For 33 years, Johns Hopkins School of Education research methodologist and professor Deborah Carran has embraced the complexities of data. Her knowledge of research design, methodology, statistical analysis, and evaluation has shaped groundbreaking research collaborations with colleagues across Johns Hopkins to address the pressing needs of students in educational settings.
Carran, who retires on June 30, taught statistics/research methods and advised doctoral students. During her 33 years with SOE—her Hopkins career began in 1986 as an NIH Fellow in Psychiatric Epidemiology at the School of Public Health—she directed or advised on 51 dissertations. Carran’s expertise, sage advice, unflagging patience, and good humor also shepherded many students through required courses.
Just ask Mariale Hardiman, EdD, professor and director of SOE’s Neuro-Education Initiative.
“Debbie was my SOE instructor in the early 2000s when I was a principal,” Hardiman recalls. “Debbie made statistics so accessible that I ended up taking three more courses from her. She’s inspired others to get into the field and to be consultants, too.”
“It has been rewarding to help students create and craft their dissertations and to get to know them all so personally,” reflects Carran, who begins retirement with a new partner and plans to travel and consult. Like Hardiman, who joined the SOE faculty, many of Carran’s former students have become close friends and JHU colleagues.
Carran’s research and her consultant role for evaluation and methodology in other’s projects are equally as impactful. “I’ve been PI on many national and state grants as well as working on projects with faculty and students,” she adds, listing numerous JHU organizations, departments, and programs: the Department of Bioethics, the Applied Physics Laboratory, the Department of Neurology, the School of Medicine, the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, as well as School of Education research centers the Center for Technology in Education and the IDEALS Institute. She has also worked with the Maryland State Department of Education and served the university in leadership roles, including her current position as Professor Representative on the SOE Faculty Senate Executive Committee.
“Working at Hopkins always presents new opportunities for growth, trying new things and creating new techniques,” says Carran, who has relished working in new fields and finding innovative ways to apply her knowledge. “Representing Hopkins often presents a double-edged sword of opportunity and scrutiny: opportunities come your way from the brand but are often closely examined. Your work has to stand up professionally, which can be both nerve-wracking and rewarding.”