Awarded by the Department of Statistical Science, the BEST Award promotes and recognizes student research in Bayesian statistics and decision analysis. The BEST Award simultaneously reflects the role and impact of Bayesian methodology and its applications, and the importance of active research experiences in undergraduate and Master’s as well as PhD education. Each year, the Department of Statistical Science makes three awards, each with a monetary prize: to one undergraduate student, one Master’s student, and one PhD student.
Undergraduate BEST Award
Each Duke senior undergraduate defending a senior thesis in Statistical Science is eligible for the Undergraduate BEST Award. The selection of the awardee is made by a Statistical Science faculty committee on the basis of the submitted thesis and the final presentations of all senior thesis students in the same year.
Master’s BEST Award
Each student in her/his 2nd year on the Duke Master’s of Statistical Science (MSS) and defending her/his MSS thesis is eligible for the Master’s BEST Award. The selection of the awardee is made by a Statistical Science faculty committee on the basis of the submitted thesis and the final presentations of all MSS thesis students in the same year.
PhD BEST Award
Each Duke PhD student in Statistical Science student making her/his first research presentation in the department’s Readings in Statistical Science (STA701S) series is eligible for the PhD BEST Award. The selection of the awardee is made by a Statistical Science faculty committee on the basis of the presentations of all PhD students making their first such presentation in the same year.
Award Eligibility, Criteria, Presentation and Record
The Award is made annually with no application process required. All eligible students in the above three Award categories are automatically considered. Winners are decided based wholly on the content and nature of their projects and presentations related to Bayesian statistics and decision analysis. The committee may decide not to make one or more of the awards in any one year, although this is very rare.
The award winners are announced and presented at Duke University during the annual graduation ceremony events hosted by the Department of Statistical Science each May. Information about the awardees is posted to department news and maintained in the permanent, public BEST Award record of Past Recipients.
The BEST Award was established in 2007 and funded through generous donations by the BEST Foundation, a New Jersey nonprofit corporation whose primary mission is to make gifts, grants and contributions to educational, scientific and charitable institutions or organizations. The major contributor to the BEST Foundation is BEST (Bayesian Efficient Strategic Trading, LLC), a company that develops, licenses and trades Bayesian based investment strategies. Dr J.M. Quintana, Chairman of BEST, LLC and Trustee of BEST Foundation, has a long-term interest in Bayesian forecasting and optimal decision making and its applications in the investment management field. BEST LLC also has a long-term research association with Duke students and alumni working with faculty and collaborators on research in Bayesian statistics and decision analysis. In 2019, the nature of the Award was changed and expanded to provide three annual awards as currently configured. The BEST Award is administered by the Duke Department of Statistical Science.