Wolfinger was chosen for his "path-breaking statistical software used to analyze correlated data, promotion of statistical reasoning in science, and leadership in analysis of gene expression data," the AAAS said. Wolfinger serves as the Director of Research and Development for genomics at JMP.
SAS Co-Founder and Executive Vice President John Sall said Wolfinger is "one of the very best researchers and statistical software developers I have ever known, and his contributions to the field have been huge."
Sall praised Wolfinger's important work in mixed models: "One of the biggest problems in new drug approval submissions was the use of the ancient rule of last-value-carried-forward to cover for missing data. This distorted analyses in a way that would lead to falsely optimistic conclusions on the effectiveness of drugs for degenerative diseases, a tragic situation. But it was hard to analyze data any other way. The breakthrough was to switch to using mixed models, which enables you to use all your data without any carry-forwards. But none of this was possible until the arrival of full mixed models implementations in FDA-trusted commercial software, and that was due to Russ Wolfinger."
Wolfinger's work with mixed models has advanced the field of genomics as well. "Russ pioneered the use of mixed models for adjustments and then estimation of gene expression rates for large-scale problems. This has led to a number of publications and to Russ’ work on the commission for microarray quality control (MAQC). Statistics for microarrays has since become a popular field for new research, one that Russ continues to contribute to," Sall said.
The AAAS Council elected 701 members as 2012 Fellows of AAAS in recognition of their contributions to science and technology.
“Big data accumulation in the life sciences is increasingly driving this sector toward technologies SAS has been developing for decades. This honor helps get the word out that we can handle and solve the challenges created by this information explosion,” said Wolfinger.
Wolfinger was grateful for the honor.
"I’d like to thank Professor Bernie Devlin of the University of Pittsburgh for his exceptional sponsorship, and Jim Goodnight and John Sall for their inspirational leadership," he said.