BYU family history students connect missing soldiers to their families

A group of BYU students has answered the Army’s call for genealogical reinforcements.

With more than 82,000 Americans still missing from conflicts dating back to World War II, students at the BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy have been working with the Army and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to return the remains of missing soldiers to their family members.

“Normally in our family history work, we are going as far back through as many generations as we can,” said Sydney Bjork, one of the students who worked on the project this past year. “But this sort of feels like reverse family history work. We start with a soldier and then look for the closest living relative they have.”

The Army sought help with this project from BYU, which has the only family history degree in the nation. Other partners in this project include historians who research where there might be remains of missing soldiers. Archaeology units take that information and get digging. And it’s BYU’s job to find the relatives.

Since starting on the project, the students have been assigned just more than 65 cases and have finished about 48 of them. After the cases are complete, students submit a report to the Army with the results of their research, the potential DNA donors and the contact information of the soldier’s relatives.

Professor Jill Crandell standing amid her two students in the JFSB courtyard
From left: Student Melanie Torres, Professor Jill Crandell, and student Kimberly Brown.

“Family history is something that’s really tender to all of us because it’s about family and we know how much our own families mean to us,” said Professor Jill Crandell, director of BYU’s Center. “We actually become attached to those families and there is a certain amount of inspiration involved when working on these cases.”

Not all cases are created equally. Some cases take three hours to solve. Some cases take three weeks to solve. However long it takes, the students on the project always feel an overwhelming sense of joy that they were able to help in the process of bringing families closer together.

For these students, this project is more than names and dates; it’s not just casework, each one is a meaningful story. Here’s a sample of the stories they’ve learned and worked on:

  • One mother continued for decades to set an extra place at the dinner table, just in case her son came home.
  • A still-living widow of a WWII soldier still longs to know at age 97 what happened to her husband.
  • One family of Italian immigrants has two brothers missing in action.

Melanie Torres and some of her fellow students who worked on these cases have close family members who have served in the military so this work really hits home for them.

“My grandfather was in the military, my great-grandfather was in World War II and my husband is in the Air Force. It is something that just really connects to my heart,” said Torres.

-Joe Hadfield, University Communications

FHSS Alumnus to Serve as Dean of the Marriott School of Business

FHSS alumni have the potential to lead the world in many positions—including as the dean of the Marriott School of Business.

BYU Economics alumnus Brigitte C. Madrian was recently named as the ninth (and first female) dean of the Marriott School of Business. On January 1, 2019 she will begin her five-year term as dean over the Marriott School’s four graduate programs, ten undergraduate programs and approximately 3,300 students. Madrian is currently the Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management and chair of the Markets, Business and Government Area in the Harvard Kennedy School.

Brigitte at big tableMadrian comes to this position with a myriad of experience and expertise. Through her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from BYU and her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Madrian is an expert on behavioral economics and household finance. She has a specific focus on household saving and investment behavior, of which she spoke on in her 2016 FHSS Alumni Achievement Lecture. The work she has done in this field has changed the design of employer-sponsored savings plans in the U.S. and has influenced pension reform legislation around the world. Madrian is also engaged in research on health and uses behavioral economics as a way to understand health behaviors and to improve health outcomes.

Because of her work and service, Madrian received the Retirement Income Industry Association Achievement in Applied Retirement Research Award (2015) and is a three-time recipient of the TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Scholarly Research on Lifelong Financial Security (2002, 2011 and 2017). In addition to this, she serves as the co-director of the Household Finance working group at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Madrian is also a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Board of Governors, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Academic Research Council, as well as other advisory boards.

BYU Academic Vice President James R. Rasband remarks in an article that current Marriot School of Business Dean Lee T. Perry has left a “long record of setting aside his own passion for teaching and research to instead focus on providing opportunities for his colleagues and for our students.” Madrian will no doubt add to this legacy of service and learning with her own unique perspective and experience.

New Psychology chair Dr. Burlingame: Seeing the department as a small-group setting

Psychology professor Dr. Gary Burlingame is known for a few things.

First, Burlingame enjoys going on three-mile mid-day runs around campus.

Second, he has taught at BYU and served in a variety of positions and roles since 1983; that’s 35 years of service!

And third, he is the newly appointed Department of Psychology chair.

Curious beginnings

Bulingame came from a family of engineers where psychology seemed “a little squishy for a father who was working on NASA contracts.” But when he took an undergraduate psychology course, he was hooked. “We’d read in our textbook (about small group therapy) and we’d split the class, and half of us would go behind a one-way mirror and the other half would form a small group,” recalls Burlingame. “I was able to watch the group dynamic principles that I’d just read about. Then, when I was participating in the group, I was affected by the group and I realized that as human beings, we’re affected by each other.”

Seeing the field evolve

Focusing on both small group settings and measurement, Burlingame has seen how both have evolved over the years. “When I was an undergraduate, we wouldn’t have even dreamed [the measurement methods we are currently using] were possible,” shared Burlingame. During the ’90s, Burlingame recalls utilizing the same chaos theory that was used in “Jurassic Park” in small group behavior to see if you could explain patterns of therapeutic interactions in a group. Several years later, Burlingame would work with Michael Lambert to build a system of measurement that is now used worldwide to make dashboards to monitor mental health.

These same dashboards and ideas were implemented across BYU campus when Burlingame worked in the Strategic Planning and Assessment Office with former BYU president Merrill Bateman to measure mental health among campus communities.

Another major evolution in the field that Burlingame has been a part of is the push to recognize international psychological movements. When Burlingame was first asked to write a chapter in The Handbook of Psychotherapy Behavior Change, a book that he had studied as a graduate student, he wanted to include literature and ideas from outside the United States. He included literature from Canada and from Europe, and from there, he has continued performing research and collaborating with researchers across the world, primarily Bernhard Strauss of Germany.

“It was my vision to have our chapter in the handbook be international. And now that’s what has happened to (almost the entire) handbook. They bring a different kind of therapy and a different perspective.”

Seeing the department as a small group

With his past experience, Burlingame has a good idea of how the university and a department runs.

So, what is he most excited about with this new position? “The fun part [about being a chair] is that I’m a group guy. I get to think of the department as a group that I can make more effective.”

Burlingame’s goal as department chair is to make the psychology department as functional as possible to make it as successful as possible. In order to do this, Burlingame says that you have to make every voice count and make sure that every voice is heard.

“Conflict represents information, that people feel like their voice isn’t being heard,” shares Burlingame. “[When someone raises conflict], it’s an attempt to be heard.”

Burlingame has seen this conflict and need for resolution in his field work in Israel as he worked with Jews and Palestinians and again in Bosnia with Muslims and Serbs.

“We’re social creatures so it doesn’t matter if we’re in Israel, or the ASB, or the Kimball Tower. We want to be noticed because we all think we have something to contribute, otherwise we wouldn’t be here,” comments Burlingame. “So [I want to] make sure that everyone has the chance to contribute and flourish. That’s what we really want to do because everyone wants to flourish.”

Appointments and reappointments of FHSS chairs and director

Dean Ben Ogles of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences announced the appointment of Gary Burlingame as the Department of Psychology chair, the appointment of Alan Hawkins as the director of the School of Family Life, the reappointment of Rick Miller as the chair of the Department of Sociology, and the reappointment of Ryan Jensen as the chair of the Department of Geography.  

Gary Burlingame

Burlingame will replace Dawson Hedges who served as the college’s psychology chair for six years, and Hawkins will replace Dean Busby who served as the director of the School of Family Life for six years. Miller and Jensen will continue serving in their positions for another term.  

“We are grateful that these faculty members are willing to serve in administrative positions and we look forward to their leadership in the coming years,” said Dean Ogles. “We are also appreciative of the tireless efforts and dedicated service of Dawson Hedges and Dean Busby.” 

The new department chairs will begin their positions on July 1.   

Alan Hawkins

Burlingame has taught at BYU since 1983. He is an award-winning scholar and teacher with a research focus on factors that lead to effective small group mental health treatment and mental illness and measurement. He is a fellow of both the American Group Psychotherapy Association and the American Psychological Association.  

Hawkins is the Camilla E. Kimball Endowed Professor of Family Life. His outreach and scholarship focus on educational and policy interventions to help couples form and sustain healthy relationships and marriages. Hawkins is currently the co-chair of the Utah Marriage Commission. 

Miller has served as the chair of the Department of Sociology for the last two years. He has taught at BYU since 1999, and he focuses his research efforts on families in China, marriage and health, and MFT processes.

Jensen has served as the chair of the Department of Geography for the last six years. He has taught at BYU for 11 years, teaching classes such as Cartographic Design, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing. 

 

Finance and the Gospel: Using Gospel Principles as the Foundation for Family Finance

Living joyfully within your means can seem like an oxymoron when you’re a poor college student who can afford nothing but Ramen and oatmeal.

Money and finances can be large burdens– especially when you’re a young student family. Both patience and relationships are tested as you decide what to cut out of your lifestyle to minimize expenses. These trials are testing and  real, but BYU Family Life professor Jeff Hill and Finance professor Bryan Sudweeks suggest that we see these

fam finance
Courtesy of BYU Bookstore.

problems with a new perspective: “The single most important lesson [in finance] is the importance of bringing Christ into our personal and family finances.”

In Professors Hill and Sudweek’s book Fundamentals of Family Finance: Living Joyfully within your Means, the core text for SFL 260: Family Finance, we learn that finance is not only something we deal with in mortality, but that it is something that is based in gospel principles and will affect us for eternity. While money does not buy true eternal happiness, in the words of Professor Hill, “money makes important things possible” to help us grow in this life and prepare for the future, such as family resources and education.

Keeping an Eternal Perspective

Finance isn’t just about getting rich, it’s about  “prudent financial management so you can more fully bless yourself, your family, and others.” But again, where do we draw the line between focusing on money and finances because we need to and focusing on worldly possessions instead of the Kingdom of God?

According to Hill and Sudweeks, the key is keeping an eternal perspective.

If we make it a point to remember that everything belongs to God and that we are simply the stewards over the things he blesses us with, we will remember to be grateful and responsible with what we have. When it comes down to it, our finances and the stewardship of resources should be the “temporal application of spiritual principles.” We have agency to decide how we use our resources, and we will are accountable for these actions.

In summary, “with very dollar you spend, you choose which perspective you will take– either the eternal perspective or the world’s materialistic perspective. The sooner you understand that managing your finances is part of living the gospel of Jesus Christ, the greater your motivation will be to obey the commandments and get your financial house in order…. With an eternal perspective, we can be laying up for ourselves true “treasures in heaven” while simultaneously planning for our careers and supporting out families.”

A Family Ordeal

“Share finances as equal partners in your marriage” counsel Hill and Sudweeks. You, your spouse, and your current or future children will all have different opinions on how brooke-cagle-170053to use resources and money. While it may seem easier to do it all yourself, this responsibility must be shared equally between you and your spouse. Budget as a family, and be honest and transparent about you financial past, plans, and current spending.  As stated by David O. McKay, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” No amount of extra time or money will make up for losing your family.

Also, as you learn financial principles yourself, share and teach them to your spouse and children; the principles of hard work, thrifty living, and saving can benefit your present and future. Families who love each other share financial wisdom.

Living Within your Means

Adobe Spark (51)There are things that we really want and there are things that we really need. When figuring out how to have these things, it is detrimental that you budget according to your/your family’s needs and the money and resources that are currently available to you. This might mean that you don’t drive the nicest car now (or drive a car at all), but that you live comfortably from the resources and money you currently have. Sacrificing  what you want now will often allow you to have what you want most in the future. As Robert D. Hales said, “the three most loving words are ‘I love you,’ and the four most caring words for those we love are, ‘We can’t afford it.'”

Prioritizing your spending and finding happiness in your current situation is how you go from living within your means to living joyfully within your means.

Plan for the Future

Planning is essential to successful finances and preparedness. To plan for the array of financial situations that you will or may face in life

  • Make family goals (then work to achieve them!)
  • Have food storage, a 72-hour kit, and monetary savings
  • Invest “early, consistently, and wisely” and remember “TTT: Things Take Time”
  • Get insurance to protect yourself and your family
  • Make a plan to minimize and eliminate any debt
  • Establish a habit of saving and set money aside every time you get paid.

Share with Others

Of his own young family, Professor Sudweeks shared that they “learned the importance of giving: that God shovels it to us, and we shovel it back (and God has a bigger shovel).” Prioritize giving back to others and the Lord by paying your tithing and contributing a generous fast offering. Like Professor Sudweeks shared, God is constantly shoveling blessings and resources our way, he just asks that we shovel a little back. Likewise, remember the law of consecration; all that we have is God’s and we have a responsibility and calling to be responsible stewards and efficiently share our resources with others.

“It is not so difficult to accomplish your monetary and spiritual goals if you build your finances upon a firm foundation: the gospel of Jesus Christ.” As we work to progress in all aspects in our lives, we will find joy as we support and uplift ourselves and others through responsible and gospel-based financial principles and practice.

 

Halloween Costumes Based on Your Majors and Minors

It’s that time of year again, where we get to dress up as our favorite characters, monsters, or people. There are so many options that it can be hard to pick your costume. To remedy that, here are costume ideas based on your FHSS major or minor.

History or Women’s Studies

Last year, History professor Ed Stratford hosted two “dead debates,” which were fun events in which various professors acted as “resuscitated” dead U.S. presidents and queens and debated modern political and gender issues. Watch this “Between Two Ferns” parody trailers for the Dead Queens Debate for costume ideas:

 

Geography

Embrace your inner explorer and dress up as Christopher Columbus! To dress like him, you would need:

  • baggy pants, tucked into
  • white knee socks
  • floppy hat
  • long sleeved shirt
  • Long, plain vest

For some ideas on how to create simple spyglasses out of paper cups, check out this post. To see some of the maps the geography department has made of the nation, click here.

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Anthropology

Dressing up like an anthropology major would be very easy, if this post is any indication.

Political Science

Abraham Lincoln or any current or past American president are just a few of the options available for political science students. Here are instructions for creating President Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hat.

For updates on the political science department, check out their blog.

Halloween doesn’t have to be hard; there are a plethora of people you can dress up as. So why not show some academic pride and dress up as someone from your major or minor?

Photo credits: Christopher Columbus.

Why BYU Students Should Read Fiction and Nonfiction… For Fun

“Books are a uniquely portable magic,” Stephen King said. But the problem is that most people don’t read for fun, and that means that they’re missing out on literary magic. A recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts suggested that only 43 percent of adults read a work of literature in 2015. The survey excluded assigned reading to focus on people who read for fun, and the results revealed the lowest percentage of adult readers since the NEA began tracking reader data in 1982.

BYU students are no exception. Between their classes, homework, part-time jobs, and social lives, few students pick up books to read for pleasure. One article published by The Daily Universe suggested that students prefer reading during the summer, when they have much lighter loads. But what are the benefits of reading fiction, and why should you do it as often as possible? New psychological research suggests that readers are more empathetic than other people are, probably because reading trains the mind to put itself in other people’s shoes. Those findings have been replicated by many studies in the past few years.

FHSS has a reading list on its website, and we’re going to suggest two of our recent favorites to our readers. These are works of non-fiction written by our own professors, but they provide food for thought and fun.

  • A World Ablaze, by history professor Craig Harline. This book tells Martin Luther’s story, but it’s no history textbook. A World Ablaze reads like a work of fiction, and Harline’s storytelling will keep you flipping pages all the way to the end. Keep checking our blog for more information; we’ll publish a detailed post about the book next week.
  • Friends are fun, and psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad wrote a chapter in a recent book about the psychology of friendship, about what it means to be a friend and how we can befriend those across the race, ethnicity, gender, and orientation spectrums. This chapter also addresses what happens when a friendship turns sour, the effect of friendship on our mental health.

One of the most valuable things college students can learn is how to find books that interest them. Luckily, the Harold B. Lee Library ranks among the best college libraries in the nation, so you can find thousands of titles right on campus. You could also check out Pioneer Book on Center Street or purchase books through Amazon. If you don’t know what kind of books you yourself might be interested in, you might want to ask your roommates or favorite professors what they’re currently reading. For book recommendations, search #bookreviews, #amreading, #booknerd, or #bookstagram on Instagram.

What’s your favorite recent read?

Let us know in the comments section!

New Faculty Spotlight: Rebekka Matheson

Matheson RebekkaFor Rebekka Matheson, one of the College of Family, Home, and Social Science’s newest faculty members, teaching is about helping students expand their world. As an assistant professor of cognitive and behavioral neuroscience in the psychology department, Matheson is able to witness students’ worlds expanding to embrace more truth and knowledge every time she teaches. “There’s a very specific facial micro-expression when a student makes a connection, gets excited about new material, sees old material in a new way, or is able to see the beauty in something,” shares Matheson. “It’s like their eyes widen and fill with light for a moment. I love that moment.”

A graduate of BYU herself, Professor Matheson notes that “there was a very powerful feeling of being among some really remarkable people every day [during my undergraduate education at BYU]. Now, as I interact with my students, I get that same feeling. BYU Neuroscience students really are the best and brightest the world has to offer, and even better than that, they are focused on applying their education in Christ-like ways.” From her impactful BYU education, Professor Matheson learned that “truth is never irrelevant,” regardless of the field it comes from. When you find how truth and knowledge relate to your field, you “will have an enriched understanding and deeper appreciation for the truth [you] already had.” As Professor Matheson says, “ I rarely ‘know‘ anything.… I just have a scaffolding to keep building on. I chose neuroscience and medicine as my scaffolding.”

CaptureProfessor Matheson currently teaches neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience, and sensation and perception. To those both in the neuroscience department and in different majors, Matheson offers this advice: “Brains learn what they find beautiful. If you’re struggling with material, don’t automatically go deeper in the trenches of its minutiae. Ask for help finding its beauty. Your professors will love helping with that, and your brain will thank you.”

Within the field of neuroscience, Matheson is interested in the neuroanatomy of reward and its implications in psychiatric illness and addiction. More specifically, she is interested in anatomy-focused, deep brain stimulation treatment of psychiatric and behavioral illness.

Welcome back to BYU, Professor Matheson!

Moms Monitoring Media: Does it Help?

Parents naturally want to protect their children from harm. When that harm comes in the form of cell phones, computers, video games, or any form of media, however, due to media’s ubiquitous nature, protecting your children may become a full time job.  BYU School of Family Life professors Dr. Sarah Coyne and Laura M. Padilla-Walker delved into the role and effect of protective maternal media monitoring in a recent study. In particular, the study looked to see if mothers’ media monitoring styles either helped to reduce media use or increased the association between aggressive media use and adolescents’ prosocial behavior, aggression, [or] delinquency.” Media monitoring strategies that consisted of active monitoring, engaging, and conversing about media to connect with one’s children was associated with less media use, although it did not completely deter adolescents from aggressive media.

Two players playing video games on TV at home

The Study

At two different point of time, roughly at the ages of 13 and 15, 681 adolescents and their mothers, all participants of BYU’s Flourishing Families Project, reported their media monitoring and media use. Parental media monitoring in this case was defined as “parental efforts directed toward supervising and discussing their child’s media use.” Monitoring styles were generally categorized into:

  1. Active monitoring which entails promoting “education and critical thinking” about media.
  2. Restrictive monitoring or setting restrictions and rules on time spent on media and media content.
  3. Co-Use, when parents and children “experience the media together”.

When these monitoring styles merged together, a “family climate” was created that related to the effectiveness of parenting practices and the way media was seen in the home. After modeling and analysis of participant responses, results showed that mothers generally used four media monitoring strategies, all of which yielded different results in regards to adolescent media usage.

High Active Connection (18% of mothers)

High active connection monitoring consisted of very high levels of active monitoring and connective co-use. These mothers were slightly more involved in the monitoring of their children’s media in comparison with other mothers. Adolescents who were monitored in this way still reported moderate use of aggressive media, but had the lowest overall media time and had equally low levels of media use in the bedroom as adolescents moderated by moderate active connection.

Moderate Active Connection (30% of mothers)

This monitoring style included high levels of active monitoring and connective co-use. Like high active connection monitoring, there was still a moderate use of aggressive media among adolescents and had the lowest levels of media use in the bedroom.

Restrictive Co-Use (11% of mothers)

Restrictive co-use was primarily characterized by restrictive monitoring of adolescent media.

Restrictive Connections (36% of mothers)

Restrictive connections showed an equal level of restrictive monitoring and connective co-use in media monitoring styles.

While connective co-use was the most commonly used across the four monitoring styles, no singular style was comprised of only one parenting strategy; all parenting strategies were used by every monitoring style group to some degree. But there were certain adolescent media use and behavioral outcomes that related to more specific parenting strategies within maternal media monitoring styles. Media monitoring strategies that consisted of active monitoring and connective co-use (i.e., when parents engaged and conversed about media to connect with their children) were associated with less media use.

Concerning restrictive media monitoring, reports show that restrictive approaches are generally less effective during adolescence due to teens’ “increased desires for autonomy as they approach mid adolescence.” In fact, this also extends to the promotion of pro-social behavior (voluntary behavior that benefits others), suggesting that protecting children from negative behaviors requires different forms of monitoring than promoting pro-social behaviors.

Even after maternal media monitoring, aggressive media still took its toll, the study showed. Aggressive media content and time were positively related to aggression and delinquency. It also negatively affected pro-social behavior.

Implications

There have already been a number of studies of the effects of monitoring on teen media use. This study was different in that it tested the direct effects of media moderation considering dynamic, personal media monitoring styles. More than half of all media exposure occurs in the home and parents should be aware of how their monitoring of that media influences their children and family. There are real differences between media time and media content and there are real differences in the way a parent monitors their children and the positive and negative effect it can have on their behaviors and relationships.

Why Does this Matter?

Parents need to be aware of the effects their media monitoring has on their children and home. Moderating an adolescent’s media time and usage can be frustrating and tiring, but when done right, can benefit people and relationships. “We encourage parents to especially try to create a media monitoring climate that includes high levels of active monitoring and connective co-use, with relatively lower levels of restrictive monitoring,” says Padilla-Walker et al. Adolescents are in school learning new knowledge and skills, and parents likewise need to be learning more skills in regards to monitoring so that they can be prepared and confident to parent in the “increasingly digital world.” Future parents also should heed this information so that they can be ready to teach and protect their children when their time to monitor media and protect their children arrives.

 

What kind of media monitoring styles do you engage in in your home? Could you be doing it better?

Students: Five Things to do this Summer on a Budget

Go to Nickel City!

Arcade games? Check. Sweet prizes? Check. Cheap? Check. For only $2.25, you gain entrance to the arcade where all of the games are only a nickel! Challenge your friends to classic games. Laser tag is also available; your first game will be $4 and any following games are $3.

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Visit a Museum!

Did you know that BYU has 5 museums? That’s right! There’s the Museum of Peoples and Cultures, the Museum of Paleontology, Education in Zion, the Museum of Art, and the Bean Life Science Museum. Admission is free and the Bean Museum features live animal shows. And who doesn’t love cute animals?

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See a Movie!

On Tuesdays, you can catch the latest film for $5 at Cinemark theaters! New and upcoming releases include:

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Go to Comedy Sportz!

If you want to laugh, then this is the place for you! For $10-$12, you can attend a clean comedy show for those of all ages! According to their website: “Whether you’re going out with your friends, that special someone, ladies night, or stag, our fun interactive atmosphere and good vibes guarantee you’ll have a fantastic evening.”

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Do a Hike

There are a plethora of hikes to do in the Provo/Orem area. These include:

  • The Y
  • Grotto Falls
  • Rock Canyon
  • Provo River Parkway

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Feature image courtesy of Flickr.

What’s your favorite summer activity?