2014 Outstanding Neuroscience Majors

"The focus of the neuroscientist's attention is a three-pound object made up of the same atoms that constitute the rest of the universe.  However, this particular group of atoms, that is, the human brain, is capable of mastering language by age 3, flying to the moon and beyond, curing diseases, writing Hamlet, erecting skyscrapers, and even unlocking the great puzzle of itself.  We are training students to understand this amazing organ including not only its triumphs, but also its failings as seen in neurological disease.  Today's top students are unsurprisingly drawn into this important scientific drama!"

--Dr. McFarland

Senior Neuroscience major Ameen Barghi is now a Rhodes Scholar, headed for Oxford University. Last year Ameen received the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, and this year, the highest possible honor for an undergraduate student. He is shown here with Drs. Carl McFarland, Michael Friedlander, and Anne Theibert.

Congratulations to the UAB Neuroscience students that were recognized at the 14th Annual University of Alabama System Honors Research Conference held at the University of Alabama. As has been the case in previous years, UAB's honors students were well represented at this prestigious honors conference, which brings together honors students from UA, UAH, and UAB for podium and poster presentations that are assessed by a panel of judges from the various campuses. Four of the eight categories were won by UAB students, and two of the four UAB winners were Neuroscience Majors.

UAB Winners:


Ali Massoud, "English Education in Egypt." University Honors Program [Mentor: Michelle Forman, Dept. of History]

Social and Behavioral Sciences [Poster]
Lindsey Yessick, " An examination of pain catastrophizing and experimental pain sensitivity in patients with chronic low back pain." Department of Psychology Honors Program [Mentor: Dr. Burel Goodin, Dept. of Psychology]

Natural Sciences and Mathematics [Poster]
Rhiana Simon, "Regulation of DNA methylation and gene expression by extra-coding RNAs." Honors College [Mentor: Dr. Jeremy Day, Dept. of Neurobiology]

Social and Behavioral Sciences [Podium]
Sarah Terry, "Effects of habitual caffeine consumption on pain sensitivity." Science and Technology Honors Program [Mentor: Dr. Burel Goodin, Dept. of Psychology] 

The UNP would like to offer congratulations to all 19 UAB students who represented our university.

Pictured left to right: Dr. Shannon Blanton (Dean UAB Honors College), Rhiana Simon (Undergraduate Neuroscience Program), Dr. Charles Nash (Vice Chancellor University of Alabama System), Dr. Shane Sharpe (Dean UA Honors College).



March  8, 2012

Kavita Nadendla is the Outstanding Neuroscience Student for 2012. She will complete a double major in Neuroscience and Biology this spring with a 4.0 GPA and will enter medical school this summer either at the University of Maryland or UAB.  She is a member of the University Honors Program and the Early Medical School Acceptance Program.  She has extensive research experience, first in Dr. James Meador-Woodruff's (Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology) laboratory engaging in postmortem gene expression studies of schizophrenia and mood disorders.  More recently, she has been working with Dr. Rajesh Kana (Psychology) analyzing the results of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) tests performed on cognitively normal children and children with autism spectrum disorders to determine the role of theory of mind networks in causality and social understanding. 


Febuary  19, 2012

Ashton Wheeler, a junior and first generation college student, has received one of 15 (nationwide) UNCF/Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship Awards for 2012.  She will receive $25,000 to cover her senior year tuition, room and board.  This summer she will be mentored by a Merck scientist for 12 weeks at a Merck facility and receive a substantial stipend. 



January  31, 2012

david_sweatt_storyDavid Sweatt, Ph.D., professor and chair of the UAB Department of Neurobiology, has been awarded the 2012 neuronal plasticity prize from the Fondation IPSEN, an entity of the Fondation de France. Sweatt, who is the director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Research Institute and holds the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair in Neurobiology, will receive the award at the FENS Forum of Neuroscience meeting in Barcelona on July 17, 2012.

Sweatt's contributions in epigenetics and brain function were cited by the administrators of the prize, which is being awarded for the 23rd time.

The Fondation IPSEN Neuronal Plasticity prize is awarded to researchers in recognition of outstanding contributions in the field of neuronal plasticity: development, synaptogenesis, ageing, regeneration, grafts and growth factors.  The prize may be shared by several researchers involved in the same research field.

During the past quarter-century, the Fondation IPSEN has organized more than 250 meetings and produced several hundred publications; more than 250 scientists and biomedical researchers have been awarded prizes and research grants. Read More


December 19, 2011

John Harris doesn't mind public speaking. Yes, he admits to being a little nervous at first each time he does it, but he feels he has a duty to do it. In fact, he considers it "a goodwill mission."

autism_class_webHarris also doesn't like sitting in the classroom for the first 20 minutes listening to his mom Karen Harris tell their life story -- how Asperger's syndrome has affected every moment of their life since he came into the world 28 years ago. So he sits outside the classroom of Rajesh Kana, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, and waits for her to finish.

The Harrises were invited by Kana to speak to his Autism: Brain and Cognition (PY354) class -- an undergraduate psychology course that gives students a comprehensive overview of autism from cognitive, behavioral and neuroscience perspectives. Kana's students are listening to a parent and child talk about Asperger's, a syndrome on the autism spectrum disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Classmate Andrew Rozsa and his father had spoken to them the week prior about the UAB senior's life-long battle with Asperger's. Read More

May 6, 2010

The world's scientific community may be one step closer to understanding age-related memory loss, and to developing a drug that might help boost memory. In an editorial published May 7 in Science, J. David Sweatt, Ph.D., chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Neurobiology, says that drugs known as histone deacetylase inhibitors are showing great promise in stopping memory loss - and even in boosting the formation of memory in animal models.
Read More

November 10, 2009

In a new study, psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) are able to see in detail for the first time how various regions of the human brain respond when people experience an unexpected or traumatic event. The study could lead to the creation of biological measures that could identify people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or identify PTSD sufferers who would benefit from specific treatments. Read More

 October 11, 2009

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and the McKnight Brain Research foundation, of Orlando, Fla., are establishing a $10 million endowment for the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at UAB to support the institute and the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging.
Read More

October 10, 2009

Dr. Ginger Campbell is an experienced emergency physician with a long-standing interest in mind-body medicine, the brain, and consciousness. In this podcast she shares recent discoveries from the world of neuroscience in a way that people of all backgrounds can enjoy. Dr. Campbell believes that understanding how the brain works gives us insight into what makes us human. She is also committed to showing how the scientific method has unravelled many long-standing mysteries.  Podcast

October 6, 2009

It is our pleasure to announce a new and very special major at the University of Alabama at Birmingham:  Neuroscience.  As you may know, neuroscience is the study of the structure and function of the nervous system with a special focus on the brain and its role in behavioral processes, the mechanisms of behavior, and the nature of cognitive function.  There does not exist an area of science hotter than this one.  Even a highly successful writer like Tom Wolfe has said, "If I were a college student today, I don't think I could resist going into neuroscience!"  Nobel Laureate, James Watson, proclaims "The brain is the last and grandest biological frontier, the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe.  It contains hundreds of billions of cells interlinked through trillions of connections.  The brain boggles the mind."  Read More

December 29, 2008

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has launched its latest undergraduate degree, a major in neuroscience that organizers say will help boost the level of science in the state. Read More

June 25, 2008

University of Alabama at Birmingham researcher David Sweatt and the work of his lab was highlighted on the Public Broadcast System television show NOVA, Wednesday, June 25th. The program explores Sweatt's research into long-term memory formation. University of Alabama at Birmingham researcher David Sweatt and the work of his lab was highlighted on the Public Broadcast System television show NOVA, Wednesday, June 25th. The program explores Sweatt's research into long-term memory formation. View Video

April 22, 2008

This week, BlazerCast features a rehabilitation therapy developed by a UAB neuroscientist which produces changes in the structure of the brain, the first evidence of actual brain remodeling resulting from a rehabilitation therapy. In findings presented online in Stroke, a Journal of the American Heart Association, sophisticated analysis of MRI images of stroke patients showed that Constraint Induced therapy produced a significant increase in the amount of gray matter present in the brains of patients receiving the therapy.