Graduate School News

Discoveries: When breathing isn’t so easy

IMG 8159Courtney Petty, a graduate student in the Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology theme of the Graduate Biomedical Sciences program, researches new therapeutics that could potentially improve the lives of people living with cystic fibrosis.
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Not just a postdoc, not just a soldier

DSC 0919Samir Rana, a postdoctoral fellow from Nepal, has spent the past two years balancing life as a postdoc and as a solder in the U.S. Army Reserve.
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Discoveries: Does living longer always equal better?

IMG 8199Leigh Ann Bray is a Ph.D. student in the School of Nursing with a research focus on helping those with cystic fibrosis have a better quality of life.

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William Prucka is in his third year of pursuing a Ph.D. in Biostatistics. His area of research is the statistical analysis of longitudinal magnetic resonance image (MRI) data. “Currently, I’m studying two advanced neuroimaging techniques, Diffusion Tensor MRI (DT-MRI) and functional MRI (fMRI). With DT-MRI we can infer pathways of connectivity and other microstructural features of the brain. fMRI provides a real-time image of brain activation in response to stimuli. Combined together, these imaging modalities give insight into how parts of the brain work together. The statistical methods I’m developing look for changes in the MRI images over time and relates them disease processes. Potential clinical applications of my research include investigating the progression of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis), brain tumors, and stroke.”

After meeting with Dr. Grier Page in the department of biostatistics, William decided to start attending departmental seminars. “Through the seminar series, I was very impressed with the level research and quality of the faculty at UAB. I decided to apply to the Ph.D. program and am very happy with that decision.”

William’s mentor, Dr. Christopher Coffey, has been his greatest influence at UAB. “Dr. Coffey has helped me develop a methodical approach to my work. His insights into my research topics have helped me focus on key problems as well as present my work in a manner that clearly conveys my findings. He has also been a strong advocate for me, ensuring that I have the resources necessary to do the work that suits my interests.”

Serving as the Biostatistics representative to the Public Health Student Association (PHSA) has been William’s most rewarding experience at UAB. “Through this organization I was able to help plan and help with community outreach, social, and professional events in the School of Public Health. This was both a great deal of work and very enjoyable. I had the opportunity to work with a team from diverse academic backgrounds. I learned a great deal about teamwork and we managed to contribute to the culture of the community and school.”

William advises other graduate students to take advantage of the diverse opportunities provided at UAB. “Actively pursue your research interests, but remember to give back to the school and local community that have helped you achieve.”

After graduation, William will seek a tenure track faculty position at a university with a strong research focus. “I envision myself working as part of a multidisciplinary team that focuses on clinical applications of neuroimaging.”