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Fuller, Wayne

Published onMar 12, 2021
Fuller, Wayne

Wayne Fuller, 2016

Commissioned by University Museums and the Office of the Vice President for Research. U2017.107

WAYNE FULLER (BS ’55 agricultural business, MS ’57 and PhD ’59 agricultural economics), Iowa State University Distinguished Professor Emeritus in statistics and economics, is a beloved mentor and internationally recognized scholar, known for his keen insights into the meaning of data.

Throughout his 50-year career in statistics, Fuller has been considered a leading researcher with seminal textbooks and articles in three distinct fields – time series analysis, measurement error models, and sample surveys – a feat rarely achieved. He has received numerous prestigious awards from professional societies as well as from Iowa State, and has worked closely with many government agencies seeking to improve the information they provide to the public.

But a list of his accomplishments and awards – and it’s a long list – can’t entirely capture his impact on the nearly 90 master’s and doctoral students he mentored while at Iowa State.

“A particularly rewarding part of my career has been work with graduate students,” Fuller said. “Beyond the technical has been the interaction with individuals from 20 different countries. Those individuals and my wife’s interests resulted in international travel and the formation of worldwide friendships.”   

Fuller was raised on an Adams County farm in southwest Iowa.  “I grew up as part of a farm family of that era,” he said. “The farm operation included hogs, milk cows, sheep, and chickens. As farm kids, my brother, sister and I had chores such as milking, gathering eggs, and cleaning hog houses. I attended a one-room school through grade eight, and I consider my time in that country school to be the foundation for the rest of my educational experience.”

He came to ISU in 1949 and served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954, stationed in the Philippines and Korea. By 1959, he had earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in agricultural economics, all from ISU, and joined the ISU Department of Statistics faculty.

A long-time affiliate of the Statistical Laboratory Survey Section (now the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology), Fuller was instrumental in forming its technical research program. He played a major role in shaping the National Resources Inventory, an annual land survey that supports U.S. conservation policy with data on land cover, land use, soil erosion, conservation practices, and other agro-environmental concerns for non-federal land in the United States. He also led a line of research with the USDA  to improve how American dietary intake data are collected and evaluated to provide estimates of nutritional status and food intake patterns.

He and his wife Evelyn are parents of two sons, Doug, who died in 2016, and Bret, who lives in Colorado. They have two granddaughters who live in California and Chicago.

Vice President for Research, Sarah Nusser: Wayne Fuller is one of those understated giants who has dedicated his life to his graduate students’ advancement, and to tirelessly improving the US government’s information base through innovative approaches to estimating the health of our population, our agricultural and environmental ecosystem, and our economy. 

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