Washington D.C., 15th March 2017 – An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD, has today presented Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) prestigious ‘St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal’ to Dr T. Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech, and Prof Adrian E. Raftery, Professor of Statistics and Sociology at the University of Washington, for their significant contribution to academia and industry.
Now in its fourth year, the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal recognises the outstanding contributions of Dr T. Pearse Lyons and Prof Adrian Raftery in their respective fields, as well as their role in developing the research ecosystem in Ireland. The Medal is awarded annually to a distinguished Irish scientist, engineer or technology leader living and working in the USA.
Dublin-born Prof Adrian E. Raftery has been described by his peers as one of the most eminent statisticians in the world. His work has resulted in the development of new statistical methods, focusing particularly on the social, environmental and health sciences. Prof Raftery’s work to quantify statistical uncertainty in demographic projections has fundamentally changed approaches to population forecasting. This was demonstrated by the United Nations recently publishing a recalculation of world population projections, which directly incorporated Prof Raftery’s work.
Prof Raftery has been a leader in developing new Bayesian statistical methods for model selection and model averaging, as well as model-based clustering. He has also worked on studies which have fundamentally changed our understanding of whaling populations, the prevalence of HIV/Aids and weather forecasting.
On accepting his SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal, Professor Raftery said: “I developed my passion for statistics during my time at St. Conleth’s College in Dublin and at Trinity College Dublin. Statistics is vital to science, including the social sciences, and it is progressing rapidly with the current growth in big data and data science. I’m proud to have contributed to the development of statistics at University College Dublin in recent years. Statistics in Ireland has been developing fast and this will provide a competitive advantage for Irish science and industry. I’m grateful to SFI for supporting my visit to Ireland in 2013-14 as a SFI Walton Fellow, which galvanised several successful collaborations with UCD, TCD and the Central Bank of Ireland. The continued support for this and other research programmes, even during the economic crisis, shows that there is a broad consensus in Ireland for supporting scientific research, which bodes well for the future of the country. I am very honoured to receive the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal.”
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