James R. Thompson Distinguished Lecture Series

The Department of Statistics at Rice University has established the James R. Thompson Distinguished Lecture Series and the James R. Thompson Student Award in Statistics to honor the life of the Rice professor and founding chair of our department in 1987.

The goal of the series is to bring to campus internationally recognized scholars in the field of statistics to deliver talks to multidisciplinary audiences on topics of broad interest. The lecture series is supported by an endowed James R. Thompson Memorial Fund through the generous contributions of family, friends, and colleagues. This series is NISS Sponsored​ and Affiliate Award Fund Eligible.

The James R. Thompson Student Award is presented to the recipient(s) at the annual lecture event.

Upcoming Lecture

The 2023 James R. Thompson Distinguished Lecture is schedule to take place:

January 30, 2023
at 4pm
"Data Science To Address The Health Impacts Of Climate Change"
with Francesca Dominici, Harvard University
In person in McMurtry Auditorium, Duncan Hall
Small reception to follow after seminar

Learn more about this event →

About the Speaker

Francesca Dominici
Harvard University
"Data Science To Address The Health Impacts Of Climate Change"

Francesca Dominici

In this talk, I will provide an overview of data science methods, including methods for Bayesian analysis, causal inference, and machine learning, to inform environmental policy. This is based on my work analyzing a data platform of unprecedented size and representativeness. The platform includes more than 500 million observations on the health experience of over 95% of the US population older than 65 years old linked to air pollution exposure and several confounders. Finally, I provide an overview of studies on air pollution exposure, environmental racism, wildfires, and how they also can exacerbate the vulnerability to COVID-19.

Bio: Francesca Dominici, PhD is the Director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative, at Harvard University and the Clarence James Gamble Professor of Biostatistics, Population and Data Science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Co-Editor in Chief of the Harvard Data Science Review. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and of the International Society of Mathematical Statistics. She leads an interdisciplinary group of scientists to address important questions in environmental health science, climate change, and health policy. Her contributions to the field have been remarkable including more than 250 peer-reviewed published articles, and has provided her knowledge on the topics on joint panels with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and European Commission). Dr. Dominici has provided the scientific community and policymakers with comprehensive and compelling evidence on the adverse health effects of air pollution, noise pollution, and climate change. Her studies have directly and routinely impacted air quality policy. Dr. Dominici was recognized in Thomson Reuter’s 2019 list of the most highly cited researchers–ranking in the top 1% of cited scientists in her field. Her work has been covered by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, BBC, the Guardian, CNN, and NPR. In April 2020 she has been awarded the Karl E. Peace Award for Outstanding Statistical Contributions for the Betterment of Society by the American Statistical Association. She is an advocate for the career advancement of women faculty, and her work on the Johns Hopkins University Committee on the Status of Women earned her the campus Diversity Recognition Award in 2009. At the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, she has led the Committee for the Advancement of Women Faculty.

Past Lectures

  • 2022 - Adrian Raftery, Boeing International Professor of Statistics & Sociology Founding Director, Center of Statistics and Social Sciences, University of Washington in Seattle
  • 2019 - "Simulation: A plot twist" - Mark Hansen, Director, David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation & Professor of Journalism, Columbia Journalism School
  • 2018 - "The Critical Role of Statistics in Evaluating Forensic Evidence" - Karen Kafadar, University of Virginia