Announcing our honours recipients for 2020  

We are thrilled to announce the recipients of our 2020 honours, who will be presented with their awards at a ceremony during our annual conference in Bournemouth this September. 

The 2020 winners are:

•  Guy Medal in Gold: David Spiegelhalter 
•  Guy Medal in Silver: Arnaud Doucet   
•  Guy Medal in Bronze: Rachel McCrea   
•  Barnett Award: Byron JT Morgan   
•  Research Prize:  Thomas B Berrett   
•  Honorary Fellowship: Judea Pearl  

'This year’s list of citations really highlights the breadth of statistics and its crucial role both in academic research, as well as in society more broadly,' said Professor Deborah Ashby, RSS president. 'On behalf of the Honours Committee, I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to all recipients.'


The citations for each recipient are as follows: 

Guy Medal in Gold – David Spiegelhalter  
The Guy medal in Gold is awarded to David Spiegelhalter for his contributions to the methodology, application and public understanding of statistical science, probability and risk. His 11 read papers before the RSS have contributed to innovations in artificial intelligence, machine learning and the statistics of institutional performance amongst other subjects. He developed the WinBUGS package with others for Bayesian modelling and gained acceptance for the Bayesian analysis of clinical trials, receiving the Guy medal in Bronze (1985) and Silver (1994). Through the Winton Centre he has promoted the understanding and communication of risk by medical, legal and media professionals. He has served on several public enquiries and expert advisory groups, and as President of the RSS from 2017 to 2018.  David Spiegelhalter is an outstanding public ambassador for statistics. He has presented many radio and television programmes, created the Understanding Uncertainty website and online videos, and authored a series of accessible but rigorous books on statistics, including The Art of Statistics (2019).   

 Deborah Ashby said: 'David Spiegelhalter is a giant in science communication, having had a major impact on how statistics, and in particular, risk, are communicated to the public. David’s promotion of the discipline, his passion for communication and his research expertise is unparalleled. Not only that, but he has made a great contribution to the Society before, during and since his presidency.'


Guy Medal in Silver – Arnaud Doucet   
The Guy Medal in Silver is awarded to Arnaud Doucet for his numerous ground-breaking contributions to the development of theory and methodology in Bayesian inference and computational statistics. These include two influential papers in JRSSB: ‘Sequential Monte Carlo samplers’ (with P Del Moral and A Jasra) published in 2006 and ‘Particle Markov chain Monte Carlo methods’ (with C Andrieu and R Holenstein) which was read to the society in 2009.

These, together with recent work on the Bouncy Particle Sampler, have each established new sub-areas of computational statistics and provided new ideas and algorithms that are widely used across a range of application domains.

Deborah Ashby said: 'Professor Doucet is a more than worthy recipient of the Guy Medal in Silver. He has been a trailblazer in his field, having made extensive contributions to both computational statistics and the development of theory and methodology in Bayesian inference.'


Guy Medal in Bronze – Rachel McCrea   
The Guy Medal in Bronze is awarded to Rachel McCrea for her innovative and novel work in statistical ecology, with particular reference to the development of goodness-of-fit tests and model selection strategies for complex ecological data. Important areas include (multi-state) capture-recapture-type models and integrated models.

Notable publications include: the 2017 JRSSC paper ‘A new strategy for diagnostic model assessment in capture-recapture’, which identified a direct relationship between particular diagnostic tests and score tests; and the 2020 JRSSC paper ‘Diagnosing heterogeneity in transition probabilities in multistate capture-recapture data’, which developed new tests to identify unmodelled transition heterogeneity. 

Deborah Ashby said: 'Dr McCrea has made a profound contribution to statistical ecology. The Society’s journals have published a number of noteworthy papers authored by Rachel, and her development of goodness-of-fit tests and model selection strategies has been particularly innovative.'


Barnett Award – Byron JT Morgan   
The Barnett Award is made to Byron JT Morgan for his ground-breaking work in statistical ecology. Being the leading authority on age-structured modelling of capture-recapture and ring-recovery data, his joint paper was the first to model how survival probabilities were influenced by weather covariates. Another influential paper on integrating mark-recapture-recovery and census data was foundational to the internationally-embraced sub-field of Integrated Population Modelling within statistical ecology.

Most recently, he has been at the forefront of developing computationally-efficient methods for co-analysis of the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme with citizen science data sources, to give insights to biodiversity in urban versus rural settings. Byron JT Morgan was also one of the co-founders and first director of the National Centre for Statistical Ecology, a virtual Centre that links up statistical ecologists in the UK, and internationally.  

Deborah Ashby said: 'Professor Morgan has had a great influence on the world of statistics and statistical ecology. His innovative work on computationally efficient methods for co-analysis of the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme has led to great insights into biodiversity and he had been a significant figure in creating better networks of statistical ecologists.'


Research Prize – Thomas B Berrett   
The Research Prize is awarded to Thomas B Berrett for outstanding contributions to understanding and developing nearest neighbour methods for classification, entropy and related functional estimation, and for highly original work on independence and conditional independence testing. 

Of particular note is his paper on 'The conditional permutation test for independence while controlling for confounders' (with Y Wang, RF Barber and RJ Samworth, JRSSB, to appear).

Deborah Ashby commented: 'Dr Berretts work on independence and conditional independence testing has been incredibly innovative, and a significant achievement for someone early on in their career.'


Honorary Fellowship – Judea Pearl   
Judea Pearl is elected as an Honorary Fellow for his foundational contributions to causal and counterfactual inference based on structural models. In particular, his development of a calculus for causal reasoning has had a profound impact on statistics and artificial intelligence.

Deborah Ashby said: 'Professor Pearl’s impact on statistics has been groundbreaking. In particular, he is to be commended for his development of a calculus for causal reasoning which has been momentous for both statistics and artificial intelligence.'

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