Tibshirani Honored With Prestigious Mortimer Spiegelman Award

Aaron AupperleeMonday, September 19, 2022

Ryan Tibshirani, a co-founder and co-director of the Delphi Research Group, will receive the Mortimer Spiegelman Award for his outstanding contributions to public health and statistics.

Ryan Tibshirani, a co-founder and co-director of Carnegie Mellon University's Delphi Research Group, will receive the Mortimer Spiegelman Award for his outstanding contributions to public health and statistics.

Presented annually by the Applied Public Health Statistics Section of the American Public Health Association, the award honors a statistician under 40 who is advancing the field of health statistics, particularly public health statistics.

Tibshirani helped lead the Delphi Group's efforts to collect and analyze data pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting COVIDcast repository contains a diverse set of real-time, geographically detailed data different from that collected by typical public health reporting. The collection includes data from deidentified medical insurance claims, more than 100 million responses to the COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey distributed through Facebook, and Google searches for information about the loss of taste and smell. 

COVIDcast is unique in its breadth, depth, scope and timeliness. The effort attempts to fill the needs of policymakers, epidemiological modelers and health researchers who require up-to-date data on the pandemic and public behavior related to it. The data helps public health officials understand how to save lives and safely reopen public life, and informs researchers on the social, economic and health effects of the pandemic. The work could change the future of pandemic forecasting.

"I am truly honored to receive the award, but what Delphi accomplished was the result of many people who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic on COVIDcast," said Tibshirani, a professor of machine learning and statistics during the time Delphi created COVIDcast. "Within weeks of COVID-19's initial spread, the Delphi Group came together to shift its attention to the pandemic and brought together public health data on a scale never seen before. We are hopeful that our effort serves as a blueprint for what public health surveillance can and should look like in the future, and are still working hard to make that a reality — to help in the fight against epidemics and future pandemics."

Tibshirani moved to California in the summer of 2022 for family reasons and joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, as a professor in the Department of Statistics. He remains a co-director of Delphi, and is now an adjunct professor in the Machine Learning Department at CMU. Tibshirani will receive the award at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association this fall in Boston.

For More Information

Aaron Aupperlee | 412-268-9068 | aaupperlee@cmu.edu