John Mandel; Statistician Received Many Awards

Thursday, October 25, 2007

John Mandel, 93, who spent more than 40 years as a statistician at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, died Oct. 1 of congestive heart failure at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring. He was a Silver Spring resident.

Dr. Mandel came to Washington in 1947 to work for what was then the National Bureau of Standards. He made major contributions to its scientific and engineering programs as an internationally recognized authority on the application of mathematical and statistical methods in the physical sciences.

Trained as a chemist and a mathematician, Dr. Mandel was instrumental in developing statistical methods that improved the accuracy of analyzing blood serum. He retired in 1990 and continued to consult for the bureau well into his 80s.

Among his many honors were the Shewhart Medal, Deming Medal, Brumbaugh Award and Frank Wilcoxon Prize of the American Society for Quality; and the American Statistical Association's W.J. Youden Award, which he received in 1988 and 1996.

The Youden awards recognized Dr. Mandel's work in the analysis of inter-laboratory comparisons that offered a basis for defining standardized test methods. He also demonstrated the need for standard reference materials to help laboratories achieve uniform results.

He received a Silver Medal in 1957 from the Department of Commerce, and in 1973 a Gold Medal, for developing statistical designs for experiments in chemistry, physics and engineering.

Dr. Mandel, whose given name was Joshua Mandel, was born in Antwerp, Belgium, and received the equivalent of a master's degree in chemistry from the Universit┬┐ Libre de Bruxelles in 1937. He worked as a chemist in Belgium before the 1940 Nazi invasion of his homeland forced his family and other Jews to flee to France.

He escaped to Portugal, where he sailed to New York. He was a chemist in New York while studying mathematics at night at Brooklyn College. While on leave from his job in 1965, he received a doctorate in mathematical statistics from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.

He published three books and more than 100 articles.

Dr. Mandel had a deep knowledge of Judaism. He taught adult courses in Hebrew and participated in religious services at three synagogues over the years: Temple Israel and Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim, both in Silver Spring, and Tikvat Israel Congregation in Rockville.

Survivors include his wife of 69 years, Ernestine Mandel of Silver Spring; two children, Judith Stapler of Columbia and Paul Mandel of Jerusalem; three sisters; and five grandchildren.

-- Matt Schudel

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