110 Years of FPL: Remembering the Statisticians

In celebration of 110 years of research at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), we are revisiting blog posts that detail some of our most interesting historic people, places, and projects. Enjoy!

Statistics is commonly viewed as the collection, collation, and presentation of numerical data. FPL has long recognized that the field of statistics is critical for testing research hypotheses and making inferences to untested populations. Statistics has provided extensive and powerful tools for designing studies, analyzing data, summarizing or modeling data, and interpreting results for many research studies at FPL.

In 1958, the section was named “Statistics and Computing.” Prior to that, statistical design was handled in the research projects. The staff of the new section consisted of nine women, to which one man transferred in 1959. As equipment became more powerful, more of this important work could be accomplished. And the punch cards went away.

Statistics has allowed for more accurate and precise estimations in completing meaningful research experiments. This has resulted in more efficient and cost-effective research programs and more reliable results.

Do you find it surprising that so many of these statisticians are women? FPL thanks the teams of workers who have done this precise work for a century: all for the sake of scientific accuracy.

Original blog post by Madelon Wise