Graduate School News

Meet Your Student Leaders: Nirzari Gupta, president of GSG

1. Nirzari Alokkumar PresidentThe Graduate School has launched another new series called "Meet Your Student Leaders." This series will provide graduate students and postdoctoral fellows an opportunity to get to know the students who run the various graduate student organizations. This week's featured student leader is Nirzari Gupta, president of the Graduate Student Government.
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Discoveries: The sweet science behind mending muscle

IMG 0174Rylie Hightower, a third-year graduate student in the Graduate Biomedial Sciences neuroscience program, studies proteins and other factors that contribute to the progression of muscular dystrophy. 

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Link to Leadership: Dr. Lisa Schwiebert, Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs

GRAD logo without taglineEmbarking on the graduate school journey can be a challenging experience, but it helps if you understand the major players involved in that experience. This new series, "Link to Leadership," features Q&As with UAB's Graduate School leaders and an opportunity for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to get to know these leaders on a deeper level.
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Upcoming Events

Blazer Spotlights

Hisham Abdelmotilib

Hisham Abdelmotilib

Jacqueline Vo

Jacqueline Vo

Kendra Royston

Kendra Royston

Samir Rana

Samir Rana

Fall 2012 News & Events

Barker Award Recipients Chosen
Faculty Recognized for Mentoring Excellence
2013 Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship
UAB Graduate Student Handbook Available
Graduate Student Research Days 2012
Biomedical Student Group Provides Forum for Student Interaction
UAB Graduate Programs Fair 2012 to be Held in October
Graduation News
Don’t Forget These Deadlines!
Graduate Students in the Spotlight
Carpe Diem: Seize the Day and Write!
“Ethics for Authors” Website
Get Ready for the Real Work World


Barker Award Recipients Chosen

Samuel B Barker Award The Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, named for UAB’s first graduate dean, Dr. Samuel Booth Barker, is the most prestigious annual award given to students from the Graduate School. Outstanding students are nominated by the graduate faculty in their respective programs and the award recipients are chosen by a committee that the Graduate School Dean convenes. Besides receiving a cash award, the recipients are honored at the University’s Honors Convocation, and their names appear on plaques hung outside the Graduate School offices.

The 2012 Barker Award recipients are Juan Calix, a doctoral student in Microbiology who is also featured in our Student Spotlight, and Jacob Nelson, a master’s student in Mechanical Engineering.

The Selection Committee was impressed with both students and believes that the awards are well deserved. For more information about the Barker Award, including a list of past recipients, visit

Faculty Recognized for Mentoring Excellence

Faculty MentorThis past Spring, 20 UAB graduate faculty members received the Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship during the 5th annual awards ceremony held in the HUC Great Hall on April 2. Each recipient was nominated by a current or former mentee and received a minimum of five nomination letters. Honorees received a bound volume containing the nomination letters written on their behalf and an engraved plaque.

Recipients are from the schools of Arts & Sciences, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Health Professions, Joint Health Sciences, Nursing, and Public Health.

The 2012 Mentorship Award recipients are: Olivia Affuso, PhD (Epidemiology), Ann W. Alexandrov, PhD (Nursing), Scott R. Barnum, PhD (Microbiology), Michael Brenner, PhD (Neurobiology), John O. Burgess, DDS (Prosthodontics), Lois M. Christensen, PhD (Curriculum & Instruction), Gary Cutter, PhD (Biostatistics), William R. Drace, PA-C (Physician Assistant Studies), Paul A. Goepfert, MD (Infectious Diseases), Renitta Goldman, PhD (Curriculum & Instruction), Adrienne C. Lahti, MD (Behavioral Neurobiology), Max Michael III, MD (Public Health), Selvarangan Ponnazhagan, PhD (Pathology), Rosalinda C. Roberts, PhD (Behavioral Neurobiology), Bisakha Sen, PhD (Health Care Org. & Policy), Jon Daniel Sharer, PhD (Genetics), Susan K. Spezzini, PhD (Curriculum & Instruction), Günter Stolz, PhD (Mathematics), Timothy Wick, PhD (Biomedical Engineering), Bradley K. Yoder, PhD (Cell Biology).

To read excerpts from nominating letters, visit the UAB Reporter at

Call for Nominations: 2013 Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship

mentorshiplogoThe Graduate Dean’s Mentorship Awards are presented to those mentors who inspire and motivate, promote ethical and professional values, create a collaborative and constructive atmosphere for training, and serve as outstanding role models for students and fellows in the performance of their scholarly activities and service.

Full-time regular UAB graduate faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments as mentors of graduate students and/or postdoctoral fellows, and who have not received the award within the past 10 years, are eligible for the award.

The deadline to receive nominations and all accompanying materials is Friday, November 16, 2012.

UAB Graduate Student Handbook Available

As a graduate student, it is important that you are aware of the Graduate School’s policies and procedures. The Graduate Student Handbook for 2012-2013 is available at and contains important current and updated Graduate School and university policies.

In addition, your school or program may also have policies and procedures that are important to your specific area of research. Please check with your program for any additional policies that may apply to your course of study.

Graduate Student Research Days 2012

This year, 145 students participated in UAB’s 18th annual Graduate Student Research Days on February 22, 23 & 24. Of those students, 36 received awards and were recognized at the Graduate School Awards Luncheon held on Friday, March 2 in the HUC Great Hall. 62 faculty and postdoctoral fellows volunteered their time and expertise as judges for 14 sessions.

“While Research Days has historically been a forum for graduate students to present their research among their colleagues, it has also provided an opportunity for faculty and postdoctoral fellows to serve as judges,” says Kellie Carter, the event’s coordinator. “Several judges commented on the depth and breadth of the research being done by students and were quite impressed.”

For a complete list of the 2012 award recipients, visit Look for the call for abstracts for the 2013 competition in the Spring edition of Graduate School News & Events.

Mark your 2013 Calendar!
January 25 at Noon - Deadline for abstract submission
Tuesday, February 26 - Graduate Student Research Days Competition for Master's students, HUC Great Hal l 
Wednesday & Thursday, February 27 & 28 - Graduate Student Research Days Competition for Doctoral students, HUC Great Hall
Friday, March 15, 2013 at Noon - Graduate School Awards Luncheon, HUC Great Hall

Graduate Student Research Day Winners

Biomedical Student Group Provides Forum for Student Interaction

GBSIn Fall 2011, the Graduate Biomedical Sciences (GBS) created a student-led committee called Graduate Biomedical Student Outreach (GBSO). The GBSO serves to meet the needs of the students in GBS Themes, associated programs and departments through programming and events that encourage interaction between students, faculty and the greater scientific community. Their aim is to bridge the temporal and disciplinary divides amongst PhD trainees and candidates at UAB in order to enrich the academic environment, stimulate prosperous collaboration, and foster a climate that is inclusive of all students in the biomedical sciences.

Frankie Heyward (Graduate Student in Neuroscience) currently serves as President of the organization, Christina Croney (Microbiology Graduate Student) is Secretary, and Mark Kilgore (Neuroscience Graduate Student) serves as Treasurer. Committees are formed for each event so all GBSO members serve an integral part of the organization.

This past year the GBSO organized the following:

  • viewing of “The PHD Movie” with Jorge Cham (co-sponsored by GSA)
  • GBS End of Year BBQ    
  • GBS Student Support Forum
  • and most recently, the GBS Pool Party prior to the viewing of “The Hunger Games” (presented by Student Life).

The GBSO is currently planning the Inaugural GBS Student Research Retreat. The keynote speaker for the retreat will be Dr. Elizabeth  Murchison of Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, who will speak on her research, “Clonally transmissible cancers in dogs and Tasmanian devils.” Graduate students in biomedical sciences will give oral and poster presentations. Award recipients will be chosen for each category.

The GBSO has recently been approved as an official student organization at UAB. For more information on the GBSO,

UAB Graduate Programs Fair 2012 to be Held in October

Graduate School FairThe 2012 UAB Graduate Programs Fair will be held on Thursday, October 25 from 11:30 am - 2 pm in the HUC Great Hall. Designed to give undergraduates and anyone else interested in graduate studies the opportunity to learn about what graduate school at UAB has to offer, this graduate programs fair includes informative talks on “hot topics” such as how to pay for graduate school, how to select a program, and how to succeed in graduate school.

The "fair" portion of the event will include representatives from UAB graduate programs, along with graduate school staff members who will be able to answer questions regarding admissions. Current graduate students will be on hand to provide a firsthand perspective on being a graduate student.

Anyone interested in learning about graduate school and speaking one-on-one with representatives from UAB graduate programs is welcome. More information is available at 


Graduation News

UAB master's and doctoral students take part in two ceremonies: The Doctoral Hooding and Commencement Ceremony, held at the Alys Stephens Center, is the commencement ceremony for doctoral candidates receiving PhD, DrPH, DSc, and EdD degrees. The Commencement Ceremony, held at Bartow Arena, is for master’s and EdS graduates. August graduates may attend the December commencement. The December Doctoral Hooding Ceremony will take place on Saturday, December 15 at 10:30 a.m.

If you are a doctoral candidate who graduated in August 2012 or will be graduating in December 2012, you must fill out the commencement form no later than November 30 in order to participate in this ceremony.

The Commencement Ceremony for master's, EdS and bachelor’s students will be held in Bartow Arena at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 15. All master's and EdS graduates who would like to attend commencement will find graduation information online at

Don’t Forget These Deadlines!

When a candidate is near graduation, she or he must pay close attention to Graduate School deadlines, which are posted online at Important dates include the following Fall and Spring semester deadlines:

Fall 2012 Deadlines  

Application for Degree

September 5, 2012

Defense Deadline   

November 2, 2012

Admission to Candidacy 

August 14, 2012

Change of Residency

August 1, 2012  
Spring 2013 deadlines  

Application for Degree

January 25, 2013

Defense Deadline

April 5, 2013

Admission to Candidacy

January 8, 2013

Change of Residency 

December 28, 2012 

Completing all paper work and final payments by the posted deadlines will ensure that a candidate will graduate by the expected date.

Graduate School Hooding Ceremony

Graduate Students in the Spotlight

Juan CalixTwo graduate students are featured in the Graduate School’s Student Spotlight. Juan Calix, a doctoral student in Microbiology and the 2012 recipient of the Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, researches evolution of the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae and its capsule. Juan chose UAB for his academic studies for the familial environment of the Medical Scientist Training Program, the great price of living in Birmingham, and the city/small town feel of Birmingham.

Christopher Freeman is a doctoral student in biology. Originally from Ft. Worth, Texas, Christopher studies the symbiotic interactions between tropical marine sponges and microbial symbionts living within them.
For more information about Juan and Christopher or to access other students who have been featured in the Spotlight, visit the Graduate School’s homepage at

Carpe Diem: Seize the Day and Write!

Writing Journal ArticleThat’s the advice of writing coaches who hear graduate students and post-doctoral fellows say they want to write a journal article, but just can’t find the time. This fall, the UAB Graduate School offers a 3-credit hour, elective course, GRD 729, Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, to help new scholars publish and start building a publishing track record before they enter the job market.

“GRD 729 provided great structure for completing a draft of an empirical paper in 12 weeks,” says Meredith A. Reid, a Graduate Assistant in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Psychiatry at UAB’s Neuroimaging and Translational Research Laboratory. Reid took the course last spring and said the strategies allowed her to “break down the work into manageable pieces. The article that I wrote in this course will be submitted soon, and I plan to use it as a chapter of my dissertation.”

GRD 729 is designed for students and scholars with a working paper to revise and target for publication. The first week, students review the many papers they have already written – essays, conference presentations, rejected articles, dissertation chapters, etc. – to find one that they wish to convert into an article for publication.

Each week thereafter, they learn a different aspect of successful published articles in their fields and “revise up” to meet the standards of their target journals. Says Reid: “I also learned more about selecting the right journal for my intended audience and using model articles from the journal to help determine the structure for my own paper. In addition, I benefitted from weekly peer review, which helped me become a better editor not only of others work but also my own.”

Students must have a latent paper to use in the course—this is not for individuals who are at initial writing stages. This course is interdisciplinary, 3 credit hours, and pass/no pass. It meets on Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and runs from Sept. 13 to Nov. 29. Questions? Contact Jennifer L. Greer (

“Ethics for Authors” Website

Readers of this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed saw UAB’s Graduate School earn attention for its research training in ethics. UAB is one of six research universities in the country whose “promising practices” are featured in a new monograph, Research and Scholarly Integrity in Graduate Education, just published by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS).

Among the featured activities are a series of “Ethics for Authors” workshops and a website resource by the same name at that have been developed by a team at the Graduate School over the last four years. The “Ethics for Authors” Team includes Dr. Jeffrey Engler, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Dr. Julia S. Austin, Director of Educational Services; and Jennifer L. Greer, Lead Academic Writing Instructor and a doctoral candidate studying authorship ethics. The team was assisted in the creation of the workshop curriculum and website by Dr. Tracey A. Baker, retired Associate Professor of English. Thomas Harris, Executive Assistant, helps maintain the site that was created with the support of Lee Smith and Anna Lloyd at UAB

“These workshops arose from student questions and suggestions in our writing courses, and they spiraled up once faculty found out that we were offering them,” explains Austin. “We offer 12-15 workshops per year, based on request, so we thought we would develop the web site to give students and faculty easier access to the materials and resources.”

The site offers everything from Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and interactive activities on authorship issues to resources from recent national conference presentations. It is different from other sites in that it emphasizes the roles and responsibilities of authorship, not academic integrity policies, says Greer.

“We didn’t want to draw a line in the sand between students and faculty or employees.  We all enter authorship at a different point in our studies or careers, and we need this kind of support when we start to write and publish. We are trying to create a community of authors and scholars that brings out the best in each other.”

The workshops and website are part of the Graduate School’s larger initiative, the Project for Scholarly Integrity (PSI), funded through the CGS, with the goal of more fully integrating ethics into graduate training, says Engler. “We sought to make it easier for students and faculty to frequently and openly discuss research ethics. To date, we have served over 700 graduate students, most of whom have offered positive feedback. New scholars want to be critically engaged in topics like these that affect the quality of their research and the trajectory of their careers.”

Get Ready for the Real Work World

ESLpresentorThere was a time when graduate students only had to have an impressive CV to land a job interview. Not anymore.  To be competitive, today’s job applicants must possess essential workplace communication skills and experiences prior to graduation. To help students get a head start on their careers, the UAB Graduate School is offering two one-day workshops and three elective courses focused on upgrading professional survival skills.  The offerings cover grant writing, presenting effectively, developing a professional image, and writing for publication (offered online). All courses are for-credit electives, pass no-pass. Details include the following:


GRD 706 Grants and Fellowships 101: How to Obtain Funding
Saturday, Sept. 15, 9am to 5pm                      Location: CH 204
1 credit hour; Contact Dr. Julia Austin at
This workshop provides an introduction to writing grant proposals and fellowship applications. Topics include funding sources, electronic databases, organization and format of proposals and applications, submission and review processes, use of secondary sources, and guidelines for effective proposal writing.

GRD 707 Presenting Effectively
Saturday, Nov. 17, 9am to 5pm                Location: CH 204
1 credit hour; Contact Alan Corbin at  
This workshop examines elements necessary for giving effective professional presentations. Topics include analyzing audience and purpose, assessing environment, language choices, differences between speaking and writing, nonverbal communication, characteristics of effective delivery, controlling nervousness, poster presentations, visual aids, and handling questions.


GRD 701 Presentation & Discussion Skills
Wednesdays, Aug. 15 to Dec. 12, 5:30 to 8pm           Location: BBRB 263
3 credit hours; Contact Alan Corbin at  
This course is designed to develop professional communication skills through individual presentations and group evaluations. Topics include the basics of oral presentation, content, organization, and delivery of formal presentations; use of voice and nonverbal communication; and speaking to different audiences. Students’ presentations are videotaped and critiqued by their classmates and the instructor.

GRD 728 Professional Writing & Publishing
**Sept. 10 to Dec. 7 (12-week class)                  One Section:  QL (online)
3 credit hours; Contact Jennifer L. Greer at  
Designed for students, post-docs, and employees seeking to write and publish professionally, this course covers writing research articles, conference abstracts, opinion pieces, communications for the public, and book chapters. Students write on a topic of their choice while benefiting from instruction in writing productivity, new genres, and the publication process along with peer review and instructor feedback. Instructor approval required for second-language writers. 

GRD 730 Developing Your Professional Image
**Sept. 10 to Nov. 12
One Section: Mondays 5:30 to 8pm                 Location: BEC 211
3 credit hours Contact Alan Corbin at
This multi-theme course is designed to raise students' awareness of their professional image, how they communicate, dress and deport themselves, and to guide them in developing, polishing, and protecting that image.  For all U.S. and international students (OPI of 3 or higher), post docs, and employees. Pass/No Pass course.