UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Larry A. Wasserman, UPMC Professor of Statistics and Data Science at Carnegie Mellon University, will present the 2018 John M. Chemerda Lectures in Science on March 14 and 15 on the Penn State University Park campus. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

Wasserman will give a public lecture intended for a general audience titled “The Greatest Debate in the History of Science” at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, in 102 Thomas Building. In this talk, he will discuss the ongoing debate around how to define uncertainty and the practical consequences of using different approaches to uncertainty in statistical methods, for example when analyzing data from drug trials. He also will present a scientific lecture titled “High Dimensional Multinomials and Unsmooth Densities” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, in 104 Thomas Building.

In his research, Wasserman addresses both theoretical and applied topics in statistics. His theoretical work often involves providing a statistical foundation for algorithms in machine learning. Other areas of research include high-dimensional inference, nonparametric inference, and topological data analysis. Wasserman also has worked in astrostatistics, developing models to estimate the equation for the state of dark energy and to analyze cosmic microwave background radiation.

Wasserman earned a doctoral degree at the University of Toronto in 1988. In 1999, he received the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies Award, known as the “Nobel Prize of Statistics,” which is awarded to an outstanding researcher under the age of 40. In 2002, he was honored with the Prize in Statistics from the Centre de Recherches Mathématiques and the Statistical Society of Canada, and in 2005 he received the DeGroot Prize from the International Society for Bayesian Analysis for his book "All of Statistics: A Concise Course in Statistical Inference." Wasserman has authored two additional books, "All of Nonparametric Statistics" and "Topological Inference." Wasserman is Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The John M. Chemerda Lectures in Science are named in honor of John M. Chemerda, a chemist who earned his bachelor's degree at Penn State in 1935. Wasserman is the third statistician to present the Chemerda Lectures, with statisticians Stephen M. Stigler from the University of Chicago presenting in 2010 and John F. Nash Jr. from Princeton University presenting in 2003. The organizing committee for the 2018 lectures include faculty and staff from the Department of Statistics, including Laura Burghard, Ethan Fang, Runze Li, Melissa McCloskey, Kathy Smith, Bharath Sriperumbudur, and committee chair Lingzhou Xue.