The UAB African American Studies Program presents Sharrif Simmons on October 4, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. in the Alumni Theater of the Hill Student Center. His lecture, "The Social and Political Evolution of Hip Hop: A Personal Journey "will highlight his political insights and personal experiences through a unique blend of music, poetry, and spoken-word. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Sharrif Simmons is a poet, musician, activist, and arts educator who uses his music and spoken-word poetry to speak to the social and political issues of our time. He has travelled extensively throughout Europe and the United States sharing his poetry and music on college campuses and art festivals. Simmons has performed with such artists as the late Gil Scott-Heron, rapper Mos Def, actor Wood Harris, Talib Kweli, and many others. His poetry is featured in a collection of poems entitled "Fast Cities and Objects That Burn" published by Moore Black Publishing Company in 1999.
His film credits include appearances in the movies "Panther," "Slam," and the full-length documentary "Hughes" shown on the Bravo and Black Starz Networks. He has also been recognized for his musical contributions to the soundtrack of the four-time Emmy winning documentary, “Thornton Dial Has Something to Say."
Since relocating from New York to Birmingham in 2004, Simmons has become a symbol of and advocate for the arts. He has been an invited guest curator for the Birmingham Civil Right Institute’s Human Rights Exhibit where he helped design and program a permanent exhibit featuring a video performance of his human rights poem “Walk with Me.” He was instrumental in the creation of the children’s arts education programs at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Those efforts led to the creation of ArtPlay, for which he currently serves an outreach educator.
Simmons is also an arts educator, teaching poetry to Birmingham-area middle school student through a grant provided by the Alys Stephens Center. In 2010 he founded co-founded the Birmingham Arts and Music festival (BAAMFEST).
The UAB African American Studies Program presents poet, musician, activist, and arts educator Sharrif Simmons on October 4, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. in the Alumni Theater of the Hill Student Center.
The article — rated on innovation, contribution to research on language and social psychology, quality of writing, and methodological rigor — was selected as the best among papers published over a two-year period.
Steve McCornack, Ph.D.Steve McCornack, Ph.D., professor of communication studies in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded the International Association of Language and Social Psychology Best Article Award for articles published between 2013 and 2015.
The paper, titled “Information manipulation theory 2: A propositional theory of deceptive discourse production,” was published in the 2014 issue of the Journal of Language and Social Psychology.
Every second year, in conjunction with the International Conferences on Language and Social Psychology, the association appoints a review committee to award the best paper in the journal over the previous two years. Articles are rated on innovation, contribution to research on language and social psychology, quality of writing, and methodological rigor.
The review committee describes the article as superbly written and insightful, and notes that it addresses important issues in language and social psychology and locates them in the vast realm of research in deception.
“Brilliant theoretical development in a truly fraught area that needs this – carefully argued, and clearly based in language and discourse, yet interdisciplinary – it is really comprehensive, and makes fewer assumptions about deceptive communication than other theoretical papers in the past,” one reviewer wrote.
Kelly Morrison, Ph.D., also a professor of communication studies, was one of three co-authors of the paper. McCornack and Morrison joined the UAB faculty in 2016 after more than 20 years at Michigan State University.
Chase Chandler, a Navy veteran now majoring in physics at UAB, oversees research projects running on the International Space Station at NASA's Payload Operations Integration Center in Huntsville.By Matt Windsor
For nine years, Chase Chandler tended to wounded warriors as a Navy Special Warfare Combat Crewman (SWCC) medic, serving three tours of duty overseas, from the South Pacific to the Middle East. These days, his patients are ailing science experiments — in space.
After seeing the world on SWCC teams, Chandler returned to his native Birmingham to work on the next step in his career path: getting off the planet. He is now finishing an undergraduate degree in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences Department of Physics, all the while holding down a full-time job in the Payload Operations Integration Center at NASA’s Huntsville complex, where he oversees research projects running on the International Space Station. (See the Payload Operations Integration Center in action in the NASA video below.)
“Weird things can happen”Chandler is one of more than a dozen NASA employees in similar positions who must know the “ins and outs” about the experiments running on the space station. The ISS is basically a big lab, but it is a unique one. “Weird things can happen in space,” says Chandler. “My team looks at safety issues and any potential hazards to the astronauts or the experiment. If something goes wrong, we come up with a plan to get things back on track.”
Although each controller specializes in a subset of experiments, “you have to know about each one, as well as the workings of the ISS,” Chandler says. “If something goes wrong, you need to know how to reroute power to keep an experiment functional. If it’s in the freezer, you need to know how long it can be powered off before it is lost for good. It’s a very, very busy position, and it directly stems from my training in the military.” Chandler earned his spot at NASA through the organization’s Pathways Programs, which offer students the opportunity to work as paid interns as they launch their careers in public service. Students who are veterans, especially veterans training in science, technology and math fields, receive special preference in the selection process, Chandler notes.
"My team looks at safety issues and any potential hazards to the astronauts or the experiment. If something goes wrong, we come up with a plan to get things back on track."
Huntsville, we have a problemBefore their projects go into orbit, Chandler meets with researchers to “get hands-on with the experiments so I know what is supposed to happen, what the astronauts will be touching,” he says. “And we have a direct line to those individuals in case something goes wrong.”
Many times, these situations are related to the space station’s aging circuitry, Chandler explains. “I worked on-console for three days and two nights last week, and we had one issue,” Chandler recalled recently. “A crucial electrical component that powers several things tripped and they all lost power.” He worked with controllers in Houston to successfully switch the experiments to backup power sources.
Chandler's wife, Tjana (right), is a UAB graduate and engineer for the university's Engineering and Innovative Technology Development (EITD) team. Above, Chase and Tjana are pictured in an EITD control room that monitors performance of UAB-built freezers on board the International Space Station.
Dreaming in zero gravityChandler is on track to graduate in spring 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a minor in materials science from the UAB School of Engineering. He plans to continue on to get his doctorate in physics while he works at NASA. His ultimate goal is to become an astronaut himself, and with his unique combination of skills, “there is a good chance I’ll be successful,” Chandler says. “Space has always been my passion. Even when I was in the service, that was a long-term dream.” (Chandler wouldn't be the first Blazer in orbit; UAB's Larry DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D., conducted a series of crystal growth experiments as an astronaut on the space shuttle Columbia in 1992.)
Chandler’s wife, Tjana, is a UAB alumna who works as an engineer on the university's Engineering and Innovative Technology Development team, which recently earned several NASA awards for its custom-built freezers, which are used extensively on the ISS.
Chandler says UAB faculty have played an important role in his career development. “Dr. Foley and Dr. Genau in the School of Engineering, and Dr. Camata in the Department of Physics are big influences on me, and Dr. Kawai in the Department of Physics is one of my biggest role models,” he says. “Dr. Kawai's number-one priority is making sure his students are interested in science and physics. These can be difficult subjects to grasp, but he wants you to know them, and wants you to want to know them as well.
“Right now we’re drowning in knowledge but we lack wisdom,” Chandler says. “Teachers like Drs. Kawai, Camata, Foley and Genau are making a difference.”