David H. Blackwell

Dr. David Blackwell is a renowned statistician and mathematician. The first African American to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 1965, Dr. Blackwell’s most well-known contribution to the world of statistics is the Rao-Blackwell Theorem, which establishes an approach for finding the best unbiased estimator. He is a co-author of the book, Theory of Games and Statistical Decisions and has published over 80 publications and received a dozen honorary doctoral degrees. At the age of 22, Professor Blackwell received his doctoral degree from the University of Illinois- Urbana Champagne in 1941. Following graduation, he received the Rosenwall Postdoctoral Fellowship to attend the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton University. Dr. Blackwell taught at Southern University and Clark College (currently called the Clark Atlanta University). In 1944, he joined Howard University, where he published 20 publications and became the chair of the mathematics department. In 1954, he joined the statistics faculty at the University of California-Berkeley, chairing the statistics department for four years and advising over 50 doctoral students before retiring in 1989.

Professor Blackwell has served as president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the International Association for Statistics in Physical Sciences and the Bernoulli Society. He also has served as the Vice President of the American Statistical Association and the American Mathematical Society. He received the John von Neumann Theory Prize from the Operations Research Society of America in 1979 for his work in dynamic programming and the R A Fisher Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies in 1986. Five years ago, the Blackwell-Tapia lectureship was established in his honor to celebrate and honor the success of diversity in mathematical sciences.