An internationally respected Harvard University statistician and National Academy of Medicine and Sciences member renowned for her work at the intersection of computer science, mathematics and statistics will visit the Texas A&M University campus next week as the guest speaker for the biennial H.O. Hartley Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Texas A&M Department of Statistics.
Susan A. Murphy, Mallinckrodt Professor of Statistics and of Computer Science in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a Radcliffe Alumnae Professor in the Harvard Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, will present a 3:30 p.m. public lecture, “We Used RL; But Did it Work?” on Monday (Dec. 6) in the Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium within the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy. The presentation is free and open to the public.
The H.O. Hartley Memorial Lectures were established by the Department of Statistics in 1988 to honor Herman Otto Hartley, who came to Texas A&M in 1963 as a distinguished professor of statistics and founded Texas A&M’s Institute of Statistics, serving as its inaugural director until his retirement in 1977. Hartley built his initial faculty of four into a group of 16, directed more than 30 doctoral students, and published more than 75 papers during this period. In addition, he served as president of the American Statistical Association (ASA) in 1979 prior to his death on December 30, 1980.
Murphy, who grew up in the countryside of southern Louisiana, earned her bachelors of science in mathematics from Louisiana State University in 1980 and her doctorate in statistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1989. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 2017, she was the H.E. Robbins Distinguished University Professor of Statistics (2004-2017), a research professor at the Institute for Social Research (2001-2017) and a professor of psychiatry (2005-2017), all at the University of Michigan.
Murphy’s research focuses on the development of data analytic methods for sequential decision-making to help individuals manage chronic health disorders. Her expertise goes into the design and evaluation of medical treatments that adapt to individuals, including some that use mobile devices to deliver tailored interventions for drug addicts, smokers and heart disease patients. Her related work within the Statistical Reinforcement Learning Lab at Harvard is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. She and her lab group currently are engaged in a number of clinical trials that use real-time algorithms developed by her team to learn and optimize the delivery of digital interventions.
In Monday’s presentation, Murphy will address reinforcement learning, which provides an attractive suite of online learning methods for personalizing such interventions in a digital health age, and methods of evaluating their application and effectiveness.
Murphy is a former president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) and the Bernoulli Society for Mathematical Statistics and Probability. She was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine (2014) and the National Academy of Sciences (2016) for her distinguished and continuing achievements in original science. In addition, she was recognized for her work on trial designs and related analytics with a 2013 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.
A fellow of the ASA and the IMS, Murphy’s additional career honors include the 2021 Van Wijngaarden Award, the 2019 Royal Statistical Society Guy Medal in Silver, the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute-Statistical Society of Australia 2018 Lecturer, the 2018 R.A. Fisher Award and Lectureship and the Precision Medicine World Conference 2018 Luminary Award.
Learn more about Murphy and her work in this September 2020 Harvard faculty spotlight.