PK Sen honored as featured speaker at Pfizer Colloquium

Dr. PK Sen

Dr. PK Sen

Pranab Kumar Sen, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, will be the featured speaker at the 23rd Pfizer Colloquium Series at the University of Connecticut-Storrs. The two-day event begins Thursday, Nov. 1.

The Pfizer Colloquia by Distinguished Statisticians in Honor of Dr. David S. Salsburg was established in the late 1970s at the University of Connecticut-Storrs under the leadership of the late Professor Harry O. Posten (University of Connecticut-Storrs) and Dr. David S. Salsburg (Pfizer Global Research and Development- Groton, Conn.). Each year, an organizing committee invites the “most distinguished statistical scientist” to deliver a special lecture as a featured guest of honor.

The lecture is followed by Conversations with Distinguished Statisticians in Memory of Professor Harry O. Posten, a discussion between the featured guest and two other statisticians. On day two, the American Statistical Association (ASA) assembles a crew to re-produce and film the lecture and discussion in a private studio; this film is placed in the ASA’s historical archive. The colloquium receives joint-funding from Pfizer Global Research and Development-Groton, Conn., the Department of Statistics at the University of Connecticut-Storrs and the ASA.

Born in Calcutta, India, Sen joined the UNC faculty in the mid-1960s. He became professor of biostatistics and statistics in 1970 and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor in 1982. At the time of this article, Sen has contributed to more than 25 textbooks and authored or co-authored more than 640 research publications. He has supervised more than 80 biostatistics and mathematical statistics doctoral dissertations since 1969.

According to the Pfizer committee, ” [Dr. Sen] is one of the very rare breed of exceptionally deep scholars who has made breakthrough contributions in applied statistical sciences on numerous occasions. His list of major publications in leading international journals includes more than 600 items and too many of them are regarded as genuine classics.”

Sen’s abstract is titled “A pedestrian’s lost horizon in the wiener wald of statistical science.” It will encompass his life in statistics and the many changes he has witnessed over the years.

“With my life-long association with statistics, biostatistics and public health, and the recognition given by the ASA, this theme is a natural one to depict my life, work and devotion to statistical science,” Sen said. “It emphasizes the interaction of statistical methodology with clinical trials, biomedical studies and genomics. It also reflects the chronological change in the pedagogy of statistics and its aftermath.”

His reading will be followed by a 90-minute discussion between Sen and two distinguished statisticians. The two participants chosen for this year’s colloquium incidentally are alumni of UNC’s biostatistics department. Dr. Malay Ghosh, (PhD, 1969) and Dr. George W. Williams (PhD, 1972) each received his degree under Sen’s tutelage. Ghosh, currently a professor of statistics at the University of Florida, was one of Sen’s first doctoral students.

Among previous distinguished colloquium speakers, other statisticians from UNC include Norman L. Johnson in 1995 and a special four-part presentation by Raj Chandra Bose in 1983.

More information about the event is available online.

To purchase the lecture and discussion from the ASA, contact Rick Peterson,, or visit the video website.




UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications.