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Impact Magazine

College News - Fall 2022

Three New Associate Deans

By Sydney Springer

Three light-skinned adults smile and stand in a hallway with many windows. The man on the left wears a sweater with thick horizontal stripes that are maroon, red, and dark gray. The man in the middle wears a light blue button-up shirt with short sleeves. The woman on the right has long blond hair and wears a black dress and a black jacket.
Photo by Nicholas Rex

Dean Laura Bridgewater appointed three new associate deans in the College of Life Sciences. Loreen Allphin of the Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences, Benjamin Crookston of the Department of Public Health, and Michael Stark of the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology assumed their college administrative responsibilities on October 1, 2022.

“All three are gifted faculty members and strong leaders with unique skills and perspectives that will benefit our college,” Bridgewater says.

Allphin, Crookston, and Stark will replace the current associate deans Michael Barnes, professor of public health; Rick Jellen, professor of plant and wildlife sciences; and Susan Fullmer, professor of nutrition, dietetics, and food science.

Fishy Findings

By Angela Larson

Five fish swim in a clear aquarium. The fish are small and have brown bodies and black stripes on their backs. Leafy green plants sit in the aquarium on the left and in the middle.
Photo by Nicholas Rex

For decades rodents have been under the microscope, but now our ancient ancestors that take to the water offer interesting insights into human behavior as evolutionary biologists study the personality traits of fish.

Biology graduate Erik Johnson (’22) studied the connection between individual personality traits and placement in social hierarchies of Convict Cichlids—a freshwater fish native to Central America. By selecting these particular fish for their easily observable social hierarchies and known patterns of dominant and subordinate behavior, Johnson evaluated the role that personality traits of “boldness” or “shyness” play in social dominance.

Due to our common ancestry, Johnson hopes the fish can be used as a model system to make conclusions about individual and group behavior in people.

“If [the behaviors] are related, then it’s possible to extrapolate and say, based on your personality, this is how you’ll do in a group setting,” Johnson explains. “. . . this deeper understanding into how individual personality affects group decision making and behavior has wide implications.”

Three Minute Thesis Victory

By Grace Christensen

A light-skinned man wearing a black shirt and black gloves stands in a lab and pours the clear contents of a beaker into a clear, circular container.
Photo by Nicholas Rex

The brain is an incredible machine. For BYU graduate neuroscience student Michael Von Guten (’24), it was the star of his entry to the Three Minute Thesis competition, a challenging event that requires students to condense a 40–page thesis into a three minute presentation.

Von Guten took first place at the competition’s college level and third place at the university level. He presented his research on the effects LSD may have in treating mental health issues, and how multiple drugs used at once could have a negative effect on the brain.

Von Guten’s research concluded that the addictive brain could help scientists discover new methods to alter neural pathways and reverse substance use disorder.

Is Trauma Inherited?

By Kaigan Bigler

Four hands are stacked on top of one another. The largest hand is at the bottom, and the smallest hand is at the top. The bottom three hands are palm up, and the top hand is palm down.
Photo by Luana Azevedo on Unsplash

Four public health graduate students teamed up with professors Ali Crandall and Michael Barnes to answer the question: How does intergenerational trauma affect family health?

Their research found that the father's childhood experiences carry the most weight on the family's overall emotional health, and having good family health may decrease the transmission of trauma from parent to child. These results surprised lead author Emma Reese (’22) and Crandall; however, Reese says the results could correlate with the idea that men tend to externalize their emotions while women internalize.

To conduct this research, Reese and Crandall used BYU’s Family Health Scale to create a questionnaire focused on family financial resources, social and emotional health, and overall lifestyle behaviors. Questions were asked about violence in the home, forcible sex, poverty, and exposure to depression. They plan to use findings to develop a program that curbs the transmission of adverse childhood experience trauma.

Extending a Cadaver’s Life

By Jenny Carpenter

The inside of a rib cage fills the frame with the base at the front and the top extending to the back. The spine is at the bottom of the frame. The tops of the bones in the rib cage are covered in a dark red substance.
Photo by Nicholas Rex

Cell biology student Ayden Olsen (’23) and recent cell biology graduate Craig Reeves (’22) set out to find a solution to cadavers drying out too quickly, an issue that can hinder students' learning in anatomy labs. With time, cadavers begin to dry, and the muscles lose color, making it near impossible to identify distinct structures in the human body.

Typically, cadavers are sprayed with a wetting solution to slow drying—but the process can be challenging to work with and the solution loses its effectiveness quickly. Olsen and Reeves identified humectants (hydrating molecules) that can do the job expeditiously and cost-effectively. After many setbacks, they discovered the humectant that best hydrated the skin: glycerol. Their research will continue as they graduate and pass the baton to fellow cell biology student Rachel Prince (’24).

This discovery can pave the way towards extending the life of cadavers in labs across the country, giving future medical professionals and researchers the tools to help their communities.

Small golden-brown muffins are positioned, from left to right, in stacks of one, one, three, three, and two. Five bright red strawberries lie among the stacks of muffins. A single muffin in the front has been bitten in half to reveal its creamy, light pink filling.
Photo by Reese Larsen

NDFS Students Develop New Dairy Product and Take Home the Grand Prize

By Sydney Springer

A group of BYU undergraduate students majoring in food science developed a new dairy product named “Cream Cheese Clouds.” The gluten-free snack is par-baked, individually frozen, and sold in a recyclable baking tray. Customers can simply pop the tray in the oven for twenty minutes to prepare.

The students entered the Cream Cheese Clouds in the Intercollegiate Dairy Product Development Contest at the 2022 Idaho Milk Processor’s Association Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, and took home the grand prize. This marks BYU’s eighth grand prize win since 2008.

Food science professors Mike Dunn and Laura Jefferies served as the team’s advisors.

Addressing a microscopic but deadly threat

By Grace Christensen

An elephant strides to the left in front of a large tan building. A dark-skinned man in a white shirt sits near the elephant's neck, and two light-skinned women sit on a red and blue blanket draped over the elephant's back.
Photo by Abby Johnson

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a microscopic but deadly organism, projected to be one of the most lethal diseases by 2050—surpassing cancer and heart disease. As the world leader in antibiotic production, India's rivers are filled with factory byproduct, making their water system a hot spot for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

BYU students Thea Ward (’23), Abby Johnson (’22), Madison Duffy (’23), and Sierra Mellor (’24) spent three months collaborating with researchers from Jiwaji University to gather and examine samples from the rivers of Gwalior, India. The research these students were able to participate in is vital to India’s commitment to slowing the bacteria’s growth and may contribute to a cure for antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in the future.

Pedometer may boost steps—even if you don’t look at it

By Christie Allen

A black, round pedometer is strapped to a person's wrist. To the left of the pedometer is the cuff of a pink sleeve, and to the right of it is a light-skinned wrist. From top to bottom, the pedometer shows white numbers and words centered on its screen: 10000, 9.5kcal, 171, 103.1m.
Photo by Artur Luczka on Unsplash

Simple awareness that your steps are being tracked may lead to increased physical activity, according to a study co-authored by BYU scholars: exercise science professor James LeCheminant, economics professor Joe Price, and business professor Bill Tayler.

The study found that those wearing a pedometer walked an average of 318 more steps per day than those without a tracker, even if the walkers had no specific fitness goals or incentives and even when they couldn’t see the step count the pedometer kept. “[B]ecause if it’s being measured, it feels like it matters,” explains Tayler.

Perhaps you receive a notification at the end of the day regarding how much time you have spent on your phone. The next day, you plan to use your phone a little less. Simply the act of consciously being measured affects your behavior. Public health businesses and healthcare professionals could see a great improvement in average daily steps taken by individuals if they make methods of tracking progress more accessible.