Professor Marc Genton receives the Royal Statistical Society’s Barnett Award for 2023

Distinguished Professor of the KAUST Statistics Program Marc Genton, winner of the Royal Statistical Society 2023 Barnett Award. Photo courtesy of Professor Genton.

By David Murphy

Distinguished Professor of the
KAUST Statistics Program Marc Genton has received the Royal Statistical Society’s (RSS) 2023 Barnett Award. The Barnett Award was established in memory of the environmental statistician, Professor Vic Barnett. It is awarded annually to encourage and promote the recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of environmental statistics.

Genton will receive the prestigious award on Tuesday, September 5, during the
Society’s Annual Conference, which will be held in Harrogate, U.K., from September 4-7, 2023. The RSS International Conference is one of the premier knowledge-sharing and networking events for those interested in statistics and data science.

According to the RSS award citation, Genton was recognized for the following:
[H]is wide-ranging work and international impact in the area of environmental statistics.
He is particularly recognized for his work in spatial and spatio-temporal statistics with applications in environmental problems, with almost 300 publications garnering over 14,600 citations. His groundbreaking work has transformed environmental data science on large-scale spatial and temporal problems, with contributions through the development with his group of the ExaGeoStat, a high-performance unified software for geostatistics on manycore systems that has exascale computing capability, as well as his use of spectral methods and fast Fourier transforms to develop 3D space-time stochastic generators to emulate climate model outputs of more than 1 billion temperature data points. His research impacts include a five-year study on wind energy potential in Saudi Arabia, which has culminated in a comprehensive blueprint for advancing the Kingdom’s national wind energy strategy. He has also shown how to harness the power of virtual reality to help visualize environmental data on smartphones using apps and 3D glasses. Aside from his research and impact activities, Professor Genton has had a substantial influence in shaping environmental statistics through his editorships, and in developing the next generation of environmental statisticians through his work as the founding chair of a new Program in Statistics for M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at KAUST that started in 2017 with a strong emphasis on Environmental Statistics.

I am very honored to receive the Barnett Award from the RSS recognizing my research in environmental statistics,” he said of his accolade. “I would like to share this award with my group members as well as my many collaborators at KAUST and throughout the world over the years. I hope this award will motivate and inspire many young researchers to join the exciting field of environmental statistics with its various application areas.”

Currently, Genton's research focuses on developing high-performance computing tools for spatial statistics and expanding the capabilities of ExaGeoStat, the software developed by his Spatio-Temporal Statistics and Data Science (STSDS) research group and the Extreme Computing Research Center (ECRC).

“In parallel, my group is developing physics-based, space-time machine learning models for wind energy and sustainable development in Saudi Arabia,” Genton concluded.