Graduate School News

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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Graduate Student Organization Spotlight: Graduate Student Government

Grad Student Organization Spotlight graphicThe University of Alabama at Birmingham offers numerous ways for graduate students to enhance their leadership skills, one of which is joining a student organization. But how do you decide which organization is the right fit for you? This Spotlight series will highlight all of UAB's graduate student organizations, as well as the benefits of joining each one.  Read more ...

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Blazer Spotlights

Hisham Abdelmotilib

Hisham Abdelmotilib

Jacqueline Vo

Jacqueline Vo

Kendra Royston

Kendra Royston

Samir Rana

Samir Rana


GS:       Where are you from?

GP:       Stone Mountain, Georgia

GS:       What degree will you receive and when?

GP:       I received my B.S. in Biology from Spelman College in May 2007. I will receive a M.S. in Forensic Science in August 2010.  

GS:       How long have you been at UAB?

GP:       I have been at UAB since August 2008.

GS:       What is your research? 

GP:       Examining the recovery of DNA from self-adhesive stamps after exposure to four different cleaning methods. Methods include exposure to UV light as well as cleaning using isopropyl alcohol, bleach, and water. Stamps are organically extracted using phenol-chloroform, then quantitated and amplified using polymerase chain reaction. Genetic profiles recovered from the extracted DNA will be compared to those generated from the reference samples in order to determine the efficiency of each cleaning method.

GS:       Why did you choose UAB for your graduate studies?

GP:       There are only a select few graduate programs in Forensic Science, particularly in the south so UAB was my first choice. I am very happy I decided to come here, as the small program size and dedicated professors has been a great experience.

GS:       Have you received any awards or honors?

GP:       I received a membership invitation from Golden Key International Honor Society in 2009. Also, representing my graduate program in the Graduate Student Spotlight is a great honor.

GS:       What has been your most rewarding experience at UAB?

GP:       The opportunity to intern as a DNA Database Technician with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. My experience as a member of the CODIS department has given me valuable hands on experience, as well as exposure to the world of Forensic Science on a daily basis.  The ability to interact with Forensic Scientists who have been in the field has allowed me to increase my network and obtain valuable information in regards to what it takes to become a great forensic biologist.

GS:       Who was your greatest influence here at UAB and why?

GP:       Surprisingly, my classmates have been my greatest influence.  We have become a very tight knit group over the past year and a half, especially with there only being nine great ladies to interact with. I have learned a lot about myself and they have become a constant source of encouragement. Not only do we push each other academically, but are genuinely invested in the success of the program and getting to know one another. I will definitely be leaving UAB with great friends and colleagues for life.

GS:       What is your motivation in your academics/research?

GP:       My immediate motivation is my family, as they have always been my biggest cheerleaders. I would not have made it this far without the love and support of my wonderful parents. My program director and advisor Dr. Jason Linville is also a great source of motivation on a daily basis. He made me feel welcome the first time I came to visit UAB and has continued to go above and beyond both as a teacher and a mentor. His continuous dedication to the program and my personal success provides that extra push during the long hours and late nights in the laboratory. He reinforces my joy for learning and I look forward to attending his class. His enthusiasm keeps just about everyone in the program going.

GS:       What are your plans after graduating and for the future?

GP:       To obtain a position as a DNA Analyst in a Forensic Biology laboratory.  My goal is to one day become the director of a Forensic laboratory.

GS:       Is there anything else you would like to say?

GP:       “If a task is once begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.” Words spoken to me by my grandfather ever since I was little and they remain a source of inspiration as I continue my academic journey.

Gina’s advice for other graduate students:

Simply believe in your dream and do whatever it takes to achieve it. If you didn’t have moments where you felt overwhelmed or didn’t question your decisions it wouldn’t be graduate school.