Edward J. Wegman, 67MS, 68PhD, has skillfully used the life of the mind to transform the role of machines. The visionary professor and statistician has blended theory and practice throughout a lifetime of teaching, research, and discovery. He built his career, which gave birth to the field of computational statistics, on experience he gained at the University of Iowa.
When the Saint Louis, Missouri, native finished his undergraduate degree in mathematics at Saint Louis University in 1965, he headed for the UI campus. It was here at Iowa that Wegman began narrowing his passion for numbers into the field of mathematical statistics. Combined with his talent, this passion eventually earned the UI graduate a faculty position in the premier Department of Statistics at the University of North Carolina (UNC).
During his decade at UNC, Wegman researched theories of mathematical statistics, a background he used to inform his work in the Office of Naval Research (ONR), which he joined in 1978. He began at ONR as director of the Statistics and Probability Program and became head of its Mathematical Sciences Division in 1982. These positions, which gave Wegman responsibility for research programs in a range of mathematical fields, ultimately allowed him to revolutionize contemporary statistics. His ONR research helped him coin the phrase computational statistics and develop a high-profile research program around the concept that computing resources could transform statistical techniques and methodologies.
This innovation not only launched a new field, but also propelled Wegman to new heights of professional recognition. He joined the faculty at George Mason University in 1986, the same year in which he created the Center for Computational Statistics and developed a masters degree program in statistical science.
More recently, Wegman has helped establish the Institute for Computational Science and Informatics—as well as a new doctoral program in computational sciences and informatics. He currently is the Bernard J. Dunn Professor of Information Technology and Applied Statistics and the director of the Center for Computational Statistics at George Mason University. Wegman was also the founding chair of the Department of Applied and Engineering Statistics.
Despite the demands of such academic commitments, Wegman still has found time to serve as consultant for a variety of private-sector and governmental organizations, including the Strategic Defense Initiatives Innovative Science and Technology Office. He also has been the associate editor of seven academic journals, a member of numerous editorial boards, and the author of more than 160 papers and five books.
Wegmans numerous honors and accolades include his election as a fellow of the American Statistical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Washington Academy of Science, and the Institute of Mathematical Science. In addition, he has received numerous military and academic awards for outstanding research, teaching, and service.
Edward J. Wegman has been a guiding force in the evolution of statistics into modern computational science. This achievement, which has broad applications across disciplines, is just one of many that show the UI graduates commitment to the life of the mind.