Lester R. Curtin Award

Provides Registration and Travel Support to the ASA Conference on Statistical Practice

Lester (Randy) Curtin, December 2009

Lester (Randy) Curtin, December 2009

The Lester R. Curtin Award was established recently to help promising young health statisticians get the skills and training they need to make significant contributions in their area of study. The award was created to honor the memory of Lester, or “Randy,” and his long career of working tirelessly to teach and mentor his colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Randy was a 38-year ASA member, an ASA Fellow, and a recognized expert for his work on childhood growth charts, longitudinal studies, standardized statistical software, vital statistics, and the design of complex sample health surveys.

“Randy was overly generous with his time to mentor and teach,” said Lew Berman, who worked with Randy for more than 10 years on the National Children’s Study. “He always had a thoughtful comment to make and was able to see things that others could not.”

Nat Schenker, a statistical colleague who co-authored with Randy, said “Randy was a smart and fun guy, with whom I always enjoyed discussing applied statistical problems. He was terrific at explaining complex issues in understandable ways, which I’m sure was one reason he was such an effective mentor and teacher.” Schenker went on to say that Randy had great intuition, experience, and wisdom with regard to statistical practice. “So this new award involving the conference on statistical practice is a wonderful tribute to his memory.”

In the spirit of Randy’s service, the award is funded through an endowment established by his wife, Sally. Although she never worked directly with Randy, she met him in 1989 when they both worked at the NCHS. She had a statistical problem she couldn’t solve and someone recommended she ask Randy. “They told me he had a beautiful, mathematical mind,” she said. “So, I met Randy doing what he did best—helping people with statistical problems.”

The award will provide registration and travel support to the ASA Conference on Statistical Practice, which takes place every February. To be eligible for the $1,000 award, applicants must work in the field of health statistics (broadly defined as either applied, including public health policy, or clinical work) or in a graduate program to prepare for such work. Preference will be given to those who have been working in the field for five or fewer years, or who are still in graduate school.

Submissions should include two letters of recommendation, a curriculum vitae, and a statement of no more than 500 words explaining the applicant’s career goals, what they hope to learn by attending the conference, and how they plan to contribute to real-world applications of statistics in their field. Past chairs from the Health Policy Statistics, Survey Research Methods, Biopharmaceutical, Teaching Statistics in the Health Sciences, Mental Health Statistics, Statistics in Epidemiology, and Biometrics sections will select the award winner.

Send submissions by October 15 to Lynn Palmer, the ASA’s director of programs, at palmer@amstat.org. The winner will be announced by December 1.