Highlights from BYU colleges: Student film showcases skater moms, Psychologists use dirty diapers for autism research

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College of Fine Arts and Communications

Documentary subject Jen poses with her son Max in Sophia Prestwich’s documentary “Skaterhood.”

A recent BYU media arts graduate directed a short film about mothers who skateboard. Sophia Prestwich’s documentary topic was chosen as a student capstone project, giving her the funding and mentorship to make the film a reality. Prestwich worked with Emmy-nominated filmmaker Brad Barber, who works in the BYU Department of Theatre and Media Arts. Other contributors included director of photography Skyler Sorensen, producer Sam Richins, and editor Jenna Schaelling. The 25-minute film, “Skaterhood,” was released in October 2020 and tells the story of skater moms Xan, Jen and Cass.

“One of the duties of being a filmmaker is building relationships with the people you film,” Prestwich said. “I learned how emotionally taxing creating films can be, especially documentaries. But I also feel like I changed as a person. I didn’t expect that.”


College of Life Sciences

A new collection of religious artwork has added a reflective nature to the Life Sciences Building. (Nathaniel Edwards)

A new collection of religious artwork has added a reflective nature to the Life Sciences Building. The art was installed to facilitate opportunities to experience peace and faith during one’s day, College of Life Sciences Dean James Porter said. Some of the paintings include Walter Rane’s “Jehovah Creates the Earth,” Yongsung Kim’s “The Hand of God,” and Simon Dewey’s “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd.” Three paintings by Jorce Cocco Santangelo, “Come, Follow Me,” “The Prodigal Son” and “The Good Samaritan” are also featured.

“We want our buildings to be places of refuge and peace,” Porter said. “It is my hope and prayer that the Spirit will be in our buildings so that all who come to learn, to teach, to work or to visit will be edified and protected.”


College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences

BYU psychology professor Rebecca Lundwall and her team are finding answers in dirty diapers for their autism study. (Elisa T. Adamson/BYU Photo)

A psychology professor and her team of researchers are finding answers in dirty diapers for their autism study. Increasing evidence shows that gut health is associated with brain activity, and adults with autism have been found to have different microbiota than those without autism. Rebecca Lundwall’s study is recruiting infants 8-12 months old who have older siblings with autism for her study. The researchers will search the diapers for unique microbiota. 

“We want to help doctors have a simple test to identify autism risk for children at 12 months or younger,” Lundwall said. “Something like this could really level the playing field and help all children, regardless of symptom severity, age and allow children access to resources.”

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