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Xiao-Li Meng

2024 Marker Lecturer

Xiao-Li Meng, founding editor-in-chief of the Harvard Data Science Review and Whipple V. N. Jones Professor of Statistics at Harvard University, presented the 2024 Russel Marker Lectures in the Statistical Sciences on February 21 and 22 on the Penn State University Park campus. The free public lectures were sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

The series included a public lecture intended for a general audience, titled “Data Minding Before Data Mining (Or How Small are Big Data?).” Meng also gave a research lecture, titled “Keeping Probity in Probability: Imprecise Probability or Impossible Probability?”.

Meng is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institution of Mathematical Statistics and a fellow of the American Statistical Association. In 2001, Meng was honored with the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies President’s Award, one of the most prestigious international awards in statistics, which recognizes young statisticians who have made outstanding contributions to the field.

Meng earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Fudan University in 1982 and a doctoral degree in statistics from Harvard university in 1990. He then was a faculty member at the University of Chicago from 1991 to 2001. Later, he returned to Harvard where he served as the chair of the Department of Statistics from 2004 to 2012 and as the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 2012 to 2017. In 2018, Meng began as the founding editor-in-chief of the Harvard Data Science Review.

Meng has published over 150 papers in these research areas and has given over 400 talks on these topics. He is also the author of the “The XL-Files,” a highly entertaining and stimulating column in the Institute for Mathematical Statistics Bulletin.

The Marker lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Russell Earl Marker, professor emeritus of chemistry at Penn State, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences, and physics.