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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FHSS Writing Lab: One visit, one letter grade higher

Writing college papers is hard.

As an Introductory Psychology professor, Dr. J. Dee Higley sees this struggle all too often as his students write numerous papers throughout the semester.

Writing a study on writing

This past semester, Higley and several of his students conducted a study to determine how effective visiting the FHSS Writing Lab is in writing a high-quality paper. Individuals in Higley’s Introductory Psychology course were randomly assigned to either visit the FHSS Writing Lab for help on their writing  assignment, or to visit the BYU Museum of Art to receive inspiration for their writing assignments.

And the verdict is…

At the end of the study, Higley and his students found that students who visited the FHSS Writing Lab received an average score of 94 percent on their writing assignment, compared to those who visited the BYU Museum of Art for inspiration on their assignment who received an average score of 86 percent. Besides boasting an entire letter grade higher than those who did not attend the lab, the variance among grades earned by students who visited the FHSS Writing Lab was significantly lower than for grades earned by students who did not visit the FHSS Writing Lab. This suggests that students who visit the FHSS Writing Lab have little deviation in their high writing performance.

Experimentally-confirming effectiveness

This study was the first to experimentally confirm the effectiveness of the FHSS Writing Lab in enhancing student writing performance.

While writing labs across campus provide similar support, unlike other BYU writing labs and resources, the FHSS Writing Lab specializes in helping students’ writing within the social sciences. And when you think about all the writing styles utilized across fields of study, the FHSS Writing Lab should be a tool students utilize throughout their social sciences college career.

The FHSS Writing Lab is a free writing service located in 1175 JFSB. Students can sign up for a 30-minute session with writing advisers online at fhsswriting.byu.edu, or simply walk in the office. The lab focuses on aspects of writing such as thesis construction, organization, transitions, idea development, logical coherence, style, and argument clarity and is open in the Spring/ Summer from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

FHSS Valedictorians: Setting the Curve

BYU is famous for many things: Cosmo the Cougar, being ranked the number 1 “Stone Cold Sober” school 20 years running, and our awesome chocolate milk. Our amazing graduates however, trump all. The graduating class this year is one of the school’s biggest, which the majority of the females being returned missionaries.  From undergraduate research in Thailand to managing a neuroscience lab, FHSS boasts some of the most accomplished graduates. Check out our incredible valedictorians:

Boone Robins Christianson, of Provo, had no idea what anthropology was when he declared it as a major his freshman year. He wants to thank his parents Marlin and LaDonn for supporting him even though they were equally confused about what he could do with the degree. Throughout his time at BYU, Boone has spent the majority of his studies researching African agricultural development, including conducting research in Malawi and Namibia. In addition, he speaks Otjiherero, a rare language spoken by small groups of people from those countries. Despite his successes in anthropology, Boone has decided to pursue a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and will begin his pursuit of this degree at Auburn University in Alabama this upcoming fall. Boone has enjoyed being involved in intermural sports, the Diction Club, and being an active participant in his LDS campus wards. He loves spending long hours playing Boggle and eating cereal.

boone baby

John Frederick Bonney, an economics major, is the son of Philip and Georgia Bonney. He grew up in the US, Senegal, and Italy, and served a mission in the Netherlands. John has thoroughly enjoyed working with faculty at BYU, performing research in areas including behavioral, educational, and familial economics and teaching other students about applied econometric research. He is grateful to the economics faculty for their stellar instruction and would specifically like to thank Drs. Lars Lefgren, Joe Price, and James Cardon for allowing him to enhance his learning through research and teaching assistantships. While attending BYU, John has also completed four internships during which he designed market research and forecasted models currently in use by multiple Fortune 500 companies. Within the community, John has enjoyed serving through educational organizations like Alpha and Project Read. John is happily married to Amanda Bonney, who is graduating with a Master of Accountancy. After graduating, John will continue his passion for economic research as a pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago.

JohnBonney_headshot

Grayson Morgan, a geography major with a geospatial science and technology emphasis, is the second child born to Daniel and Michelle Morgan and grew up in Beaufort, South Carolina. Geography has surrounded him his whole life, but it wasn’t until his freshman year that he realized that it was exactly what he wanted to do. During his short time at BYU, Grayson has come to thoroughly enjoy his encounters with the various Geography Department Professors, secretaries, TAs, and fellow students. Certainly, much of his learning could not have taken place without their generous help and overwhelming kindness. His family means the world to him and he would like to thank his wife, parents, siblings, and extended family for their support. Grayson loves serving others, BYU sports, playing with his two-month-old daughter, and learning new things. He is excited to continue learning this fall as he begins a master’s degree and eventual PhD program in Global Information Systems/Remote Sensing at the University of South Carolina.

Morgan

Kaytlin Fay Anne Nalder, a history teaching major, grew up in Alberta, Canada. She is the sixth of seven children born to Byron and Deanne Nalder. Her love for history began in high school, but it wasn’t until she came to BYU that she considered majoring in it. While at BYU, Kaytlin was able to work as both a teaching and research assistant for Dr. Underwood, a job which was one of the highlights of her undergraduate experience. She was also the recipient of two history paper awards including the De Lamar and Mary Jensen Student Paper Award in European History and the Carol Cornwall Madsen Student Paper Award in Women’s History. Kaytlin enjoys skiing, reading, cooking, crocheting, and spending time with family and friends. She would like to thank all of the wonderful mentors and professors she was privileged to work with during her time at BYU, as well as her family and friends for their support and encouragement.

Nalder Picture

Marissa Skinner, a family life major with an emphasis in Human Development, is the daughter of Terry and Lottie Anderson. Although she grew up in Salt Lake City, she is a Cougar fan through and through. She discovered her passion for human development simply by taking a general class and has been hooked ever since. During her time at BYU, she served as a council member for Y-Serve, served a mission in the Philippines, and worked closely with many professors to conduct research projects regarding the topics of gender-socialization and moral development. Marissa also conducted two research projects that she presented at conferences on campus. She is so excited to implement what she has learned in her program and hopes she can make a difference because of it. She would like to thank her husband, family, and faculty members for pushing her out of her comfort zone and helping her reach her goals.

Marissa Skinner

Reed Lynn Rasband, a political science major, is the son of Kevin Rasband and Heather Watts and is the oldest of eight children. He grew up raising sheep in Brigham City, Utah and served a mission in Rancagua, Chile. As an undergraduate, he was able to carry out research for his Honors thesis in Thailand, additional research in the United Kingdom, and an internship with a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border. He worked for four years as a teaching and research assistant in the Political Science department. He has also served as the President of the BYU Political Affairs Society, as Editor-in-Chief for the undergraduate journal Sigma, and as a volunteer with two organizations serving the Utah County Latino community. This fall, he will begin work on a Ph.D. in political science, focusing on ethnic and migration politics in the hopes of finding ways to improve intergroup relations around the globe. He is incredibly grateful for the continuing support his family provides him, as well as for the excellent mentorship he has received from BYU faculty.

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Charlotte Esplin, a psychology major with a clinical emphasis, grew up in Basildon, Essex, UK. After serving a mission in the Utah St. George Temple Visitors’ Center, Charlotte came to BYU. The first to attend a university in her family, Charlotte has embraced academics and all that a university life has had to offer.  While at BYU, Charlotte has worked as a teaching assistant for multiple psychology classes, and has performed quantitative research into how personality variables affect marital outcomes with Dr. Scott Braithwaite. This research has resulted in various articles,

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Important Information for Graduation!

Spring is always fun. There’s warmer weather, Easter, the end of the semester, and…graduation! For the past four+ years, we worked, stressed, and cried over school. Now, it’s the time to celebrate! But before you throw your cap in the air and say good-bye to Provo, here are some important dates and deadlines for graduation.

Independent study

Students completing independent study courses need to have all of their work, including the final exam, submitted by April 4th.

Caps and Gowns

Dates

Commencement:

Convocation:

  • April 27
  • We will send out an email to students with more instructions, but here are a few important things to note:
    • We are asking graduates to meet at the Marriott Center at 4 p.m.
    • The Convocation ceremony begins at 5 p.m.

Karen Ashton will be giving the Convocation address. Karen and her husband Alan are philanthropists who have donated much to the LDS church. Together, they also founded Thanksgiving Point as a way to show their gratitude to the community. From 2013-2016, Karen served as the Matron of the Provo, UT Temple.

Congrats on graduating, Cougars!

 

graduation

FHSS student wins BYU’s 3MT Competition!

In 2008, Queensland University started hosting a competition titled 3MT (Three Minute Thesis). “An 80,000-word PhD thesis would take nine hours to present. Their time limit…three minutes,” reads the inaugural university’s website for the event.  The program has since spread to several universities worldwide and last year was BYU’s inaugural event for graduate students.

This year, a student from FHSS won BYU’s campus-wide competition!

Psychology PhD student Elizabeth Passey took 1st place for her research on why teenagers binge drink and was awarded $5,000. Passey also took 1st place in the college-level competition.

why do teenagers binge drink

Jessica Simpson, an Anthropology Master’s student, took second place at the college level. She studied how wear patterns can determine the function of ceramic vessels.

ceramic vessel function

Social Work student Candi Child-Illum took third place at the college level with her research on human trafficking.

human traffikingCongratulations to Candi, Jessica, and Elizabeth! Visit BYU’s Three Minute Thesis website for more information on the competition.

Fulbright Day for Students and Faculty

Discover how you can make an impact abroad!

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Programs offer faculty, administrators and professionals grants to lecture, and/or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields, or to participate in seminars.

Faculty members interested in learning about opportunities with the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program should attend an informational presentation given by Sophia Yang, a Fulbright Program Officer. The presentation will be held from 12:00-12:50 p.m. on March 29th, 2018 in W-170 Benson building. (Light lunch to be served). The presentation will be followed by one-on-one interviews (from 1:00 to 1:50 p.m.) with Ms. Yang. Faculty members may sign up for Ms. Yang’s presentation here: U.S. Scholar Program Presentation.

Students interested in learning about opportunities with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program should plan on attending Sophia Yang’s presentation about the program. The presentation will be held from 2:00-2:50 p.m. on March 29th, 2018 in W-170 Benson building. Students may sign up for Ms. Yang’s presentation here: Fulbright Student Seminar Sign Up Sheet.

Email fhssresdev@byu.edu with questions.

About Sophia Yang

Sophia Yang is a Program Officer for the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program where she manages the East Asia Pacific and South and Central Asia regions at the Institute of International Education. Prior to joining IIE, she worked at the Council on Foreign Relations as a Research Associate for the Japan Studies Program and Assistant Director of the Center for Preventive Action. She has an MA in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a BA in Communications and Asian American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Ms. Yang has lived and traveled throughout Asia, where she discovered the value of international exchanges. Complementing her fondness for traveling is her passion to discover good eats wherever the next destination takes her and her family.

Fulton Conference: The Perfect Something for Your Resume

One of our college’s most successful annual events, the Fulton Conference, is coming up at the end of this semester — and we want you to participate! The conference features research done by undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.

The Fulton Conference gives students the chance to partner with a faculty mentor and do academic research, but there are many additional reasons that students should consider presenting at the Fulton Conference. For example, conference participation looks great on a resume, the conference prepares students to present at other academic conferences, and there are cash prizes for the best research projects.

How can you participate in the Fulton Conference?

Posters are due on Thursday, March 29, at noon.

The Fulton Conference will take place on Thursday, April 12 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. in the Wilkinson Center Ballroom.

Here’s a more detailed list of tasks that you’ll need to complete in order to participate. To summarize, you’ll design a poster, upload a digital version to our college website, and stay near your poster to answer questions during the day of the conference.

We can’t wait to see you at the 2018 Fulton Conference!

Start brainstorming your research questions today.

 

Accountability, Agency and the Atonement: Dean Ogles on Moving Forward From Sexual Assault

BYU may not be of the world, but by being in the world, the university and its students still deal with many troubling issues.

Sexual assault is one of them.

In his campus devotional address, Family, Home, and Social Sciences Dean Benjamin Ogles, as a member of the Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault, spoke on this poignant topic. He focused on the accountability, agency, and the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in relation to sexual assault.

“Sexual assault is a difficult, highly charged, and sometimes political topic not easily discussed in any setting…I did not volunteer to participate on the advisory council and certainly never imagined that I would deliver a devotional focused on the gospel doctrines associated with sexual assault. Yet my experiences led me to this moment where I feel an urgency to address this delicate topic,” said Dean Ogles.

Of the 12, 739 students who answered the question concerning experiences of unwanted contact in the university’s  Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault, 475 (3.7%) had experienced some form of such contact while enrolled at or attending BYU in the 12 months prior to the survey. Capture

There were 1,692 surveyed students who reported that they had experienced sexual assault or abuse as a child or adolescent prior to coming to BYU.

Gospel Doctrine

Dean Ogles framed  the discussion of assault in terms of the gospel principles of accountability, agency, divine creative powers, and the Atonement. Agency gives us opportunities, accountability requires us to take responsibility, and the Atonement allows us to repent and progress. In addition, sexual intimacy, when used within the boundaries of marriage, can be positive and healthy.

“Within this doctrinal context, it is easy to see why committing sexual assault is such a grievous sin.  The perpetrator exerts power over another person disregarding their agency and depriving them of their right to control their own physical body while treating them as an object to satisfy their selfish desires,” said Ogles. “Individuals who force or coerce sexual contact engage in one of the most personal and invasive forms of aggression.  The very definition of sexual assault underscores the idea that the perpetrator is denying the agency of the victim.”

Consent

“I believe some instances of unwanted sexual contact at BYU occur because one person assumes the other is interested and ‘goes for it’ without ever checking to see if their perception of the other person’s wishes is accurate,” shared Dean Ogles.

To combat this, he suggested asking beforehand and offered the following example: “I like you.  I really enjoy being with you and getting to know you.  Would it be alright if I kissed you?” While some students may hesitate to adopt this approach, fearing that it might “ruin the moment,” Dean Ogles insists that students think about the alternative: jumping to conclusions about consent might “ruin the moment.”

The need to give and respect consent is also an issue in marriage. “When we understand physical intimacy is a profound expression of love, trust, and creative powers within covenant marriage, then the issue of consent becomes even more vital.  Marriage itself is not consent to intimacy.”

Self-Blame and Victim Blaming

One reason people do not come forward and get help after being sexually assaulted is because they blame themselves. They might think that if they had acted differently, the assault would not have happened. Oftentimes, third parties hearing about the assault may think the same.

To illustrate how incorrect these thoughts are, Dean Ogles shared the story of when his family moved to a small town in Ohio. On their first night there, someone broke into their car and stole the items inside. The Dean’s first thoughts were of self-blame: Why didn’t I lock the doors? I should’ve parked away from the street. If only I had been more alert. “I automatically took the blame because I could imagine things that I thought I should have done differently,” said Dean Ogles. His actions, however, never would have changed the fact that what the thief did was illegal and wrong. There was no reason to blame himself. The same is true of victims of sexual assault: no matter what the victim does, the perpetrator’s actions are still illegal and wrong.

Healing

Victims of sexual assault can be healed through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.  To emphasize this point, Dean Ogles quoted Elder Richard G. Scott’s conference talk To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse:

“Our [Heavenly] Father provided a way to heal the consequences of acts that, through force, misuse of authority, or fear of another, temporarily take away the agency of the abused … That secure healing comes through the power of the Atonement of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to rectify that which is unjust.  Faith in Jesus Christ and in His power to heal provides the abused with the means to overcome the terrible consequences of another’s unrighteous acts.”

Dean Ogles, along with Elder Scott, urge survivors to:

  • Seek professional aid
  • Ask your bishop for help
  • Understand that Satan will try to convince you that there is no hope for your future.

“There is hope!” said Dean Ogles. He advises survivors to read Elder Scott’s talk and to utilize available resources on lds.org.

How to Help

Dean Ogles offered the following suggestions for helping victims of sexual assault:

  • If someone shares that they have been assaulted, “tell them you believe them, express your concern for them, and encourage them to seek professional help.”
  • Be respectful
  • Don’t tolerate inappropriate speech; if you hear it, stop it
  • Watch out for signals that a relationship is becoming inappropriate

“As we treat one another as children of God, we base our relationships on the love, respect for agency, and kindness necessary to form a stable foundation for eternal relationships.”

When we respect others’ agency, especially in healthy relationships that can lead to, and thereafter enrich, covenant marriage, we have the potential to jointly, mutually, and consensually engage in an intimate and eternal marriage that can bring us a fullness of joy with our families in the presence of our Eternal Father.

The full devotional is available for viewing at BYUtv.org and the text will soon be available on the BYU Speeches website.

Madelyn Lunnen contributed to this article. 

Screen Violence and Youth Behavior: New Questions

In today’s world, many parents, educators, and policymakers are asking whether video games are good or bad for children and adolescents. Indeed, it’s a topic experts have studied and talked about here on more than one occasion, agreeing, for the most part, that violent video games and media are linked to aggressive and violent behaviors in their players. But according to a new article co-written by School of Family Life professor Sarah Coyne, the question most educators and policy makers are asking—are video games good or bad for children and adolescents?—is much too simplistic. They suggest a different, more “nutrition-based” approach.

What Research Says So Far About Violent Video Games and Their Effects

Dr. Coyne and her co-authors analyzed existing meta-analyses concerning video game aggression and violence. “A large body of evidence reveals that violent media can increase aggression,” she says, citing a census study done by Common Sense Media. “Indeed, the effects of screen violence on increased aggressive behavior have been reviewed and affirmed by numerous major scientific organizations, [and] a comprehensive meta-analysis found that exposure to violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiologic arousal, hostile appraisals, and aggressive behavior and decreases prosocial behavior (eg, helping others) and empathy. These effects occur for male and female subjects of all ages studied, in both Western and Eastern countries.12

That being said, Dr. Coyne and her co-authors also noted that that are many potential cognitive and social benefits of video game play, and that well-designed video games can be great teachers, since they help players develop sensory processing and cognitive skills. Not all video games are violent, and of course, no risk factor taken alone can cause a child to behave aggressively.

More research is needed to truly explore the negative–and positive–effects of video games on those who play them, they say: large-scale studies of at least 50 000 participants that take into account all known major risk and resilience factors for the development of aggressive and violent behavior tendencies. The study should follow the same large sample of children from an early age through early adulthood, they recommend. They also recommend a similar large-scale, multi-site, multi-year study to further develop and test media exposure interventions to determine what works best, for policy makers and consumers to implement.

A Better Way to Think of Media Exposure?

The authors suggested thinking of media exposure as a diet. It’s important to consume media in moderation, and consumers should make sure to take in more helpful than harmful content. And, the consumer’s age has to be taken into account. In the absence of those large-scale studies, but with the evidence that has been gathered so far, they and other researchers suggest that parents can most effectively help their children and adolescents consume a healthy “diet” of video games and media by actively monitoring their use, and engaging in and conversing about media with their children, rather than strictly restricting media use. Families can also monitor media exposure by implementing simple rules and setting limits to screen time.

 

Relief and Recovery: How Do Disasters Disrupt Routine Behavior?

How do disasters affect communities? If you’ve followed the impacts of the recent Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, or Central Mexico earthquake disasters, or if you’ve ever experienced one yourself, you’ll know that the devastation varies from place to place and from disaster to disaster. It can often take years to assess the damage and to reach a new normal. Even harder to assess, though, but in some ways more important, are the effects of various disasters on the people, over time. In a recently published study, sociology professor Michael Cope found that Louisiana communities affected by the 2010 BP oil spill traversed the road to recovery in widely different ways, depending on their core industries, and that community sentiment, in general, served as a protective factor that ameliorated lifestyle disruptions.

 

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What happened in the BP oil spill?

The Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig, contracted by British Petroleum (BP) exploded in April 2010, about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The wreck killed 11 people, and the rig spewed millions of gallons of oil for months before scientists finally stopped the flow. At the time of the oil spill, Louisiana produced 25 percent of the nation’s seafood. The state was also the nation’s second largest producer of natural gas and third largest producer of petroleum. The U.S. government placed strict short-term restrictions on fishing and drilling in areas affected by the oil spill, and the fishing industry suffered for years as a result of the oil spill’s impact on the environment.

How did the oil spill affect the community?

Research on people’s general reactions to disasters shows that those disasters have to be viewed not as “single-point-in-time events, but as processes of social disruption that play out over time.” Dr. Cope’s research relied on a telephone survey administered to people living in communities affected by the oil spill. The survey was conducted in five waves, with the first wave administered while the oil spill was active and the last wave administered in April 2013.

The results suggest that the oil spill disrupted people’s routine behaviors (including sleeping and working). The extent of disruption lessened over time, as people’s behaviors normalized again, but people who worked in (or had relatives working in) the fishing industry experienced the most disruption. This makes sense, given the devastating short-term and long-term impact of the oil spill on their livelihood. Too, residents of affected communities reported disrupted lives three years after the spill.

The good news? People who demonstrated positive sentiment toward their communities (in other words, people who liked the places where they lived) experienced less disruption than others did. Their positive community sentiment buffered the effect of the oil spill on their routine behaviors.

What next?

Dr. Cope, an FHSS professor who co-authored this article with a team from Louisiana State University, wrote that issues like disaster recovery warrant continued attention and research. “This study,” they said, “adds to the chorus of researchers who have long contended that planners need to recognize disasters as social processes linked to long-term antecedents and long-term consequences.”