Jurisprudence Section Luncheon

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.

Sources: Stephanie Domitrovich, JD, PhD, Section Chair, and Pamela King, JD, Section Secretary

Hello, everyone! We hope you signed up for our Jurisprudence Section luncheon. Our speaker is Professor Hal Stern, who is one of the principal investigators in the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE), a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-funded Center of Excellence, centered at Iowa State University, with researchers at the University of Virginia, Carnegie Mellon University, and University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine). In May of 2015, NIST awarded $20 million to this team of about 30 statisticians and legal professionals to help develop tools for analyzing the strength of forensic science methodologies. CSAFE is collaborating with NIST statisticians on this project.

The title of Professor Stern’s presentation is:  “A Statistician’s View of the State of Forensic Science.” The 2009 National Research Council (NRC) report on forensic science and the 2016 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report each raised questions about the scientific underpinning for the methods used to analyze and report on certain types of forensic evidence. The field of statistics is concerned with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of quantitative data. Statistics, through collaboration with scientists in other fields and with forensic practitioners, has much to contribute to the ongoing discussion of how to improve forensic practice in the United States. This presentation provides a statistician’s perspective on the issues associated with analysis and presentation of forensic evidence.

Hal Stern is Professor of Statistics at UC Irvine. Stern came to UC Irvine in 2002 as the founding chair of the Department of Statistics and has served as Dean of the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences from 2010-16. Prior to coming to UC Irvine, he had faculty appointments at Iowa State University and Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Statistical Association, and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and has served on several expert committees for The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Stern received his BS degree in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981, and his MS and PhD degrees in Statistics from Stanford University in 1985 and 1987, respectively.

Within statistics, Professor Stern is known for his research work in Bayesian statistical methodology and model assessment techniques. He is a co-author of the highly-regarded graduate level statistics textbook, Bayesian Data Analysis. His current areas of interest include applications of statistical methods in medicine, social science, and forensic science.