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Biographical sketch

I have recently accepted a position as Chair of Uncertainty in the University of Liverpool School of Engineering.  Previously, I was a senior scientist at Applied Biomathematics, a research firm in New York specializing in methods for environmental and engineering risk analysis, and also taught risk analysis and environmental systems modeling at Stony Brook University in the Department of Technology and Society within the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.  My research focuses on developing reliable mathematical and statistical tools for risk assessments and on methods for uncertainty analysis when empirical information is very sparse. I have a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from the State University of New York, and am author of several books and over 100 other scholarly publications, including several software packages, in risk analysis and uncertainty propagation.  I have served on many governmental and industry advisory panels, and on editorial boards for several scientific journals.

Research interests

My interests have to do with poor or sparse data and what we can do with it, including

  • Assured or automatically verified calculations,
  • Imprecise calculations, robust Bayes analysis, and distribution-free methods of uncertainty analysis,
  • Dependency modeling and backcalculation strategies,
  • Protecting privacy of patients, clients, and consumers during data release events,
  • Statistical inference, the theory of measurement error, and the foundations of statistics,
  • Detecting clusters in very small data sets,
  • Image and shape analysis, and
  • Risk communication.
These topics may seem disparate and unconnected, but they will each become crucial as the internet of things is realized and data collection becomes pervasive and intrusive.  This change will produce data that are abundant with huge sample sizes but with limited precision.  In the case of personalized medicine and individually targeted marketing, it will produce data sets of extremely small sample sizes.  The methods developed to address these topics find applications throughout science and engineering.  Most of my work has been with applications in 
  • engineering reliability,
  • public health research and epidemiology,
  • population dynamics and conservation biology, and
  • environmental risk analysis.
If you are interested in any of these topics or these domains of applications, I'd love to hear from you.   You can email me at sandp8(at)gmail(dot)com.  If I don't respond, you may try following up by phone at +44 (0) l 5 l 795 8039.  From the United States and Canada, this would be 0 l l-44-l 5 l-795-8039.

Recent papers

Ferson, S. 2017. Estimating rare-event probabilities without data. [submitted]

Ferson, S., J. O'Rawe, A. Antonenko, J. Siegrist, J. Mickley, C. Luhmann, K. Sentz, A. Finkel. 2015. Natural language of uncertainty: numeric hedge wordsInternational Journal of Approximate Reasoning 57: 19-39. http://www.ramas.com/health/hedges.pdf

O'Rawe, J.A., S. Ferson and G.J. Lyon. 2015. Accounting for uncertainty in DNA sequencing dataTrends in Genetics 31: 61-66. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tig.2014.12.002)

Ferson, S., J. O’Rawe and M. Balch. 2014. Computing with confidence: imprecise posteriors and predictive distributions. Proceedings of the International Conference on Vulnerability and Risk Analysis and Management and International Symposium on Uncertainty Modeling and Analyis. http://www.ramas.com/health/icvram2014.pdf

Ferson, S. 2014. Model uncertainty in risk analysis. Proceedings of the 6th International Workshop of Reliable Engineering Computing: Reliability and Computations of Infrastructures, 25–28 May 2014, IIT, Chicago, Illinois, pages 27–43. http://rec2014.iit.edu/papers/Paper_Ferson.pdf

Xiang, G., J. O’Rawe, V. Krienovich, J. Hajagos, and S. Ferson. 2014. Protecting patient privacy while preserving medical information for research. Proceedings of the 6th International Workshop of Reliable Engineering Computing, 2528 May 2014, IIT, Chicago, Illinois, pages 281–293. http://rec2014.iit.edu/papers/Paper_Xiang.pdf

Ferson, S., M. Balch, K. Sentz, and J. Siegrist. 2013. Computing with confidence. Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Imprecise Probability: Theories and Applications, edited by F. Cozman, T. Denoeux, S. Destercke and T. Seidenfeld. SIPTA, Compiègne, France. http://www.ramas.com/health/cboxes.pdf

Beer, M., S. Ferson, and V. Kreinovich. 2013. Imprecise probabilities in engineering analyses. Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 37: 429. http://www.ramas.com/health/ip.pdf

Ferson, S., and J. Siegrist. 2012. Verified computation with probabilities. Pages 95-122 in Uncertainty Quantification in Scientific Computing, edited by A. Dienstfrey and R.F. Boisvert, Springer, New York. http://www.ramas.com/health/verifiedprob.pdf

Akçakaya, H.R., S. Ferson, M.A. Burgman, D.A. Keith, G.M. Mace, and C.R. Todd. 2012. Commentary: IUCN classifications under uncertainty. Environmental Modelling & Software 38: 119121.

Ferson, S., and J. Siegrist. 2011. Statistical inference under two structurally different approaches to interval data. Pages 29-37 in Vulnerability, Uncertainty, and Risk: Analysis, Modeling, and Management, edited by B.M. Ayyub. ASCE, Reston, VA. http://www.ramas.com/health/two.pdf

Sentz, K., and S. Ferson. 2011. Probabilistic bounding analysis in the quantification of margins and uncertainties. Reliability and Engineering System Safety 96: 1126–1136.

Siegrist, J., S. Ferson, J. Goode, and R. Grimson. 2011. Statistically detecting clustering for rare events. Proceedings of the International Conference on Vulnerability and Risk Analysis and Management with the Fifth International Symposium on Uncertainty Modeling and Analysis , Hyattsville, Maryland, American Society of Civil Engineers.

Beer, M., and S. Ferson. 2011. Fuzzy probability in engineering analyses. Proceedings of the International Conference on Vulnerability and Risk Analysis and Management with the Fifth International Symposium on Uncertainty Modeling and Analysis, Hyattsville, Maryland, American Society of Civil Engineers.

Ferson, S., and J. Mickley. 2011. Uncertainty arithmetic on Excel spreadsheets: add-in for intervals, probability distributions and probability boxes. Proceedings of the International Conference on Vulnerability and Risk Analysis and Management with the Fifth International Symposium on Uncertainty Modeling and Analysis, Hyattsville, Maryland, American Society of Civil Engineers.

Enszer, J.A., Y. Lin, S. Ferson, G.F. Corliss, and M.A. Stadtherr. 2011. Probability bounds analysis for nonlinear dynamic process models. AIChE [American Institute of Chemical Engineers] Journal 57: 404–422.

Other publications about p-boxes and probability bounds analysis

Other publications on all topics from 2000 to present

Research funding organizations

Hearty thanks are owed for research support from the National Institutes of Health (including the National Library of Medicine, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institute of Nursing Research, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Sandia National Laboratories, the Electric Power Research Institute, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Science Foundation.  Of course none of these generous funders is responsible for my craziness.

Other Fersons

There is another Scott Ferson who is a blogger and a politically active attorney in Massachusetts at Liberty Square Group.

Susan Ferson, sometimes S. Ferson or S.S. Ferson, is a medical researcher at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Wayne Ferson is a professor of finance in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

David Ferson is a physician at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and publishes on brain tumors.

(Owing to an unnoticed typographical error, Scott A. Ferson and S.A. Ferson seem to refer to me.)




Biographical sketch
Research interests
Project websites
Funding organizations
Oral presentations
Workshops and symposia
Public websites
Imprecision Friday 

 
Google Scholar profile
ResearchGate profile
LinkedIn profile
Web of Science
Recent papers
Curriculum vitae
Pictures
Other Fersons