Highlights from BYU colleges

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College of Family, Home and Social Sciences

Senior author Wendy Birmingham (center), lead author Tyler Graff (right), and co-author Steven Luke (left). (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

A new study led by BYU psychology professor Wendy Birmingham showed evidence that relationships, especially marriage, reduce stress. The study was published in the well-noted scientific journal PLOS ONE. Birmingham and her team, including fellow psychology professor Steven Luke and graduate student Tyler Graff, used infrared technology to track pupil dilation of subjects completing difficult tasks. Measuring the effects of relationships is difficult to do in real time, but pupil dilation indicates stress levels within 200 milliseconds to the onset of a stressor, allowing BYU researchers to receive immediate results. The group members who completed the task in their spouses’ presence composed themselves and completed the task with reduced stress. “When we have a spouse next to us and with us it really helps us navigate and get through the stress we have to deal with in life,” Birmingham said.


Marriott School of Business

The 2019 Stoddard Prize award recipients are Eban Beltran, Spencer Clegg, Christopher Davis, Daniel Gore, Mark Johnson, Richard Maxwell, Chad Olesiak, Bryce Pinder, Olivia Prochazka, Logan Rahn, Jordan Tesimale and Dan Visser.

Twelve second-year MBA finance students received the noteworthy George E. Stoddard Prize of $5,000. The 2019 recipients are Eban Beltran, Spencer Clegg, Christopher Davis, Daniel Gore, Mark Johnson, Richard Maxwell, Chad Olesiak, Bryce Pinder, Olivia Prochazka, Logan Rahn, Jordan Tesimale and Dan Visser. Stoddard graduated from BYU in 1937 and began the scholarship in 1985. He laid the groundwork for sale-and-leaseback transactions, a way to finance companies by selling and leasing assets. “My career is a dream come true,” Prochazka said. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the BYU Marriott MBA program.”

A team of BYU Marriott student researchers have spent months conducting and analyzing research the effect different experiences have on emotion, and will present their findings at an international conference in July. (Pexels)

BYU Marriott experience design management student researchers were selected out of thousands of research proposals to present at the International Positive Psychology Conference in Melbourne, Australia, this July. The Marriott team has spent months conducting qualitative research and analyzing experiences from over 300 interview subjects to discover how experience designers can use emotion to create more powerful experiences. The study found the volume of emotion observed from transformative experiences such as getting married, serving a mission or taking a life-changing class was much greater than the volume seen in memorable experiences, such as a trip or performing service for someone else. The students said they look forward to sharing their research with the world at the international conference.


College of Fine Arts and Communications

BYU news media professor Miles Romney presented research on millennials and media at the Broadcast Education Association 2019 Conference. (Madeline Mortensen/BYU Photo​)

BYU news media professor Miles Romney spoke at the Broadcast Education Association 2019 Conference in Las Vegas. He presented information pertaining to one of the chapters in his new book, “Tune it or Stream it? Can Millennials and the Internet save ESPN?” The chapter focuses on how millennials and Gen Zers are likely to change traditional media platforms like ESPN. With the rise of streaming services, Romney details sports news stations will have to adapt to the changes in viewership to survive. A big part of that, especially with college students, is price. The best price range for most young adults is $10 or less per month. Romney believes sports broadcasting will move online to keep and expand their audience. “Millennials and Gen Zers aren’t going to pay $12 a month for content that they’re not interested in, so (sports networks) have to move or migrate their marquee stuff onto the streaming platforms,” Romney said. 


Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering

BYU researchers have invented a quieter airplane toilet. From left: Scott Thomson, Scott Sommerfeldt and Kent Gee. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

A team of BYU researchers has found a way to make airplane toilets quieter. The team set out to revamp the 25-year-old model as air travel continues to improve. By inserting additional pipes at more gradual angles, the team lowered sound levels by 16 decibels with the initial flush and five to 10 decibels as the water continues to drain. Lead project researcher Kent Gee is a professor of physics specializing in acoustics. “At the end of the day, this is about using science to improve a user experience,” Gee said. “It’s an important part of making flights more comfortable for customers.”


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