Dr. Clifford H. Spiegelman, distinguished professor of statistics at Texas A&M University, has been designated a Regents Professor for 2018-19 by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
Spiegelman, a leader in the field of statistical and environmental forensics, is one of 13 A&M System faculty members who were nominated for the prestigious appointment, approved as part of the A&M System Board of Regents’ October meeting, held on the Texas A&M campus. Eight agency service, extension or research professionals within the A&M System also were recognized with the Regents Fellows Service Award.
The Board established the Regents Professor Award program in 1996 to recognize employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas. To date, 252 faculty members have been named Regents Professors. Spiegelman ranks as only the seventh within the College of Science (Dr. Robert Clark, physics, 1998; Dr. Sherry J. Yennello, chemistry, 2007; Dr. Michael J. Benedik, biology, 2012; Dr. Harold Boas, mathematics, 2014; Dr. David Bergbreiter, chemistry, 2016; Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff, 2017) to merit the honor. An eighth — Dr. Ryland Young, biochemistry and biophysics, 2016 — is a joint professor of biology.
Nominees must be full-time professors or senior-level professionals who have held that rank in the A&M System for at least five years and have produced a distinguished record of teaching, research and/or service. The selection process begins with a call for nominations from the chancellor, after which an internal selection committee is formed within each institution or agency. Final nominations are put forth to the chief executive officer of each respective entity and then subjected to a System-level review consisting of academic vice chancellors and past recipients of the awards. Finally, nominations are forwarded to the chancellor and the board for final approval.
Along with the perpetual Regents Professor title for the duration of their A&M System service, recipients are recognized with a $9,000 stipend and a commemorative medallion that is presented along with an inscribed nameplate and certificate encased in a hand-crafted wooden shadow box.
“These awards recognize and honor the exemplary accomplishments and contributions of our faculty, extension or research professionals,” said Elaine Mendoza, A&M System Board of Regents Chairman. “Though they vary in focus and location, these individuals exemplify the commitment to excellence in research and service that sets A&M System employees apart.”
Spiegelman joined the Texas A&M Department of Statistics in 1987 and was appointed as a distinguished professor of statistics in 2009. In addition, he is a senior research scientist with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Since 2017, he has served as the inaugural Official Statistician of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission as well as the statistical advisor to the Texas Forensic Science Commission.
Spiegelman is a founder of the field of chemometrics, the science of using data to extract information from chemical systems by data-driven means to investigate and address problems in chemistry, biochemistry and chemical engineering. He was one of the four founders of the international journal Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems, which in 2017 celebrated his 30-plus years of service to both the publication and the discipline he helped create with a virtual special issue in his honor. Spiegelman also was instrumental in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) decision to stop using compositional bullet lead analysis after he demonstrated it to be flawed. He routinely testifies in criminal matters related to various aspects of statistics, flawed forensic science, probability and the law and serves as the key statistical advisor to the City of Houston’s crime lab.
Beyond traditional research achievements, Spiegelman is driven by societal service, as evidenced by his body of work focused on problems of local, state, national and international importance, along with his desire to communicate the results to help audiences at all levels better understand its broader significance. He has been quoted in many contexts by national media, most notably with regard to his research showing that some of the forensic techniques commonly presented as evidence in the justice system, including bullet fragment analysis, are flawed from a statistical point of view. He consults with the Innocence Project, the national non-profit legal clinic dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA test and other post-verdict methods, and also works with judges and attorneys to broaden their understanding of statistics and the critical effect it often has on case outcomes and broader issues at hand.
Spiegelman is a fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) as well as an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI). A two-time recipient of the ASA Statistics in Chemistry Award for best paper, Spiegelman also has received the 2007 Jerome Sacks Award for Outstanding Cross-Disciplinary Research recognizing innovation in statistical science and the San Antonio Chapter of the ASA’s 2016 Don Owen Award for excellence in research, contributions to editorial activities and service to the statistical community. Most recently, he was honored with the Texas A&M chapter of Sigma Xi’s 2019 Outstanding Science Communicator Award.
Find additional information on the Regents Professor Award and a list of past recipients.
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About The Texas A&M University System: The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $6.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $996 million in FY 2017 and helped drive the state’s economy. To learn more, visit https://www.tamus.edu/.
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