Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Hixon Graduate Fellowship in Statistics

Photo of Dr. Greg HixonStatisticians who are well trained in the proper quantitative analysis of data are in high demand given the explosion of data in the last 20 years. Providing such specialized training is a passion for Dr. Greg Hixon.

A Lecturer in the Psychology Department teaching courses in statistics and computational analytics, Hixon received his Ph.D. from the department in 1991, with a concentration in social psychology and a specialization in statistics.

“The education and training I received here in the Psychology Department, much of it from folks who are still here, was truly second-to-none," he recalls, “and for me an important part of that was the opportunity to pursue extensive training and coursework in statistical analysis—which was a rather different field at that time in comparison to what it is today.”

His experience teaching at UT and consulting in a broad array of fields, including investment analytics, environmental sciences and toxicology, has given him a bird’s eye view of just how much the analytics landscape has changed over the last few decades.

“I tell my classes all the time that the last couple of decades have belonged to the people who developed the hardware and software technologies that allow the collection of massive amounts of data, but that the coming decades will belong to people who know how to extract knowledge from all of that data." He adds, “The ability to formulate and execute proper statistical analysis is an increasingly critical one, and statistical education will benefit both academic and non-academic careers. Given how I have benefited from the training I received here, I’m looking to give back.”

With that goal in mind, Dr. Hixon has funded this fellowship to support graduate students in psychology who want to pursue enhanced statistical work as part of his or her training.

The Hixon Fellowship in Statistics will provide a $2,500 annual award, eligible to psychology department graduate students entering their third year or above, who already have a background in their specialty area and know that they want to pursue more statistical training.

Dr. Hixon says that a number of factors contributed to his wanting to establish the fellowship. In addition to the value he sees in statistical training and his overall desire to give back to a program that benefited him, he notes a more personal reason:

“I had an uncle who was a high school teacher in rural Ohio who was not wealthy by even the most expansive definition of that term, but he managed to save some money over his lifetime. As he neared retirement, he established a number of scholarships for high school students. Obviously, he was hoping to help those students, and I know he was looking forward to seeing the impact of those scholarships on their lives. Unfortunately, soon thereafter he passed away suddenly and was never able to see the students gain from what he’d done. I’d actually like to be able to see that, and so that’s part of my motivation in doing this now.”

Dr. Hixon adds, “Graduate school is not a lucrative place for students, and a fellowship like this can go a long way toward supporting someone who wants to pursue further statistical training. The fellowship money is a help in the short-term, but the long-term benefits are even more important. In the long term, the training in statistics and analytics will help the student’s employment prospects in or out of academia, and with the enhanced statistical knowledge the student will be in a position to extract everything they meaningfully can from their on-going research data —with obvious benefits to both the student and to the advancement of science.”

A number of students in UT’s doctoral psychology program are engaged in work that could well benefit from such support, as well as from the overall spirit of affirmation and encouragement that Dr. Hixon’s fellowship represents.

To read more about students who could benefit from this fellowship, please see the article about the Hixon Fellowship published in the Department of Psychology's Spring 2014 Newsletter here.

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