Shayle Robert Searle, Ph.D. ’58, professor emeritus of biological statistics and a leader in the field of linear and mixed models in statistics, died Feb. 18 in Ithaca after a short battle with cancer. He was 84.
Searle was one of the first statisticians to use matrix algebra in statistical methodology and was an early proponent of the use of applied statistical techniques in animal breeding.
Born in 1928, Shayle grew up in Wanganui, New Zealand. After earning his B.A. (1940) and M.Sc. in mathematics (1950), both from Victoria University College (now Victoria University of Wellington), he worked for several years and then earned a Ph.D. in the field of agriculture and life sciences at Cornell (1959). He joined the Cornell staff in 1962 as a research associate for statistics and joined the faculty in the Biometrics Unit of the Plant Breeding and Biometry Department of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1965, becoming full professor in 1970.
Author or co-author of eight books and some 140 academic papers, Searle was a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Royal Statistical Society, an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and the winner of a Humboldt Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Searle was predeceased by his wife, Helen, and survived by two daughters and their families as well as extended family members in New Zealand.
A memorial service will be held in Anabel Taylor Chapel on campus Saturday, March 9, at 1 p.m., which will be followed by a reception at Kendal at Ithaca.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Shayle R. and Helen M. Searle Visiting Lectureship Fund, c/o Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Roberts Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850. The fund is designated for supporting visiting lecturers to the Biometrics Unit.