Highlights from BYU colleges

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David O. McKay School of Education

Researchers from BYU and the University of Utah developed a way to take MRI scans of children with autism while they are awake. (Bradley Slade, BYU Photo)

Researchers from BYU and the University of Utah have developed a way to take structural and functional MRI scans of children with autism while they are awake. Children with autism have rarely been scanned awake because of the difficulty of keeping still for 45 minutes. The research team eased the children’s anxiety by allowing them to push buttons on the machine, calming them throughout the process and filming the MRI process for their families to watch at home. Results from the scans showed both overactive and underactive brain activity and “decreased activity in the left and right hemispheres,” according to BYU assistant professor Terisa Gabrielsen. The findings support clinical findings that have never been observed in the brain. 


Marriott School of Business

The battle for good and evil leaps from the comics and into our food when heroes and villains are used for marketing. (Nate Edwards, BYU Photo)

BYU marketing and global supply chain professor Tamara Masters recently published a study in the “Journal of Consumer Psychology” on the effects of villain and hero marketing on food packaging. The study found vice foods, like sugary products and unhealthy snacks, are more likely to be bought at a higher price when there is a superhero on the package. According to the study, the positive attributes of the heroes ease the negative attributes of unhealthy food. On the contrary, healthy foods sell at a higher price when villain labels are used, making the food seem “more edgy and exciting,” as noted by Masters. Additional research needs to be conducted to fully understand these marketing techniques.


College of Life Sciences

A recent study by BYU student Michael Harding and professor Evan Thacker shows that cancer, as opposed to heart disease, is shifting to the leading cause of death. (Preventing Chronic Disease)

BYU public health major Michael Harding and professor Evan Thacker published a study in the “Preventing Chronic Disease” academic journal that reveals the leading cause of death in the United States is shifting toward cancer. Though heart disease remains as the leading cause of death, total deaths by heart disease are decreasing. Thacker theorizes the trend stems from the decrease of tobacco usage in the United States and that cancer will eventually surpass heart disease as the number one cause of death.


Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering

Owlet is a multi-million dollar company devoted to giving peace of mind to partners by providing an easy way to be informed of an infant’s health. (Owlet)

BYU engineering student and entrepreneur Kurt Workman turned his parental concern into a multi-million dollar company. Workman and his wife Shea worried their newborn son would inherit Shea’s heart condition. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Workman enlisted the help of BYU classmates Zack Bomsta, Jordan Monroe and Jake Colvin to create the Smart Sock, a noninvasive way to monitor an infant’s heartbeat and vitals. After the team won BYU’s Student Innovator of the Year competition in 2012, Workman had the funds to start his company Owlet. Today, Owlet’s products include the Smart Sock, an Owlet Cam and an app that provides real time updates on the baby’s vitals and allows parents to view the Owlet Cam footage from their phone.


College of Family, Home and Social Sciences

Professors Jeremy Pope, pictured above, and Michael Barber set out to find if political party trumps ideology. (BYU Photo)

BYU political science professors Michael Barber and Jeremy C. Pope have published a study in the “American Political Science Review” that questions whether citizens value political party over political policy. A representative survey asked 1,300 Americans whether they supported certain political policies. They were then informed of the issues supported by President Donald Trump. The results showed that regardless of a policy’s traditional origin — liberal or conservative — when informed of Trump’s support on specific issues, Republicans sided with him and Democrats sided against him. From this study, Americans seem to have more loyalty to political parties than to political policies.


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