Ron Fricker, vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of statistics in the College of Science, has been elected by the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (VASEM) as one of its new members for 2022.

Fricker is one of only five VASEM inductees for 2022 and the only new member from Virginia Tech. His induction was recognized in October as part of VASEM’s Summit on Securing the Future of Cyberspace in Washington, D.C.

“It is an honor to be part of such an incredible organization and, via it, have the opportunity to give back to the commonwealth and our citizens,” said Fricker.  “I am also flattered to be in the company of all the other amazing and talented Virginia Tech members, including Lance Collins, Dennis Dean, Chen-Ching Liu, and Jen Irish who were inducted over the past few years.”

VASEM was established in 2013 to inform and educate the executive branch agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as residents of Virginia on issues for which science, engineering, and medicine affect decisions on policy, the economy, and quality of life. The organization also promotes research and the application of knowledge and engages future generations of leaders in fields of science, engineering, and medicine.

Since arriving at Virginia Tech in 2015, Fricker has served as head of the Department of Statistics and as senior associate dean in the College of Science. Prior to leading the Office of Faculty Affairs, he was interim dean for the College of Science and represented the college in Virginia Tech’s strategic planning effort. As vice provost for faculty affairs, Fricker applies his extensive leadership experience and expertise in academic administration to serving Virginia Tech faculty and advancing Virginia Tech’s institutional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion among the faculty community.

“Through his commitment to service and strength of leadership, Ron has distinguished himself as an outstanding academician, leader, and contributor to the advancement of Virginia Tech’s academic enterprise,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke. “He is a highly respected member of the Virginia Tech community and has served the university in a variety of important capacities, always with a focus on seeking opportunities to elevate our faculty, staff, and students. As a member of VASEM, I am confident that Ron will bring the spirit of Ut Prosim [That I May Serve] to the service of the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Before coming to Virginia Tech, Fricker was a faculty member in the Operations Research Department of the Naval Postgraduate School and, before that, the associate director of the RAND National Security Research Division. His research focuses on performance of various statistical models for use in disease surveillance, and statistical process control methodologies in general. Fricker co-authored a book published at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Monitoring the Health of Populations by Tracking Disease Outbreaks: Saving Humanity from the Next Plague,” which led to national and international appearances in media such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, among many others.

During the pandemic, Fricker applied his disease surveillance expertise with Laura Hungerford, head of the Department of Population Health Sciences, to co-lead a multidisciplinary team of Virginia Tech faculty, students, and analysts who built models to help the university understand how COVID-19 could impact the campus.

“The Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine provides nonpartisan guidance to the Commonwealth on difficult and challenging issues,” said Patricia Dove, University Distinguished Professor and VASEM immediate past president. “Ron’s expertise in data science for national security applications, combined with his experience in industry (Rand Corporation), military (U.S. Navy), and academic sectors (UC Riverside, Naval Postgraduate School, VT) aligns well with the inform, advocate, and serve missions of VASEM. I look forward to working with Ron as one of our newest members.”

“I want to express my deep appreciation to those who took the time and trouble to anonymously nominate me for this honor,” Fricker said. “Their selflessness is a wonderful example of Ut Prosim in action. With so many talented faculty here at Virginia Tech, they are role models for how we can each help promote and recognize our colleagues.”

Fricker went on to say, “I would also like to mention that the Offices of Research and Innovation and Faculty Affairs are collaborating to expand the university’s capabilities for promoting our faculty for external awards. The goal over the next year is to provide a resource and information that will advance the visibility and recognition of our faculty and Virginia Tech.”

Fricker holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in statistics from Yale University, a master’s degree in operations research from The George Washington University, and a bachelor's degree from the United States Naval Academy. Upon graduation from the Naval Academy, he served as a surface warfare officer in the Navy. Fricker is a fellow of both the American Statistical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Most recently, he became a member of the National Academies’ Board on Mathematical Sciences and Analytics.

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