Abdel El-Shaarawi

Research Scientist, National Water Research Institute at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters

PhD 1973 Statistics

Abdel El-Shaarawi
A notable alumnus of the University of Waterloo is Dr. Abdel El-Shaarawi. After completing his PhD in Statistics in 1973, Dr. El-Shaarawi went to work as a research scientist at the National Water Research Institute at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington. He is also professor at McMaster University and was the founding editor-in-chief of the academic journal, Environmetrics.

Originally from Egypt, Dr. El-Shaarawi completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in statistics from Cairo University. During his PhD, most of his work was focused on biostatistics. Dr. El-Shaarawi says “after graduation, I was looking for positions that placed an emphasis on the application of mathematics and statistics in ways that would be useful to society. I thought that the environment is important and in need of quantitative science. It relates to statistics and to different aspects of health”. His job as a research scientist involves using statistical methods to analyze the effects pollution has on the environment, specifically water.

According to Dr. El-Shaarawi, one of the best parts of his job has been the opportunity to shape the field of environmental statistics. A nascent field when he began his professional career, environmental statistics offered Dr. El-Shaarawi the opportunity to forge new directions for the discipline.

Through the International Development Research Centre, Dr. El-Shaarawi has also worked to provide clean water for developing and emerging countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, and Brazil. This project involves providing inexpensive methods to citizens to test and understand the quality of their water prior to consumption.

Dr. El-Shaarawi is also the editor of the Encyclopedia of Environmetrics, which was released as a 3500-page set with four volumes – but will be updated to six volumes in a new edition. Also, he founded The International Environmetrics Society (TIES) which has held conferences on every continent. For all of his remarkable achievements in the study of the environment, Dr. El-Shaarawi was awarded the University of Waterloo Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Achievement Medal in 2008. The Abdel El-Shaarawi Young Researcher’s Award was also established to honour his contribution to environmental statistics.

In Dr. El-Shaarawi’s opinion, “Waterloo has the best department of statistics in the country; there is no doubt about that. Waterloo has one of the strongest programs in terms of what is available to students and it prepares students to go out and be capable in many situations. It gives students a strong outlook to the potential areas they can work”. Clearly, Waterloo has provided Dr. El Shaarawi with many resources to help him become so remarkably successful. He advises math students to “learn as much as you can to strengthen your background and try to learn about the many applications of mathematics”. And another reason why Dr. El-Shaarawi thinks Waterloo is wonderful – “all the professors are very friendly people”. Faculty of Mathematics Alumni Achievement Medal