Faculty spreads knowledge, technology to new African medical schools
UAB graduate leads Ebola containment efforts in Nigeria
UAB Nursing Faculty Lynda Wilson with Kathmandu University Faculty
UAB students at vector control field site demonstration in Jamaica
UAB Faculty attend the graduation of Kathmandu University
UAB Students and Faculty in Antarctica
UAB Student Yoonhee Ryder builds a library in San Mateo, Guatemala
Dean Jones and Leandra Celaya of Health Professions and Saudi dignitaries at awarding of MSc degrees
UAB Archaeologist Professor Sarah Parcak explores Egypt

UAB News: Global Stories

  • First-of-its-kind tornado panels installed in Montgomery home

    A product designed by UAB engineers to help save lives during natural disasters is approved for use.

    With the 2011 Alabama tornado catastrophe still lingering in the minds of many, University of Alabama at Birmingham research has led to the creation of new technology designed to help save lives in a natural disaster.

    In June, UAB’s tornado panels designed to protect against flying debris were installed as an integral component of a safe room in a new construction home in the Montgomery, Alabama area.

    Uday Vaidya, Ph.D., professor and chair of UAB’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, worked with Storm Resistant Systems and Cooper Structural Engineers to scale the panels for use in this home. The safe room is designed in accordance with FEMA standards to withstand 250 mile-per-hour winds, and was built to remain intact even if the house were destroyed during a strong storm, keeping its occupants from harm.

    The UAB panels were approved by the National Storm Shelter Association to hold up against an EF5 tornado.

    “To see panels pass our most extreme test the first time is very impressive,” said Larry Tanner, P.E., manager of the NSSA/Texas Tech Debris Impact Test Facility. “This material is lightweight and sustainable and looks to have a bright future in the storm-shelter industry. If it saves even one life, it will have been worth the effort to design it.”

    The composition of thermoplastic and fiberglass resins and fibers used in the panels are stronger per-unit density than the steel used in many current shelters and weigh 80 percent less, Vaidya says. Some of the same foams and fibers are used in the latest armored military vehicles.

    The team working on the safe room developed a steel frame that holds the panels, and the frame can be broken down and carried into a closet or bathroom door and then reassembled. This prototype is the first of its kind, and it can be replicated for installation in other homes.

    Click to enlarge

    The panels, secured to each other and the floor of an interior room, protect against flying debris and are designed to keep people from being crushed or becoming airborne.

    “With an average of more than 1,000 tornadoes recorded in the U.S. each year, it was crucial that something be done to make homes more safe,” Vaidya said. “Those tornadoes result in approximately 80 deaths and 1,500 injuries each year. Our goal was to develop new technology that would help protect individuals against the impact of debris during natural disasters, and I think with these panels, we’ve done just that.”

    “The UAB panels are unique in comparison to the other products I’ve seen used in that they are lightweight, similar to plywood, but they have the strength equivalent to steel,” said David Cooper, P.E., S.E., president of Cooper Structural Engineers. “The ease of getting them in and out of a home for installation combined with the strength is what makes these panels a step above other products on the market.”

    This installation comes after four years of research, testing, approvals and manufacturing, following the 2011 Alabama tornado outbreak. Following the devastation of those storms, Vaidya and his team of UAB engineers focused their attention on the development of a material that could transform any room into a safe haven.

    “2011 happened, and the work we were doing, we saw had a lot of applications for tornado-related activities,” Vaidya said. “During a tornado or hurricane, you get a lot of two-by-fours flying in a home; a lot of debris is picked up, and it can actually penetrate inside a house. People die from the debris that comes through the walls or other things, so we built panels that would resist the debris completely.”

    The panels leave the assembly line looking like typical interior walls; they do not require paint and will never corrode.

    “The surface could be made to look really any way you want,” Vaidya said. “They could be tailored in any way a homeowner is interested in, and could be integrated into a room in an existing home or brought in as part of new construction.”

    Made from discarded liner once used to wrap offshore oil-rig pipes, the panels also embrace green engineering techniques. Recycled materials used in the experimental phase kept thousands of pounds of waste from landfills.

    Moving forward, UAB will work with contractors and engineers seeking to integrate the panels into new construction as well as make them available to individuals who would like to purchase the panels to be retrofitted into existing homes.

    For individuals and businesses interested in learning more about the panels, contact UAB’s Material Processing and Applications Development Center at mpad@uab.edu.

  • UAB’s AEIVA presents “Willie Cole: Transformations” from June 5-Aug. 8
    “Transformations” is part of a three-exhibition celebration by AEIVA, Celebrating the Human Spirit: 50 Years After the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    Willie Cole, "Tricksters Among Us (Seen and Unseen)," 2012, iron scorches and acrylic on wood, 40.5 by 51 inches, image courtesy of the artist and beta pictoris galleryWorks by noted American artist Willie Cole will be on exhibition from June 5-Aug. 8, presented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and SciencesAbroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts.

    Cole is recognized among other artists of his generation for his potent and poetic sculptures, compositions and installations. “Willie Cole: Transformations” will showcase 15 works created between 1996 and 2015. The exhibition investigates the artist’s transformation of everyday objects, ready-mades and throwaways into works of multilayered autobiographical, art historical and sociopolitical meaning. Featuring items as varied as shoes, irons, bicycles and water bottles, Cole’s work alludes to social, cultural, political and spiritual meanings while referencing the artist’s own African-American culture, heritage and history.

    The exhibition will feature works drawn from Birmingham collections and will also include the artist’s large-scale work “Red Spirit Light,” a suspended chandelier-like form created from red water bottles. “Red Spirit Light” evokes the psychological and spiritual force of light and the color red, while also commenting on our throwaway culture of ever-proliferating plastic discards, says AEIVA Director Lisa Tamiris Becker, who curated the exhibition.

    “In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the exhibition also includes the artist’s works ‘Birmingham Rattle Snake’ and ‘Civil Constrictor,’ composed of painted text on vintage fire hoses, which refer to the civil rights struggles in Birmingham,” Becker said.  

    "Red Spirit Light " 2013, plastic bottles, galvanized steel and cellophane, 75 1/2 x 72 in diameter/192 x 183 cm diameter, photo by Joerg Lohse courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New YorkCole will speak about his work at a public lecture, 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 5, in the AEIVA’s Hess Lecture Hall. A free opening reception will take place from 6-8 p.m. that evening at AEIVA, 1221 10th Ave. South. Admission to AEIVA is always free. AEIVA is open to the public 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 12-6 p.m. Saturday and is closed Sundays and holidays. Call 205-975-6436 or visit AEIVA online.

    Cole’s work is found in public and private collections, including the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City; Buffalo, New York’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Birmingham Museum of Arts; Atlanta’s High Museum of Art; and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Cole grew up in Newark, New Jersey. In 2006, he won the David C. Driskell Prize, the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African-American art and art history, established by the High Museum. Alexander and Bonin Gallery in New York and Guido Maus, beta pictoris gallery/Maus Contemporary in Birmingham represent Cole.

    Along with the Cole exhibition, AEIVA will present two more featured exhibitions as part of Celebrating the Human Spirit: 50 Years After the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    The first is “The Freedom Exhibition: Two Countries One Struggle,” which focuses on the comparative civil rights photography of Spider Martin and Peter Magubane, and explores images of American segregation and South African apartheid. “The Freedom Exhibition” is sponsored by Mayor William A. Bell Sr. and the City of Birmingham and is curated by Renee Kemp-Rotan, Mayor’s Office of Special Projects. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the UAB Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, College of Arts and Sciences.

    The second is “Focus I: Identified,” selected works from the collection of Jim Sokol and Lydia Cheney. The show is curated by John Fields.

  • UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences aims to grow enrollment, undergrad programs, students’ global awareness and success
    As UAB’s strategic planning process continues, top CAS priorities include undergraduate program development, and recruitment, retention and graduation; building a new College of Arts and Sciences building and renovating Campbell Hall; and growing leadership and personnel.

    Heritage HallNearly two years into the college’s strategic planning process, University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robert E. Palazzo has updated campus leaders on his plans and progress on topmost goals, which include preparing students to succeed in a new global environment, offering them an immersive, interdisciplinary educational experience, and ensuring each student obtains the tools he or she needs to succeed.

    Every undergraduate student who enters the university will pass through the College of Arts and Sciences, Palazzo says. The college is dedicated to helping them develop ethical and moral reasoning, the scientific method, communication and cultural competence skills, and confidence in the face of complexity.

    “We strive to help students grow through a rigorous curriculum grounded in formal instruction in the liberal arts and sciences. We will prepare students to operate and succeed and help them to become self-aware, culturally nimble and confident,” Palazzo said. “We are responsible for ensuring that all students develop expertise in a chosen discipline, while providing opportunities for personal maturation and character development.”

    The college’s strategic planning process began two years ago and was completed in September 2013. The results of that work are now part of the university’s largest, most comprehensive, institutionwide strategic plan initiative.

    The College of Arts and Sciences is home to strong academic programs, outstanding teaching and a diverse student body. With 19 departments — home to more than 300 faculty and offering more than 30 baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees — it is the most diverse UAB academic enterprise. CAS is home to research centers and community outreach programs and is engaged in numerous campuswide interdisciplinary initiatives.

    Top priorities for CAS are undergraduate program development with continued focus on freshman enrollment and overall student retention and graduation; improving infrastructure by building a new CAS administrative and classroom building and renovating laboratories, offices and educational facilities in Campbell Hall; and growing leadership and personnel with ongoing recruitment.

    The College of Arts and Sciences is home to strong academic programs, outstanding teaching and a diverse student body. With 19 departments — home to more than 300 faculty and offering more than 30 baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees — it is the most diverse UAB academic enterprise. CAS is home to research centers and community outreach programs and is engaged in numerous campuswide interdisciplinary initiatives.

    Five new department chairs have been recruited in the past two years, and four new chairs will join the college this summer: Julian Arribas, Ph.D., in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; Patrick Evans, DMA, in the Department of Music; Timothy Levine, Ph.D., in the Department of Communication Studies; and Yuliang Zheng, Ph.D., in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences. More appointments are expected by fall. More than 60 new faculty have been recruited to the college in the past two years.

    The College of Arts and Sciences has developed five strategic priorities to ensure that each student graduates with the knowledge he or she needs to compete and thrive in an expanding and complex global future: globalization, undergraduate education, research and graduate education, diversity, and entrepreneurship and innovation.

    The goal of globalization is to increase the college’s international profile and enhance students’ global perspective. The CAS English Language Institute is growing, from 30 students in 2009 to 81 in 2015. Scholarships to support international travel for students are being increased, as well as partnerships with international universities to boost student enrollment.

    For undergraduate education, the college will strive to double the number of student applications within five years and increase student enrollment by 30 percent in seven years. That will be accomplished by collaborating with campus partners to offer novel interdisciplinary programs and course offerings, recruiting and retaining a world-class faculty and body of students, enhancing advising and mentoring, and improving technology and facilities.

    Among the college’s achievements rank Rhodes, Truman, Fulbright and Critical Language scholarship winners; nine students out of 17 total Clinton Global Initiative scholars; Guggenheim and Humboldt prizes awarded to two faculty in 2014; a new Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater; the launch of UABTeach to increase STEM educators in Alabama in 2014; and the SACS re-accreditation in 2015.

    Among the college’s achievements rank Rhodes, Truman, Fulbright and Critical Language scholarship winners; nine students out of 17 total Clinton Global Initiative scholars; Guggenheim and Humboldt prizes awarded to two faculty in 2014; a new Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater; the launch of UABTeach to increase STEM educators in Alabama in 2014; and the SACS re-accreditation in 2015. CAS developed and taught 21 honors-designated sections in fall 2014 and 18 in spring 2015. Advising last year grew from 15 to 19 advisers, for a ratio of 350:1, with more than 35,000 logged contacts with students. Instructional Technology Services has been restructured, developing online master’s programs and growing by 150 percent since 2010.

    Grants awarded in research and graduate education have increased by nearly 16 percent in the last fiscal year. More than $1.7 million has been redirected to develop competitive Ph.D. programs, and UAB is one of nine universities chosen by The MITRE Corporation to serve on the Academic Affiliates Council, solely dedicated to enhancing the security of the nation’s information systems. More detailed information on CAS achievements is available online.

    To foster a diverse community, CAS created an Institute for Human Rights to raise awareness and understanding of human rights issues; a search for a director is underway. UAB is nationally ranked for diversity, so recruiting and retaining a faculty that reflects society, including adding more women and underrepresented minorities in leadership positions, is a priority. Scholarships available to students from underrepresented groups have been increased, and faculty from historically black colleges and universities have partnered with their CAS peers on various interdisciplinary projects. Of faculty hired since October 2012, 56 percent have been women and 26 percent from an underrepresented minority. Partnerships are in discussion with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Birmingham Area Consortium of Higher Education.

    To further a culture of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, CAS wants to offer opportunities at every level of the college experience. That means providing faculty and students with resources and chances to explore solutions to real-world challenges; partnering with corporations, industry and other academic institutions to pursue areas of mutual interest; encouraging faculty to submit large-scale interdisciplinary grant proposals focused on forging academic-industrial partnerships; and bringing entrepreneurs and innovators to campus for inspiration. Among achievements in the realm of innovation and entrepreneurship are four CAS junior faculty NSF Early Career awards totaling $2.61 million, an NSF Partnership for Innovation Award of $600,000 and NIH Innovation Corps award of $25,000, and five graduate entrepreneurship awards of $10,000 each for students to pursue commercialization efforts with faculty and industry mentors.

    “The College of Arts and Sciences continues to make tremendous progress under Dean Palazzo’s leadership,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “With a lot of positive momentum, CAS faculty, staff, students and supporters are rallying around a clear and ambitious vision that continues to build on a strong foundation.”

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A Global Citizen...

-Is someone who recognizes that our world is increasingly interconnected

-Does not see ‘them’ but rather ‘us’

-Values diversity, cultural sensitivity and has awareness beyond just an individual perspective

-Actively contributes to the improvement of local and global communities through service, civic engagement and action to promote social responsibility

-Builds collaborative professional relationships based on principles of respect and reciprocity