Highlights from BYU Colleges: Professors chart thousands of dragonflies, study finds princess culture helps boys


College of Life Sciences

BYU professors and students are catching and collecting dragonflies to create the first family tree of all 6,300 known dragonfly species and their ancestors. The goal is to understand how dragonflies evolved over the years and why they have their unique characteristics like color, wings and eye size. Dragonflies have been around even before dinosaurs, with their ancestors being the size of hawks. The scientists are excited to explore their lineage.

“We’re looking at something that you see every day and saying, guess what, there are millions and millions of years of evolutionary history here,” molecular biology undergraduate Alyssa Pike said. “It’s a joy to be a part of.”

College of Humanities

Jackson Abhau won second in Koine Greek in the Maurine Dallas Watkins Greek and Latin Translation contest. (College of Humanities)

Students from the College of Humanities won awards for their proficiency in Greek and Latin. Three students won the annual Maurine Dallas Watkins Greek and Latin Translation contest and two of them received perfect scores on the College Greek Exam and were awarded with the Edward Phinney Book Prize. Michael Kerr won first in Intermediate Greek, Jackson Abhau won second in Koine Greek and Madeleine Staples won third in Intermediate Latin. 

“The essence of the humanities is looking at the world through the eyes of other people; if they shared their observations, we ought to be able to take advantage of them,” Professor Roger Macfarlane said. “I’d like to believe that (ancient texts and expressions are) worth exploring and retaining and learning from even now. So, we’re busy doing that here in our department.”

College of Family, Home and Social Sciences

BYU professor Sarah Coyne found that being exposed to princess culture has a positive impact on children. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

Disney princesses have captivated young girls for years. But a new long-term study by BYU professor Sarah Coyne shows that boys are also an important audience. The study shows boys who learn from princesses at a young age are more progressive toward women and less likely to exhibit toxic masculinity. Three hundred kids and their parents were studied for five years starting at preschool age. Girls who watched princesses found education, relationships and careers equally important for both men and women. Boys could access their emotions better and express them in nonviolent ways more often. And both boys and girls had better perceptions of body image.

“Focus on the humanity behind each princess, not just their appearance,” Coyne said. “Princesses like Moana are full of depth, passion and goodness. The story isn’t about how she looks, it’s about following your dreams and finding who you are. Parents can take these interpersonal qualities and help their kids grow. We can show them that princesses offer a wide amount of depth beyond appearance.”

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