By Donna Parker
Dan Bauer, who received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Trinity in 1994, is now a professor of quantitative psychology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill. Although he understood even while at Trinity that psychology would be his life’s work, he didn’t realize that analyzing data would be the one puzzle piece that would make the most sense.
“It’s kind of like trying to do a puzzle when you have a set of data and research and then you have to figure out how to best analyze the data, present results, and develop figures to answer the research questions,” says Dan, who chuckles when saying, “I found I was quite good at it!”
Dan, who also earned his Ph.D. from UNC, became interested in data analysis while still in graduate school as he actually began analyzing his own data.
“I was trying to better understand inter-generational patterns of change in aggression over the life course and had to use sophisticated models to estimate trajectories. I finally got to the point where I was more interested in modeling the data than collecting the data itself—in other words, how to tell the story through data interpretation and statistical results.”
Dan, who feels like he’s been in school earning advanced degrees ever since his Trinity graduation, jokingly tells the story of his sister, a former grade school teacher who used to tell her students that her brother is in the “20th grade.”
“Really, Trinity got me ready for the rest of the climb,” says Dan. “Dr. Lincoln Creighton, department of psychology, piqued my interest in research and I was fortunate enough to work as his research assistant in the cognitive development lab during the summers.”
“Drs. Kenneth Hummel and Donald Bailey, both from the department of mathematics, taught so elegantly. Both could convey ideas graphically which is funny when you consider everything was done on a chalkboard at that time!”
When he’s not studying psychological data, Dan loves to go hiking with his fiancé and his dogs. He enjoys the outdoors, favoring beaches, camping and canoeing and also loves to travel.
“I just got back from a trip to the Bahamas with my fiancé. I travel professionally a fair amount and really like to mix vacation in whenever possible. It’s also great to spend time with my kids, who are 7 and 10, because I get to be a kid again—playing video games, swordsmen, Legos and, of course, building box houses and forts!”
In the meantime, Dan, who recently earned an award for Distinguished Scientific Early Career Contributions to Psychology from the American Psychological Association, says this honor is a great achievement, “but I’m from the midwest, so I’m kind of uncomfortable with recognition,” he laughs.
This is for sure – for one in such a serious profession, Dan certainly doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s got a great sense of humor, values his friends and family, and aspires to be the “guy who can be counted on.”
You may contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions. We are looking for suggestions in these four categories: 1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator