George Casella (1951–2012) was born in Bronx, New York. After obtaining a PhD in statistics from Purdue University, he went on to join the faculty at Rutgers University, Cornell University, where he taught for 19 years, and the University of Florida. He published on topics such as confidence estimation, Bayesian analysis, and empirical Bayes methods. In general, his work was motivated by applications to science, and in particular, his work on variable selection and clustering was motivated by genetics. Casella coauthored a book with Roger Berger that introduced many graduate students to mathematical statistics. He coauthored another book with Christian P. Robert on Monte Carlo methods. In addition to his own published work, Casella was an editor for three journals: Statistical Science, Journal of the American Statistical Society, and Journal of the Royal Statistical Society.
Casella’s many contributions are reflected in his election to fellowship on behalf of four different associations and institutes and being made a foreign member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences. He acquired the Spanish language during a year he spent in Spain for sabbatical and even gave talks on Monte Carlo methods in Spanish. Aside from his academic accomplishments, Casella completed 13 marathons and spent time as a volunteer firefighter.
Lee Joseph Cronbach (1916–2001) was born in Fresno, California. He participated in a study of gifted children and completed high school at the age of 14. He obtained a doctoral degree in educational psychology from the University of Chicago, where he later served as an assistant professor. During World War II, he applied his expertise as a military psychologist for the US Navy.
Cronbach is widely known for his paper on the alpha coefficient, which measures test reliability. While his work on the reliability coefficient was focused on psychological testing and education, Cronbach’s alpha is used in several fields. He wrote an article with Paul Meehl on psychological test validity and later published a book with Goldine Gleser introducing generalizability theory.
Cronbach made a lasting impact on program evaluations through his collaborative research with faculty at Stanford, along with his book Designing Evaluations of Educational and Social Programs. He also played an active role in the American Psychological Association’s work on test standards and later became president of the APA. His many contributions are reflected in the honors he received from the American Education Research Association, the Educational Testing Service, and other associations.
Jacques Salomon Hadamard (1865–1963) was born in Versailles, France. He had a tumultuous childhood, eating elephant meat to survive and enduring the premature deaths of two younger sisters. Hadamard taught while working on his doctorate, which he obtained in 1892 from École Normale Supérieure. His dissertation is recognized as the first examination of singularities. Hadamard published a paper on the Riemann zeta function, for which he was awarded the Grand Prix des Sciences Mathématiques in 1892. Shortly after, he became a professor at the University of Bordeaux and made many significant contributions over the course of four years. For example, in 1893 he published a paper on determinant inequalities, giving rise to Hadamard matrices. Then in 1896, he used complex analysis to prove the prime number theorem, and he was awarded the Bordin Prize by the Academy of Sciences for his work on dynamic trajectories. In the following years, he published books on two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometry, as well as an influential paper on functional analysis. He was elected to presidency of the French Mathematical Society in 1906 and as chair of mechanics at the Collège de France in 1909. Faced with the tragic deaths of two of his sons during World War I, Hadamard buried himself in his work. He continued to publish outstanding work in new areas, including probability theory, education, and psychology. In 1956, he was awarded the CNRS Gold Medal for his many contributions.
Nicholas Constantine Metropolis (1915–1999) was born in Chicago. He completed his PhD in experimental physics at the University of Chicago in 1941. In 1943, Metropolis moved to Los Alamos, where he spent much of his time working on computers and computational algorithms. He first worked with analog and then IBM punch card machines. Beginning in 1948, he helped design the MANIAC I computer , one of the first digital computers. He later oversaw the construction of the MANIAC II and MANIAC III. He collaborated with Stanislaw Ulam to develop the Monte Carlo method, and he coauthored a paper in 1953 introducing the Monte Carlo algorithm. The algorithm would later be extended to general cases by W. K. Hastings and would be known as the Metropolis–Hastings algorithm. In 1957, Metropolis returned to the University of Chicago, where he taught physics and helped found the Institute for Computer Research.
The American Physical Society elected Metropolis as a fellow in 1953 and created an award in his honor that recognizes extraordinary work in computational physics. Also, in 1984, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) awarded him the Computer Pioneer Award. In his late 70s, Metropolis appeared in a Woody Allen film, portraying a scientist.
Janet Lippe Norwood (1923–2015) was born in Newark, New Jersey. She obtained her PhD from Tufts University and taught political science at Wellesley College. Norwood made significant contributions while she was the first female commissioner for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). She accomplished the goal of conducting the Consumer Expenditure Survey annually, a long-time goal of the BLS, and saved the National Longitudinal Survey from termination. As commissioner, she would present data on national unemployment before the Joint Economic Committee on a monthly basis, a duty that she performed with unwavering impartiality. Under her direction, the statistical quality of reported indicators improved, as did the cooperation of the BLS with the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.
After her role as commissioner, she was the Chair of the Advisory Council on Unemployment Compensation, appointed by presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She also held a variety of other leadership positions, including president of the American Statistical Association, board member of the American Economic Association, and chair of a statistical committee for the OECD. Norwood was a trailblazer. In her honor, the University of Alabama at Birmingham created the Janet L. Norwood Award to recognize women in statistics.