Profiles: Retirees & New Faculty

Dr. William S. Bradshaw

Dr. William S. BradshawWilliam S. Bradshaw earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1968. After one year of doctoral research, he began teaching at BYU in the Department of Zoology. One year later—and only 11 years after serving as a missionary in Hong Kong—he returned there as the mission president.

Professor Bradshaw had an outstanding career as a professor and a researcher at BYU. In recent years, his research focused on science education as well as on improving teaching and learning for both students and faculty. He has been an integral part of a collaborative group focused on understanding the cognitive process involved in scientific reasoning. He was particularly interested in teaching students how to “draw conclusions from experimental data.” Finally, Dr. Bradshaw has taught a number of courses designed to sharpen his students’ scientific reasoning skills.

BYU honored him with the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Teaching Award in 1985 and the College of Life Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award in 2007. He served as Dean of General Education from 1983 to 1987 and most recently on the Undergraduate Student Development Committee in the Microbiology and Molecular Biology Department.

Dr. Bradshaw and his wife, Marge Gardner Bradshaw, are the proud parents of five children. They look forward to traveling more and spending time with their grandchildren, though he hopes to continue research in course design, pedagogy, and helping students improve their analytical thinking skills.

Steven L. Petersen

Steven L. PetersenNaturalist Steven Petersen is at home in the Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences at BYU, where he earned a B.S. in 1993 and an M.S. in restoration ecology in 1997. Afterwards he worked as an ecologist at the Nevada Test Site, Yucca Mountain Project, where he restored desert tortoise habitat and evaluated the potential eff ects of the Yucca Mountain Repository on the local ecosystem. Petersen then moved on to Oregon State University to pursue a Ph.D. and later join the faculty. He started teaching at BYU in 2007.

Dr. Petersen with Matt Madsen and Daniel Zvirzdin
Dr. Petersen visits with Ph.D. candidate Matt Madsen and undergraduate Daniel Zvirzdin as they do image and data processing in Petersen’s Geospatial Habitat Analysis lab.
Professor Petersen currently teaches courses in forest ecology and management, natural resource planning, and rangeland landscape ecology and Geographic Information Systems or GIS. He will teach Biology 100 this fall, acts as the BYU Plant Team Coach as well as co-advisor to the BYU Wildlife and Range Club, and mentors a number of students.

Currently, Petersen collaborates with OSU and the BLM to model the habitat requirements of the greater sage grouse. He also partners with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Agriculture Research Service to develop wild horse tracking systems that incorporate both GPS technology and remote sensed imagery.

Dr. Petersen and his wife, Stacey, have four fun-loving children ranging in age from 5 to 16. He enjoys woodcarving, birding, and photography, and he is always up for a good game of racquetball. Meanwhile, he will patiently wait for BYU to invest in a squash court, his preferred game.

Jeffrey G. Edwards

 Jeffrey G. Edwards
Jeff Edwards, a graduate of BYU, earned his Ph.D. at the University of Utah in physiology. He did postdoctoral research at Brown University and was awarded an NIH NRSA fellowship. After teaching a year and a half at BYU-Idaho, he came to BYU in 2007 to teach and pursue his research. A neuroscientist, Edwards studies mechanisms of learning and memory. In particular, he uses tiny electrodes that allow him to measure nerve activity in brain tissue and determine changes that occur in synapses, the point where two neurons communicate. Part of his research on mechanisms that mediate this synaptic strength increase has been published in the journal Science.

Professor Edwards with Blake Nelson and Stephen Daniel
As Blake Nelson and Professor Edwards watch, Stephen Daniel points to the area of the hippocampus where they will perform electrophysiological experiments on rat brain tissue
Another area of interest involves control of synaptic strength of special inhibitory cells in learning areas of the brain. In the journal Neuron, he recently showed that TRPV1, a receptor involved in pain responses, also mediates synaptic strength changes in learning pathways. This research has implications for medications that target TRPV1 as a pain reliever or weight loss drug.

Edwards is also excited about working with the nine undergraduates in his lab. “They aren’t just doing the research because they want to get a letter of recommendation from me or because they have to work in a lab,” he says. “They’re doing it because they want to make a contribution to science, something that will benefit others.”

Professor Edwards, his wife, Laurie, and their three children live in Springville. He loves the outdoors, especially golfing, skiing, biking, and hiking.

Bryan G. Hopkins

Bryan G. HopkinsDr. Bryan Hopkins attended Idaho State University for a year, surrendering a scholarship to serve a mission in Arizona. He returned to earn an A.A.S. in horticulture at Ricks College and his B.S. and M.S. degrees at BYU. Hopkins moved on to a staff research position at Kansas State University while he pursued his Ph.D., specializing in soil chemistry and plant nutrition.

Professor Hopkins enjoys studying, analyzing data, and writing up his research findings on polymer chemistry and water conservation in the quiet morning hours. It is not unusual to find him at his desk at 4:00 A.M. “I’m atypical in that I actually look forward to working on whatever academic project is on the top of my list,” he says. “I am at my best early in the morning.”

Travis Beckett with Dr. Bryan Hopkins
Travis Beckett (RIGHT) is just one of the many students Dr. Bryan Hopkins (LEFT) has mentored over the years.
He has embraced mentored research and currently conducts research with 14 undergraduate and graduate students. The President’s Leadership Council recently honored one of his students, a student who has also been invited to present research findings at national scientific meetings.

Hopkins and his wife, Carrie, have five sons and one daughter. His favorite subjects of conversation are his missionary and military sons and his children’s athletic and academic achievements. He also enjoys shooting, archery, and camping with his family. “BYU is hands-down the best place for a balanced education to nurture the mind, body, and spirit,” Hopkins says. “The Spirit of God permeates the buildings and landscape of this institution to facilitate education and research—making the world a better place.”