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Welcoming our Newest Honors Faculty

Meet the incoming 2024 Alcuin Fellows

Pictured above, left to right: (top row) Scott Braithwaite, Matthew Grey, Jeff Hardy; (middle row) Steve Johnson, Mike Jones, Andy Reed; (bottom row) Matthew Seeley, Jarica Watts, Jason Whiting.

We all love the Honors Program, and part of what makes it great are the individuals who build the community. Every year we have the privilege of welcoming new Alcuin Fellows into the Honors Program. These are brilliant faculty from disciplines all over campus who have come to share their perspectives with Honors students. Below you will find information and fun facts about our newest Honors faculty. We are thrilled to have them with us and look forward to learning from them in Unexpected Connections classes in 2024.

Scott Braithwaite, Psychology

Upcoming Honors Course: HONRS 226, a new Social Science/Letter course coming Fall 2024
Research specialty: My primary research interests center on preventing marital distress and divorce as well as enhancing marital health. Much of my work focuses on novel methods of delivering premarital interventions so they can be disseminated broadly, especially to those who have historically been less likely to receive them. I also study basic processes that help us understand why some marriages thrive while others fail; for example, I am interested in partner selection and how the processes related to it influence marital health and stability. Finally, I’m interested in the association between close relationships and physical or mental health.

Why participate in Honors? Picture yourself in a world where curious minds aren't just a fancy decoration on a university brochure but a daily reality. You've got students around you who are more interested in debating the existence of dark matter or exploring the social impact of meme culture than they are in just “getting through" college. Honors is the five-course meal of education – you're not just stuck with the 'meat and potatoes' of your own department. You get a taste of insights from everywhere.

Matthew Grey, Ancient Scripture

Upcoming Honors Course: HONRS 226, a new Social Science/Letter course coming Fall 2024
Research specialty: My research interests include Jesus and his Jewish Setting; Daily Life in Roman Galilee; Sacred Space, Ritual, and Priesthood in Early Judaism; Dead Sea Scrolls and Early Jewish Sectarianism; Judeans and Jesus Followers in the Roman World; Jesus in Film; Joseph Smith's Study and Uses of Hebrew

What field research engages you? For almost twenty years, I’ve been actively involved in archaeological research and publication relating to the world of the Bible in Israel, Jordan, and Italy. Since 2011 I have supervised excavations at the Roman-era village and synagogue at Huqoq (in Israel’s Galilee region.

Jeff Hardy, History

Upcoming Honors Course: Honors 226, Blessed are the Poor: Understanding Poverty through History and Theology
Research specialty: I research the Soviet Gulag and other prison and concentration camp systems globally.

Who is your hero? Andrei Sakharov, a whip-smart nuclear physicist who became a leading advocate for human rights in the Soviet Union.
Would you rather vacation in Alaska or Hawaii? I love both, but my final answer is Costa Rica

Steve Johnson, Molecular Biology and Epigenetics

Upcoming Honors Course: HONORS 220, new Bio/Letters with Mike Call coming Fall 2024
Research specialty: My lab studies how genes are bundled and regulated through epigenetic mechanisms.

Would you rather vacation in Hawaii or Alaska? I would rather vacation in Alaska as I sunburn quite easily and I have gotten into gold prospecting/panning over the past few years. I still haven’t found much more than a few specks of gold, but hope springs eternal. In reality we will probably go to Hawaii before Alaska, as I promised to take my wife there about a decade ago, and we have yet to go.

Do you collect anything? Yes I do, much to my wife’s chagrin. I have various collections ranging from rare/precious coins and Haitian art to Lego and Lord of the Rings collectables. I might even be currently wearing the ring of Thrór as my wedding ring. My wife recently gave me a second room in our house for my exclusive use. Now in addition to my den downstairs, I have my second den upstairs, which I have named “the tower."

Michael Jones, Computer Science

Upcoming Honors Course: Honors 223:,Preserving the Experience of Being in Nature
Research Specialty: Human-computer interaction in the context of sports and outdoor recreation.

What is your least favorite chore? Mowing the lawn.
What is the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten? Eels as part of a dinner in China.

Andy Reed, Jewish-Christian Relations, Eastern Europe, History of Anti-Semitism

Upcoming Honors Course: HONRS 226, Blessed are the Poor: Understanding Poverty through History and Theology
Research specialty: I study interactions between Jews and Christians in Europe and Eastern Europe, as well as the theories and methodologies that create productive interfaith relations.

What motivates me to work hard? I’m deeply invested in building connections for students and faculty across the university and for fostering positive relations with religious communities and fascinating individuals outside of BYU. Doing so take significant time, consistency, and effort. Plus, I’m really not that talented, but I am stubborn enough to outwork a lot of people.

Would you rather vacation in Hawaii or Alaska? Given my desire to avoid temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit at all costs, probably Alaska. My wife will disagree with me on that one, she loves days at the beach!

Matthew Seeley, Biomechanics

Upcoming Honors Course: Honors 290R, Strong Bodies, Resilient Minds, and Health Relationships
Research specialty: I research the role of physical activity in promoting joint health, particularly following traumatic joint injury (for example, anterior cruciate ligament injury).

Would you rather vacation in Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska. I prefer to be away from people, out of doors. Although I've never been, Alaska seems to fit that description.
Do you collect anything? To my wife's chagrin, I hold onto my old running shoes. You can't have too many old running shoes, right?

Jarica Watts, 20th Century British Literature

Upcoming Honors Course: Honors 223, Preserving the Experience of Being in Nature
Research specialty: I primarily research short fiction, especially the short stories of WW1 from canonical British modernists like Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, and Radclyffe Hall. I’ve recently turned to motherhood studies and am just completing a monograph on the textual mothers in Virginia Woolf’s novels.

What motivates you to work hard? I’m motivated to work hard by envisioning the woman I’d like to become. I try to do one thing a day that she would do. Eventually the lines blur, and I become closer and closer to her each day.
What is my least favorite chore? Doing laundry and washing dishes: The dynamic duo of domestic disdain.

Jason Whiting, Marriage and Family Therapy

Upcoming Honors Course: Honors 290R, Strong Bodies, Resilient Minds, and Healthy Relationships
Research specialty: I do research about healthy and unhealthy marriage patterns, including control and abuse.

What are your hobbies? I have too many hobbies, including biking, handball, oil painting, guitar, reading, photography, pickleball, choral music, etc. It means I am not really a master at any of them, but it keeps life very interesting, and is a good fit for interdisciplinary education.
Who should play you in a movie about your life? Matt Damon, because we are the same age, but he is much more cool and handsome than I am.