Meet a Colleague: Dan Johnson Dan Johnson is the David G. Elmes Term Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Science.
Q. How long have you worked at W&L?
This is my 14th year.
Q. What courses are you teaching this term?
Introduction to Data Science: Mind Analytics and also Cognition.
Q. What is your favorite course to teach, and why?
Impossible to pick one, they are all my favorite for different reasons. For example, in my Introduction to Data Science: Mind Analytics course, I get to teach students from all over the university at various stages in their career. This enriches every discussion with diverse ideas and we get to see there are many ways to solve a problem, whether it is a computer coding problem or societal problem. We learn from each other, every day.
Q. What is the most satisfying aspect of teaching?
Showing students they can do what they first thought was impossible and watching their efficacy grow over time. That is where I find inspiration every day.
Q. What do you like most about working at W&L?
No day is the same and I like I get to play a part, along with the students, in ensuring it stays that way.
Q. Where is your favorite location on the W&L campus?
Back campus walk along Woods Creek.
Q. What advice do you have for students (or parents)?
Listen. Listen with the mindset that everyone has something to teach you.
Q. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
If I’m not with friends or family, then it’s playing piano or watching Star Trek, it’s a tie.
Q. Where did you grow up?
Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Q. Who inspired you to teach? What about them inspired you?
So many. Among the first was my high school French teacher. She brought the best out of every student. She always expected excellence, but engendered trust and made room for everyone to make and learn from mistakes. From the first day, she made the material relevant to all of us, from the daily funny stories we’d have to tell the whole class, speaking in French of course, to watching French movies that some parents were less than thrilled about.
Q. What is the most adventurous thing that you have ever done?
Class 5-6 white water rafting in Colorado and then jumping off a 40-foot cliff into the river.
Q. What book are you reading now?
“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir.
Q. What is the website you visit most often and why?
Stackoverflow.com to find solutions to computer coding problems.
Q. If you could live anywhere, where would you build your dream home?
I’ve heard a lot about New Zealand – beauty in almost all forms our planet has to offer and exceptional coffee.
Q. If they made a movie about your life, who would play you?
I put my picture into a celebrity look-alike app and received a 27% match to Patrick Stewart. Childhood hero. Done.
Q. What is your desert island food?
Spicy hot wings with fries.
Q. Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I survived a real, not metaphorical, train wreck in college.
Q. What is your secret talent?
I compose piano music. I can name the episode titles along with a few quotes from multiple characters from all Star Trek: The Next Generation TV episodes.
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