Wollongong scientist Noel Cressie always wanted to do “something important and make a real difference”.
The statistician has done that and more as a NASA Science Team Member for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission - NASA’s first dedicated Earth remote sensing satellite to study atmospheric carbon dioxide from space.
On Tuesday the distinguished professor from the University of Wollongong will join Australia’s science luminaries and be named a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
Professor Cressie, who is working with NASA to understand what is happening to the CO2 levels in our atmosphere, is one of 21 scientists being acknowledged for their outstanding contributions to science.
“Not surprisingly, this is a singularly fabulous moment, I think, for everybody who’s elected,” he said.
Not surprisingly, this is a singularly fabulous moment....for me, certainly.Noel Cressie
“For me, certainly. I think it’s a fabulous time for statistical science. We’re an emerging discipline, but we stand alone in our science and we’re becoming appreciated in that sense, particularly in areas of big data and the adoption of data science is something, really, that most people need in today’s society.”
Prof Cressie recently returned from Pasadena where he presented a paper on work he has done on spatial statistics, but applied to carbon dioxide data.
He is recognised as a world leader in statistical methodology for analysing spatial and spatio-temporal data, and its applications to environmental science.
Prof Cressie has contributed to research on pollution monitoring, climate prediction, ocean health, soil chemistry and glacier movement.
Responding to the huge volumes of complex data in environmental research, Prof Cressie has made groundbreaking innovations for `big data analytics' for remote sensing and climate change.
“I wanted to do something important, make a difference. Rather early on in my career, I started to work on environmental problems. I developed an interest in something called spatial statistics, which was very new at the time,” he said.
Australian Academy of Science president, Professor Andrew Holmes, congratulated the new Fellows for making significant and lasting impacts in their scientific disciplines.
“These scientists were elected by their Academy peers, following a rigorous evaluation process,” Prof Holmes said.
“They join a prestigious group – six Nobel Prize winners and luminaries including Sir Mark Oliphant, Professor Nancy Millis, Sir Douglas Mawson, Professor Frank Fenner and Sir David Attenborough.”
There are now 568 living Fellows.