uses this information to publicize the award and prepare the prize.

How to Submit a Nomination

Send copies of the documentation in support of your nominee to the ASA office at or 732 N. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 attention Award Nominations.

Past Winners

2012: Peter Hall of The University of Melbourne
"For his pioneering and influential contributions to a wide variety of areas of statistics and probability, including bootstrap methods, statistical smoothing, functional data analysis, extreme value theory, martingale theory, percolation, and rates of convergence. Also, for his outstanding service to the profession with an extensive record of editorial roles, collaborative work with junior colleagues in particular, and promotion of statistical science to the wider scientific and educational communities."

2011: Nan M. Laird, Harvard University School of Public Health
"For her pioneering work on the EM algorithm, which set the foundation for many subsequent advances in computational statistics and biology."

2010: Pranab K. Sen, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill,
"For outstanding contributions to statistical research, especially in nonparametric statistics and biostatistics; and for exceptional service in mentoring doctoral students."

2009: Lee-Jen Wei, Harvard University
"For statistical methods used in clinical trials."

2008: Scott Zeger
"For outstanding contributions to statistics."

2007: Colin L. Mallows
"For extraordinary broad and deep contributions to applied statistics methodology, to mathematical statistics, and to probability, encompassing topics such as regression model selection, covering designs, rankings, graphics, combinatorics, coding theory, and the foundations of data analysis; and for generous, unstinting and productive collaborations and guidance to other statisticians, mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and business executives".

2006: Marvin Zelen, Harvard School of Public Health
“For fundamental contributions to the discipline of statistics and for fostering its applications in the public interest”.

2005: Roderick Joseph A. Little, University of Michigan, School of Public Health
"In recognition of Professor Little’s outstanding and fundamental contributions to statistical research and practice".

2004: Paul Meier, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Columbia University
"For significant and pioneering contributions to the development of important statistical methods and biostatistical methods, including the Kaplan-Meier estimator for survival analysis; for outstanding leadership of departments of statistics, biostatistics and the overall field of statistics; for extraordinary contributions as an educator and mentor; and for remarkable and sustained positive influence on the practice of statistics in a range of settings from biomedicine, to environmental science, to applications in the courtroom".

2003: David L. Wallace, University of Chicago
"For fundamental contributions to statistical methodology in a very broad sense, including path-breaking contributions to the development of practical Bayesian methods and their application to areas such as election forecasting and the determination of authorship, for significant service to statistical journals, and for exceptional mentorship of students and colleagues".

2002: Lawrence D. Brown
"For significant and pioneering contributions to statistical theory and practice (particularly statistical decision theory, nonparametric function estimation, Stein shrinkage estimators and transience of Brownian motion with drift, and confidence bounds for binomial proportions), for significant service on statistical issues in census 2000, national statistical committees, statistical journals, and for collegial leadership to the profession of Statistics".

2001: George C. Tiao
"For significant and fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of statistics, particularly Bayesian inference, multiple time series modeling, intervention analysis, environmental statistics, seasonal adjustment, and forecasting; for leadership in research in business statistics, econometrics, finance, and atmospheric ozone; for being an outstanding mentor to Chinese statistical education and statisticians of many backgrounds; and for innovative service on government advisory committees and editorial boards".

2000: Stephen E. Fienberg
"For significant and fundamental contributions to the advancement of science and statistical theory, particularly in categorical data analysis; for authoring outstanding books; for ingenious application of statistical methods to the social sciences, especially in decennial census, legal, and policy applications; for influential leadership both nationally and internationally; and for dedicated and visionary service as an ambassador for statistics in government, academic, and public arenas".

1999: Lynne Billard
"For significant contributions to the theory and methodology of statistics and the advancement of scientific knowledge in a variety of fields, especially in the area of HIV/AIDS; for effective leadership on issues of public interest, particularly with respect to the decennial census; for energetic professional service nationally and internationally; and for influential dedication to the statistical education of both statisticians and the public at large".

1998: David O. Siegmund
"For path breaking research contributions in the applications of sophisticated probability tools to statistical methodology and scientific applications, particularly on optimal stopping, sequential analysis, change-point problems, and genetic linkage. For particular excellence in research mentorship and classroom lecturing, for leadership of professional societies and service on numerous national advisory committees".

1997: Leslie Kish
"For being a truly outstanding statistician, who has had a profound influence on sample survey practice throughout the world. His originality and ability to provide practical solutions to real-world statistical problems illuminate his extensive writings; a notable example is his classic text Survey Sampling, which is widely consulted and referenced by practitioners of statistics everywhere. His wisdom and guidance have benefited countless colleagues and students from America and abroad. For his remarkable work as an applied statistician in consistently using his knowledge and insight for the benefit of society. At the Survey Research center of the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan, he has been a leader in many areas - administration, intellectual creativity, research, training, and mentorship. His influential role in the World Fertility Survey further illustrates his impact as an international ambassador of statistics and a tireless advocate for scientific statistical methods. For being a humanitarian and true citizen of the world. His unmatched concern for those living in less fortunate circumstances and his use of the statistical profession to help is an inspiration for all statisticians".
Amstat News. October 1997. No. 246. pp. 7.

1996: E.L. Lehmann
"For maintaining the highest professional standards in research, teaching and service to the profession; for fundamental research into the mathematical basis of hypothesis tests and estimates; and for creating a series of textbooks that have inspired a generation of statisticians."
Amstat News. October 1996. No. 235. pp. 3.

1995: Donald Rubin
"Donald B. Rubin has made important contributions to statistical theory and methodology, particularly in causal inference, design and analysis of experiments and sample surveys, treatment of missing data, and Bayesian data analysis; he used statistical techniques to obtain interesting information in education, psychology, and census data, including test evaluation, imputation for nonresponse, and equating of tests; he has effectively served the larger statistical community in the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the National Academy of Sciences, and other organizations".
Amstat News. December 1995. No. 226, pp 1.

1994: Emanuel Parzen
"For outstanding research in Time Series Analysis, especially for his innovative introduction of reproducing kernel spaces, spectral analysis and spectrum smoothing; for pioneering contributions in quantile and density quantile functions and estimation; for unusually successful and influential textbooks in Probability and Stochastic Processes; for excellent and enthusiastic teaching and dissemination of statistical knowledge; and for a commitment to service on Society Councils, Government Advisory Committees, and Editorial Boards".
Amstat News. October 1994. No. 213. pp. 10.

1993: Norman L. Johnson
"For outstanding and productive research in applied statistics; for many years of excellent graduate teaching; and especially for important volumes on statistical distributions and the classic Encyclopedia of Statistical Sciences."
Amstat News. (1) October 1993. No. 202. pp. 7, (2) October 1992. No. pp 8.

1992: Wilfred Dixon
"For pioneering the development of statistical software and founding the Statistical Computing Sections of ASA and ISI; for writing a textbook having a profound influence on the teaching of statistics; for founding and leading distinguished biostatistics and biomathematics departments and collaborative research in biology and medicine; and for methodological research in statistics, and leadership in international scientific efforts".
Amstat News. October 1992. No. 191. pp. 7.

1991: Ingram Olkin
"For major contributions to the development of theory and application of multivariate analysis, specially to educational statistics; for novel statistical applications in social sciences, psychology, medicine, and engineering; for active participation in government commissions and committees for advancement of statistics at the national level; for growth and creation of quality statistical journals; for important contributions to the development of meta-analysis; for development of statistical training through active participation in review committees of department of statistics in universities and generous advise to young statisticians; and for innovative efforts as a teacher, editor, author, and consultant in the spirit and ideals of Samuel S. Wilks".
Amstat News. October 1991. No. 180. pp. 6.

1990: Bradley Efron
"For major contributions to and innovations in the theory and practice of statistics; for pioneering in the use of computer power to derive more information from the data; and for the advancement of statistics as researcher, teacher, author, and editor, perpetuating in many ways the spirit in which Samuel S. Wilks made his many contributions to statistics".
Amstat News. November 1990. No. 169. pp. 10.

1989: C.R. Rao
"For major contributions to the theory of multivariate statistics and applications of that theory to problems of biometry; for world wide activities as advisor to national and international organizations; for long time conscientious as a teacher, editor, author and founder of academic institutions; and for the great influence he has had on the applications of statistical thinking in different scientific disciplines, embodying over a career of more than 40 years the spirit and ideals of Samuel S. Wilks".
Amstat News. December 1989. No. 160.

1988: Theodore W. Anderson
"For major contributions to our knowledge of time series and multivariate statistical analysis; and for pioneering in the advancement of statistics as researcher, teacher, author, editor, and adviser to the government and key national institutions, perpetuating in many ways the spirit in which Samuel S. Wilks made his many contributions to statistics".
Amstat News. December 1988. No. 150.

1987: Herman Chernoff
"For outstanding research in large sample theory and sequential analysis, for extensive service to scholarly societies and on government panels, for effectiveness and popularity as a teacher, and for his continuing impact on the theory of statistics and its applications in diverse disciplines".
Amstat News. November 1987. No. 139.

1986: Frederick Mosteller
"For major contributions to knowledge in theoretical and applied statistics, for formation and strengthening of linkages between statistics and other sciences - with special mention of the social and health sciences, and for reinforcing in many other ways as well the spirit in which Samuel S. Wilks made his many contributions to statistics".
Amstat News. November 1986. No. 129.

1985: Leo A. Goodman
"For major and significant contributions to theoretical statistics and to the development of statistical methods in many areas of application, particularly in the social sciences; for substantive advances in the use of log-linear models for discrete data; for a prodigious literature output that has guided and stimulated many scientists; and for contributions to professional societies and government programs over many years".
Amstat News. September-October 1985. No. 118

1984: Z.W. Birnbaum
"For major contributions to the theory of reliability and to nonparametric statistics, for the study of the characteristics of wearout and multi-component systems, for the ingenious derivation of inequalities and bounds used in his theory, for the wide applications and leadership provided by his work, and for his inspiration as a collaborator with and teacher of outstanding statisticians"
Amstat News. September-October 1984. No. 108.

1983: W. Edwards Deming (Oct. 14, 1900 – Dec. 20, 1993)
"For more than fifty years of pioneering work in statistical quality control at home and abroad; for outstanding service in the applications and teaching of statistical principles toward the attainment of high-quality productivity; for authoritative leadership in quality assurance; and for contributions as a renowned author and a highly respected leader." October 14, 1900-December 20, 1993. Amstat News. December 1983. No. 100. Obituaries (1) The American Statistician. August 1994. Vol. 48 No. 3 pp 179-187., (2) Journal of the American Statistical Association. Vol. No. . pp 820-825. (3) Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A. (1994) Vol 157, Part 3, pp 497-499.

1982: Frank Proschan
"For his pioneering development of a statistical theory of reliability; for his contributions to total positivity, inequality theory and biometry; and especially for his many papers, books and teaching that have stimulated a wide audience of practitioners and trained a large body of statisticians."
Amstat News. November 1982. No. 89.

1981: Holbrook Working (1895 – Oct. 5, 1985)
"For co-authoring the remarkable 1929 JASA paper in which confidence-limit envelopes for an entire linear relation were introduced, for pioneering work in applying the random walk concept as a model of price movement in an ideal market, and especially for his exceptional contribution to the Allied effort in World War II by organizing, administering, and teaching in a program of intensive courses in statistical quality control attended by about 10,000 persons from industrial concerns in the United States and Canada".
1895-October 5, 1985. Amstat News. September-October 1981. No. 78. Obituary J. Bus. Econ. Stat. (1986) Vol. 4 pp 39.

1980: W. Allen Wallis
"In recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the effective use of statistical theory and methodology by the armed services during World War II, for his outstanding contributions to clear statistical thinking and effective statistical practice through the publications he authored or edited, for his leadership of statisticians, and for his service to the nation through chairmanship of, membership on numerous high-level Government and non-Government commissions and councils."
Amstat News. November 1980. No. 69.

1979: Alexander M. Mood
"For his many significant contributions to the theory of statistics, an outstanding textbook on the subject, his extensive applications to operations and systems analysis, and unique statistical assessments of education and public policy research".
Amstat News. December 1979. No. 60.

1978: William h. Kruskal
"For distinguished contributions to statistical methodology and to study of the history of statistics, for enthusiastic support of statistics in the social sciences, and for extensive public service, especially on behalf of the Joint Service Advisory Group and as chairman of the Committee on National Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences-NRC".
Amstat News. December 1978. No. 50.

1977: Churchill Eisenhart (Mar. 11, 1913 – June 25, 1994)
"For highly significant contributions to research on, and applications of, statistical methods and problems in agriculture, national defense, science and engineering; for his internationally renowned applications of statistical methodology to basic problems in metrology; and for his singular contributions to the history of methodology in the field of statistics".
March 11, 1913-June 25, 1994.
Amstat News. November 1977. No. 39, pp . Obituaries (1) The American Statistician. August 1995. Vol. 49 No. 3 pp 243-244. (2) Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A. (1995) Vol 158, Part 2, pp 338.

1976: Soloman Kullback (April 3, 1907 – Aug. 5, 1994)
"For enriching the field of statistics with a variety of new methods, for outstanding service as a teacher of statistics, and for the ingenious applications of statistical methods to significant problems."
April 3, 1904-August 5, 1997.
Amstat News. November 1976. No. 30, pp . Obituary (1) The American Statistician. May 1998. Vol. 52 No. 2 pp 89-92. (2) Amstat News. December 1994. No. 215, pp 43-44.

1975: Herbert Solomon
"For his many significant contributions to statistical theory and methods and in the acknowledgement of his contributions, outstanding influences on the applications of statistics in the service of this nation".
Amstat News. November 1975. No. 19.

1974: Cuthbert Daniel (1904 – Aug. 8, 1997)
"In acknowledgement of his steady and helpful influences on the applications of statistics in the service of this nation and for his contributions to the theory of statistical methodology".
1904-August 8, 1997.
Amstat News. November 1974. No. 9, pp . Obituary The American Statistician. May 1998. Vol. 52 No. 2 pp 89-92.

1973: H.O. Hartley (April 13, 1912 – Dec. 30, 1980)
"In acknowledgement of his steady and helpful influences on the applications of statistics in the service of this nation and for his contributions to the theory of statistical methodology".
April 13, 1912-December 30, 1980
The American Statistician. December 1973. Vol. 27. No. 4, pp 202. Obituaries (1) The American Statistician. August 1981. Vol. 35 No. 3 pp 142-143. (2) Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A. (1982) Vol 148, Part 1, pp 148.

1972: George E.P. Box
"To George E.P. Box, in recognition of his many significant contributions to experimental design, robustness, Evolutionary Operations, Bayesian methods, and time series analysis, and for his leadership in relating theoretical results to practical problems".
The American Statistician. December 1972. Vol. 26 . No. 4, pp 3.

1971: Harold F. Dodge (Jan. 23, 1893 – 1976)
"To Harold F. Dodge in recognition of his pioneering achievements in developing scientific sampling inspection plans and quality rating methods, his leadership in the preparation of quality control standards for government and industry and his continuing interest in teaching others the art and techniques of sampling and of the analysis and interpretations of engineering data".
January 23, 1893-December 10, 1976.
The American Statistician. December 1971. Vol. . No. 4, pp 3. Obituary Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A. (1979) Vol 142, Part 3, pp 394.

1970: George W. Snedecor (Oct. 20, 1881 – Feb. 15, 1974)
"To George W. Snedecor for his pioneering contributions in the development and use of statistical methods, including applications of experimental design to research investigations, and for introducing several generations of statisticians and research workers to the subject of statistics through teaching and the six editions of his world-renowned book, Statistical Methods".
October 20, 1881-February 15, 1974 The American Statistician. December 1970. Vol. 25. No. 4, pp 2. Obituary (1) The American Statistician. August 1974. Vol. 28. No. 3, pp 108-109. (2) Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A. (1974) Vol 137, Part 3, pp 456-457.

1969: W.J. Youden (1900 – March 31, 1971)
"To Dr. W.J. Youden, father of "Youden squares'' and the "Youden Diagram'' for his extensive contributions to the art and practice of experimentation in the sciences and engineering, through conception and lucid exposition of novel, yet rather elementary, techniques of statistical analysis and crafty application of standard methods; and through his exceptional productivity as an author, indefatigable energy and phenomenal effectiveness as a speaker, by which he has inspired a whole generation of scientists and engineers to greater achievements through applications of his unique statistical precepts".
1900-March 31, 1971.
The American Statistician. December 1969. Vol. 24. No. 4, pp 2-3. Obituaries (1) The Annals of Statistics. 1972. Vol. 43 No. 4 pp 1035-1040. (2)Biometrics. Sept. 1971. Vol. 27, No. 3, pp 745-746.

1968: Jerzy Neyman (April 16, 1984 – Aug. 5, 1981)
"To Professor Jerzy Neyman, whose extensive contributions both to the theory and practice of statistics have led to fundamental changes in the thinking and methodology of scientists all over the world. He has inspired and led more than a generation of students and his continued leadership is effective today. Both by precept and by example, he is one of the foremost statisticians in the entire world".
April 16, 1894- August 5, 1981.
The American Statistician. December 1968. Vol. 23. No. 4, pp 1-2. Obituaries (1) The American Statistician. August 1982. Vol. 36 No. 3 pp 161-162. (2)Calcutta Statistical Association, Bulletin. (1981) Vol. 30, pp 105. (3) Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A. (1982) Vol 145, Part 4, pp 523-524.

1967: William G. Cochran (July 15, 1909 – March 29, 1980)
To Professor William G. Cochran - for continued research on the statistical treatment of data, for his highly fertile research on the design and analysis of experiments and surveys, for his excellent books on the theory and practice of statistical methodology, for his efforts in the training of statisticians at all levels, and for his contributions to national and international statistical societies."
July 15, 1909-March 29, 1980
The American Statistician. December 1967. Vol. 22. No. 4, pp 1-2. Obituaries (1) The American Statistician. February 1981. Vol. 35 No. 1 pp 38. (2) The Annals of Statistics 1982. Vol. 10, No. 1. pp 1-10. (3) Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A. (1982) Vol. 145, Part 4, pp 521-523.

1966: Leslie E. Simon
"To Major General Leslie E. Simon for his pioneering contributions to Quality Control, Sampling Inspection, Reliability and Army Design of Experiments, and for his timely promotion of statistical activities which have benefited not only the Army but our government and country as well."
The American Statistician. December 1966. Vol. 21. No. 4, pp 3-5.

1965: John W. Tukey
"To John W. Tukey for his contributions to the theory of statistical inference, his development of procedures for analyzing data, and his influence on applications of statistics in many fields."
John W. Tukey.
The American Statistician. December 1965. Vol. 20. No. 4, pp 2.

1964: Frank E. Grubbs
Initial Award – no citation
Frank E. Grubbs.
The American Statistician. December 1964. Vol. 19. No. 4, pp 2.