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.   

Childhood adversity shapes adolescent delinquency, fatherhood

Written by Christine Allen of University Communications

Photo by Nate Edwards, BYU Photo

About 61% of Americans have had at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), experts’ formal term for a traumatic childhood event.

ACEs—which may include abuse, neglect and severe household dysfunction—often lead to psychological and social struggles that reach into adulthood, making ACEs a major public health challenge. But the long-term consequences of ACEs are just beginning to be understood in detail. To fill in the picture, two recent BYU studies analyzed how ACEs shape adolescents’ delinquent behaviors as well as fathers’ parenting approaches.

ACEs linked to girls’—but not boys’—delinquent behavior

Although the role of adversity in adolescent delinquency has long been examined in the field of criminology, only in the past decade have criminologists referred to these events as ACEs and seriously considered how early ACEs predict a person’s delinquency, according to BYU sociology professors Hayley Pierce and Melissa S. Jones.

In their study of that relationship, published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Pierce and Jones showed that ACEs do have a significant effect on teenagers’ criminal behavior—at least for girls. Girls who experienced four or more ACEs by age five, during the most sensitive period of brain development, were 36% more likely to participate in delinquent behavior. Boys’ delinquent behavior, on the other hand, appeared unrelated to early ACEs, although boys have an overall higher rate of delinquency.

“These results run counter to previous research suggesting that girls are far more likely than boys to internalize trauma through developing an eating disorder or other self-harming behaviors,” said Jones. “What we find here is the opposite: girls are externalizing trauma through delinquent acts.”

Pierce and Jones drew their data from the longitudinal Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study. The survey examined childhood adversity and adolescent behavior over a 15-year period for approximately 5,000 children, with a high proportion born to poor, single-parent or minority families in the U.S.

“Our analysis points toward the need for gendered strategies in working with children with ACEs because the different ways boys and girls are socialized shape how they process trauma,” Jones said.

The study should also promote compassion and understanding for adolescents who act out, the researchers emphasized.

“One of the most important things I teach in my juvenile delinquency class is that delinquency is a symptom of an underlying problem,” said Jones. “If an adolescent is getting arrested, there’s often something else going on in the child’s life, such as problems at home.”

“When adolescents engage in delinquency, it’s important first to ask, ‘Okay, what got you here?’ and work from that knowledge,” Pierce added.

ACEs predict less warmth, more harsh discipline in fathers

Even though ACEs may not be linked to teen boys’ delinquency, having ACEs earlier in life does apparently impact how men parent.

Most existing research on ACEs and parenting focuses on mothers and looks exclusively at abuse. Curious about ACEs’ effects on fathers and the wider range of ACEs that may influence more day-to-day aspects of parenting, BYU sociologist Kevin Shafer and Scott Easton of Boston College decided to examine parenting patterns in men with past ACEs.

In a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, they found that fathers who had experienced at least three ACEs were more likely to use harsh disciplinary techniques. Compared to the mothers with ACEs from previous studies, these men were also less likely to exhibit positive parenting characteristics, such as giving affection to their kids, providing care for young children and being emotionally supportive. The more ACEs a father had, the greater their effect on his parenting.

ACEs likely influence fathering partly because ACEs are associated with poor mental health, including depression, anxiety or anger management problems. Mental health challenges in turn influence how men parent their children.

“While on the face of it that sounds bad, it’s weirdly also a good thing because even though ACEs happened in the past and can’t be changed, you can get treatment for mental health issues in the present,” said Shafer. “When men get that help, they can blunt the impact of their ACEs on how they parent their kids, and that improves their kids’ outcomes. So their own childhood isn’t destiny.”

The study analyzed data from the 2015–16 U.S. Survey of Contemporary Fatherhood, which queried over 2,000 fathers about their adverse childhood experiences, degree of psychological distress and parenting habits.

The connection between ACEs and negative fathering techniques is especially indicative of the “untreated trauma” suffered by many men, which Shafer believes is “one of the biggest public health issues we have.”

“When men get that help, they can blunt the impact of their ACEs on how they parent their kids, and that improves their kids’ outcomes. So their own childhood isn’t destiny.”

Kevin Shafer, BYU Professor of Sociology

“We have a lot of individuals walking around with ACEs going untreated, and our study shows that has a wide-ranging impact on people in their lives,” said Shafer. A big part of the solution would be a “comprehensive public mental health strategy” for fathers, which may include better incorporating fathers into the childbirth experience and early pediatric care, as well as regularly screening fathers for mental health, he concluded.

Media Contact: Tyler Stahle

Super Bowl Champion To Speak At Convocation

Valedictorians and Graduation Plans Announced 

Congratulations to the graduating seniors in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences! If you are a December 2020, April 2021, June 2021, and August 2021 graduate, keep reading for more details you’ll want to know about our virtual graduation exercises. 

Tell Us About You 

Since we won’t see you walk across the stage this year, we’d love to see you and read about your BYU highlights on our graduation site. Please upload your photo before April 5, if possible, so we can have it for graduation! And complete your bio too — this is a great record of all the experiences our students have at BYU.  

We also have a small gift for you. Please be sure to verify your address so we can send you a diploma cover, cap, tassel, and more. This needs to happen by April 20 and it’s all in one process at http://fhssgraduates.byu.edu.   

Sociology Alumnus Setema Gali to Speak at Convocation 

The 2021 FHSS Convocation speaker will be Setema Gali, a BYU alumnus (BS Sociology ‘01, MPA ‘14) and a living example of winning after the game.  

On the field, he was a Super Bowl Champion with the New England Patriots and an All-Conference defensive end and team captain for the BYU Cougars. However, since retiring from the NFL, he’s built world-class businesses and teams in the areas of mortgages and real estate, sales, consulting, coaching, and mentoring. Setema has faced hardship, the fall of markets, losses of a business he built and yet he has proven time and time again that mindset and discipline aligned with a holy cause can restore you to the top of your game.  

Convocation speaker Setema Gali with wife Laina and three sons.

Setema credits his marriage and family for shaping him in ways that business and football could not have. He also recognizes the positive impact of his BYU education. He says, “I loved my time at BYU. I love the campus, the football program, the professors who were instrumental in helping me learn and grow to become the man I am today.” 

Setema wants graduates to “get really clear on the life you want to live, the impact you want to have, and make a commitment that you will never lose sight of what matters most — your spouse, your children, your purpose, and faith in God.” 

Valedictorians Announced 

Each department has named an exemplary student as valedictorian. Read more about each students’ BYU experience at https://fhssgraduates.byu.edu/valedictorians.  

  • Anthropology: Samuel J. Jensen from Provo, Utah 
  • Economics: George Reuben Garcia III from Pueblo, Colorado 
  • Geography: Haley Anna Morris from Monroe, Louisiana 
  • History: Hovan Lawton from Provo, Utah 
  • Neuroscience: Alyssa Stockard Lee from Fallon, Nevada 
  • Political Science: Heather Kristina Walker from Pleasant Grove, Utah 
  • Psychology: Sydney Rasmussen from Franklin, Tennessee 
  • School of Family Life: Eliza Crump Heim from Lehi, Utah 
  • Sociology: Emley Holcombe from Morton, Illinois 

Join the Virtual Graduation Ceremonies 

BYU commencement exercises will be broadcast live from the Marriott Center on BYUtv on Thursday, April 22, at 10 a.m. MDT. Elder Gerrit W. Gong will be the speaker. 

Convocation for the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will be held virtually on Friday, April 23 at 11:00 a.m. MDT. Join the event at https://fhssgraduates.byu.edu/home/convocation. Our featured speaker is Setema Gali.  

Each department will host its own program immediately following convocation. Details will be posted at https://fhssgraduates.byu.edu/home/convocation

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!

Women of FHSS: Your Education Is Not Your Backup Plan — It’s Your Life!

Photo by Madeline Mortensen/BYU Brigham Young University/BYU Photo

Madeleine Wallis, a senior studying economics, came to BYU thinking that her education was her backup plan in case she didn’t have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. However, along the way she realized that “my education isn’t my backup plan, it is my life!”

“Once I realized this is my life and I am just as deserving of a quality education and a successful career as any man, my eyes were opened,” says Wallis. “I want every woman at BYU to know that she not only belongs here but is valued. We need your perspectives and bright minds. This is not your backup plan — this is your life, and you deserve every bit of it.”

Like Wallis, women often face particular gendered obstacles as they navigate the academic landscape, consider opportunities, and make important education and career decisions. Female students at BYU face additional challenges because of perceived religious and cultural ideas, and many report feeling underprepared when life after graduation is different than imagined.

“Utah’s female college and university students are more likely to end up in the ‘some college, no degree’ category of educational statistics, and to self-select into lower-paying fields,” according to a Salt Lake Tribune article on female college students in Utah.

Lindsey Blau, academic and professional development manager in Liberal Arts Advisement and Careers at BYU, and professors Scott Sanders (Sociology) and Sarah Reed (History), are launching the Women of FHSS initiative to foster an environment where all women in family, home, and social science majors thrive and are encouraged to identify and pursue educational and career opportunities.

“Women face the challenge of understanding during college and even after graduation how their education and their life roles work together,” says Blau. “Our goal is to help our female students understand how they can integrate their education into their lives in ways that uniquely distinguish them for a wide range of possibilities.”

A website of resources now available

The Women of FHSS website went live on Feb. 25 and is designed to help students learn from the experiences of other women and use those stories to broaden their perspective.

“Many of our female students have amazing ideas of where their life will go but data shows that many of these ideas of are not realized by the time they graduate,” says Blau. “We want to help our students develop a deeper understanding of future possibilities and explore multiple applications of a BYU education.”

On the site, students can read or watch interviews of educated women in many different life circumstances — single or married with a career, pursuing graduate studies, as a non-traditional (returning) student, at home with children, and more. Students will also find guidance on resources available both on BYU campus and in the state, as well as data trends about women in Utah.

For example, 51% of Latter-day Saint women over the age of 18 are single and 48% are employed and working outside the home. “Yet, we see women continue to struggle as they pursue opportunities that are not directly related to marriage and family because of perceived religious and cultural stigmas,” says Blau.

Join us for a launch event

Students can register for the Women of FHSS kick-off event scheduled for Thursday, March 25 at 11 a.m. MST.

The kick-off will include four college alumna who will share the decisions they have made while juggling life, career, family and fulfillment. Learn how they view their education and its importance as a foundation in their life.

Blau hopes the program will help women remember their worth, explore multiple opportunities after graduation, and develop the skills and confidence for whatever life has in store for them. Blau wants women to develop the attitude of designing their lives and not letting life happen without intentional reflection, intervention and inspiration.

“Learn where your strengths are and how you can integrate your interests and passions to fit your life,” says Blau.

In the future, the Women of FHSS subcommittee plans to expand this initiative to include how men can become allies to the women in their lives. Blau says the only way this organization will achieve its mission is if men and women work together.

Learn more about Women of FHSS and register for the kick-off event.

To Mask or Not to Mask

Patterson speaks on Politics of Individualism at Hickman Lecture 

Kelly Patterson, BYU professor of political science will present “Pandemic and Politics of Individualism” on Thursday, March 11 at 11 a.m. for the Martin B. Hickman Outstanding Scholar lecture. Anyone can join the zoom meeting from the Hickman Lectures webpage.  

The pandemic has caused Americans, and people worldwide, to consider the tension between their individual rights on the one hand and the good of society on the other hand.  

Dr. Patterson and his co-investigator theorized about the meaning of individualism and then developed a new measure of “moral individualism” that focuses on the relationship between individuals and authority. In his lecture, Dr. Patterson will discuss how this measure helps explain various attitudes and behaviors with regard to the pandemic.  

“We find that those people who score higher on the individualism scale are less likely to want to wear masks or to engage in the sorts of civic activities that are designed to benefit the community,” says Dr. Patterson.  

Beyond his research, Dr. Patterson demonstrates an exceptional commitment to scholarship through mentoring students in research on American politics with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy and with outstanding instruction that in this past year has included making substantial adaptations in the face of the pandemic. He has also spent time in administrative service as both department chair and associate dean.  

“Dr. Patterson is a senior scholar who plays an important and significant role in the college,” says Ben Ogles, dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. “He is the type of faculty member who our founding dean Martin Hickman would be proud to have serving in our college.” 

As founding dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, Dr. Hickman did remarkable work for the college and BYU that was never directed at advancing his own career, but rather done for the good of the Church, the university and his faculty and associates. Because of Dr. Hickman’s many years of service to the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, the annual Martin B. Hickman Outstanding Scholar Award recognizes a distinguished member of the college faculty who emulates Dr. Hickmans example. 

Join Dr. Patterson’s lecture “Pandemic and Politics of Individualism,” March 11 at 11 a.m.  

Social Media Use and Adolescent Mental Health

Written by Christine Allen of University Communications

As teens’ use of social media has grown over the past decade, so too has the suicide rate among younger people, with suicide now being the second leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 34. Many have suggested that social media is driving the increased suicide risk, but because social media is still relatively new, it’s been difficult to determine its long-term effects on mental health. 

In the longest study to date on social media use and suicidality, BYU research recently published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence now offers some answers.

Through annual surveys from 2009 to 2019, researchers tracked the media use patterns and mental health of 500 teens as part of the Flourishing Families Project. They found that while social media use had little effect on boys’ suicidality risk, for girls there was a tipping point. Girls who used social media for at least two to three hours per day at the beginning of the study—when they were about 13 years old—and then greatly increased their use over time were at a higher clinical risk for suicide as emerging adults.

“Something about that specific social media use pattern is particularly harmful for young girls,” said BYU professor Sarah Coyne, the lead author of the study. She noted that girls’ social tendencies likely make them more susceptible to the negative effects of social media.

“Research shows that girls and women in general are very relationally attuned and sensitive to interpersonal stressors, and social media is all about relationships,” Coyne explained. “At 13, girls are just starting to be ready to handle the darker underbelly of social media, such as FOMO (fear of missing out), constant comparisons and cyberbullying. A 13-year-old is probably not developmentally ready for three hours of social media a day.”

That said, in most cases, Coyne doesn’t recommend parents ban teenage daughters from social media, which can backfire by leaving them poorly prepared to manage their media use as adults.

“Thirteen is not a bad age to begin social media,” said Coyne, whose own 13-year-old daughter just joined TikTok. “But it should start at a really low level and should be appropriately managed.”

Coyne suggests that parents limit young teens’ social media time to about 20 minutes a day, maintain access to their accounts and talk with teens frequently about what they’re seeing on social media. Over time, teens can gradually scale up their social media use and autonomy.

“The goal is to teach them to be healthy users of social media, to use it in a way that helps them feel good about themselves and connect with other people, which is its real purpose. It’s parents’ job to scaffold or pre-arm children so that they can deal with some of the heavy stuff that often comes with using social media.” 

For young adults who feel they’ve already developed suboptimal social media habits, Coyne is optimistic that they can make a change. As her previous research has shown, social media can be a positive experience for teens and people of any age if they use it well.

Good habits include logging on for a purpose and actively participating rather than passively scrolling, as well as unfollowing those who are exclusionary or have a negative influence.

“I would love for every BYU student to be mindful about the ways they’re using social media, how it’s working for their mental health and how it’s harming their mental health. And then just to avoid doing those harmful things, whatever they are,” said Coyne. “I think that could have a significant impact on our community.”

The study was co-authored by current and former BYU professors and students, including Jeffrey L. Hurst, W. Justin Dyer, Quintin Hunt, Emily Schvaneveldt, Sara Brown and Gavin Jones.

For more tips on healthy social media use, see Professor Coyne’s social media curriculum.

Are you struggling with suicidal thoughts or do you know someone who is? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 

Original article found here.

Four Ways You Can Help Congress Be More Effective

Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

President Biden in less than a month has issued 30 executive orders, clearly demonstrating the power of the executive branch. As the 117th United States Congress starts out with mostly new leadership the question on the mind of many Americans is how effective the elected representatives will be.

If the past is any indication, most Americans probably aren’t expecting much. Over the last decade, Gallup reported Congressional job approval ratings that hovered just over 20% — with a low of 9% in November 2013 and a high of 31% in May 2020. To put it in perspective, the institution has lower approval ratings than colonoscopies, root canals, and cockroaches.

This disdain of Congress can be attributed to many factors, including a rise in partisanship. But Andrew L. Johns, associate professor of history at Brigham Young University, believes the historical record reveals that Congress is not simply ineffective, but has in fact abdicated many of its obligations over time.

“As a result, the constitutional powers, authority, and prerogatives that should be exercised by Congress have been progressively appropriated by the occupants of the White House, both directly and indirectly,” says Johns in his article, “Declining the ‘Invitation to Struggle’: Congressional Complicity in the Rise of the Imperial Presidency,” published in the Pacific Historical Review.

The disturbing result is a less democratic and more authoritarian government. Perhaps most disheartening is the decreasing likelihood of solving complex problems that require a broad range of perspectives and thoughtful deliberation — exactly the strengths a large representative body brings to government.

While Congress will need to be the driving force in reclaiming its authority, citizens can do more than hold their collective breath. By combatting four main reasons Johns outlines for Congressional dysfunction, each of us can find ways to influence the power and effectiveness of Congress.

1. Congress isn’t designed for decisive action. This makes it easy to step back and let the president handle urgent matters. Congress has the authority to intervene, but not always the will to do so when it’s possible there is a faster, if less democratic, way to a solution. As citizens, we can be patient in important matters and, with our representatives, consider a variety of perspectives as they struggle toward solutions.

2. Political polarization limits congressional power and influence. The refusal to compromise with one’s political opponents prevents the government from handling pressing issues. Profoundly gerrymandered congressional districts and other tactics contribute to polarization. “Support members of Congress who are willing to reach across the aisle,” Johns says. When Congress is divided it creates power on the extremes of both parties and leaves the center completely powerless. “The center is where the work gets done, where the compromise occurs, and where Congress gets its power and authority.”

3. The evolving relationship of Congress and the presidency with the American public benefits presidential power. In the contemporary world, media and technological tools have created a presidency that has a closer relationship to the public than individual members of Congress have with their own districts, at least in terms of perception and familiarity. Presidents, like quarterbacks, tend to get more credit and more blame than they deserve. Citizens can make an effort to get to know their congressmen and frequently communicate directly with them. Know where to accurately place both blame and praise.

4. Parochial interests override institutional interests. Although members of Congress all theoretically have a common stake in the power of the institution, the stronger motivation to the hundreds of individual members is to get reelected by serving their own district or state. This type of situation results in the diminishing of Congress because the “collective Congress” fractures under parochial considerations. It’s true then, that the greatest power citizens have over Congress is their vote. Use your vote to express how you want elected officials to prioritize their interests when representing you.

Johns reminds us that we should support and elect members of Congress that actively seek to restore the constitutional balance because “the Constitution cannot enforce itself.”

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.