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Jacqueline Meulman receives the 2020 Psychometric Society Career Award for Lifetime Achievement

Recognition for an unprecedented career of more than forty years: Professor of Applied Statistics Jacqueline Meulman of the Mathematical Institute receives the Career Award of the Psychometric Society. ‘A fantastic surprise.’

Jacqueline Meulman

Positive impact

The ‘Psychometric Society Career Award for Lifetime Achievement’: a prize with a long name for scientists with a long career. It is a prize that has existed since 2008 and is awarded annually to a scientist whose career has had a positive impact on psychometrics – the science that traditionally deals with measurements and testing in psychology, but also with multivariate data analysis, the branch of Meulman. ‘I am proud to be on this list of big names.’

The warm bond with the Psychometric Society

Although Meulman has close ties with the Psychometric Society, the prize came as a surprise. ‘I’ve been a member of the Psychometric Society since 1982, when I just graduated and worked at AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories in America for a year. Later, I also served on the Editorial Council of the journal Psychometrika and on the Board of Trustees, and I was elected President of the Society in 2001. But since 2009, I have been more involved in other statistical organisations, including five years as President of the Dutch Society for Statistics and Operations Research.  Also, I go to other  conferences more often than to the Psychometric Society’s annual meeting, so that’s why I wasn’t expecting this award.’

Statistical software

Meulman doesn’t know exactly what she’s getting this award for yet. ‘I won’t hear the jury’s report until the award ceremony. But  I have always worked on the development of statistical data analysis methods. And, of course, one of my most important activities: developing advanced statistical software for categorical and ordinal data’. At the end of the 1980s, she and her colleagues managed to sell a license for a number of programs to SPSS, the American company that developed SPSS Statistics. SPSS has since been taken over by IBM and that company has extended the collaboration. The Leiden software package is still being renewed and expanded by Meulman and her group. The royalties it generates for Leiden University – more than 14 million dollars since 1990 – have enabled her to appoint a whole group of PhD students in addition to the researchers and programmers working on the software.

Two parties

Ten days after Meulman heard about her prize, she received other memorable news: her former PhD student Maarten Kampert, whom she had nominated for the Psychometric Society Dissertation Prize, won this prize. ‘A prize for both of us, so a double celebration!‘ Kampert and Meulman will travel together to the 2020 International Meeting of the Psychometric Society (IMPS 2020) at the University of Maryland, which is near Washington D.C. The meeting will take place from 14 to 17 July. Both will speak about their research at this conference.

About the prize

The Psychometric Society Career Award for Lifetime Achievement honours individuals whose publications, presentations, and professional activities over a career have had a widespread positive impact on the field of psychometrics. These contributions may include important theoretical or methodological developments, applications of psychometric theory and methods that have influenced substantive research in psychology, educational measurement or related fields, or innovative ideas that have significantly affected psychometric practices.

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