Spring/Summer Valedictorians: Changing the world a cap and gown at a time

With the end of the spring/summer terms comes another inspiring graduating class of Cougars.

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences boasts some of the best and brightest of the more than 30,000 students who walk across campus each year. This graduation, we celebrate the almost 400 FHSS graduates and their studies, efforts and experiences that are helping families, individuals and communities thrive. From Orem, Utah, to Tokyo, Japan, our graduates act as forces for good across the county and world.

Check out these adventurous, ambitious, and world-changing valedictorians:

Alexander Baxter PictureAlexander Baxter, a psychology major, loves studying monkeys. As a sophomore, Alexander started working in Dr. Dee Higley’s nonhuman primate research lab. In conjunction with Dr. Daniel Kay, he studied mother-infant attachment and infant sleep development. Alexander went on a summer internship to the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis. While there, he collected data for his own project of studying prenatal testosterone exposure. He loved the experience so much that he spent the rest of his time at BYU in Dr. Higley’s lab, and went on the internship two more times to collect data. Alexander presented his research with Dr. Higley at four professional conferences, six undergraduate research conferences, and published two first-authored research papers in peer-reviewed journals. In addition to studying attachment and social relationships in monkeys, Alexander also studied similar topics regarding humans, under the mentorship of Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad. Through the connections he made on his internship, Alexander was accepted into the biological psychology PhD program at UC Davis, and will continue doing research at the Primate Center. He is grateful for Elizabeth Wood, his lab manager and friend, and for Dr. Higley, his mentor. He will always remember Dr. Higley’s most important lesson: the people you work with are more important than the data they help you collect.

Berklee Baum PictureBerklee Annell Baum is a teaching social science major with minors in both history and teaching English as a second language. She grew up in Orem, Utah, and served a mission in Los Angeles, California. Berklee has always had a passion for learning about history and culture. During her education at BYU, she participated in a social work internship in Italy and was able to do historical research in Germany, Poland, and Austria. She was a member of Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society, which gave her

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The Family That Prays Together . . . Feels Connected, Unified, Bonded with Less Relational Tension

In a recently-published study in the Journal of Family Psychology, BYU researchers explored how family prayer influences family relationships, finding a connection between prayer and a number of benefits for families.

The 198 Christian, Jewish and Muslim families in the study lived in 17 different states and represented eight religious/ethnic faith communities. Family members were asked questions such as “Does your relationship with God influence your family relationships?,” “How does your family overcome major stresses and problems?” and “How do you share your faith with your children?”

None of the questions actually included the word prayer, but while coding the interviews, the researchers found 96 percent of the families referenced prayer in their responses, with 3,868 references in their interviews in total. The references were sorted into various categories.

“Many families loved to pray together, and it was the most important practice in their daily lives,” said Joe Chelladurai, BYU PhD student in the School of Family Life and lead author of the study. “As a family ritual, it was more than just putting up with the experience and getting through it. Family prayer provided sacred time and space to connect with God and with each other. It was a time of togetherness and interaction and a space to express love and concern for each other.”

Some of the themes from participants’ responses, listed in the results of the study included:

  • Family prayer as a means for continuing family religious traditions
  • Family prayer involves issues and concerns of individuals and the family
  • Family prayer provides feelings of connectedness, unity and bonding
  • Family prayer helps reduce relational tensions

Continuing family regligious traditions

In the interviews, parents indicated their eagerness to instill meaning and a sense of ritual to prayer. It was important to them to pass this on to their children. Children reported that they learned to pray through their parents’ examples. It was evident that a flow of religious direction and communication was occurring during this time. Family prayer was a practice, but also a means to transmit faith.

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Dietary Decision Training

Do you struggle to lose weight? BYU Psychology professor Michael Larson is looking for overweight and obese individuals to participate in a study about dietary decisions. Compensation is $100.

Qualifications:

• Must be between the ages of 18 and 45
• Must be willing to complete a 10-minute practice four times per week for one month
• Must have no psychiatric or neurologic history

Participants will complete an intervention that may aid in managing dominant responses to eat high-calorie foods, have their brain activity measured and complete some diet recalls. If you’re interested in participating, email byuneuro@gmail.com.

The Loneliness Epidemic

In our hyper-connected world with smart phones, tweets, texts, posts and photos, it’s surprising that people often feel more lonely than ever.

Using research from BYU psychology and neuroscience professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the TODAY Show is launching a #TogetherToday campaign to help combat social isolation and forge meaningful, real-life connections.

Some researchers say that America is in the grips of a loneliness epidemic. The effects go beyond emotional distress and can lead to serious health problems.

“Feeling lonely can heighten the sense of perception of environment as threatening. These physiological or biological responses that are preparing us for a threat are much like a stress response and this can put us at increased risk for a variety of physical illnesses,” says Holt-Lunstad.

She has studied the physical risks of loneliness and says social disconnection can be deadlier than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

See the full story at https://www.today.com/offsite/loneliness-can-be-hazardous-to-your-health-experts-warn-1217031235888.

 

Choose 2 Give’s “Selfies on the SWKT” a Success

For Choose 2 Give’s (C2G) “Selfies on the SWKT” there were a lot of silly selfies with props. There were romantic picnic lunches. There were even students who chose to do homework overlooking the best view at BYU from atop the Spencer W. Kimball Tower.

Mostly importantly, students learned the value of giving back through this student-run and -funded scholarship campaign that helps students in need receive a BYU education. One hundred percent of the money raised will be used to benefit BYU students.  Event organizer and BYU Chapter Psi Chi President Sariah Porter says, “I had never helped with a C2G event before and was skeptical that students would want to donate since they are scrimping and saving, but I was blown away by people’s generosity.”

Here are a few memorable quotes overheard on the rooftop:

  • “I saved three lives today.”
  • “You’re making dreams come true.”
  • “Is this where we’re meeting for target practice? #Lookoutbelow”
  • “Can you get a picture of me looking at Y mountain? Gotta get the hipster shot.”
  • “We’re actually adults who want to do kid things.”
  • Student trying to shmooze Buildings Exteriors Manager Kerry Wilson for off-hours rooftop access: “So, I’ve been dating this girl for a while and I need to do something really good to impress her. What can you do for me?”
  • “Don’t shut down the elevators yet. We need to give stragglers their ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ moment.”

    (Bradley Goronson)
  • “Wait. There’s a backpack left behind. Is it Noah’s?”

Economics major Bradley Goronson had one of the best responses of all. He has an extensive BYU bucket list and exclaimed that going to the rooftop of the SWKT (KMBL) was at the top of his list. “If I had not achieved my dream by graduation, I was going to personally ask President Worthen if I could go.”

Choose 2 Give grants dreams in more ways than one.

The campaign will continue to March 19-30, 2018. Go to studentalumni.byu.edu to donate.

Students: Deadline Approaches for Martin Luther King Day Student Essay Contest

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to the nonviolent pursuit of racial equality. Our national celebration of his birth each year is meant to honor, not only him and his legacy but the lives and work of countless lesser-known leaders, as well as that of ordinary men, women, and children who helped to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. The King holiday is also intended for us, today, to consider what we can do to serve our fellowmen and to promote the eternal truth that each of us is a beloved child of God.

June 8, 2018 will mark the 40th Anniversary of the LDS Church’s historic revelation restoring priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy members. In connection with the King holiday and in celebration and contemplation of this important moment in LDS history, we invite you to explore and reflect on Official Declaration 2, the Church’s “Race and the Priesthood” website, and recent statements by LDS leaders on current racial issues, and to write an essay of 777 words or less discussing the long struggle for freedom and the work of building Zion.

Submit your essay no later than Noon on Friday January 12th to: blackhistorymonth@byu.edu as a Word attachment. Please include the following information with your submission: your name, year in school, major, home town, email address, and phone number.

The first-place winner will receive $150 and the opportunity to read her/his essay at BYU’s MLK Walk of Life Commemoration on Wednesday January 17, 2018. The second and third place winners will receive $60 and $40, respectively. (Previous first place winners are not eligible for the top prize.) Questions about the essay contest can be directed to the above email.

Envision: Using STEM to Investigate Ancient Cultures, at the MPC

Interact with Archeology at Museum of Peoples and Cultures New Exhibit

If you want to witness archeology in action you aren’t limited to watching Indiana Jones; you can be a part of it right on BYU’s campus at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures. See for yourself the math, science, and technology used to reveal the past in the Museum’s new exhibit Envision: Innovative Exploration in Archaeology.

Opening on Monday September 11, 2017 with a reception from 6:30-8:30 pm, individuals will be able to interact with technologies like the solar-powered supply trailer used in excavations and thermal imaging cameras, as well as learn about modern research methods. Visitors can complete circuits using a solar panel and simulate separating contaminants from DNA fragments. Families and individuals will see how STEM plays a part in archaeological exploration and innovation.

“We anticipate exhibition visitors will come to envision archaeology in new ways as they learn about the innovative trends in this field” said Brianna Selph, MPC Guest Services Assistant. Museum staff hope that all visitors will, through their interaction with the exhibit, come away equipped with the knowledge and tools to make connections between archaeology, STEM fields, and their own lives.

The Museum of Peoples and Cultures’ Mission is to “inspir[e] students to life-long learning.” Learn, experience, and understand archeology on a new level at Envision: Innovative Explorations in Archaeology, open September 11, 2017. This exhibit will provide ample hands-on experience to individuals looking to make connections between themselves, science, and the ancient peoples and cultures we continue to learn more about every day.

The exhibit, which will run until February 2018,  is free to the public. For more information about the exhibition or reception, visit mpc.byu.edu.

Affected by the Constitution and Supreme Court? Come to This Panel About Both

On Friday September 22, 2017 from 1-2 pm, the BYU Law School will host a panel to discuss A Changing Supreme Court:  The Future of Constitutional Interpretation in the Moot Court Room (Room 303) of the J. Reuben Clark Building (JRCB).  This panel is part of both the University’s Constitution Day celebration and the Law School’s annual Supreme Court Review, at which former Supreme Court clerks on the BYU faculty and other expert faculty discuss the direction of the Supreme Court and some of the important decisions of the Supreme Court’s most recent term.

Students, faculty members, and Americans—anyone affected by the Constitution—will benefit from learning about how the future of Constitutional interpretation might affect their lives.

The 1 pm panel will feature BYU Law Professors Elizabeth Clark, John Fee, Aaron Nielson, Michalyn Steele, and Lisa Grow Sun, who will discuss how the recent appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch and other potential future appointments will affect the Court’s constitutional interpretation across different areas of the law, including issues of separation of powers and the administrative state, freedom of religion, federal Indian law, and criminal law. From 2:10-3:10 pm, there will be a final panel focused on significant opinions from the 2016 Supreme Court Term.

This year’s Supreme Court Review also features a keynote address from 11:50-12:50 pm by BYU Law Professor Justin Collings, who will explore the ways in which constitutional courts invoke–and help shape–national memory in the process of constitutional interpretation.  Specifically, his talk will discuss the ways that the constitutional courts of Germany, the United States, and South Africa have engaged with the legacies, respectively, of Nazism, slavery, and apartheid.

 

 

 

Intermountain Histories: a History of Us

On Sixth South in Provo, there is an old, old building that used to house the Startup candy company. Interestingly, today, it houses several small startup companies instead of the candy company. The story of the Startup building is one of many told on Intermountain Histories.org, a digital public history project that provides scholarly information and interpretive stories of historic sites and events around the Intermountain West regions of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The project is managed by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University. In collaboration with professors and students from universities across the Intermountain West, new content is created each semester in classroom settings. Those stories are then edited and revised by the Redd Center and published on the site for the public.

Using an interactive GPS-enabled map, you can take virtual or physical walking tours of historic sites. As your personal tour guide, Intermountain Histories provides historical information, photographs and images, documentary videos, audio interviews, oral histories, bibliographic citations, and other resources for you to explore. Though created in academic settings, the content is meant to be used by the general public.

The first batch of stories is small, created by a “guinea pig” group of professors and students. In the upcoming weeks, additional stories currently being edited will be published as well. Moving forward, new batches will periodically publish as collaborating professors, students, and interns at the Redd Center research, write, and edit new stories. Intermountain Histories is available for free in iTunes, Google Play, and online at IntermountainHistories.org. To receive notifications when new stories are published, follow the project on Facebook or Twitter.

“Though small at our current launch,” said Dr. Brenden Rensink, co-director, “this project will grow and fill the map with countless pins and stories.”

 

BYU Hosts Social Science Fair Featuring Student Research on Relevant Social Issues

BYU students will fill BYU’s Wilkinson Center on April 13, 2017 with the tangible evidence of months of mentored research—their Fulton Conference posters. It is a wonderful opportunity for members of the community, parents, other students, and employers to support research that increases everyone’s collective ability to understand the world around us, and to see what great work our undergraduate students are capable of.

The Mary Lou Fulton Endowed Chair in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will host the 13th Annual Mentored Student Research Conference on Thursday, April 13, 2017. The conference will be in the Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom from 9 a.m. to noon and is open to the public.

The conference is a unique opportunity for hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students to present their most recent research visually and succinctly. BYU graduate and undergraduate students researched with faculty mentors, research that takes typically a full semester. Students will be present to answer any questions visitors may have about the research.

Topics will include child abuse and its effect on academic ability, internet addiction, depression in college students, social anxiety disorder, and consequences of transgender victimization. The conference will feature research done in the areas of neuroscience, sociology, social work, psychology, family life, geography, anthropology, history, political science, and economics.

Savannah Keenan, a graduate student in the School of Family Life, studied the portrayal of fathers in popular media, and the effects of those portrayals on real-life behavior, for her winning 2016 poster. Her research showed that, every 3.24 minutes, a TV dad acts like a buffoon, and that children responded negatively to those portrayals 48% of the time. “We know that dads are often portrayed negatively in the media,” says Keenan. “But not a lot of research has been done that shows how the father portrayals in the media actually affect real-life behavior and attitudes of children. I think the most important thing we need to know now is: how is this affecting our kids? If these television shows are portraying dads as incompetent— especially when they’re directed toward such a sensitive age group as tweens—what are these kids going to think about their own dads?”

For more information, please visit FultonChair.byu.edu. The Mary Lou Fulton Endowed Chair provides meaningful research and educational experiences for students, faculty, and children. Mary Lou’s passion for educating and elevating others is reflected in the many elements of the chair, established by her husband Ira A. Fulton in 2004 to honor and recognize her example.