Robert C. Foster

PhD Statistician


About Robert

Hi! I'm Robert. I'm currently a scientist at Bettis atomic power laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I graduated with a PhD in statistics from Iowa State University.

I do engineering and industrial statistics for a living and I do research in psychometrics in my spare time for fun.


I work as a statistician for Bettis atomic power laboratory, providing the Navy with statistical support for the reactors powering their ships. I consult on topics throughout the lab, ranging from materials science to survey design, and I teach courses on various statistics topics. I previously completed a postdoctoral position at Los Alamos National Laboratory, during which I conducted research into errors in probabilistic computing, materials science, and applications of quantum computing in statistics.


I completed a PhD in statistics in October 2016 at Iowa State University. The main topic was the history of empirical Bayesian analysis, and the ways that people have historically attempted to correct for the uncertainty caused by double use of the data - once in estimating prior parameters, and once in the actual Bayesian analysis itself. I also received a master’s degree in statistics from Iowa State University in 2010 and a bachelor of science in mathematics and statistics, with a minor in computer science, from Oklahoma State in 2007.


I enjoy exploring and seeing new things around Pittsburgh, hiking the beautiful Western Pennsylvania area, gaming, and visiting new cities when I can.

I’ve been playing the guitar since I was 20 years old. While in graduate school, I took lessons and performed in local musical productions. I enjoy playing mostly rock and blues.

I also enjoy reading, with my primary interest in history (including the history of statistics). You can see what I’m currently reading on my goodreads account.


I do research in psychometrics for fun after work and on weekends when I have free time. I’ve done research primarily on reliability for test data that comes from non-normal exponential family data distributions, especially with conjugate priors. You can see my published papers on my CV or my Google scholar page.

I also enjoy watching baseball games. In grad school, I briefly had a baseball statistics blog that I wrote (partly for fun, partly as an application to work through problems that ended up in my thesis). Check it out! The main topic I wrote on was the underlying theory of stabilization points.