The College of Sciences has named Leonard “Len” Stefanski as the first R.A. Fisher Distinguished Professor in Statistics. The professorship was made possible through the financial contributions of dozens of NC State alumni and friends.
Stefanski, a prominent statistician well-known for his work in measurement error modeling, joined the NC State faculty in 1986. He has also made important contributions in variable selection, biostatistics, generalized linear models, environmental statistics and other areas. He has served as interim head of the Department of Statistics since 2016.
“The alumni and friends who pooled resources to create this professorship have made a profound impact on our college,” said Bill Ditto, dean of the College of Sciences. “Through their philanthropy, we are able to recruit and retain prominent statisticians like Len Stefanski.”
Stefanski, along with NC State Ph.D. student John Cook, developed SIMEX, a widely used Monte Carlo method for the analysis of data measured with error. He is also one of the authors of the seminal textbook Measurement Error in Nonlinear Models. He has authored more than 100 scientific publications and delivered or submitted more than 90 invited research presentations and papers.
Stefanski is a previous winner of the department’s Cavell Brownie Mentoring Award, which honored his outstanding mentoring of students and junior faculty, and the D.D. Mason Department Award, which recognized his many years of exemplary service to statistics at NC State. He is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association.
The fundraising effort to create the professorship was led by NC State statistics alumni Ji Zhang, senior vice president at the pharmaceutical company Sanofi, and Bob Starbuck, a retired pharmaceutical executive who was most recently assistant vice president for special projects at Wyeth Research. More than 50 alumni and friends contributed to the effort.
The professorship is named for Ronald Aylmer Fisher, an English scientist who was one of the architects of modern statistics. He was a visiting faculty member at NC State during the summer of 1946 and made several subsequent visits to the university before his death in 1962.