A Conversation with Dr. Ben Freer

By Chris Madden

Dr. Benjamin Freer is a familiar figure among veteran psychology majors. His good-natured, sunny personality has made subjects such as Experimental Psychology exciting and lively, yet still coupled with insightful information. As a researcher, mentor and teacher, Freer has guided many students on the path to success, from undergraduate Honors students to clinical PhDs in training.

A graduate of Valparaiso University and the University of Kentucky, Freer came to FDU in August 2011. He learned about FDU from a colleague and fellow doctoral student from New York.

“I really wanted to find a university that would allow me to do my research, but would also emphasize teaching undergraduates and doing research with undergraduates,” Freer said. “FDU matched what I was wanting, in the sense of a university that had a nice balance of teaching and research. It had a really a really diverse population, which was another factor that I really like.”

A massive state university would not be ideal for Dr. Freer’s passion for teaching and research.

“Unfortunately in academics, there’s sometimes the mentality that the biggest school that will offer you a job is the school that you should go to,” Freer said. “I did not feel like that was a good fit for what I wanted out of my life.”

In the classroom, Freer’s teaching aptitude comes to the forefront. His amiable personality and research expertise have made classes on research methods and cognitive processes engaging.

“I love research,” Freer said. “I love teaching the Experimental Psychology course that’s all about understanding why research matters and how it matters. It’s a perfect fit for what I like to do.”

Helping people and working with others is certainly one of Freer’s main interests.

“I knew that I wanted to do something with people really early on,” Freer said. “I originally thought that I wanted to something in the helping profession. My mom was the school counselor at the elementary and high school that I went to. I can remember as a very young child riding with my mom and her talking about the experiences that kids have and how they can influence their lives.”

While at college, Freer knew he wanted to work with children. After losing interest in the legal profession, he fell in love with research as an undergraduate and subsequently applied to doctoral programs specializing in research on childhood.

“To me, psychology is an amazing field that applies to every aspect of life,” Freer said. “An understanding of one’s self can really be developed by psychology courses, but also understanding of others.”

Next semester, Freer will be teaching one section of Experimental Psychology and a research seminar focusing on executive functioning, impulse control, working memory, attention, and risk taking. Students in the research seminar course will be able to get exposed to Freer’s own research interests, which involves individuals with ADHD and individuals who have experienced trauma. “I’m excited about it,” Freer said. “It will be a really fun course.”