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Rao to Receive National Medal of Science

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President Bush awards Calyampudi R. Rao, emeritus holder of Penn State's Eberly Family Chair in Statistics, the National Medal of Science during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday (12 June 2002). Rao was one of 14 scientists honored.

[Adam Smeltz, Centre Daily Times, 13 June 2002]
Photo: Greg Grieco, Penn State

Penn State's Calyampudi R. Rao, emeritus holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics and director of the Center for Multivariate Analysis, was one of fourteen scientists and one engineer named today by President Bush to receive the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. The honorees will receive the medals at a White House ceremony on 12 June 2002.

Rao's theoretical work helped lay the foundation of modern statistics. He has also concentrated his efforts on employing statistical methods to solve practical problems in such diverse fields as economics, anthropology, geology, medical diagnosis and national planning. A book he wrote in 1965, Linear Statistical Inference and Its Applications, one of the most-often cited books in science, has greatly influenced research work in theory and application of statistics.

Responding to concerns of industry, Rao developed Orthogonal Arrays, a novel method of experimentation through combinatorial arrangements. This method is commonly used to improve and control the quality of manufactured goods. His evolution of estimation theory in small samples expanded the reach of statistical methods in real-world work.

Rao pioneered differential geometric techniques in exploring statistical inference problems, based on Rao's Distance Function, an accepted field of research.

In addition to Rao, one other mathematician will be honored along with six biologists, two chemists, two physicists, two behavioral and social scientists, and an engineer. Thirteen of these premier researchers received funding support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) over portions of their careers.

"Their contributions to the world around us are enormous. Their ideas have led to major breakthroughs in human health and the tools evolving from their research have put the U.S. in the forefront of many new industries," National Science Foundation director Rita Colwell said. "We are proud of these extraordinary people -- and grateful for their unceasing inquisitiveness, creativity and dedication to obtain new knowledge for the good of all humankind."

The National Science Foundation administers the National Medals of Science for the White House. Congress established the National Medals of Science in 1959. The latest awards bring to 401 the total number of science medals awarded since their inception.

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