Trevor Hastie (Distinguished Old Rhodian Award)

For his overwhelming contribution to statistical innovation, Trevor Hastie is awarded the Distinguished Old Rhodian Award 2015.  Trevor graduated from Rhodes University with a BSc (Hons) in Statistics in 1976.

During his postgraduate studies he spent time at the University of Cape Town, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Biomath Department at Oxford University and finally Stanford University, where he received his PhD in 1984. In 1986, he joined (what was then) At&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. There, together with John Chambers and others, he created statistical modelling software in the S language, which has gone on, through its adoption of the R software, to become perhaps the most widely-used statistical modelling tool in the world. It is taught and used widely in many departments here at Rhodes, where the link to Trevor serves as a wonderful example of what might be possible on the back of a Rhodes education.

In 1994, Trevor returned to Stanford University as Professor in Statistics and Biostatistics, eventually earning an appointment, in 2013, as the John A. Overdeck Professor of Mathematical Science. Building on where he left off at Bell Labs, Trevor continued to play a leading role in advancing Statistical Science, and its application. A few examples of the techniques that he helped to co-develop include widely-used analytical tools like Generalized Additive Models, object-based computation, and Elastic Net Models. Through these and other tools he played a pioneering role in the development, and crucially, practical use, of the field of Statistical learning. Through his books (which includes the all-time highest grossing Statistical Springer text), publications, statistical scripts and applied research, Trevor has put modern computer-intensive statistical methods in the hands of disciplines as diverse as business, medicine, ecology and health care. Today, the techniques he has helped develop are used widely, for example in modern computation search-engine and advertising algorithms. During his career he has received numerous accolades and awards, most recently the Emmanuel Parzon prize for Statistical Innovation, an award “in recognition of outstanding careers in the discipline and profession of Statistics.”

His affection for his alma mater is evidenced in him serving on the board of the Rhodes USA trust for fourteen years.

As a leading statistician, Trevor is in the top 10 “most cited” list among all mathematical scientists, he embodies the ethos of our institution and is quick to acknowledge his place of undergraduate learning. He has demonstrated all the qualities expected of a recipient of the Distinguished Old Rhodian Award. Rhodes University is proud to bestow this honour on Trevor Hastie.