David Bauer
Associate Professor
RCE 215


Bauer earned a B.A. in psychology from Hope College where he assisted research on the psychological and physiological benefits of forgiveness. He also worked on the inpatient behavioral health unit at Holland Community Hospital as a mental health assistant. Upon graduation he continued studying the intersection of biology and behavior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) where he obtained M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in psychology. At the graduate level he majored in behavioral neuroscience and minored in biological science, psychopathology, and quantitative analysis.

Bauer's graduate research focused on the cerebellothalamocortical pathway, a brain circuit involved in motivation and cognitive efficiency. Typical experiments involved ablating a component of this circuit in rats and assessing subsequent cognitive, motivational, and physical behavior. Another line of research involved photobiomodulation therapy, the use of specific wavelengths of light to alter physiological function. He also developed practical skills in psychological testing at the Medical College of Wisconsin Neuropsychology Clinic.

Viterbo hired Bauer in 2008 to instruct various courses in the psychology and biopsychology majors with regular responsibilities including general psychology, research methods, brain and behavior, psychopharmacology, psychological testing, and behavioral neuroscience. He has mentored several dozen undergraduate students in the conduction of surveys and experiments spanning psychology, biology, and neuroscience. He developed an interest in the biological and psychological aspects of moral behavior in part due to opportunities to co-instruct a course in moral psychology with Jason Howard, a Viterbo professor of philosophy and D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership Research Fellow. In particular he is interested in the development and potential enhancement of moral judgment as well as the underlying biological correlates of moral behavior. Bauer's fellowship research will involve measuring moral judgment in Viterbo students and tracking this measure over time by assessing the same participants on a yearly basis. He hopes to identify cognitive factors and aspects of the Viterbo curriculum and experience that meaningfully contribute to moral judgment development.

Bauer's current research seeks to evaluate the utility of photobiomodulation in the treatment of aging and toxicity by assessing the effects of 670 nm photoirradiation on lifespan and metabolic processes in model organisms. I also have interest in a wide range of behavioral neuroscience and experimental psychology topics including gamification and moral decision-making.

ResearchGate Profile


Publications, Presentations, and Performances
  • Barton, J.R., Lee, C.L., Gerber, S.S., and Bauer, D.J. (2017, April). Photobiomodulation therapy and KCN exposure on cytochrome c oxidase in Drosophila melanogaster brain. Poster presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Memphis, TN.
  • Howard, J.J., Bauer, D.J., & Nyseth, J.C. (2015, March). Moral enhancements: What does science fiction teach us about moral improvements? Presentation at the inaugural conference of The Work of Cognition and Neuroethics in Science Fiction, Flint, MI.
  • Bauer, D.J., Peterson, T.C., & Swain, R.S. (2014). Cerebellar dentate nuclei lesions alter prefrontal cortex dendritic spine morphology. Brain Research, 1544, 15-24.
  • Hartling, J.J., & Bauer, D.J. (2013, April). Daily treatment with 670 nm light increases longevity in Drosophila melanogaster. Presentation at the annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research, La Crosse, WI.
  • Bauer, D.J., Kerr, A.L., & Swain, R.S. (2011). Cerebellar dentate nuclei lesions reduce motivation in appetitive operant conditioning and open field exploration. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 95(2), 166-175.
  • Witvliet, C.V.O., Ludwig, T.E., & Bauer, D.J. (2002). Please forgive me: Transgressors’ emotions and physiology during imagery of seeking forgiveness and victim responses. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 21(3), 219-233.