Congratulations to recent alumna, Ingrid Pfau, whose film on Epilepsy was named the Runner-up at the 2013 Neuro Film Festival. The film was screened and awards announced on March 22 at the Neuro Film Festival in San Diego in conjunction with the American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting, the world's largest meeting of neurologists. Ingrid won $500 and a trip to the screening in San Diego.
The Neuro Film Festival, presented by the American Brain Foundation, aims to raise awareness about the need to donate money for research into the prevention, treatment, and cure of brain and nervous system diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, autism, brain injury, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Ingrid was the first student to graduate with an Individually Designed Major in Environmental Science Filmmaking from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was also the first and only UAB student to be awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Arts Award. Ingrid is an alumna of our University Honors Program and also graduated with Departmental Honors in Biology. She is now earning her MFA in Natural Science Filmmaking at Montana State University.
Epillepsy (intentionally misspelled) is the title of her wonderful 5 minute film which can be viewed here.
Written By: Michael Sloane, Ph.D.
With an increasing focus on a burgeoning list of extreme weather events, elevated temperatures, and rising sea levels, ocean acidification or “the other CO2 problem”, just doesn’t get its due respect.
Yet, all over the globe these treasures of palette and eye are under increasing chemical assault.
Ocean acidification is the result of our seas absorbing about a third of the carbon dioxide that we release in to the atmosphere. Adding carbon dioxide to seawater adds hydrogen ions, and a
ll you need to remember from high school chemistry is that more hydrogen ions translates into: more acidity.
Just as acid slowly dissolves away a human tooth, so too can it dissolve a seashell. Another unfortunate outcome of adding carbon dioxide to seawater is that it challenges the ability of animals to make their shells.
Currently, building blocks for shells saturate the seawater. But this is changing. By mid-century or even sooner, these building blocks will be in short supply. Accordingly, shelled marine organisms will have to expend additional energy to repair and construct their shells, energy that might have better been used to grow or reproduce.
Just as acid slowly dissolves away a human tooth, so too can it dissolve a seashell.
Chuck Amsler, who co-directs our UAB National Science Foundation funded research program on ocean acidification in Antarctica, and his wife, Maggie, a research associate, are currently at the U.S. Palmer Station on the western Antarctic Peninsula (you can follow their blogs at www.uab.edu/antarctica). There, continuing work we initiated last year, they are directing a team of UAB graduate students studying how ocean acidification may make life difficult for algae and invertebrates.
The work is important because when it comes to “first-impacts” of ocean acidification Antarctica is the “canary in the coal mine.” This is largely because the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica is so cold. The colder the water, the more carbon dioxide absorbed and the greater the acidity. Accordingly, Antarctica has become the Earth’s natural laboratory to first study ocean acidification.
Will Antarctic organisms be able to adapt to the rapidly changing ocean chemistry?
Just last year marine scientists working in the Southern Ocean discovered populations of pteropods, tiny planktonic snails with wafer-thin shells, already showing signs of wear and tear. Their outer shells are pitted and rough, signs of dissolving. As abundant as the stars in the sky, shelled pteropods play a key role in the global cycling of carbon. Will these swimming snails and the cornucopia of marine organisms that carpet the sea floors of Antarctica survive? Should they not, we stand to lose the keys to potential cures to cancer, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, and other life-threatening diseases.
Our UAB Antarctic chemical ecology and natural products program, in collaboration with marine chemist Bill Baker at the University of South Florida, has discovered chemical compounds from Antarctic marine algae and invertebrates with potent activity against the H1N1 flu virus and melanoma skin cancer. It would be a shame for an acid sea to dissolve away such opportunities.
The Marching Blazers were invited to Ireland by the mayor of Dublin to perform in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday. The group of 120 band members left Dublin early Monday for the two-hour drive to Limerick, where they competed against 17 other international bands, including bands from Germany, Canada, Italy and the United States. After a cold, rainy and sleeting Sunday in Dublin, the band members shed their rain ponchos and showed off their green and gold uniforms on a sunny Monday in Limerick, said Director Sue Samuels, Ph.D.
“The street was lined five-to-ten people deep on both sides throughout the duration of the one-mile parade, and the crowd was friendly and excited, clapping and cheering the band along,” Samuels said. “As we paraded the street, the local townspeople wanted to reach out and give our students waves and high-fives.” The band played the UAB Fight Song, “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “Can You Feel It.”
“When we reached the grand stand, we stopped before the lord mayor of Limerick and other local dignitaries for a standstill performance, getting the crowd to clap along, before moving on to finish the parade,” Samuels said.
The Marching Blazers were awarded a crystal bowl trophy to bring home to Birmingham for being named Best International Band. Following the parade, all of the participating bands, including some Irish bands, gathered in the town square in a celebration of music and shared cultures.
The band raised more than $100,000 to make the trip; each member also paid $1,500 for the ground package. While in Ireland, they toured Dublin, saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral and visited Trinity College. They also went to the 13th century Bunratty Castle in Limerick, to Galway, the Cliffs of Moher and County Cork. The band is scheduled to return to Birmingham Thursday, March 21.
Researchers and lab students investigating computer viruses at the University of Alabama at Birmingham became so good at it, a company was spun off to take on clients and “phish” for malware within their systems and help combat cybercrime.
Gary Warner, director of research in computer forensics at UAB, told the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham Tuesday his group discovered through years of research that there was no antivirus software that could fully fight the viruses that have infected computers of 46 percent of online adult users in 2012 alone. Warner estimated $110 billion was spent in the U.S. to clean up infected PCs in 2012.
To combat the lack of effective antiviruses, go after cybercriminals, help with cybercrime investigations and protect consumers, businesses and the government, Warner and several cofounders started Malcovery Security.
UAB owns 25 percent of the new company that also has sponsors, including Bank of America, Facebook and e-Bay.
Warner and his team at UAB’s Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research put themselves on the map last year when they helped the FBI track down the international cybercrime ring responsible for stealing tens of millions of dollars online through viruses that look like email replicas of bank statements, bills and other transfers that trick users into opening them. That gave the criminals access to the user’s computer and accounts via online access.
Today, Warner helps district attorneys conduct cyber investigations and the center has helped corporate partners such as e-Bay, UPS, Google, Microsoft, FBI and Facebook.
Facebook gave Warner’s center a $250,000 donation after it helped track international criminals behind a social media spam outlet. The donation came from money Facebook recovered from spammers around the world and was used to expand the center’s UAB headquarters by 4,400 square feet, Warner said. Read Facebook’s post about the investigation and acknowledgment to Warner for his center’s role here.
Cybersecurity is a growing field, with an estimated need of 11,000 computer investigators next year, Warner said, but he is concerned there won’t be enough trained workforce to fill the demand considering the U.S. will only graduate 1,100 with that specialty next year.
Warner is also worried about the ability to prosecute cyber criminals in the future, with sequestration prompting a pay cut of 10 percent to FBI agents’ salaries and a reduction of their hours.
Written By: Cindy F. Crawford, Editor. Article originally appeared in the Birmingham Business Journal
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