Dr. Kathryn Chaloner, professor and head of biostatistics at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, has received the 2014 Elizabeth L. Scott Award, presented by the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS). This prestigious award recognizes an individual who exemplifies the contributions of Elizabeth L. Scott, a pioneering female scientist who devoted lifelong efforts to further the careers of women in academia.
The award acknowledges Dr. Chaloner’s career of service and leadership in the statistics community, mentorship of junior faculty and graduate students, internationally recognized research to advance statistical methodology, and the application of cutting-edge statistical methods to medicine and public health. Dr. Chaloner is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Elizabeth L. Scott (1917-1988) began her graduate studies in astronomy at the University of California Berkeley, but, due to limited opportunities for women to access the telescope, she switched to studying mathematics. Her PhD was awarded in 1949 and in 1951 she became a member of the faculty at Berkeley, where she spent the remainder of her academic career. In her research, she applied her statistical training to important problems in astronomy. She identified the observational bias of detecting distant galaxy clusters that is known as “Scott effect.” In addition to astronomy, she made statistical contributions to many scientific areas including experiment design, distribution theory, medicine, and meteorology. She was the first female president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and was also president of the Bernoulli Society, and the International Statistical Institute. She served on several committees of the National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences. Later in her career she became an advocate for women in academia and used statistical methods to identify salary inequities.
Dr. Chaloner only met Dr. Scott once, at a 1988 workshop for women who were junior faculty in statistics, but it was an influential meeting that had a profound impact on Dr. Chaloner.
“Elizabeth Scott had great advice for navigating the tenure process successfully and great general professional advice,” says Dr. Chaloner. “I now pass that advice on to my junior colleagues. Elizabeth Scott was an extraordinary role model and this award is a real honor for me.”
Dr. Chaloner’s award citation reads: “For her commitment and success in developing programs to encourage and facilitate women to undertake careers in statistics; for extensive mentoring of women students and young faculty; for work to identify and remove inequities in employment for under-represented components of the profession; and for serving as a role model, balancing work and family while excelling as a teacher, researcher and academic administrator.”