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Emeritus Faculty Profile

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Bruce William Turnbull

  • Bruce William Turnbull
  • Dept: Operations Research and Information Engineering
  • Title: Professor Emeritus
  • Address: 282 Frank HT Rhodes Hall
  • Phone: 607 255-9131
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Bruce Turnbull received the B.S. from Cambridge University in 1967 and the Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1971 After serving on the faculty at Stanford University and at the University of Oxford, he joined Cornell University in 1976, where he is currently Professor in the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering where he previously served as Acting Director. From 2000--2002, he was founding Chairman of the newly formed Department of Statistical Science and currently also holds a professorial appointment there. In 1979 he was awarded the Snedecor Memorial Award by the American Statistical Association in recognition of his research. He has authored over 130 publications and is the co-author of a book on statistical procedures for monitoring clinical trials. He has been a consultant to many organizations, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Institute for Energy Analysis; and various pharmaceutical companies. Turnbull has served on the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, and on the Expert Review Panel for the National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors. He is on the Data and Safety Monitoring Committees for several major national and international clinical trials in the areas of cancer, heart disease, pulmonary disease and of AIDS sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and by the Veterans Administration. He has served on the editorial board of a number of statistical journals and is currently editor of the Chapman and Hall book series on biostatistics. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and of the Royal Statistical Society.

Research Interests

An attraction of working in the field of statistics is that it is eclectic. Professor Turnbull has worked in theory and methodology motivated by a wide variety of applications --- energy, and epidemiology; medicine and engineering; manufacturing and toxicology, etc. This is evidenced by the wide ranging topics in his list of publications. However, the major focus in the last few years has been on statistical design, monitoring and analysis of clinical trials. The recent emphasis has been on adaptive designs whereby changes in protocol (sample size, endpoint, patient population, dose level, etc.) can be modified in mid-course while still preserving the prespecified statistical properties such as the false positive rate. Prof. Turnbull's particular interest is the tradeoff between the gains in flexibility of these methods compared with the loss of efficiency. Another active research project is the use of longitudinal biomarkers to identify and predict onset of disease --- e.g. PSA for prostate cancer in humans, ELISA scores for Johne's disease in dairy cattle.

Teaching Interests

Professor Turnbull teaches courses on statistics --- theory, methodology and applications. This year he has taught ORIE6720 on sequential decision theory with particular applications both to manufacturing and to biomedical research. He also teaches a large sophomore class ENGRD2700 on "Basic Engineering Probability and Statistics". This too revolves around theory (commensurate with the students' mathematics prerequisites), methodology (e.g. decision-making under uncertainty, regression, experimental design, etc.) and applications (quality assurance, process control, etc.) Above all however, the goal of Professor Turnbull in this course is to try to get the students to understand concepts of randomness and to "think statistically". Also , this semester Professor Turnbull has incorporated iClickers to engage the students and to encourage their participation.

Service Interests

Bruce Turnbull currently serves as a member of the professional accreditation committee for the American Statistical Association. In 2010, he had served on the initial committee that established the accreditation criteria and procedures for the "PStat" certification in 2010. He is Book Series Editor for the Chapman & Hall/CRC Biostatistics Series and previously been Associate Editor for Technometrics, American Statistician, Statistics in Medicine, Lifetime Data Analysis journals. He has served as Program Chair or on the organizing committee for a number of conferences and workshops. He frequently gives invited talks and short courses at professional meetings. In 2011 these will include Third International Workshop on Sequential Methodologies at Stanford University; and the Biopharmaceutical Applied Statistics Symposium (Plenary speaker) to be held in Savannah, Georgia.