Highlights from BYU colleges: Students present at academic conference, dance professor’s film wins awards


Marriott School of Business

Madison Corbin, left, and Cherileigh Leavitt, students in the BYU Marriott School of Business, were the youngest to present at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. (Madison Corbin, Cherileigh Leavitt)

Two BYU Marriott School of Business students became the youngest to present at the longest-running international conference on information technology. Information systems students Madison Corbin and Cherileigh Leavitt participated remotely in the 2021 Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Corbin and Leavitt’s research process began in February 2020 when information systems professor Greg Anderson asked them to research the effectiveness of INTEX, a BYU Marriott program. INTEX is a project information systems students complete during their junior year to learn how to solve business-related problems. 

“INTEX helps prepare us for the workforce by presenting us with a problem that requires applying our knowledge and working together in a group,” Leavitt said. Leavitt and Corbin surveyed INTEX participants about what takeaways they had from their experience. Their research data showed that more than 97% of participants saw INTEX as positive and beneficial for their future careers.

“Their passion, drive, and quest for excellence in their work was indispensable for the success of this presentation,” Anderson said of Corbin and Leavitt. “They presented the paper at one of our top information systems conferences, where distinguished academics and PhD candidates present their research.”

“Realizing how young we were in comparison to the other presenters made me feel proud to be there,” Corbin said of participating alongside accomplished professors. “We invested countless hours into the project, and our hard work paid off. I learned many news skills about research and how to work with another person to accomplish something amazing.”

College of Fine Arts and Communications

BYU student Abbey Trinca dances in a still from Professor Rachel Barker’s award-winning dance film “Sedimented Here.” (Rachel Barker)

A BYU dance professor’s award-winning film showcases student talent and Utah landscapes. Rachel Barker’s dance film “Sedimented Here” was accepted into multiple film festivals last year including the prestigious Dance Camera West festival. This Los Angeles event is considered one of the top three film festivals in America. Barker’s film won a spot as a finalist. Barker’s project was in the works for three years, from scouting shooting locations in Southern Utah to filming the final production. Dancers featured in Barker’s film include students Abby Trinca, McCall McClellan and Jared McClure.

Barker said she based her choreography on the sites she filmed in.

“I didn’t want to take a dance and put it somewhere else,” Barker said. “I asked, ‘What is the movement that comes out of these spaces?’”

Barker said she hopes the film’s audiences “have a visceral, kinesthetic multi-sensory experience.” 

“Sedimented Here” has not been released to the public yet as it continues to compete at film festivals. The trailer is available on YouTube.

David M. Kennedy Center

Sara Naumann Lopez is the editor in chief of the student research journal Sigma that helps students make their ideas heard across the world. (Kennedy Center)

A student journal at the Kennedy Center helps students make their ideas heard across the world. Scott Cooper, a political science professor at BYU, supervises the publication of Sigma every April. This research journal has featured BYU students’ work since 1984. Sigma is read not only by BYU students and faculty but also by readers around the world, Cooper said. Last year, through the BYU online scholars archive, Sigma articles were downloaded more than 1800 times at 836 institutions in 136 countries.

Recent graduate Brynne Townley said she appreciates BYU’s unique research opportunities for undergraduate students. 

“Publishing my article has definitely had a positive impact on me,” Townley said. Her Sigma research paper outlined the factors that encourage women to participate in politics in sub-Saharan Africa. “I felt proud that my hard work had paid off, and it gave me confidence in the skills I had gained during my undergrad experience.”

Other papers published in Sigma include a study on immigration rates’ effect on crime rates by Kelly Duncan and Gabe Darger and a paper on European attitudes towards immigration by Matthew Easton and Connor Kreutz. 

“It is extremely rewarding to have your paper read in a real-world context rather than just inside the classroom for a grade,” said Sigma’s editor in chief for 2020-2021, Sara Naumann Lopez. “Students that get published in Sigma have the opportunity to apply their own research to the current political climate.”

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