A Day of Learning: The Mentored Student Research Conference

Students from across the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences gathered virtually for the 17th annual Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Student Research Conference on Thursday, April 8. After opening remarks from President Kevin Worthen and a brief talk from Loren Marks, professor in the School of Family Life, participants watched as awards were announced for outstanding posters from each discipline.  

These research posters are a representation of the great scholarship being carried out by our undergraduate and graduate students. Experiential learning is a core part of the college’s aim to prepare students to be active participants in their respective disciplines. Through the conference, students are given the opportunity to share their work in a professional setting; this opportunity not only builds resume, but also helps prepare students with tools for success in their future careers.  

The conference is funded by the Mary Lou Fulton Endowed Chair in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. See the list of awards below and view all posters and a recording of the awards ceremony at https://fultonchair.byu.edu.  

Undergraduate Awards 

Anthropology 

1st Place— 

Student: Abigail Rivera 

Mentor: David Johnson 

Poster: Paleopathology Report for Excavations at Wadi Mataha 

Economics 

1st Place— 

Student: Carver Coleman 

Mentor: Joseph Price 

Poster: Mortality Benefits of Non-pharmaceutical Intervention During the 1918 Flu Pandemic 

Geography 

1st Place— 

Student: Casey McClellan Geslison 

Mentor: Sam Otterstrom 

Poster: ’To Hold the World Together’: A Uinta Basin Homesteading History, 1905–1930 

History 

1st Place— 

Student: Jinhee Nelson  

Mentor:Rebecca de Schweinitz 

Poster: From the Eisenhower Presidential Library- Young People in Politics 

2nd Place— 

Students: Steven Tarno, Abigail Davidson, AJ Tower 

Mentor: Dr. Skabelund 

Poster: “To Lose a Voice: The Systematic Suppression of Women within Nazi Germany” 

Neuroscience 

1st Place— 

Students: Shawna Ibarra, James Bates, Summer Arthur, Gavin Jones, Tanner McVey, and Dallin Otteson 

Mentors: Scott Steffensen and Jordan Yorgason 

Poster: Shaking for Relief: Reducing Anxiety in Alcohol Withdrawal 

2nd Place— 

Students: Lindsey Edwards, Roger Woods, Lesle Nevillle 

Mentors: J. Dee Higley, Elizabeth Wood, Jacob Hunter 

Poster: MAOa-Genotype-by-Environment Interactions on Central Monoamine Metabolite Concentrations in Infant Rhesus Macaques (Macaca Mulatta) 

Political Science 

1st Place— 

Students: Kelsey Eyre, Kesley Powell, Heather Walker 

Mentor: Jeremy Pope 

Poster: White Identity Does Not Equal Racial Resentment 

2nd Place— 

Students: Grant Baldwin and Zeke Peters 

Mentor: Adam Dynes 

Poster: At Large But Not in Charge: How Formal Institutions Affect Minority Representation on US City Councils 

3rd Place— 

Students: Ethan Meldrum, Camilla Alacron, Layla Shaaban 

Mentor: Ethan Busby 

Poster: Whistle While You Work: What Attributes Influence Whistleblower Credibility? 

4th Place— 

Student: George R. Garcia III 

Mentor: Darren Hawkins 

Poster: International Reverberations: How the January 6th Insurrection Affected Political Views of South American Bureaucrats 

Psychology  

1st Place— 

Students: Alex Merce and Maryn Rolfson 

Mentor: Wendy Birmingham 

Poster: Breadwinners and Bread Makers: Trends in Gender Ideology Among Religious Working and Stay-at-Home Mothers 

2nd Place— 

Students: Alice Wang, Samuel Castillo, Fatma Luka, Tyler Parra, and Josely Velasquez 

Mentor: Niwako Yamawaki 

Poster: Misinformation and Education Level on Discriminatory Behavior Toward Asian Victims During COVID-19 

3rd Place— 

Students: Leslie Neville, Elysha Cash, and Elijeh Tauai 

Mentors: J.D. Higley and Elizabeth K. Wood 

Poster: Inherent Sensitivity and Acquired Tolerance to the NMDA-Antagonist Ketamine is Associated with Alcohol Intake: A Nonhuman Primate (Macaca mulatta) 

4th Place— 

Students: Colt Mitchell Halter and Elysha Cash 

Mentor: Dr. Higley 

Poster: Translating Kagan’s Human Testing Paradigm for Measuring Behavioral Inhibition four Use Infant Rhesus Macaques (Macaca Mulatta)—A Pilot Study 

School of Family Life 

1st Place— 

Students: Logan J. Marks and Heather H. Kelley 

Mentors: Loren D. Marks, David C. Dollahite, and Spencer James 

Poster: Change in Financial Stress and Relational Wellbeing during COVID-19: Exacerbating and Alleviating Influences 

2nd Place— 

Student: Annie Rushton 

Mentors: Erin Homes and Jeremy Yorgason 

Poster: What Did You Preconceive Before You Conceived 

3rd Place— 

Students: Danielle Cannon, Jessica Willis, and Elisabeth Kimball 

Mentors: Loren Marks and David Dollahite 

Poster: Strong Black Families: Unique Strengths and Challenges to Religious Black Families 

4th Place—    

Student: Corinne Archibald 

Mentor: Laura Walker 

Poster: Sexual Development: Influence of Peers and Media on Adolescent Sex Ethics and Behaviors when Parent Communication Quality is Low 

Sociology 

1st Place— 

Student: Emley Holcombe 

Mentor: Melissa S. Jones 

Poster: Early Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adolescent Substance Use: Boys vs Girls 

2nd Place— 

Student: Brianna Walker 

Mentor: Melissa S. Jones 

Poster: Police, Teen Cynicism & Gender 

3rd Place— 

Student: Michele Castro 

Mentor: Curtis Child 

Poster: Sisterhood is the Most Beautiful Gift: The Social Meaning of Direct Sales 

4th Place— 

Student: Ashley Kernan 

Mentors: Melissa S. Jones and Rick Miller 

Poster: Affects of Childhood Adversities on Women Prisoners Who Experience PTSD 

Graduate Awards 

Psychology 

1st Place— 

Student: Maddy Peterson 

Mentor: Jared Nielsen 

Poster: Extra-axial Cerebrospinal Fluid Volume Normalizes with Age in Autistic Individuals 

School of Family Life 

1st Place— 

Student: Rebecca Walker Clarke 

Mentors: Chelom Leavitt and Jeremy Yorgason 

Poster: Honoring Otherness: Religiosity and Marital Connection Through Empathy and Commitment 

2nd Place— 

Students: Alexandra Cooper and Matthew Daines 

Mentor: Jeremy Yorgason 

Poster: Too Fit to Quit: Relationship Benefits of Exercise in Early Marriage 

3rd Place— 

Student: Amber Price 

Mentor: Chelom E. Leavitt 

Poster: Self-silencing & Emotional Intimacy in Romantic Relationships 

Social Work  

1st Place— 

Student: Spencer Sandberg 

Mentors: Sherinah Saasa and Steve Hoffman 

Poster: Exclusion, Drugs, & African Immigrants: Testing Social Exclusion Theory 

2nd Place— 

Student: Abena Yirenya-Tawiah 

Mentors: Sherinah Saasa and Joseph Olsen 

Poster: Perceived Parental Involvement and Self-Efficacy among children in Zambia 

3rd Place— 

Student: Kirra Crump 

Mentors: Stacey Shaw and Mallory Funk 

Poster: Refugees and Religion: The Impact of Religious Coping on Emotional Distress and Resilience 

4th Place— 

Student: Tucker Wallace 

Mentor: Steve Hoffman 

Poster: I Think I Can: How Health Literacy Influences Self-Efficacy Among College Students 

Sociology 

1st Place— 

Students: Taylor Topham, Breanna Duffin, Hannah Dizon, Avanlee Peterson, Alex Rieder, and Jordan Coburn 

Mentor: Carol Ward 

Poster: Native Americans in STEM: A Case Study of Mentored Internships 

Neuroscience 

1st Place— 

Students: Hillary Wadsworth, Gavin C Jones, James Bates, Summer Arthur, Tanner McVey, Dallin Otteson, Shawna Ibarra, and Parker Layton 

Mentors: Jeremy Yorgason and Scott Steffensen 

Poster: Virus-Induced Inhibition of Mu Opioid Receptors and Anxiety in Mice 

Anthropology 

1st Place— 

Student: Jacob Jepsen 

Mentor: Michael Searcy 

Poster: Detecting Remnants of the Past: Archaeo-Geophysical Prospection at Wolf Village, Utah 

Additional Awards 

Redd Center 

1st Place— 

Student: Casey McClellan Geslison 

Mentor: Sam Otterstrom 

Poster: “To Hold the World Together”: A Uinta Basin Homesteading History, 1905–1930 

2nd Place— 

Students: Nadia Gisselle Terron Ayala, Catalina Valdez, and Rachel Weaver 

Mentor: Jane Lopez 

Poster: Shades of Belonging: The Intersection of Race and Religion in Shaping Utah Immigrants’ Integration 

Civic Engagement 

1st Place—Camilla Alarcon 

Mentor: Jay Goodliffe 

Poster: A Latent Class Analysis of Methods of Political Participation 

Gerontology 

1st Place— 

Student: Carver J. Coleman 

Mentor: C. Arden Pope III 

Poster: Greenness is Associated with Decreased Mortality Risk in Cancer Patients 

Diversity and Inclusion 

1st Place— 

Students: Nadia Gisselle Terron Ayala, Catalina Valdez, and Rachel Weaver 

Mentor: Jane Lopez 

Poster: Shades of Belonging: The Intersection of Race and Religion in Shaping Utah Immigrants’ Integration 

2nd Place— 

Students: Taylor Topham, Breanna Duffin, Hannah Dixon, Avanlee Peterson, Alex Rieder, and Jordan Coburn 

Mentor: Carol Ward 

Poster: Native Americans in STEM: A Case Study of Mentored Internships 

3rd Place— 

Student: Samuel Hale Pulsipher 

Mentor: Aaron Skabelund 

Poster: Himmler’s Persecution: His Mistreatment of Homosexuals in the Third Reich 

4th Place— 

Student: Ruth Kaloki Bryson 

Mentors: Anthony Bates and Ben Ogles 

Poster: BYU Students’ Experiences with the African American Civil Rights Seminar 

To view all posters, visit the conference page.   

From Student to Scholar — Research Presentations Showcase Experiential Learning

Annual Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Student Research Conference viewable online 

What do the 1918 pandemic, cyberbullying, sibling relationship quality, and post-marital body image all have in common? They are all research topics presented at this year’s Mentored Student Research Conference, funded by the Mary Lou Fulton endowed chair in the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences. 

Each year, students in all disciplines of the college pursue their research questions, collect data, and share their findings in poster format. The conference affirms the college’s emphasis on experiential learning — students take what they learn in the classroom and use that understanding and methodology in real-world scientific research. 

“In my experience, the Mentored Student Research Conference is where you can really see the lightbulb go off over students’ heads and they realize they have become scholars,” says Mikaela Dufur, associate dean in the college. “By working on research with faculty mentors, students become producers of knowledge instead of just consumers. With this shift in perspective, they see the world and their place in it differently.” 

Many students in the college plan to continue their education through graduate programs, and this conference gives them a unique experience to refer to in the admissions process. Students can also use this experience on a resume as they seek to enter a competitive scientific workforce. The participation in the conference demonstrates intellectual curiosity, the ability to formulate a specific question and collect relevant data, analyze the data, and tell a story with data visualization. These skills with both quantitative and qualitative data are in high demand. 

Conference posters can be submitted now through March 31 at noon when judging will begin. All are invited to view the poster submissions on the conference website at any time and participate in the conference program. 

This year’s conference program will be held virtually on April 8 at noon. President Kevin Worthen will be the keynote speaker and awards will be presented for the best posters from each department and category. First-place poster teams are awarded $300, second-place ($200), third-place ($100), and fourth-place ($50) posters may also be recognized. 

For more information, visit the Mentored Student Research Conference website.

They’ll Choose 2 Dance When You Choose 2 Give

Want to see your favorite social science professor become TikTok famous? This year you can! 

It’s been a tough year for everyone, but as the warmth of spring approaches and all Utah adults are now vaccine-eligible (!!!), we are ready to have some fun. Fun while giving, that is. 

For this year’s Choose 2 Give campaign, we’ve raised the stakes a bit with a Faculty TikTok Challenge. Check out the contestants online and who they think you should vote for. 

When you make a donation to the FHSS Annual Fund, you earn one vote for every dollar donated. The two faculty teams with the most votes by April 2 will perform and post a TikTok-style dance. The more you donate, the better chance you have of watching your favorite faculty attempt the feat. But you don’t have to do it alone — share your choice on social media and get your fellow students to help out too. Use the hashtags #choose2give #fhsstiktok. 

Choose 2 Give is a campaign for students to help other students and 100% of donations are used for student scholarships. Asking students to donate to help other students might seem backwards, but BYU is a place where thousands of students have been blessed by a rich academic experience, and a big part of continuing that legacy is giving back. It’s never too soon to begin the habit. 

Give what you can — whether it’s $20 or $1. At the end of the day, the amount of the donation isn’t as important as the act behind it. Each dollar builds on the one before and provides relief and support that many students wouldn’t otherwise have. In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” 

The campaign runs from March 22–April 2, so don’t wait to donate, vote, and share! Let’s do our part to help fellow students — and make the faculty dance! 

Donate and vote at https://fhss.byu.edu/c2g, then share your choice on social media with the hashtags #choose2give #fhsstiktok and tag @byufhss.

Download the social media filters below to use in your posting!

Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion Virtual Art Gallery

Students from the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences recently participated in an art competition focused on building Zion at BYU through diversity and inclusion. These pieces, done in a variety of mediums, communicate the students’ feelings on fostering a loving environment where all feel welcome.

During February, the library will host a physical gallery of the artwork in the Atrium Gallery. All are welcome to visit. We also compiled the art into a virtual gallery for everyone to enjoy.

(Photos by Alyssa Dahneke of BYU photo)

1st Place: Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise

Kathryn Ogden

“My piece depicts a gathering of priesthood holders for the naming and blessing of a newborn girl. Each priesthood holder is meant to represent a different community, society, or culture. For some of these figures I had a personal, real-life inspiration to guide me in my creation. My daughter was the original inspiration for this chalk design. She inspires me daily to recognize the good around me and try new things as she does the same. While my daughter is caucasian, I wanted to depict the little girl in this artwork as ethically ambiguous as I could. I want her to symbolize the future generations that have the opportunity to be a part of Zion by creating unity and spreading love to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else that differentiates people.”


2nd Place: Character, Attributes, and Faithfulness

Alina Vanderwood

“Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, ‘Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens.’ My piece is a black and white landscape of BYU campus, just outside of the Harold B. Lee Library, populated by colorful silhouettes of students that leave trails of color along their way. This is meant to portray that the character, attributes, and faithfulness of each person is unique and as they interact with and uplift each other, the colors blend together to make a new, more beautiful atmosphere that will lay a positive foundation for those who follow them.”


3rd Place: Your Fight is My Fight

Nicholas Rex

“I was inspired by the many diverse people at the Black Lives Matter protests. It seemed to me that all the people there understood why they were there. They wrote what they believed on their cardboard signs and marched. They knew in their heart why Black Lives Matter, and were fighting for them. I believed Black Lives Matter but did not know why, and did not understand my place in all of this. I did not know what my core message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement was, but as I looked around I found my message in everybody else’s message: Your fight is my fight.”


Dean’s Honorable Mention: Oh How We Need Each Other

Kayla Beck Nuss

“With the news of George Floyd and other POC victims coming into many people’s conversations from this past summer, I was inspired to create this piece. This painting is supposed to reflect the courage and strength of the people who have spoken out and shared their experiences with underlying racism that still exists in our world today. We need them. We need each other to support and uplift.”


Honorable Mention: Zion Under Her Nails

Madison Siebers

“I was inspired by our community’s need for racial diversity to create Zion. When I was a freshman, a professor once talked about living our lives like we “had Zion under our fingernails.” It has been a motto for me as I’ve made life decisions—I want to be on my knees, elbow-deep in the work.”


Honorable Mention: Garden

Leslie Neville

“I have always viewed flowers as a symbol of beauty and growth. In my artwork, I attempted to convey the beauty that can come from joining hands with individuals of all cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Each hand has something unique to contribute that adds to the colorful garden of flowers.”


Honorable Mention: A Day in the Life

Carrie Nelson

“This was taken in a tiny town outside of Mexico City. I remember seeing this man going about his day, most likely doing his work to provide for his family and thinking, ‘Wow, he does this everyday?’ I immediately was overcome with so much respect for him.”


Honorable Mention: Grafting

Eden Smith

“This painting is inspired by the parable of the tame and wild olive trees in Jacob Chapter 5, in which the Lord of the vineyard saves his dying olive trees by crafting in wild branches. In our society today, “grafting” means sharing diverse opinions, ideas, and talents to strengthen those around us and foster inclusion, mutual understanding, and faith.


Honorable Mention: Their Trauma Remains

Lindsey Meza

“I wanted to depict the intergenerational trauma of black women. Enslaved black women went through intense physical, sexual, and emotional trauma. That trauma did not die when they did—it passed to their posterity. I wanted to paint something that depicted that chain. Even though it wasn’t the present woman’s personal trauma, it’s still hers—passed to her by their ancestors.”


Honorable Mention

Claire Felsted

“I want it to represent all kinds of people with no real distinction because in the end, whatever it is of the many things that make us different, we are all children of God and can be united in love if we choose to be. Red and white roses often symbolize unity, and the color blue is also expressive of unity, so I made sure to incorporate them into my piece. I also added intertwined ropes for the same symbolism. We are all part of this world and the community of humanity. May we treat each other with respect is my hope.”


Honorable Mention: My Brother

Sage Smith


Honorable Mention:

Forecasting a Conversation and Seeing Only Storms Ahead, for the Past Has Given Little Reason to Expect Otherwise

Preston Makoto Hunter


Look to the Son

Hannah Stadler

As I thought about what Zion meant to me, I realized that Zion is really another word to describe Jesus Christ. The person who created us so individually clearly not only appreciates diversity but needs it in this world. So vice versa, diversity is necessary to build a Zion community. I wanted to show how different cultures and people all over the world are all united through Christ.


Natalie Frenfell

Despite our differences, as we come together with others in our communities and throughout the world, we will discover a greater whole in store. Growing to accept people regardless of culture, origin, and background will enable us to purify our hearts and create a greater Zion community.


Do Unto Others

Casey Geslison

“I wanted to create a modern icon showing the divine nature of Black women. Basing her pose on traditional Orthodox icons, I hoped to convey a sense of dignity and strength, as well as a spiritual power I’ve felt from BIPOC friends. I hope we can all become the disciples Christ needs us to be by actively pursuing anti-racist actions and narratives and doing unto others as we would have done to us!”


Earth Tones

Faith Williams

“I recently had the realization that every skin tone that exists across the planet earth can be found in the many colors of dirt, sand, and rock across this same planet, our home. It feels beautiful to me that something so natural as the color of our skin—no matter the color—is represented in the earth. After all, what could be more natural than the substance upon which we stand, walk, and exist?”


A Change of Heart

Joseph Chu

“This piece is inspired by the concept of having a changed heart because of the influence of God. when we are truly touched by God and changed, we see others with more charity, and we have a desire to help them no matter the differences we may have with each other. Our perspective towards people becomes more Christlike. To me, the importance of diversity is that it offers us a chance to apply the concept of charity in a variety of different ways, because each person that we encounter is so unique.”


Broken Hands United

Emily Schwartz

“If we are to have the unity of a Zion community, we need to put in a concerted effort to address the pains of the past. It is critical to realize that we can’t keep using bandaids to conceal the centuries of hurt that have been inflicted by racism. In recognizing that truth, we can begin to work towards a brighter future as we stitch together our broken hearts and hands in unity.”


Unique Rules and Important Contributions

Kellie Haddon


Visit the exhibit this month in the HBLL Atrium Gallery and visit the BYUnity website for more information on the college’s Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion initiatives.

Hickman Diversity & Inclusion Lecture Dives into the Immigration Experience from a Psychological Perspective

Niwako Yamawaki, BYU professor and associate chair in the Department of Psychology, is the speaker for this year’s Hickman Diversity & Inclusion Lecture on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, at 11 a.m. Find the Zoom link here.

The title of Dr. Yamawaki’s presentation is “My Perspective as an Immigrant.” 

Dr. Yamawaki came from Japan to Salt Lake City when she was 29 years old. Because she felt impressed by the Spirit to make this move, she had the courage to come alone and without anyone to receive her.

In her presentation, she hopes to use principles of psychology to help others better understand the experience of immigrants, so that everyone can be empathetic toward them. Dr. Yamawaki says, “As a Christian, it is my responsibility to assist people who are in pain and suffering,” 

Dr. Yamawaki conducts cross-cultural research to investigate cultural factors that influence attitudes toward mental health services and violence against women. Along with that, she is interested in the role of psychological resilience in Eastern and Western populations and is affiliated with both the American Psychological Association and the Japanese Association for Mental Health.

The Hickman Diversity & Inclusion Lecture is given annually by a faculty member who has been awarded the Hickman Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion Award based on their research, teaching, and citizenship in the area of diversity and inclusion. The award is named for Martin B. Hickman (along with five other faculty awards in the college) who, as founding dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, helped establish the Women’s Research Institute and David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, setting a standard for research that is inclusive of diverse populations. Dr. Yamawaki is the award recipient for the 2020-21 academic year.

Hickman Diversity & Inclusion Lecture

“My Perspective as an Immigrant”

Friday, February 19, 2021, 11 a.m. MT

Presented live via Zoom

Find details here

Diversity, Collaboration, & Inclusion Art Contest

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences’ Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion Committee is sponsoring an art contest as part of their campaign to nurture a Zion community, one that is based on unity, respect, and charity towards all, at BYU. They hope that this call for art submissions will inspire students to reflect on what it means to be a disciple of Christ and stand up for social injustice.

The theme for this year is Building a Diverse Community Today for a Zion Community Tomorrow. Students are encouraged to internalize this message and create something that accurately shares what that message means to them. 

This call is open for submissions beginning November 30th and will close January 11th, 2021. Students may create submissions in any medium they desire, as long as the following criteria are met:

*Student must be a Family, Home, and Social Sciences Major

*The entry may be any medium, but must be smaller than 2’ x 3’

*Student must agree that if chosen, their work will be donated to the college of FHSS

*Student must fill out the accompanying form (see bottom) to be considered

*Only one entry per student

Entries will be judged by a panel of DCI committee members and staff representatives based on aesthetic merit and how well the piece reflects the prompt. Winners will be chosen and will be awarded as follows:

1st Place: $300

2nd Place: $200

3rd Place: $100

Honorable Mention: $50

All students are encouraged to participate in this wonderful opportunity to reflect on the idea of fostering a Zion community at BYU. Submitted works will be displayed at the College, replacing artwork previously hung, as a way to demonstrate our commitment to upholding principles of diversity and inclusion. All artwork will be displayed/showcased throughout Black History Month.

For any questions, please contact Lita Little Giddins.

lita_giddins@byu.edu

All submissions due by January 11th, 2021.

Follow this link to the official site: https://fhss.byu.edu/diversity-collaboration-and-inclusion-art-contest

Submission form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfl1hFlA3Ls18cGMHoJD08VJMOZImc-VZXDv0CKvs2BmWxKSQ/viewform

Walking Through the Comprehensive Clinic

At a program anniversary event, faculty from BYU’s Marriage and Family Therapy program took time to ask themselves “What have we done?” In academia, impact is measured by publications, performance ratings, and research achievements. This time, however, they decided to look further, at the less measurable standards of impact. One clinician mentioned walking across campus at a different university when someone came up to him, recognized him, and said, “You saved my marriage.” How does one measure that kind of impact? Thinking of this impact, Dean Barley of the Comprehensive Clinic looks to the future, saying, “We will continue to learn how to do better what we do, what health looks like, and how to help people get there, so we can accomplish frankly the purpose for which we are on the planet: to get back to Heavenly Father.” 

That’s the spirit and overall purpose of BYU’s Comprehensive Clinic, which is located on the east border of campus, across the street from the Creamery. In the seventies, members of various disciplines within BYU had the idea to consolidate psychology, marriage and family therapy, and social work into a building designed to provide hands-on learning for students as well as service to the community. Barley explains, “one initial vision was that the academic side could do development of theory and practice, and they could help in the creation of training modules to be used by LDS family services…Cross referring and interdisciplinary research and services, that was the idea.” 

The Clinic provides students excellent training in clinical psychology, marriage and family therapy, and social work. Unlike BYU Counseling Services, which is designed especially for BYU students, the Comprehensive Clinic focuses on the uninsured and underinsured members of the surrounding community. Over 100 students and 30 supervisors take on anywhere between 850 to 1,000 cases a year. Graduate students provide the therapy under the careful supervision of their faculty supervisors, who are also licensed therapists.  

To receive access to these services, potential clients call the Clinic and are scheduled by the receptionist for a phone intake interview with a graduate student. These interviews last 20-30 minutes and are designed to assess the client’s needs and eligibility for care. As a training institution, the clinic is careful to not exceed what they are able to offer; more extreme cases are referred to an appropriate clinic elsewhere. Clients have access to therapy sessions as well as psychological assessments. Sessions are typically $15, though the client can negotiate with the therapist if that is financially challenging. The purpose of the Comprehensive Clinic is to help those in the community who struggle to receive help through normal clinical routes while providing excelling training for the next generation of therapists.  

The clinic isn’t just a place of practice though, as many faculty are conducting research in a wide variety of subjects: positive psychology, autism, obesity, violence in relationships, anxiety, marriage therapy, stress, trauma, and adolescent development, to name a few. The Comprehensive Clinic is the intersect of these diverse fields’ academic and applied endeavors.  

While explaining the function and operations of the clinic, Dean Barley shifted in his chair and began to speak more candidly: “The end goal of all we do is to create a heavenly family, and when we are all done, if things go well, we will be back together.” There was a clear empathy in his voice as he continued, “This is a beautiful and applied setting. How can we help those who are struggling—individuals, couples, and families—across a lifetime span to help us accomplish life’s real purpose?” For Barley, the Clinic is the “crown jewel” of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, taking all of the theories across multiple disciplines and consolidating them into a place of true care. Barley says, “In this setting it’s: ‘Things aren’t going well, let’s get you healthy again so that you’re thriving and not just striving.’ So, we have a noble purpose here.”  

When one walks the halls of the Clinic, it is clear that this noble purpose is at the forefront of all that the Clinic tries to do. There are several rooms where the actual therapy sessions take place, each designed to be relaxing for the clients and educational for the students. Beautiful photos hang on the wall, toys for children fill cubbies, and comfortable atmospheres make an environment that encourages healthy and productive therapy. There are also rooms dedicated entirely as spaces for students to work, study, and relax. The faculty and students who spend much of their day in this building are dedicated to improving their skills and providing the best possible service to people in the surrounding community. 

With the arrival of COVID, the Clinic was forced to transition most of their care to online meetings, which was an adjustment. However, this has had the unforeseen benefit of allowing them to access clients in a broader geographic area. Where once only those in Utah County were able to meet for regular appointments, the introduction of teletherapy sessions has allowed for a more expansive coverage. The Clinic will continue to operate online for as long as is appropriate, after which a decision will be made on how to move forward and improve access to these services for the community.  

If you or someone you know in the community could be helped by the services of the Comprehensive Clinic, please contact them through the resources provided below. They are happy to get you the care you need.  

(801) 422-7759

https://comprehensiveclinic.byu.edu

“Patterwitz” and a New Approach to American Heritage

The Fall 2020 Semester has been unlike any before at BYU, and students and faculty alike are feeling the strain of hours-long, sometimes mind-numbing online activity. For courses with high enrollment, classes have been held exclusively online in a variety of formats. Some faculty post prerecorded lectures, others host live Zoom meetings, and all are just trying to do the best that they can. So, it may come as a surprise that BYU’s infamous American Heritage course has found a way to have a little fun with online learning.   

Understanding that their teaching would be moved online, Professors Chris Karpowitz and Kelly Patterson began brainstorming a new style of class back in April. They knew that many of their students would be freshman, and that these students had likely either lost out on their senior year or had been reassigned or released early from missions. They wanted to make American Heritage a memorable part of these students’ day, while preserving the academic rigor of the course. They also knew that they couldn’t take on this project alone; they needed a team of help.   

Karpowitz and Patterson decided to consolidate the six sections of their class into one lecture session, held on Monday and Wednesday at 11AM, where they deliver an interactive online lecture for around 2,400 students. Bruce Burgon, database manager at FHSS who has been helping with the course, says “The two professors are team teaching, but they discuss with each other the principle. They can put each other on the spot and ask tough questions that would normally embarrass a student. They can build off of each other’s energy.”  

The class is designed to look and feel like a tv show. Ron Ralston and his production team from OIT have taken the American Heritage review room in the library and transformed it into a stunning learning studio. Every Monday and Wednesday the team  starts  work at 9:00 am to make sure that everything is ready for the broadcast. As part of the design, students  are able to  engage with the lectures through polls, chat, and a panel of students connected to the lecture via Zoom.   

Kristen Betts, administrator for American Heritage, says “Students have really loved the new style, especially the chemistry of the professors. The dialogue between the professors has been really great. It’s fun for students because it’s really engaging.” She and her team make sure that students have access to all the resources they need to succeed in the course. This interactive format means more students are tuning in and working with the material instead of just passively listening to the lecture. In addition, Teaching Assistants still provide scheduled labs on either Thursday or Friday and online review sessions for students who need extra time with the concepts taught in class.   

One student says, “The implementation of remote/online learning is something that is fairly new to me as a recently graduated high school senior. Until now,  I wasn’t really exposed to it, but I would say that the professors Patterson and Karpowitz  [and team]  have made the transition very seamless. As a class that emphasizes student participation, your ability to explore concepts and apply them into current events is something that really cultivates your capability to learn.”   

Another student, Josh Rueckert,  reflects, “This semester has definitely been a big change, I’m not used to taking classes online.” He goes on to say, “American Heritage has surprised me with the lectures, I feel like I have fun watching the professors engage with the students remotely.  Overall different doesn’t always mean bad, new experiences can surprise you.”  

The production team had a little fun and came up with the surprisingly catchy  title “Patterwitz” to refer to the two professors. Some students have taken the moniker and “are distributing t-shirts of it on the black market,” according to Burgon. While walking through the library, Dr. Karpowitz was surprised to meet a student who enthusiastically displayed her “Patterwitz” t-shirt to him.   

A meme page has  also  popped up on Instagram, with  captioned pictures based on that  day’s lecture  posted regularly.  The students running the Instagram account said, “It started after my first day of class when I was like ‘these guys are  kinda  funny’ and made a meme about them looking exactly the same.” They went on to say, “I like that I get a better understanding of American values and history. I feel like a more effective American citizen and that I can contribute to  democracy with the right educational background. It also is cool that we’re learning all of these things while an election is happening.”   

American Heritage is inspiring excitement where students once felt  mostly  dread  because of  its  reputation for  extensive readings and challenging  exams.   

While the professors enjoy the new format, they realize that none of this would have been possible without  Kristen Betts  (American Heritage)  and   Ron  Ralston  (OIT)  and his  production team.  These people, according to the faculty, deserve all the credit  for the  course’s  successful integration into the online format, saying “They  took  our  idea and transformed it into something exciting and engaging. They  have gone above and beyond to make American Heritage what it is this semester… we  think it is a significant example of the different ways  by  which  individuals  throughout the university demonstrate their  devotion to  the educational mission of the university.”  

ECON Research Highlight

Rationalizing self-defeating behaviors: theory and evidence

The economics community was abuzz recently in anticipation of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson for their work on auction theory. More is happening in the field, however, as BYU’s Dr. Olga Stoddard, Dr. Lars Lefgren, and Dr. John Stovall had their paper accepted into the Journal of Health Economics.

Their paper, “Rationalizing self-defeating behaviors: theory and evidence”, seeks to answer why individuals engage in self-harm; how these people, when trapped by multiple competing problems, experience the apathy of depression or inaction They hypothesized that individuals can only handle experiencing a certain amount of “latent stimuli”. They are excited with the news that this important research will now be published for others to study.  

            Check out the full article: https://economics.byu.edu/00000174-786e-da1b-affe-7f7f11d10000/rationalizing-self-defeating-behaviors 

Fighting Cancer with Family History

Ashlyn Taylor, a BYU student working for the Center of Family History and Genealogy, starts her day by clocking in and jumping on the computer to sift through email. For her, every day presents new tasks and challenges. She spends much of her time utilizing a breadth of genealogical skills that she has acquired, including reading census data and analyzing DNA, to track people’s genetic heritage. She also contacts study participants, edits report templates, and compiles data for research application. Once a week she joins a call with Dr. Brian Shirts and his team of researchers at the University of Washington to discuss their progress and goals. And, at the end of the week, she compiles a report based on her findings to send to this team. 

The goal of this research? End preventable hereditary disease like cancer. The method: Family history. 

This idea was born as Dr. Shirts and his lab were working with Heather Hampel, a genetic counselor and hereditary colorectal cancer researcher at The Ohio State University. As Shirts’ lab was conducting genetic testing for this study, they discovered the same MSH2 gene variant in two individuals that shared no obvious relationship. Wondering if there was some genetic component, one of Hampel’s staffers conducted genealogical research and discovered that these two were 3rd cousins. Through extended family history research, dozens of descendants from the same common ancestor were identified and received preventative screening and care for cancer. 

Seeing the efficacy of using genealogical factors to identify high risk patients, Shirts said he “did genetic analysis of other pairs of people who shared a variant and found that two people who have the same rare cancer risk variant have over 90% chance of being related.” He went on to explain that “by using family history to connect distant relatives, we could dramatically improve cancer prevention outreach.” 

Shirts reached out to Jill Crandell of BYU’s Center of Family History and Genealogy to see if she would be interested in conducting research in coordination with his lab. With 3 years of funding provided by the Brotman Bay Institute for Precision Medicine, Shirts’ and Crandell’s labs began in 2019 on a cooperative effort to use genealogical tools to trace strains of cancer.

When Dr. Shirts’ lab identifies individuals with a certain rare genetic variant, those people are connected to the BYU genealogical team. The team, working with the subjects and their families, uses genetic and traditional genealogical research to find a common ancestor between the subjects with the same variant, moving up the family tree to find a shared link. From there, they move back down the tree from that common ancestor to identify other living descendants, who are then contacted about their potential risk of cancer. 

Once two or more individuals are identified with a genetic variant for cancer, researchers track a common ancestor and then attempt to find and contact living descendants who may be at a similar risk.

According to Shirts, the hardest part is, “Finding people who know that they have a hereditary cancer risk mutation and realize that they can use that information to help a lot of close and distant relatives…most people who are at risk find out after they get cancer, which is too late.” It can be difficult to find more than one person with the same variant who is willing to work with the project. With only one, it is nearly impossible to track the variant through their ancestry. With two or more subjects, all the researchers have to do is determine where the line of their genealogy intersects.

The research is moving forward, though, as BYU student researchers become more adept with genealogical tools and more people are becoming aware of the project. Taylor boasts, “A recent highlight that we have found is an exponential increase in the number of participants we are working with.” As the number of participants in the study increases, Dr. Shirts and his team are better able to identify at-risk persons and get them preventative care, which is much better than reactive care. 

Ashlyn Taylor working in the lab.

            Shirts is constantly impressed with the quality of work done by Crandell’s team, saying “Every day I am surprised at how effectively the student researchers at the BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy team are able to identify relatives of the people that enroll in this project. It is fantastic to see what they can do with just a little information.” 

The more participants the study can find and connect with each other, the greater Shirts is able to identify and prevent traumatic cancer diagnoses by catching the risk early. 

            Shirts continues to focus on eradicating hereditary disease like cancer through genetic identification. In reflecting on his passion for the medical field, he says, “I keep a quote on my wall that says, ‘Nobody ever thanks you for saving them from the disease they didn’t know they were going to get.’ Even though it is hard, it is incredibly satisfying to be able to help someone prevent a disease like cancer.” 

To find out more, go to ConnectMyVariant.org