New Faculty Profile: Dr. Bryce Dietrich

Dr. Dietrich spent most of his childhood in Lansing, Kansas. Interestingly, 40 minutes from Lansing sits an old cabin (built in 1853) where Dr. Dietrich’s ancestors settled when they immigrated to the United States. The cabin is now a museum in Ottawa, Kansas, but many Dietrichs still live in the area. These deep roots are why Dr. Dietrich still calls himself a Kansan. For confirmation – ask him to name his favorite sports team, and he will quickly reply, “KU Hoops. Or, quite frankly, any Kansas City related team.”

Bryce DietrichThe Dietrich family moved to Topeka for his high school years. In Topeka High, he discovered a lasting passion: debating. His specialty was “extemporaneous speaking,” which involves drawing a random topic about a random society, and producing a 30-minute, unrehearsed speech. In the usual Midwestern fashion, Dr. Dietrich did not immediately tell me how good he was at this skill – until our food was served. With encouragement (and similar foods), Dr. Dietrich told all: he was ranked 16th in the nation, and for such extraordinary talents, he won a full scholarship to The University of Missouri, Kansas City. As a Political Science and Philosophy double major, and debate team captain, he and his debate partner were ranked 24th in the nation at the college level, and were inducted into the UMKC’s Debate Hall of Fame.

After his undergraduate years, Dr. Dietrich found his area callings in Political Science and Political Sociology. He received his Masters at Kansas University and his PhD at Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Although he may root for KU a few more times, we now welcome him as a Hawkeye, as he begins his career as an assistant professor in both the Political Science and Sociology departments.

Currently, this ambitious professor is working on many projects, but the most impressive work is his project using audio feeds from police officers’ body cameras. Funded by Johns Hopkins University and Homeland Security, and in collaboration with scholars at Washington State University, Dr. Dietrich will be conducting “FFT analyses” of racial dynamics during intense police-civilian interactions. This type of analysis involves examining vocal frequencies outside the range of human detection to determine how actors achieve consensus and accommodation during group encounters. The goal of the study is to find early warnings of interactions that could spiral out of control. This timely research will inform theory, evaluation and the practice of policing.

Going out to lunch and learning about your new colleague is a field experiment that I recommend. We welcome this talented scholar, Dr. Bryce Dietrich, and look forward to many more interesting interactions.

Dr. Alison Bianchi,
Associate Professor of Sociology

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