Rao receives 34th honorary doctoral degree from University of Colombo

Penn State's C.R. Rao, emeritus holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics and long recognized as one of the world's top statisticians, has been honored with an honorary doctor of science degree by the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka. Rao was presented with the degree on July 28, in a special convocation ceremony. This is the 34th honorary degree he has received from universities in 19 countries spanning six continents.

Rao is recognized internationally as a pioneer who laid the foundation of modern statistics, with multifaceted distinctions as a mathematician, researcher, scientistand teacher. His contributions to mathematics and to the theory and application of statistics during the last six decades have become part of graduate and postgraduate courses in statistics, econometrics, electrical engineering and many other disciplines at most universities throughout the world. Rao's research in multivariate analysis, for example, is useful in economic planning, weather prediction, medical diagnosis, tracking the movements of spy planes and monitoring the movements of spacecraft. Technical terms bearing his name appear in all standard textbooks on statistics, econometrics, and engineering. Examples of these terms are the Cramer-Rao Inequality, Rao-Blackwellization, Fisher-Rao Theorem, Rao Distance, Rao's Orthoganal Arrays, and Rao's Score test. A book Rao wrote in 1965, "Linear Statistical Inference and Its Applications," is one of the most-often-cited books in science.

In addition to the 34 honorary degrees that he has been awarded, Rao has been honored with the Royal Statistical Society's 2011 Guy Medal in Gold, the United Kingdom's highest award given to a statistician for innovative research in statistics and applications. He is the first scientist born in an Asian country to receive the award. Rao also received the India Science Award for his significant contributions to the field of statistical science in 2010. In 2003, he was honored with the first Mahalanobis International Award in Statistics from the International Statistical Institute and the Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal by the Indian National Science Academy. In 2002, he was honored by President George W. Bush with the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to an American scientist for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. In 1989, the American Statistical Association awarded him the Wilks Medal.

In 2001, Rao was honored by the government of India with the Padma Vibhushan Award -- the country's second-highest civilian honor -- for outstanding contributions to science, engineering, and statistics; with being selected in 2000 as the namesake for a National Award to be presented to India's outstanding young statisticians; and with the highest honor bestowed by the University of Visva-Bharati, the 2002 Desikottama award, in recognition of his "enormous contributions in the field of statistics and its applications."

Rao is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Science in the United States, a Fellow of the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, and a member of the Indian National Science Academy, the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and the Developing World Academy of Sciences.

He has authored or co-authored 14 books -- some of which have been translated into several languages -- and more than 300 research papers published in scientific journals. He has supervised the doctoral research of 50 students who have, in turn, trained another 390 doctoral students themselves. Most of his former students now are employed in universities and other research organizations worldwide, many becoming research leaders in their areas of specialization.

Rao earned his doctoral and doctor of science degrees in 1948 at Cambridge University in England. He came to the United States in 1978 after serving as the director of the Indian Statistical Institute, where he had held various research and administrative positions since 1943. In 1982 he established the Center for Multivariate Analysis at the University of Pittsburgh, where he continues as an adjunct professor. Rao joined the Penn State faculty in 1988 as a professor and holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics. He became the Emeritus Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Statistics in 2009. He is the founding director of Penn State's Center for Multivariate Statistics.

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Last Updated August 15, 2011