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A conversation with Peter Diggle

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/10/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Statistical Science
Issue number3
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)504-521
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Peter John Diggle was born on February 24, 1950, in Lancashire, England. Peter went to school in Scotland, and it was at the end of his school years that he found that he was good at maths and actually enjoyed it. Peter went to Edinburgh to do a maths degree, but transferred halfway through to Liverpool where he completed his degree. Peter studied for a year at Oxford and was then appointed in 1974 as a lecturer in statistics at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne where he gained his PhD, and was promoted to Reader in 1983. A sabbatical at the Swedish Royal College of Forestry gave him his first exposure to real scientific data and problems, prompting a move to CSIRO, Australia. After five years with CSIRO where he was Senior, then Principal, then Chief Research Scientist and Chief of the Division of Mathematics and Statistics, he returned to the UK in 1988, to a Chair at Lancaster University. Since 2011 Peter has held appointments at Lancaster and Liverpool, together with honorary appointments at Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Yale. At Lancaster, Peter was the founder and Director of the Medical Statistics Unit (1995–2001), University Dean for Research (1998–2001), EPSRC Senior Fellow (2004–2008), Associate Dean for Research at the School of Health and Medicine (2007–2011), Distinguished University Professor, and leader of the CHICAS Research Group (2007–2017). A Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society since 1974, he was a Member of Council (1983–1985), Joint Editor of JRSSB (1984–1987), Honorary Secretary (1990–1996), awarded the Guy Medal in Silver (1997) and the Barnett Award (2018), Associate Editor of Applied Statistics (1998–2000), Chair of the Research Section Committee (1998–2000), and President (2014–2016). Away from work, Peter enjoys music, playing folk-blues guitar and tenor recorder, and listening to jazz. His running days are behind him, but he can just about hold his own in mixed-doubles badminton with his family. His boyhoood hero was Stirling Moss, and he retains an enthusiasm for classic cars, not least his 1988 Porsche 924S. His favorite authors are George Orwell, Primo Levi and Nigel Slater. This interview was done prior to the fourth Spatial Statistics conference held in Lancaster, July 2017 where a session was dedicated to Peter celebrating his contributions to statistics.