Meet with Reps from The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Are you interested in geospatial intelligence? Whether you are pursuing a career in this area or simply want to learn more about it, mark your calendars for an amazing opportunity coming up next week!

Representatives from The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will be on campus to meet with students and discuss potential research collaborations and employment, as well as internship and scholarship opportunities. These representatives will include Dr. Ernest Reith, NGA Directorate of Technology/OCIO and others from his office. This is a great opportunity to meet one-on-one with the director of a federal agency. Sign up to be in attendance by clicking this link:  National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency information meeting.


The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) delivers world-class geospatial intelligence that provides a decisive advantage to policymakers, warfighters, intelligence professionals and first responders. Anyone who sails a U.S. ship, flies a U.S. aircraft, makes national policy decisions, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on NGA. NGA enables all of these critical actions and shapes decisions that impact our world through the indispensable discipline of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT)… GEOINT is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information that describes, assesses and visually depicts physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth.”


February 9, 2016

4:00 PM

Room 270 McDonald Building

There will be refreshments!

Have You Thought About Divorce? Read This.


Why do people start thinking about divorce? Do thoughts of divorce always lead to divorce? Findings from The National Divorce Decision-Making Project give insight to these questions and others regarding the threshold of what the researchers labeled “divorce ideations” and the patterns that emerge. Their goal is “to increase awareness of the negative impact of divorce, and encourage discussion and debate about the effect of divorce on our culture, as well as the cost to taxpayers.” The project is a collaboration among researchers at six universities including Brigham Young University. Alan J. Hawkins (director) and Sage E. Allen are the researchers from BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.

As stated in the project report, “Divorce is a scary thing to think about so we tend to assume there is a high personal tolerance of marital problems before people start having such thoughts. But maybe in a culture with high divorce rates and widespread concerns about the fragility of marriage, it is hard not to have some thoughts about divorce when problems and disappointments exist in the marriage.”

The report states that one in four spouses in the survey had had thoughts about divorce in the last six months. Divorce ideation was not found to be especially common in one demographic subgroup over another. For example, women reported having ideations only slightly more than men (27% vs. 22%), parents with minor children were a little higher than those without (27% vs. 21%), and there was almost no difference between those who said religion was an important part of their lives and those who said it was not (24% vs. 25%).

argument-238529_1920Research was conducted through a national survey of 3,000 individuals. Participants were married people ages 25-50 who had been married for at least one year. Survey participants who reported having recent divorce ideations were asked about the frequency of these thoughts. The majority (70%) reported that they were not frequent. They were also asked about the level of seriousness in their thoughts. Using both qualitative and quantitative responses, a statistical analysis suggested to the researchers that fifty-three percent of those thinking about divorce recently were soft thinkers, or not serious, and forty-seven percent were serious thinkers.

The researchers stated, “While thoughts about divorce are common, both recently and in the past, it is clear that most people are committed to their marriages, patient with their problems, and often able to work through their challenges.”

Survey participants were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “I would feel like a failure if my marriage were to end.” Over half of the participants (55%) agreed. The percentage of disagreement was much lower (25%) and the remaining (20%) were caught between the two options.

Those who reported recent divorce ideations were asked to identify the marital problems they were experiencing from a list of sixteen potential problems. This list included more intense problems (infidelity, alcohol/drug abuse, physical or emotional abuse), moderately intense problems (mental health problems, arguing too much, sexual relationship problems, handling money), and less intense problems (personal habits, working too much, dividing domestic labor, unable to talk together, losing romantic feelings, not committed enough). As expected, the majority of those who reported experiencing the less intense problems also reported that they had only thought about divorce a few times. Interestingly, a less expected trend was also discovered. “Of those who were thinking a lot about divorce, most had at least one of the more intense problems. But even among those reporting at least one of the more intense problems, a majority said that they had only thought about divorce a few times recently.”

The researchers clarified some of their findings:

Does this mean that soft thinkers are not at risk for divorce? Probably not. Thoughts are different from actions but they clearly can influence them over time. Even soft, occasional thoughts about divorce can color perceptions of a relationship, shaping feelings in more negative ways that can make marriages less satisfying and more fragile … [but] we also know that many people go through tough times in their marriage and not only survive but thrive. In fact, our survey found that more than one in four respondents (28%) had thought their marriage was in serious trouble at some point in the past but not recently. And nearly 90% of them said they were glad they were still married; less than 1% were not glad to be together.

Survey participants were asked about what had helped their marriage improve from times of serious trouble. A high number of participants reported that they or their spouse had adjusted their attitude. They also reported highly that they or their spouse had worked at fixing problems and improving the relationship.


The researchers are optimistic about their findings: “Our study suggests that thoughts about divorce don’t have to be a sign of impending marital doom. And maybe thoughts about divorce can even be the motivation needed to take some action to try to strengthen or repair a relationship.”

The project was also sponsored by BYU’s Family Studies Center.

More information is provided in the full report. Read it here:

What tips would you provide to someone who is thinking about divorce?

Mikle South to Present at Autism Best Practices Conference

An upcoming event aims to bridge the gap between the labs and offices of those helping autistic people. The second annual  Conference on Autism will bring together researchers and front-line treatment professionals for a day of sharing and discussion. “Moving research from laboratory studies to practical, everyday solutions can be difficult,” says Mikle South, associate professor Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Brigham Young University in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, and one of the conference presenters. “Sometimes, researchers do not present their findings in understandable terms. Sometimes, those on the front lines of treatment do not have time to follow important new findings.”

Autism conference screenshot

The workshop includes presentations from a number of disciplines relate to autism spectrum disorders including medicine, psychology, speech and language, social work, and various school-based and home-based treatment professionals. Topics include the most recent advances in teaching preschoolers with autism how to engage with others, how to teach people of all ages with autism to more effectively understand their emotions and have less anxiety, and how to help children with autism and feeding problems (which are common).

BYU1211-35-Mikle-South-Autism-Lab-017 (00000002)The conference is sponsored by BYU’s David O. McKay School of Education,  Timpanogos Regional Hospital, and BYU Continuing Education, and will be held at the BYU Conference Center on January 29 from 8am-5pm. The conference will focus on adolescence and the difficulties that individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face in this transitional period of life. Dr. South received a BA from Yale University followed by a PhD in Child Clinical Psychology at the University of Utah. He returned to Yale for post-doctoral training in developmental neuro-imaging. His research program is focused on understanding the interaction of anxiety and autism in brain and behavior.

The Autism Professional Research Workshop is specifically designed for:

  • physicians
  • nurses
  • psychologists
  • school psychologists
  • educators
  • social workers
  • BCBA’s
  • speech and language pathologists
  • parents
  • students

With such a wide range of professions in attendance, all of them dedicated to helping improve the lives of those with special needs, Professor South’s contribution to the conference will have an effect on many lives affected by ASD – both those with the disorder, and their friends and families. We look forward to Dr. South’s contribution to the conference!

Ticket prices range from $10 to $105. Registration is still open here. See this link for the full schedule of presenters.

Mikle South
© BYU PHOTO 2012 All Rights Reserved



Family Time: the Family Enrichment Program

What is the value of spending one night a week with one’s family in concerted, collaborative learning? That is a subject that Dr. Wendy Sheffield has spent the last eighteen years studying, with widespread results. Like our professors Dollahite, Carroll, and Willoughby, she is passionate about providing families of all sizes and races the tools that they need to succeed. At the 2015 World Congress of Families. In particular, she talked about a family enrichment curriculum she helped develop that has been applied around the world.
Sheffield, WendyThe Family Enrichment Program is a curriculum developed in 1998 by faculty members of BYU’s School of Social Work, part of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. Because students of that school were and are required to serve families as part of their professional training process,
a search began for a simple tool to help families across a wide variety of cultural and family backgrounds implement an organized system for weekly family interaction. Dr. Sheffield and her colleague Dr. Shirley Cox, as well as many of the students they taught, had grown up having weekly family meetings, and out of the many positive experiences they’d had grew a curriculum that could be used by those students in their field internship program. The curriculum consists of lessons on:

• The Benefits of Holding Weekly Family Night

• How to Organize an Effective Family Night

• How to Hold an Effective Family Night

• Family Togetherness

• Individual Talents Strengthen Our Families

• Playing Together as a Family

• Family Communication

• Problem-Solving and Decision-Making in Families

• Anger Management and Non-Violent Behavior

• Family Work and Responsibilities

• Family Service

• Family Traditions


Since its inception, the Family Enrichment Program has been taught in 47 countries, including Vietnam and Zimbabwe, and translated into 14 languages. Regarding her experience talking about the program at the World Congress, Dr. Sheffield said this: “Participating in the World Congress of Families is a truly wonderful and rewarding experience!  This was the fourth international conference on the family in which I have been invited and privileged to participate.  I am continually uplifted and inspired by the many good people, from all countries and all religious faiths, who work to strengthen families.  I have come to truly love, admire, respect, and appreciate those who work so tirelessly within their own spheres of influence to assist and fortify families.”

Family Enrichment ProgramDr. Sheffield spoke in two separate sessions: the first to an “Emerging Leaders” group — young adults ages 18 to 28— and the second on Wednesday afternoon in a general breakout session about establishing an advocacy program. Its purpose was to encourage and inspire Congress participants to develop and utilize their individual skills and abilities and work to strengthen families within their individual circles of influence. She spoke not only of the Family Enrichment Program, but also about the Staying Alive program, a culturally sensitive, structured, abstinence and family-based HIV/AIDS prevention and life skills education program taught to children and youth ages 9-14, in 14 African countries to over 2 million African children and their families.

The full video of her presentation can be viewed here

Intern in Thailand

Supplement your formal education by interning in Thailand this summer!

The Thailand Internship Program is open to all majors. Students in the program will be given research and internship opportunities while gaining international experience. Internship work is customized to fit the goals and aspirations of each individual student. Past students have worked in diverse areas ranging from orphanages to  courthouses in Chiang Mai. There are opportunities for students to intern with NGOs, schools, shelters, hospitals, courts and other organizations.

Political Science professor Dr. Joel Selway is the program director.

Students live with Thai host families during the course of the program, which runs Spring/Summer 2016. Students will also earn at least 9 hours of BYU credit.

Application deadline is February 1st. Read more about the program at

Complete the online application at

Thailand via Flickr M M 3998447398_cb07556b3f_b


Picture courtesy of Flickr.

Have you ever been to Thailand? What was it like?

Political Science Student Named MFP Fellow

The students in the college of FHSS continue to amaze us! Alejandra Gimenez, a senior political science student from Connecticut, has been named as one of the 2016-2017 American Political Science Association (APSA) Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) Fellows.

Alejandra GimenezThe Minority Fellows Program, as described by the APSA, is a competition for individuals from under-represented backgrounds applying to doctoral programs in political science. Gimenez herself plans to pursue a PhD in American Politics after graduation.

As an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University, Gimenez has taken advantage of many opportunities outside of the classroom. She has pursued her research interests by working as an undergraduate research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy since January 2014. She and her co-author explored the effects of ‘positive and negative cues on support for an increase in the federal minimum wage’ using a survey experiment that was fielded on the 2014 Utah Colleges Exit Poll. This work was awarded first place in the 2015 Pacific Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Student Paper Competition. Gimenez has presented her work at MPSA, and she has been selected to present at the University of Michigan’s Emerging Scholars Conference.

apsa logo

To learn more about the APSA MFP program and recent fellows, visit

Crayon photo via Flickr.

Breaking Down Traditions: LDS Women in India

Two of the most influential forces in one’s life are culture and religion. In some aspects they may intermix, but what happens when they are at odds? Taunalyn Rutherford joined us on campus last November as one of several speakers at the 2015 women’s studies conference, and addressed that question. Rutherford, an adjunct instructor in the religion department at Brigham Young University, took a semester off to spend time in India working on her dissertation. Her research focused on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in India. One of her chapters focuses on the women of the church specifically.

The Church in India

There are 12,257 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in India and 43 congregations, according to The first stake was organized in Hyderabad in 2012, which is where Rutherford spent most of her time. Collectively, in her visits to India, she has interviewed over 150 people, mainly members of the the Church.   


Women in India

Rutherford asked the women she interviewed to tell her about the position and status of women in India in general. “I often [got] the word patriarchy,” said Rutherford. “And it is never used in a positive light.” One woman she interviewed said,

I think it’s very patriarchal here. Men dominate a lot… It differs from person to person. If the man is a good man, respectful man, then the woman who married him is a happy woman, a lucky woman. But if you’re in the wrong place, wrong person – I’ve seen my cousins and they all have been dominated, hit … They say Indian women get abused, but in other countries too it’s the same. Women are being abused everywhere.

India, which was ranked 108th in the world in terms of economic opportunities and education for women by the World Economic Forum in 2015, has struggled in its development of equal opportunity for women.

Members of the Church in India

Though the Church has faced some scrutiny over issues of gender equality, their stance on the issue is clear: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny,” as stated in The Family, A Proclamation to the World

Rutherford saw a difference when the same women who spoke of women’s status in India spoke of women’s status in the Church. There were still some comments regarding male dominion, but the language was much more positive and hopeful. One woman said, “In the church, I think the brethren have slowly understood the priesthood holders – that all of us are equal.”

One male member of the church demonstrated this understanding in an interview with Rutherford. “I am grateful for this gospel because it tells that they are both the same. Not one is superior or inferior. Both are equal and men, ‘without her, you can’t get exalted!’ That is one of the greatest truths because you break all the traditions and cultures in India.”

india-787724_1920Through their membership in the Church, Rutherford has seen that some women have found more purpose in their role as a wife and mother. One woman said, “They have priesthood, so we have motherhood. And they have different roles and we have different roles.” Some women have discovered confidence. “Personally, for me, if it wasn’t for the church, I wouldn’t be sitting here like this, sitting here talking to you,” said another woman. “I would have just told you a few words and that’s it. But, it has changed me. It has changed my way of thinking about myself, about that I am not low, I am equal to men.”

Rutherford noted, “There is something in the message of the gospel, that is working counter to the patriarchy that they are naming.” 

Looking Forward

Rutherford will continue in her research and writing her dissertation. In the meantime, she said, “I have great hope for women and for the future of the church and in how we deal with issues of gender as I look and listen to women and men in the Church in India.” Watch the full lecture below. 

How has religion influenced your cultural identity?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Social Aggression, Social Media, and the Perils of Lurking Online: Dr. Marion K. Underwood Speaks

Underwood-turquoise-glasses-6x9.jpgDean Marion K. Underwood will deliver her lecture “Social Aggression, Social Media, and the Perils of Lurking Online” on Thursday, February 11 in the Hinckley Alumni & Visitors Center Assembly Hall at 7:30 p.m. Her address will be the twelfth annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture, named for the late wife of Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Admission is free and the public is welcome to attend.

Dr. Underwood is the Dean of Graduate Studies, Associate Provost, and Ashbel Smith Professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. She earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Duke University. Her research examines origins and outcomes of social aggression, and how adolescents’ digital communication relates to adjustment.

Dr. Underwood’s work has been published in numerous scientific journals and her research program has been supported by the National Institutes of Health since 1995. In 2003, she authored a book, Social Aggression among Girls. Since 2003, she and her research group have been conducting a longitudinal study of origins and outcomes of social aggression, and how adolescents use digital communication. Dr. Underwood received the 2001 Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, was granted a FIRST Award and a K02 Mid-Career Independent Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, and is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.

Brigham Young University established the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Endowed Chair in Social Work and the Social Sciences in 2003 to honor Sister Hinckley’s commitment to strengthening home and family. The chair focuses on understanding and strengthening the family, the development of women, and strategies to help both parents and children in difficult circumstances. Each year, the chair invites a distinguished scholar to deliver a lecture addressing a pertinent social issue.

For more information, visit or contact Jamie Moesser at (801) 422-1320 or


MPH Logo



Starfish and Making A Difference

“A man walking on an ocean beach noticed that a young man was reaching down, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. As he came closer, he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the older man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the man said, “Young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish along every mile? You cannot possibly make a difference!”

At this the young man bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it landed in the water, he said, “I made a difference for that one.” 1

Each of us has the power within to make a difference in the lives of others. In less than four months some of us will be graduating from this great university. Like you, I’m planning on making 2016 the best year ever. With that in mind, there is a lot of work to do. Between classes, extracurricular activities, and making memories, making a difference might not be so high on goals for the year. But, remember: we all have the same hours in the day as Beyoncé.

If you haven’t made your goals for the New Year, there is never a better time than the present to do so. Goal setting is critical to success in any stage of life. Whether you are graduating, half-way through or just getting used to the cougar lifestyle – consider the following advice:

“The establishment of goals in our lives is of extreme importance; without them we are blind. There is a difference between a wish and a goal. We should make our days count, not just count days (J. Thomas Fyans).”

In order to make your days count, here are ten ways to make a difference.

1. Save money (It will make a difference to your pocket/bank account!) I was a seasonal worker at Nordstrom (a large fashion retailer) but I paid them to work in terms of buying store merchandise. I was surrounded with articles of clothing with the words “TAKE ME” printed on the price tag. Saving money is a disciplined activity. Financial freedom makes all the difference.

2. Use online or mobile services to connect with someone far away or someone you haven’t talked to in years. Try What’s App, Skype or Google Chat and get talking. Reaching out to someone on another continent has never been easier.

3. Read the news. It’s election year and it will make a difference at the voting booth. We need informed voters, not ignorant ones. Make a difference in your community by learning about issues on a local, state, and national level and vote for wise, honest candidates for public office.

4. Learn something new each day. Rather than play “Candy Saga Crush” —no judgment— learn something new like a foreign word (have you heard of DuoLingo?) Pick a new book outside of course study to read for pleasure and expand your knowledge.

5. Write a letter or card and send it or hand deliver it to someone. Just because the holidays have passed does not mean you can’t write a card and deliver it. I’m sure you know people with birthdays. Get them a card.

6. Find a new song or perfect melody that matches your optimism for 2016. Sing happy!

7. Make a mistake AND own it. It’s too easy to blame others and criticize, thinking we would or could do it better. Accept responsibility 100 percent of the time for 100 percent of your actions. This will make a world of difference.

8. Share something on social media – and make a difference in the world with a reference to who you are or what is important to you.


9. Get rid of at least one annoying/bad/off-putting habit. We all have idiosyncrasies. Some are more visible than others. If it is wasting time reading a gossip magazine, chewing food loudly, interrupting people when they speak–focus on it and eliminate it from your conduct. I’m sure you can make at least one person happy, if not yourself.

10. Look for ways to add “thank you,” “I love you,” “please forgive me,” and “I forgive you” to your daily life. No explanation necessary.

If there is one take away from this article: just make someone happy. Cheers to you and 2016!


1  Adapted from Loren C. Eiseley, The Star Thrower (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979).