Martin Bradbury Wilk was born on December 18, 1922, in Montréal, Québec, Canada. He completed a B.Eng. degree in Chemical Engineering in 1945 at McGill University and worked as a Research Engineer on the Atomic Energy Project for the National Research Council of Canada from 1945 to 1950. He then went to Iowa State College, where he completed a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. degree in Statistics in 1953 and 1955, respectively. After a one-year post-doc with John Tukey, he became Assistant Director of the Statistical Techniques Research Group at Princeton University in 1956–1957, and then served as Professor and Director of Research in Statistics at Rutgers University from 1959 to 1963. In parallel, he also had a 14-year career at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey. From 1956 to 1969, he was in turn Member of Technical Staff, Head of the Statistical Models and Methods Research Department, and Statistical Director in Management Sciences Research. He wrote a number of influential papers in statistical methodology during that period, notably testing procedures for normality (the Shapiro–Wilk statistic) and probability plotting techniques for multivariate data. In 1970, Martin moved into higher management levels of the American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) Company. He occupied various positions culminating as Assistant Vice-President and Director of Corporate Planning. In 1980, he returned to Canada and became the first professional statistician to serve as Chief Statistician. His accomplishments at Statistics Canada were numerous and contributed to a resurgence of the institution’s international standing. He played a crucial role in the reinstatement of the Cabinet-cancelled 1986 Census. He remained active after his retirement, serving as a Senior Advisor to the Privy Council Office as well as on several national commissions. In addition, he chaired the Canadian National Task Forces on Tourism Data and on Health Information. Martin is a former President of the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC) and Vice-President of the American Statistical Association (ASA). He is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute and an honorary member of the SSC. He has received many honors, including the George Snedecor Prize, the Jack Youden Prize, the F.G. Brander Memorial Award, the SSC Gold Medal, and a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Citation from Iowa State University. He is a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the American Statistical Association, the Royal Statistical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the New York Academy of Science. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1999 for his “insightful guidance on important matters related to our country’s national statistical system.”
The following conversation took place at Martin Wilk’s home in Salem, Oregon, October 6–7, 2005.
"A Conversation with Martin Bradbury Wilk." Statist. Sci. 25 (2) 258 - 273, May 2010. https://doi.org/10.1214/08-STS272