Professor Matthias Schonlau wins prestigious Humboldt Prize

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Matthias SchonlauA professor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science has been named a winner of the Humboldt Research Award, better known as the Humboldt Prize, a lifetime achievement award for internationally renowned scientists.

Dr. Matthias Schonlau is only the second Canadian statistician to have won the prestigious award, after Christian Genest of McGill University.

“I’m grateful to the Humboldt Foundation for this award,” Dr. Schonlau says. “When something like this happens, it just reminds you that you’re having an impact. It’s incredibly gratifying.”

Dr. Schonlau’s current research program focuses on survey methodology for open-ended questions. He incorporates insights from applied computer science and natural language processing to address practical issues in survey methodology.

Before joining the University of Waterloo as a faculty member, he worked in industry for the RAND Corporation. Dr. Schonlau maintains close connections with what is happening in industry and his research often addresses practical problems arising in the practice of running social science surveys.

“In my time in industry and later in the university, I’ve been fortunate to have wonderful and supportive colleagues,” he continues. “Arie Kapteyn, now professor of economics and director of the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, was a great mentor to me and supported my early work. And I am impressed the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science was keen on hiring someone with different experiences to add to the department’s strength.”

“This really is a milestone for me and it invigorates my research.”

Read more about the Humboldt Prize on the foundation’s website.