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Professor emeritus receives honorary degree from University of Saskatchewan

A noted statistician, Agnes M. Herzberg researches the statistical design of experiments including contributions to the design of clinical trials in medicine.

Agnes M. Herzberg, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen’s, received an honorary degree from the University of Saskatchewan on June 6.

[Agnes M. Herzberg]
Professor Emeritus Agnes M. Herzberg received an honorary degree from the University of Saskatchewan. (Photo by V. Tony Hauser)

Dr. Herzberg received her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at Queen’s and then earned her master’s and PhD degrees from the University of Saskatchewan. She was one of eight honorary degree recipients during convocation week.

While she was unable to make the trip, Dr. Herzberg recorded her speech which was played at the ceremony. She spoke to the new graduates about the importance of education, independent thought, intellectual curiosity, and thinking in the long term.

Dr. Herzberg began her academic career with a National Research Council of Canada Post-Doctorate Overseas Fellowship at Birkbeck College and Imperial College of Science and Technology, colleges of the University of London (1966-1968). She then became a lecturer at Imperial College (1968-1988). During these years, she accepted brief engagements at the University of California, Berkeley (1975); University of Washington, Seattle (1977) and the Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1981). She came back to Queen’s in 1988 and was appointed a professor emeritus in 2004.

Dr. Herzberg’s research interests include the statistical design of experiments and contributions to the design of clinical trials in medicine. Recently, she collaborated with fellow Queen’s faculty member Ram Murty on a paper examining the properties of the Sudoku puzzle, including its potential for data compression.

Believing that individuals are enriched by exchanges with those in other disciplines, Dr. Herzberg introduced the idea of inviting scientists and others to statistical conferences. As a result she organized the Conference on Statistics, Science and Public Policy, held annually at Herstmonceux Castle in England since 1996. At the conference, which honours the work of her father, Gerhard Herzberg, winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, a diverse mix of scientists, politicians, civil servants and journalists from many countries address significant policy issues. The conferences are summarized in proceedings that Dr. Herzberg edits herself.

Dr. Herzberg was the founding editor of Short Book Reviews, a publication of the International Statistical Institute and during her 26 years of editorship, the journal handled over 12,500 volumes. Her participation in the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC) included serving as the organization’s’ president (1991-92) and as a member of many committees. In 2008 she was elected to the Royal Society of Canada “for her pioneering contributions to statistics”.

Dr. Herzberg is a generous supporter of not only academic but also cultural projects, and her worldwide circle of colleagues and friends represents her far-reaching interests. She is an inspired and inspiring model of loyalty and commitment to the individuals and institutions that have been part of her life.