Dr. Barton Poulson, Psychology

Q: What is your research focus?

BP: Data Science Training and Service (data science is essentially the combination of statistics and computer programming in applied settings)

Q: What current research projects are you working on, if any?


1. I am developing a wide range of tutorials and courses on data science to be delivered online
2. I run an annual event in the spring that provides opportunities for hands-on service over two days analyzing data from local nonprofits. (This event was previously called the “Utah Data Dive” but, from now on, will be the “Data Science Charrette.”)
3. I frequently prepare presentations for conferences and events for professional data scientists. (These are not academic conferences but events for working professionals, which are much more fun.)

Q: What are your goals with these projects?

BP: My goal is to help as many people as possible learn to work creatively and constructively with data. The defining characteristic that separates data science from statistics is that the data do not fit neatly into an Excel spreadsheet or an SPSS file. Instead, creative solutions are needed to even get the data into workable format, and then analyses need to be tailored to a client’s specific needs, as opposed to standard academic research practices. (See more at my website, datalab.cc.)

Q: What other research interests do you have?

BP: I also have a great interest in art, design, music, and so on. I had a UVU Presidential Fellowship for Faculty Scholarship to create methods for live video looping in modern dance performances. I have also created dance related pieces for Repertory Dance Theatre, a professional, modern dance company in Salt Lake City, and created gallery pieces. I did this work primarily in Processing (an open-source, Java-based programming language; see processing.org) and in Max/MSP/Jitter (a graphical programming language used primarily for music; see cycling74.com). You can see more on this work at my website danceandcode.com. I am also interested in electronic music and have some experience working in Ableton Live. I am currently advising a UVU student on a project about “fashion fluency” for men’s fashion.

Q: What opportunities are available to UVU students who would like to get involved in research?


1. If you have your own art/music/design related ideas, I’d be happy to talk with you and potentially advise you on them.
2. I need students to help in many roles for the Data Science Charrette. This includes finding nonprofit organizations, helping coordinate work, running the event, etc.
3. I would love to collaborate with students on preparing and presenting talks at professional data science events. Again, these are not academic events but, rather, are extraordinary professional opportunities.

Q: Currently, or in the near future (if so, please provide an availability date), are you available to facilitate research opportunities with students?

BP: Yes, a limited amount on the topics above.

Q: What advice do you have for undergraduate students? (research, grad school, building relationships with teachers, etc.)

BP: My work over the last five years has been mostly outside of regular academic research and it’s been the best, most rewarding, most useful, most fun work that I’ve ever done. While I do have a PhD (in social and personality psychology) and I am a full-time professor, I strongly suggest that people take a very careful look at life outside of academia before making the major commitment to grad school. An undergraduate degree in behavioral science is a great general-purpose background for a huge number of personal and professional opportunities. No matter what track you take, though, you would be wise to create a digital portfolio that shows not only what you have learned but, much more importantly, what you can DO and how well you can do it. (I have my own at bartonpoulson.com.) And don’t restrict yourself to just behavioral science topics in your portfolio. You’re a person with broad interests and abilities and your portfolio should reflect that.