We have a great lineup of speakers for the 2011 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.
Don Bradley is a writer, editor, and researcher specializing in early Mormon history. Don recently performed an internship with the Joseph Smith Papers Project and is completing his thesis, on the earliest Mormon conceptions of the New Jerusalem, toward an M.A. in History at Utah State University. He has published on the translation of the Book of Mormon, plural marriage before Nauvoo, and Joseph Smith’s “grand fundamental principles of Mormonism” and plans to publish an extensive analysis, co-authored with Mark Ashurst-McGee, on the Kinderhook plates. Don’s first book, The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Missing Contents of the Book of Mormon, is slated to be published by Greg Kofford Books in September.
Presentation: ‘President Joseph Has Translated a Portion’: Solving the Mystery of the Kinderhook Plates.
Newell G. Bringhurst is an independent scholar and Professor Emeritus of History and Political Science at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California, having retired after a 35 year career in the classroom. He was born in Salt Lake City Utah and received his bachelors and masters degrees at the University of Utah before attending the University of California, Davis, where he received his PhD. He is the author/editor of nine books published since 1981, the most recent being Scattering of the Saints: Schism within Mormonism (2007) which he co-edited with John Hamer; and The Mormon Quest of the Presidency (2008), co-authored with Craig L. Foster.
Newell is a long-time member of the Mormon History Association, having initially joined back in 1972, during its formative years. He served as president of MHA in 1999-2000 and more recently as MHA Historian, a position to which he was appointed in 2002. He is also the member of a number of other professional historical organizations, most notably The John Whitmer Historical Association, with which he has been involved since the mid-1970s and of which he served as president, from 2005-2006.
Aside from his research and writing of history, Newell enjoys hiking and other activities in the great California outdoors—an interest which he shares with his wife of 39 years, Mary Ann. They are the parents of one daughter and the expectant grandparents of their first grandchild, due in early October.
Presentation: W. Mitt Romney and Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.’s 2012 Quest for the Presidency: A Mormon Moment or Mormon Question…Revisited.
Samuel Brown graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in Linguistics with a minor in Russian, then received his MD from Harvard Medical School, where he was a National Scholar and Massachusetts Medical Society Scholar. After graduation he completed residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he remained on faculty as an Instructor in General Medicine at Harvard Medical School before moving to the University of Utah, where he completed fellowship training. He is now Assistant Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Associate in the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities at the University of Utah, based at the Shock Trauma ICU at Intermountain Medical Center.
Samuel began his scholarly career studying the epidemiology of hospital-acquired infections in resource-limited settings within the former Soviet Union, a project funded by USAID that ultimately evolved into the development of outbreak detection algorithms with an MIT-trained group of engineers, which resulted in the successful development of a software package deployed in US hospitals to track and control hospital-acquired infections. More recently, his interests in serious infection, computer models, and complex analysis have led to scholarly work on the sepsis syndrome. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, he investigates patterns in cardiovascular function to identify markers of disease severity and responsiveness to treatment in patients with life-threatening infection. This work evaluates hidden rhythms in heart rate and blood pressure that may be able to guide the resuscitation of individuals in septic shock. He has published and presented widely on the epidemiology of infectious disease and critical illness.
In his off-hours Samuel tries to understand how believers have employed religious concepts in coming to terms with embodiment, sickness, and death, a quiet avocation that has yielded several publications. His book, In Heaven As It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2011), explores tenets of the early Restoration that support an LDS relational theology within the context of the struggle to overcome the effects of death.
Presentation: Seerhood, Pure Language, and Sacred Translation.
Paul J. Fields, PhD, is a consultant specializing in research methods and statistical analysis. He has worked with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship on stylometric and authorship attribution studies of the Book of Mormon and other documents related to the founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He received his doctorate from Pennsylvania State University. During his academic career he was on the faculty of the United States Naval Postgraduate School and Brigham Young University.
Presentation: Book of Mormon ‘Wordprint’ Analysis: How to do it wrong…and how to do it right.
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: The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon.
Steven C. Harper
Steven C. Harper is Associate Department Chair of the department of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. Brother Harper earned his Ph.D. in early American history from Lehigh University. He taught religion and history at BYU-Hawaii before joining the faculty in Provo and becoming an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers in 2002.
Presentation: Accounts of the First Vision.
Valerie M. Hudson is professor
of political science at Brigham Young University, having previously taught at Northwestern and Rutgers universities. Her research foci include foreign policy analysis, security studies, gender and international relations, and methodology. Hudson’s articles have appeared in such journals as International Security, Journal of Peace Research, Political Psychology, and Foreign Policy Analysis. She is the author or editor of several books, including (with Andrea Den Boer) Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population (MIT Press, 2004), which won the American Association of Publishers Award for the Best Book in Political Science and the Otis Dudley Duncan Award for Best Book in Social Demography, resulting in feature stories in the New York Times, The Economist, 60 Minutes, and other news publications. Hudson was recently named to the list of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2009. Winner of numerous teaching awards and recipient of a National Science Foundation research grant, she served as the director of graduate studies for the David M. Kennedy Center for International and Area Studies for eight years and will serve as Vice President of the International Studies Association next year. Hudson is one of the Principal Investigators of the WomanStats Project, which includes the largest
compilation of data on the status of women in the world today. She is also a founding editor of SquareTwo, a founding editorial board member of Foreign Policy Analysis, and she and her husband David are the parents of eight children.
Presentation: A Reconciliation of Polygamy.
McKay V. Jones
McKay V. Jones received a B.A. from Brigham Young University in 1999 in English Teaching, and has taught junior high and high school English and coached baseball for eight years. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Germany Hamburg Mission, and presented at the 2009 FAIR Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. McKay has published three lengthy papers through FAIR. He has written, organized, and directed three community firesides in his stake that have drawn over 130 non-LDS attendees, covering topics such as claims that Mormons aren’t Christian, evidences for the Book of Mormon, claims about “false” Mormon prophecies, polygamy, and pre-1978 priesthood and temple restrictions (a fourth fireside will cover the Book of Abraham). McKay has made a lengthy index for the 26 volume Journal of Discourses and is writing books covering over 100 apologetic, historical, doctrinal, and devotional topics from Journal of Discourses. He and his wife, the former Suzanne Phillips, have four children, and McKay currently serves as a bishop in the Church.
Presentation: Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Blood Atonement Balance Sheet.
Cynthia J. Lange
Cynthia J. Lange is managing partner of the Northern California office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen and Loewy, a world-wide firm specializing in immigration law. She leads the firm’s High Tech practice in the heart of Silicon Valley, directing the strategic representation of companies ranging from large Fortune 500 companies to small start-up companies. She has worked with numerous companies to set up and manage worldwide immigration compliance programs. Cynthia is a long-time Adjunct Professor at Southwestern University School of Law where she has taught since 1988. She also frequently lectures on corporate immigration and, as a thought leader in the industry, has written numerous articles on business immigration law matters. Cynthia is also the Managing Partner in charge of Fragomen’s I-9 Service Center, which offers state of the art electronic I-9 tools and advisory services for proper I-9 and E-Verify completion. She specializes in government investigations, audits, and establishing compliance programs for companies. Cynthia has also worked at the U.S. Department of Justice as an INS trial attorney.
Presentation: Borders & Boundaries: The Immigration Fervor that Threatens to Divide Us.
Roger is a native of the San Francisco Bay area. He currently works as the Marketing Communications Manager for a high-tech semiconductor equipment company based in northern California. He received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Brigham Young University in 1985 and a Master of Science in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University in 1993. Roger is married, has five children and is currently serving as the Sunday School President in his ward.
Roger became involved with FAIR in April 2008 when he became an editor and administrator on the FAIR Wiki after spending several years editing LDS-related Wikipedia articles. Since that time he has worked to restructure and expand the FAIR Wiki in order to make it as comprehensive and easy to navigate as possible. He received FAIR’s “John Taylor Defender of the Faith Award” at the 2009 FAIR conference in recognition of these efforts, and his Wikipedia experience was featured in the Deseret News article “Wiki Wars: In battle to define beliefs, Mormons and foes wage battle on Wikipedia,” in January 2011.
Presentation: Something Wiki This Way Comes: How Collaborative Editing is Changing the Face of Online LDS Apologetics.
Ugo A. Perego is a senior researcher with the non-profit Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and a consultant for GeneTree.com, both located in Salt Lake City. He received a BS and a MS in Health Sciences from Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) and a PhD in Human Genetics at the University of Pavia (Pavia, Italy). In his eleven years with the Foundation, Ugo has supervised the worldwide collection of more than 110,000 DNA samples and corresponding genealogical records, while giving nearly 200 lectures on DNA topics relating to personal ancestry, history (including LDS history), and population migrations. Ugo has also authored and co-authored a number of publications, including the recent: “Joseph Smith, the Question of Polygamous Offspring, and DNA Analysis” (in The Persistence of Polygamy, 2010); “The Book of Mormon and the Origins of Native Americans from a Maternally Inherited DNA Standpoint” (in The Farms Review, 2010); “The Initial Peopling of the Americas: A Growing Number of Founding Mitochondrial Genomes” (in Genome Research, 2010); “Mitochondrial DNA: A Female Perspective in Recent Human Origin and Evolution” (in Origins as a Paradigm in the Sciences and in the Humanities, 2010).
Ugo is married to Jenna and they are the parents of three boys and a girl.
Presentation: Joseph Smith, the Question of Polygamous Offspring, and DNA Analysis.
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: Mormonism, Islam, and the Question of Other Religions.
Stephen D. Ricks was born in Berkeley, California, when it was still a peaceful university community. He completed his BA in Ancient Greek and MA in the Classics at Brigham Young University, then received his PhD in ancient Near Eastern religions from the University of California, Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union. While completing his doctoral work he spent two years studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is now professor of Hebrew and Cognate Learning at Brigham Young University where he has been a member of the faculty for nearly thirty years.
His academic work includes research and publication on the Book of Mormon, the Old Testament, Hebrew, and the temple, including studies on the ritual use of creation texts in the ancient world, temple-building motifs, enthronement ceremonies in history, and the garment of Adam in the ancient world.
From 1988 to 1991, he was the president of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS, now the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship). From 1991 to 1997, he served as the chairman of the FARMS board of directors. He was the founding editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, serving as editor from 1992 to 1997. From 1992 to 1996, he also served as the associate dean of general education and honors at BYU.
Professor Ricks has used his reading knowledge of more than twenty languages in his research and is an expert in Biblical Hebrew. For many years he has worked toward promoting positive relations between the LDS Church and Jewish groups. He and his wife Shirley are the parents of six children and the grandparents of nine.
Presentation: The Sacred Embrace in Ancient Egyptian Religion and Art.