Statisticians We Are Grateful For This Thanksgiving

Today, we want to recognize and celebrate some of the groundbreaking statisticians and data scientists in gratitude for their scientific and societal contributions. Careers in statistics and data science are growing and expanding into various industries. From healthcare to sports, these trailblazers have forged paths, made inspiring contributions, and made us grateful for all statistics has to contribute!

Here are some notable statisticians and data scientists who made history in developing the fields into what they are today:

Gertrude Cox

Gertrude Cox is one of the most important statisticians in history. As the First Lady of Statistics, her legacy is defined by her constant shattering of glass ceilings for women in academia. Cox’s most influential work focuses on experimental design in statistics. She founded the Department of Experimental Statistics while a professor at North Carolina State University, and became the first female elected to the International Statistical Institute. She was also a President of the American Statistical Association. 

Throughout her career, Cox used her passion for statistics and her industry prominence to encourage women to pursue a profession, especially in the field of statistics.

David H. Blackwell

David H. Blackwell was a leading mathematician and statistician who persevered through some of the most challenging times in recent national history, including the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War and the Civil Rights Era. In his pursuit of a higher education and later his search for university faculty positions, Blackwell faced racial discrimination from multiple institutions. However, he became a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley in 1954. Blackwell became the Chair of the Statistics Department at UC-Berkeley in 1956 after joining the newly developed academic department as a full-time professor a year prior. In 1969, Blackwell published one of the first textbooks on the Bayesian method of statistical inference titled “Basic Statistics.” He held many leadership roles in the statistics and mathematics sphere, serving as Vice President of the American Statistical Association in 1978. 

Kiniko O. Bowman

Kimiko O. Bowman was a true trailblazing statistician. She persevered throughout her career as a Japanese-American woman diagnosed with polio as a child. Through years of physical therapy, Bowman was able to learn to walk again. Her paralysis inspired her to advocate for individuals with disabilities. Her dissertation, Moments to Higher Orders for Maximum Likelihood Estimates with an Application to the Negative Binomial Distribution, began a collaboration with L.R. Shenton that would last for 45 years.  Bowman became one of the first women to become a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. Her career consisted of innovative accomplishments that broke down barriers for women and contributed to the advancement of scientific research in the field of statistics.

Florence Nightingale

The legendary Lady with the Lamp is well-known for her contributions to the development of the statistics profession as well as modern nursing. Her data collection, analysis, and visualization of hospital statistical records during the Crimean War improved healthcare sanitation practices and saved soldiers’ lives. Nightingale created the coxcomb diagram design, which appears similar to a modern pie chart.

She was a crucial role model during a time when women were far and few between in the workforce. Nightingale and her groundbreaking contributions in the field would inspire future female statisticians for generations to come.

Learn more about other famous statisticians in history!


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