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Joe Watson receives the 2019 Marshall Prize

We are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2019 Marshall Prize is PhD student Joe Watson.

The prize, which is awarded to a Statistics graduate student who has achieved great distinction, honours Professor Emeritus Albert Marshall for his scholarly contributions and his role in establishing the Department of Statistics at UBC.

Joe is in the last year of the PhD program with co-supervisors Drs. James V. Zidek and Marie Auger-Méthé. He has been involved in a range of research projects throughout his program, building expertise in spatial and spatio-temporal statistics, in particular with applications to environmental monitoring, ecology, and animal movement. Joe is also an expert in causal inference, point-process modelling, and novel applications for r-INLA.

With Jim Zidek, Joe studied the problem of preferential sampling. If not accounted for in the model, this type of non-random sampling can cause severe bias. Jim and Joe developed a general framework for both detecting and correcting for preferential sampling within a spatio-temporal setting and applied it to particulate air pollution. This work is in press with the Annals of Applied Statistics. 

With Marie Auger-Méthé, Joe developed a methodology for species distribution modeling. Joe’s research brought him work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and with Sea Mammal Research Unit Consulting to apply his techniques to describe the spatial distribution of Southern Resident Killer Whales. Joe has extended his work to integrate multiple data streams previously impossible to model simultaneously.

In a completely different area, Joe worked with Dr. Gaby Cohen Freue on high-dimensional instrumental variable estimators. Joe led the preparation of a manuscript, which describes the landscape of the field and contains many new and interesting results.

Joe is well known for his willingness to share his expertise, be it advising graduate students in the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries or mentoring students in the Statistics Department. In addition, Joe was a coordinator in the Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) fellowship program in 2018 and 2019. This summer program, hosted by the Data Science Institute at UBC, provides an interdisciplinary data science research experience for UBC undergraduate and graduate students.

Congratulations, Joe!

March 17, 2020