Statistical Science

A Conversation with Lynne Billard

Nitis Mukhopadhyay

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Lynne Billard was born in Toowomba, Australia. She earned her B.Sc. (Honors I) in 1966, and a Ph.D. degree in 1969, both from the University of New South Wales, Australia. She is perhaps best known for her ground breaking research in the areas of HIV/AIDS and Symbolic Data Analysis. Broadly put, Professor Billard’s research interests include epidemic theory, stochastic processes, sequential analysis, time series analysis and symbolic data. She has written extensively in all these areas and more through numerous fundamental contributions. She has published more than 200 research papers in some of the leading international journals including Australian Journal of Statistics, Biometrika, Journal of American Statistical Association, Journal of Applied Probability, Journal of Royal Statistical Society, Journal of Time Series Analysis, Nature, Sequential Analysis, Statistical Science, Statistics in Medicine and Stochastic Processes and Their Applications, plus book chapters in a number of acclaimed edited volumes.

Professor Billard has (co-)edited or (co-)authored eight prestigious books including her authoritative text (co-authored with E. Diday), Symbolic Data Analysis: Conceptual Statistics and Data Mining (2006) published by Wiley. During the period 1969 through 1980, the career path took her to travel to University of Birmingham (U.K., 1969–1970), State University of New York at Buffalo (1971, 1974–1975), University of Waterloo (Canada, 1971–1974), Stanford University (California, 1974), Florida State University at Tallahassee (1975–1980), Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.A., 1979), University of California (Berkeley, 1979), Imperial College (1986), Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge (1993), and other prestigious places.

She had joined the Department of Statistics at Florida State University as an Associate Professor in 1975 and during 1976–1978 she served as the Associate Head there. She became a Professor at Florida State in 1980 but went on leave to visit the Department of Computer Science and Statistics at University of Georgia, Athens. She joined the same department in Georgia permanently as Professor of Statistics and Head in 1980. When the Department of Statistics was formed in Georgia under Professor Billard’s leadership, she became its Professor and Head (1984–1989). Since 1992, she has held the most prestigious and coveted position, the University Professor, in the University of Georgia.

She served as an Associate Editor for numerous journals including the Journal of American Statistical Association and Statistical Analysis and Data Mining. All her life, she has served extensively by holding high-level offices as well as memberships of both national and international committees at several scholarly international societies including the American Statistical Association (ASA), the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), International Biometrics Society (IBS) and Eastern North American Region (ENAR), Bernoulli Society and the International Statistical Institute (ISI). For example, Professor Billard was elected President of ENAR (1985), International Vice President (1993, 1996) and International President (1994, 1995) of IBS and President of ASA (1996).

She has earned many honors and awards, including Fellow of the IMS (1988), Fellow of the ASA (1980), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2001) and elected membership in the ISI (1980). Professor Billard received several prestigious awards including the S. S. Wilks Medal (1999) of the ASA. Its citation read, “For significant contributions to the theory and methodology of statistics and the advancement of scientific knowledge in a variety of fields, especially in the area of HIV/AIDS; for effective leadership on issues of public interest, particularly with respect to the decennial census; for energetic professional service nationally and internationally; and for influential dedication to the statistical education of both statisticians and the public at large.”

She was honored by the Founders Award (2003) from the ASA. She received the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) Elizabeth Scott Award (2008) and FN David Award (2013), as well as the Janet L Norwood Award (2011). In 2015, she was installed as an Honorary Member of the Statistical Society of Slovenia.

Professor Billard travels extensively to scientific conferences as an invited participant, works harder than many half her age, and continues to inspire through her writings and uniquely affectionate presence.

The following conversation began August 1, 2011, at the Joint Statistical Meetings held in Miami, Florida.

Article information

Statist. Sci. Volume 32, Number 1 (2017), 138-164.

First available in Project Euclid: 6 April 2017

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Mukhopadhyay, Nitis. A Conversation with Lynne Billard. Statist. Sci. 32 (2017), no. 1, 138--164. doi:10.1214/16-STS595.

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