Skip to main content

Greta Bauer

Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University
Greta Bauer
Greta Bauer
Location Now
Education Pathway
School Subject

Greta Bauer is a Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I grew up in a rural area outside of a tiny town in Minnesota in the United States.

I now live in: London, Ontario

I completed my training/education at: I completed both a Master of Public Health and a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

What I do at work

I teach graduate university courses to Masters and PhD students on how to conduct research. I also do research to improve the kinds of methods we use in health research. One of my main areas of research is with regard to working with communities that experience social marginalization that can impact health. If we are going to improve policies and practices that affect health, we need to have good data on which to base those decisions. My work has focused on how we get usable samples of research participants from "hidden populations" where we can't get a random sample, how we measure experiences like discrimination in surveys, and how we can do statistical analysis in ways that make fewer assumptions about how social marginalization impacts health.

My other research has focused on community health, and right now is focused on transgender and non-binary health. I lead two national studies in this area. One is a clinical study of youth referred for puberty suppression or hormones, and the other a large population survey. My research teams include doctors, psychologists and other professionals, and members of trans and non-binary communities who have deep community knowledge (some of whom are also health professionals).

One thing I love about all of my work is matching math to meaning. A lot of the basic statistics we teach are not necessarily the tools we need to best answer all types of questions. People sometimes don't think about math, statistics, and epidemiology as being creative areas of work, but they really are. For improving health, we often have to adapt the tools we have, and evaluate them to ensure they are producing accurate results. We use a lot of different computer programs in data analysis (SAS, R, Stata), but sometimes we also have to write our own procedures to do things differently.

My career path is

In high school, I had no idea what an epidemiologist was, and many of the tools I use in my work did not yet exist. Like a lot of young queer people (though we didn't use that word then), I left home at an early age; I moved to New York when I was 17. I had to put myself through school, and so it took me ten years to do an undergraduate degree, with the work done at four different colleges/universities.

I thought I was going to go into neuroscience and do lab research, but a couple of years of working in a lab convinced me I would rather work with people than animals. I designed my own undergraduate degree as an interdisciplinary approach to health and health care. This allowed me to combine calculus, statistics, biology, and anatomy with sociology of medicine, medical anthropology, and history of medicine. I didn't know it at the time, but it ended up being the perfect background for going into public health.

Math had always been easy for me, but boring. Learning that I could put my skills to use in studying health was so perfect! I did a master of public health (MPH) degree, and then a PhD in epidemiology. For my PhD, I did the "biological track", with coursework in virology, pathobiology, etc. and a molecular epidemiology thesis on drug resistance in HIV. However, most health issues will not be solved without a combined biological, behavioural, and social approach, and I became a big supporter of social epidemiological research, an area that was new at the time.

I am motivated by

I love training young professionals and then supporting them in launching their careers. My former students have done amazing things. Some examples are conducting HIV research around the world, and organizing the public health infrastructure for international sporting competitions. I get to take pride in their accomplishments!

My research allows me to nerd out and write code for statistical analysis all day some days, or to just write when I’m feeling introverted. On other days I am intensely engaged with community leaders across Canada, or planning an international meeting of researchers to focus on a particular health or data challenge. I might be testifying to the Senate or as an expert witness in a court case, or designing research to answer upcoming policy questions. I have a lot of control over what type of research I do, and the flexibility to change my focus to respond to new issues. I learn a lot from the people and communities I work with. I really love the mix of technical skill and innovation with real-world applications. Not many people get to see their work actually change things in the world, and I feel so fortunate to be able to have that experience.

How I affect people’s lives

In my teaching, I train graduate students to become professional health researchers. I also teach seminars around the world to help current researchers improve their methods. My work has changed how other researchers do their work. My research on specific communities (LGBT, ethnoracial communities, etc.) has impacted health care practices and health and social policy. For example, my work on transgender health has supported policy changes in making human rights protections for gender identity and expression explicit (they were covered before under the grounds of sex, but it wasn't always clear to people). In one court case, I also had to defend the right to privacy for research data (as we had promised our participants). I ended up setting a legal precedent in Canada that will make it easier for other researchers to keep participants' data safe!

Outside of work I

Honestly, my work is most of my life. I get to do so many different kinds of things, and many of them I would do for free anyway! My work allows me to travel (and I often add on days just to visit an area), to teach in different contexts, to collaborate with community organizations, to work with policy makers, and to work with so many different people and communities. Outside of work, I go hiking and swimming and enjoy time with family and friends.

My advice to others

You will probably end up doing things that don't exist yet. Focus on getting a really good broad base education and a range of experiences, and think about combining classic STEM fields with social sciences.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Foreign Languages
  • Math
  • Science
  • Computer Science
  • Music
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Liked helping people
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Liked reading
  • Was really creative
  • Was socially awkward!

Explore Career Profiles

  • Dr. Harpreet Kochhar at standup computer station in his office.

    Dr. Harpreet Kochhar

    President

    I am the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
  • Isabel Hilgendag in the fileld collecting samples in the Arctic

    Isabel Hilgendag

    MSc Student (Biology)

    I look for heavy metals, such as mercury, in Arctic marine animals, to ensure they are safe to eat.
  • Manpreet Kaur in her lab

    Manpreet Kaur (She/Her)

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    I work on research projects to discover drugs to treat infectious diseases.
  • Ryan Mitchell headshot

    Ryan Mitchell

    Hatchery Supervisor

    My job is to supervise the daily workflow at our salmon hatchery.
  • Daryl Lawes in front of one of Seaspan’s many tugboats supporting marine transportation.

    Daryl Lawes

    Environment Manager

    I am responsible for all aspects of environmental protection, performance, and regulatory compliance for Seaspan Shipyards.
  • Corie HOuldsworth headshot

    Corie Houldsworth

    Inspector

    I perform inspections of worksites where radiation is used, stored or transported.
  • Terra MacDonald at aquaculture site holding farmed salmon.

    Terra MacDonald (she/her)

    Veterinarian and Fish Health Manager

    As the veterinarian for Mowi Canada West, I care for the salmon at all life stages, from egg to harvest.
  • Isha Berry Headshot

    Isha Berry

    Epidemiologist

    I look for patterns in disease outbreaks and health outcomes in populations across the world.
  • Clair Poulin hiking near wetland area

    Claire Poulin

    Zebrafish Researcher/Pre-Med Student

    I am researching how Zebrafish respond to lower oxygen levels in their environment.
  • Jasmin Chahal headshot

    Jasmin Chahal

    Assistant Professor

    I teach in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at McGill University.
  • Lynn Henderson with German Sheppard dog

    Lynn Henderson (she/her)

    Veterinarian, Clinician, and College Professor

    I am a small animal veterinarian serving animal health in a variety of capacities.
  • Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk headshot

    Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk

    Science and Innovation Lead, Health Beyond Initiative

    I explore ways in which science and technology can provide solutions to healthcare problems in space and on Earth.
  • Hayleigh Conway laying on map of NWT and pointing to Inuvik on the map. Taken on GIS Day 2017.

    Hayleigh Conway (she/her)

    Geomatics Technician

    I make maps that help answer questions about the health of the environment in the Western Arctic.
  • Megan Katz headshot

    Megan Katz

    Prosthetic Technician

    Megan is a prosthetic technician who makes and repairs artificial limbs.
  • Dr. Jackie Dawson doing field research on Beechy Island, Nunavut.

    Jackie Dawson (she/her/they)

    Professor and Canada Research Chair

    I work with large teams of academics, Inuit knowledge holders, and decision makers to understand the risks and solutions to environmental change.
  • Katie Harris essayant une combinaison spatiale de simulation au Centre européen des astronautes.

    Katie Harris (she/her)

    Medical Student/Prospective Aerospace Medicine Specialist

    I am working towards a career as an aerospace medicine specialist - a doctor who works with astronauts and keeps them healthy for long missions!
  • Chris Derksen en train de faire ses recherches sur le terrain en Arctique.

    Chris Derksen (he/his)

    Climate Scientist

    I use satellite data and climate models to understand how climate change is impacting snow and ice across Canada.
  • Shari Forbes à l'extérieur du centre de décomposition humaine

    Shari Forbes (she/her/elle)

    Forensic Scientist

    I conduct research to understand how the human body decomposes in our unique Canadian environment.
  • Viviana Ramirez-Luna dehors en hiver

    Viviana Ramirez-Luna (she/her)

    Environmental Entrepreneur

    I founded (and run) a consulting company to help businesses, communities, and organizations reduce the waste they produce
  • Andrew Brereton travaillant à l'ordinateur

    Andrew E. Brereton

    Computational Scientist

    I write code that teaches computers how to design new drugs.