We have a great lineup of speakers for the 2009 FAIR Conference. Below you will find an overview of each speaker’s credentials and their presentation. If you would like to see the schedule of when the speakers will be addressing the Conference, visit our Conference overview page.
Ronald O. Barney received his Masters in American History from Utah State University in Logan, Utah. He is employed with the Church History Department where he focuses on special projects. Ron served as volume editor for the Joseph Smith Papers project (Documents, Volume 5, 1839-1840) and as Executive Producer of the Joseph Smith Papers television series (KJZZ-TV). He has authored numerous books, including The Mormon Vanguard Brigade of 1847: Norton Jacob’s Record (Utah State University Press, 2005), One Side By Himself: The Life and Times of Lewis Barney, 1808-1894 (Utah State University Press, 2001), and the forthcoming W. Mack Watkins: A Biography (2009). He has won multiple awards, including Best Documentary Book in Utah History (Utah State Historical Society, 2006), Best Biography Award (Mormon History Association, 2002), and the Evans Biography Award (Mountain West Center for Regional Studies, 2002).
Presentation: The Reliability of Mormon History Produced by the LDS Church.
Matthew B. Brown holds a B.A. degree in history from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He is the author of nine books (with one more forthcoming) which explore topics such as the First Vision, the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ancient and modern temples, prophecies, the Book of Mormon, the gifts of the Spirit, and the Plan of Salvation. He has also had articles published in the FARMS Review and the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Matthew has lectured at a number of seminars, symposiums, and firesides and has been featured on several radio and TV programs. He has done some writing for FAIR projects and has been a speaker at three previous FAIR conferences.
Presentation: Brigham Young’s Teachings on Adam
Brant Gardner’s academic background includes work towards a Ph.D. in Mesoamerican Ethnohistory at the State University of New York, Albany. His published works on Mesoamerica include an analysis of classical Nahuatl kinship terminology, an ethnohistoric investigation into the identification of the use of Coxoh to designate a people and language in Southern Mexico, and an examination of the Aztec Legend of the Suns. He has written articles that have appeared in the FARMS Review, and his widely acclaimed six-volume commentary on the Book of Mormon, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, is published by Kofford Books.
Presentation: Joseph the Seer, or Why Joseph Translated with a Rock in His Hat.
John Gee received his Ph.D. from Yale University. He is the William (Bill) Gay Associate Research Professor of Egyptology at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University and the author of A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri.
Presentation: The Larger Issue.
Ron Hellings was born and raised in Pasadena, California. After serving in the French East and Franco-Belgian missions, he returned to marry his sweetheart, Dee, and complete a BS in Physics at BYU, an MS at UCLA, and a Ph.D. at Montana State University-Bozeman. He has taught Physics at Southern Oregon University, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Cal Poly-Pomona, and Harvey Mudd College. Ron spent 25 years as a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory before moving back to Bozeman in 2001 to work as a research professor in the Physics department. For a period of 3 years during his time at Montana State University, he was actually on loan to NASA Headquarters in Washington DC to act as program scientist for the Astrophysics Theory Program. His research interests are alternative theories of gravity, experimental relativity, solar system dynamics, gravitational wave astronomy, pulsar timing, and relativistic cosmology. In the Church, Ron is basically a Gospel Doctrine teacher, having spent a total of 25 years in that calling in various wards. He has also recently served as bishop of the Bozeman University Ward. Ron and Dee have three married children and four grandchildren.
Presentation: Joseph Smith and Modern Cosmology.
John Lynch is a Silicon Valley sales and marketing executive specializing in high-tech startup ventures. He is a member of the Board of Directors of FAIR and serves as its Chairman. Having served in many missionary callings, including twice as a Stake Mission President, multiple times as a Ward Mission Leader, and having worked at the Provo Missionary Training Center as a teacher and trainer, John has seen the impact of both well-prepared and poorly prepared defenders of the faith. John is currently the Young Men’s President for the Los Gatos Ward, Saratoga California Stake.
Presentation: “Uh oh!” to “Ah ha!” in Apologetics—20/20 Foresight for a Faithful Future in Defending the Church.
Wade E. Miller is a professor of geology and paleontology, retired from Brigham Young University. He earned his MS in geology from the University of Arizona and his Ph.D. in Paleontology from UC Berkeley. Besides teaching at BYU, Wade has taught at Fullerton Junior College and at Santa Ana College. He has served, at various times, as paleontological advisor for the US Bureau of Land Management, the State of Utah, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, the University of Mexico, and the University of Hidalgo (Mexico). During his career Wade published or co-published over 80 scientific articles or books. He is currently a research associate at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Wade has served in numerous callings, including as a teacher and a bishop. He is married to the former Patricia Haws and is the father of three children (all sons).
Presentation: Science and the Book of Mormon
Ugo A. Perego, MSc, is a senior researcher with the non-profit Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation located in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a PhD student in human genetics at the University of Pavia in Italy. In his nine years with the Foundation, Ugo has supervised the worldwide collection of more than 110,000 DNA samples and corresponding genealogical records and given nearly 150 lectures on DNA and how it relates to ancestry, history (including LDS history), and population migrations. Ugo has also authored and co-authored a number of publications, including: “Distinctive Paleo-Indian Migration Routes from Beringia Marked by Two Rare MtDNA Haplogroups” (Current Biology, 2009); “Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA” (John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, 2008); “The Phylogeny of the Four Pan-American MtDNA Haplogroups: Implications for Evolutionary and Disease Studies” (PLoS One, 2008); “Mountain Meadows Massacre: A Mitochondrial DNA Examination” (Journal of Mormon History, 2006); “The Science of Molecular Genealogy” (NGS Quarterly, 2005); and “Reconstructing the Y-Chromosome of Joseph Smith: Genealogical Applications” (Journal of Mormon History, 2005).
Ugo is married to Jenna and they are the parents of three boys and a girl.
Presentation: Haplogroup X in Light of Recent Book of Mormon Claims.
Daniel C. Peterson
A native of southern California, Daniel C. Peterson received a bachelor’s degree in Greek and philosophy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and, after several years of study in Jerusalem and Cairo, earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU, as well as a member of the board and associate executive director of its Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, which has produced a computer-digitized version of the Dead Sea Scrolls, electronically recovered damaged documents from the ruins of Herculaneum, Petra, and elsewhere, and is engaged in joint publishing ventures with such institutions as the Vatican Apostolic Library in Rome. He is the executive editor of BYU’s three-part Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, which includes not only the Islamic Translation Series but two sister series: Graeco-Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, and Eastern Christian Texts. These series publish dual-language editions of classical works of medieval Arabic and Persian philosophy, Arabic medicine and science, and early Coptic, Syriac, and Christian Arabic literature. (The University of Chicago Press distributes the volumes.) He is the author of several books and numerous articles on Islamic and Latter-day Saint topics, including most recently a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (Eerdmans, 2007). Dr. Peterson served in the Switzerland Zürich Mission, and, for approximately eight years, on the Gospel Doctrine writing committee for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He currently serves as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in his home ward. He is immediate past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), and edits the FARMS Review of Books. Dr. Peterson is married to the former Deborah Stephens, of Lakewood, Colorado, and they are the parents of three sons.
Presentation: The Temple as a Place of Ascent to God.
Richard Sherlock is a Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. During his career he has written 90 books, book chapters, articles, and book reviews touching on the topics of moral philosophy, applied ethics, history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, political philosophy, and Mormon History. He is currently writing the book Mormonism and the Moral Life, forthcoming from Kofford Books.
Presentation: Mormonism in the Public Square
Greg Smith studied physiology and English at the University of Alberta, but escaped into medical school before earning his degree. He then did his medical residency in Montréal, Québec, learning all the medical vocabulary and all the French Canadian slang that he didn’t learn during his LDS mission to Paris, France. He is now an old-style country doctor in rural Alberta with interests in internal medicine and psychiatry. A clinical preceptor for residents and medical students, he has been repeatedly honored for excellence in clinical teaching.
A member of FAIR since 2005, Greg helps manage the FAIR wiki. Due to his research interest in plural marriage, he has spoken to the Miller-Eccles study group and been published in the FARMS Review on this and other topics. With twelve years of classical piano training, he is a life-long audiophile and owns far too many MP3 files. He lives happily with his one indulgent wife, three children, and four cats.
Presentation: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Plural Marriage * But Were Afraid To Ask
Vickey is a songwriter/producer, vocalist, and professional speaker, and has performed and/or taught in numerous venues. Her compositions include the theme songs for the Special Olympics program (state by state selection), the Make A Wish Foundation, the Especially For Youth program of the Church, and the Families In Focus program. She is a Billboard award-winning songwriter, with hundreds of songs to her credit.
Vicky has enjoyed participation in the Church Education System’s youth and family programs for two decades, having taught for Know Your Religion, Campus Education Week at BYU-Provo, BYU-Hawaii, and BYU-Idaho, Especially for Youth, Best of Especially for Youth, BYU Conferences and Workshops, and women’s conferences. She works with FAIR’s Rising Generation youth group and writes a weekly column, “Can Do Youth,” for Meridian Magazine.
Vickey joined the Church as a teenager, growing up in Virginia. She holds a masters degree in interpersonal communications and currently resides in the Salt Lake Valley. She is married to Dean Taylor. They have eight children and two grandchildren.
Presentation: The Sariah Dilemma: Finding Increased Faith When Our Children Misplace Their Own.
R. McKay White is pursuing his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Alberta. He completed his BA in economics and his MA in economics and finance, being awarded both degrees with distinction. His academic research interests include portfolio theory, competition policy, insurance economics, and economic growth. McKay and his wife, Paula, live in Edmonton, Alberta, with their four children. He has served in various Church callings, presently serving as a ward missionary.
Presentation: The Kirtland Safety Society: The Myths, the Facts, and the Prophet’s Good Name.
Robert B. White, Q.C., served a mission in Eastern Canada after which he returned to Edmonton and received degrees in finance (with distinction) and law (with distinction and the Silver Medal) at the University of Alberta. He is a senior partner and litigation practice group leader in a large, multi-national law firm with offices across Canada and in Japan. Robert works exclusively in trials and appeals and loves the law. He is listed in each of the three published, peer reviewed “Best Lawyers in Canada” lists. He was hired as an adjunct professor in law while in my third year of law school, and while practicing he taught for 18 years. He has written four law books, all published by Canada Law Book, with a second edition of one under way. Robert has served in many Church positions, including bishop, stake president, and area seventy. He is married to Lonni. They have six children and twenty grandchildren.
Presentation: On Being An Apologist: Imperatives, Predicaments, Perils, and Blessings.