Spanning over five decades, Professor Bernard (“Bernie”) Harris enjoyed a distinguished career in statistics and mathematics as a pioneering researcher and educator. Bernie was one of the founding members of the Section on Risk Analysis for the American Statistical Association and served as the first chair. A native of New York City, Bernie received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the City College of New York in 1946. He then changed his focus to Mathematics and Statistics and went on to receive his PhD from Stanford University in 1958 after obtaining an MS from George Washington University in 1953. After completing his PhD, Bernie was an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before moving to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was a Professor in the Mathematics Research Center (1964-1985) and the Statistics Department (1966-2002). Outside of the U.S., Bernie held numerous visiting professorships at European Universities and institutions. After retirement, he went back to the Department of Mathematics at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and continued to work as an adjunct professor while remaining active in research.
Bernie’s most notable contributions in statistics and mathematics include his work on random mappings, combinatorics, risk analysis, reliability, probability, and statistical inferences with application to open DOD questions such as the survivability of subterranean targets. In the later years of his life, he worked on mathematical methods in combating terrorism and produced a paper entitled "Random Contamination of Semiconductor Materials" in 2010. Bernie published hundreds of articles and reviews in professional journals, authored the book Theory of Probability, and was the editor of Spectral Analysis of Time Series and Graph Theory and its Applications. His professional awards and honors included the Wilks Award for Contributions to Statistical Methodologies in Army Research, Development and Testing, the Pioneers of Science Award, and Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the American Statistical Association. Bernie also served as a member of many commissions and advisory boards for the government including a review board of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Statistics Task Force for the FAA/DOD Committee on Material Properties.
At the 2011 Joint Statistical Meetings, a special session was held celebrating the life and work of Bernie Harris. Stanley Sclove published a paper in honor of Bernie's contributions to cluster analysis; Dr. Sclove's paper can be downloaded here.