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Fielding School of Public Health Professor Elected President of International Society for Bayesian Analysis

Sudipto Banerjee, professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, has been chosen as president-elect of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA)

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Date: 
Monday, January 25, 2021
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Sudipto Banerjee, professor and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, has been chosen as president-elect of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA).

The ISBA selects its leadership for a three-year term, progressing from president-elect to president and past president, respectively; Banerjee will serve as president-elect in 2021, president in 2022 – including leading the society’s next planned world meeting in 2022 - and past-president in 2023.

“ISBA is an organization that is extremely close to my heart and one with which I have been associated since my student days,” Banerjee said. “Bayesian principles have played, and continue to play, a very important role in understanding the impact and spread of pandemics and have featured prominently in the epidemic models for COVID-19.”

The ISBA sponsors academic and professional conferences and publishes the journal Bayesian Analysis, and acts as a coordinating organization between those within the discipline and other scientists, said Thomas Belin, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Professor and Vice Chair of Biostatistics.

“ISBA has been very influential in bridging statistical science with other allied disciplines as data science has emerged as crucially important to academic and societal pursuits in the 21st century,” Belin said. “Sudipto is quick to compliment others and understated about his own accomplishments, but his election really shows the enormously high esteem in which he is held in the profession.”

Bayesian analysis casts statistical problems in the framework of decision making. It entails formulating subjective prior probabilities to express pre-existing information, careful modelling of the data structure, checking and allowing for uncertainty in model assumptions, formulating a set of possible decisions and a utility function to express how the value of each alternative decision is affected by the unknown model parameters.

These methods were first formulated in the Eighteenth Century by the English mathematician Thomas Bayes, and provides statistical inference by combining prior information about a given population with evidence from a sample to guide the process. Modern computational and so-called “big data” methods have made such analyses much faster and reliable, and so Bayesian analysis has become widely used in address pressing questions in public health, astrophysics, meteorology, and criminal justice policy.

“Bayesian statistics has had a profound influence in diverse scientific disciplines including, but certainly not limited to, public health,” Banerjee said. “It has become indispensable in effectively pooling information from different sources to better predict the impact of our environment on health outcomes.”

Banerjee joined the Department of Biostatistics in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA as professor and chair in 2014. He was elected a Fellow of ISBA in 2018, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2020. Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

As part of the AAAS Statistics section, Professor Banerjee was elected as an AAAS Fellow for innovative contributions to Bayesian methodology with focus on spatially indexed information, for high-impact applications, for educational and mentoring excellence, professional service and academic administration. A virtual Fellows Forum – an induction ceremony for the new Fellows –will be held on February 13, 2021.

Banerjee’s other honors include the Abdel El-Shaarawi Award from The International Environmetric Society (TIES), the Mortimer Spiegelman Award from the American Public Health Association, and the George W. Snedecor Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS).

He is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, holds elected fellowships in the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), the American Statistical Association (ASA), and the ISBA, and has received a Distinguished Achievement Medal from the ASA's Section on Statistics and the Environment and the ASA's Outstanding Statistical Application Award.

“It is a tremendous honor for me and I am deeply appreciative of the support I have received from so many of my colleagues in ISBA,” Banerjee said. “Personally, I would probably not have pursued a career in statistics had it not been for my personal fascination with Bayesian statistics … I look forward to working with many distinguished colleagues in ISBA to further advance the mission of this remarkable scholarly society.”