Spring 2009 Newsletter
• Ph.D. Fellowships Soar in Wake of Incentives
• Travel to The Middle Ages with English Department Researchers
• Where do you learn about research ethics and academic integrity?
• GBS Holds Orientation/Poster Sessions
• Professional Development Electives Make Students Competitive
• Hughes Med-Grad Program Hosts 1st Annual Student Meeting
• Rite of Passage
• Don't Miss Your Deadlines
• Grad Students Network, Unwind with Intramural
• Medical Psychology Ranks in Top 10
• UAB Opportunity Zone Graduate Programs Fair
Ph.D. Fellowships Soar in Wake of Incentives
Eighteen months after the UAB Graduate School began a grant application incentive plan, the number of individual fellowships held by pre-doctoral trainees has jumped by 209%, reports Dean Bryan Noe. Read more.
Travel to The Middle Ages with English Department Researchers
Travel back in time with Dr. Mary Flowers Braswell, UAB professor of English, in a thoughtful essay on Graduate Student research during on a recent trip to the United Kingdom, which was funded jointly by the Graduate School (Ireland Awards) and the English Department. Read more.
Where do you learn about research ethics and academic integrity?
Who do you turn to when you are confronted with an ethical problem -- your friends, your professors, or the chairman of your department? Are you getting the information that you need to complete your academic research with integrity? Read more.
GBS Holds Orientation/Poster Sessions
Students new to Graduate Biomedical Sciences (GBS) learned about practice and policy and mingled with each other and faculty at the Aug. 18 Orientation in the Bevill Biomedical Research Building. Read more.
Professional Development Electives Make Students Competitive
Dr. John D. Ruby, associate professor at the UAB School of Dentistry, enjoys nothing more than working with talented dental students. But when he encounters a brilliant student who simply cannot write, his heart sinks. Read more.
Hughes Med-Grad Program Hosts 1st Annual Student Meeting
The Hughes Med-Grad Program, a Ph.D. fellowship program sponsored by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, held the first annual Med-into-Grad Scholars Student Meeting on August 14 - 15th, 2008. Read more.
Rite of Passage
At the end of each fall and spring semester, commencement brings to mind images of happy graduates along with all the pomp and circumstance. Read more.
Don't Miss Your Deadlines
While you were working hard to obtain your bachelor’s degree, you probably became aware of how important deadlines are, especially during your last semester. Read more.
Grad Students Network, Unwind with Intramural
They’ve come from all over the country, in fact, all over the world to study at UAB. They explore many different subjects from history to medicine. It would seem that their paths would never cross, but thanks to the Intramural program run by the UAB recreation department, this diverse group of students has a chance to meet. Read more.
Medical Psychology Ranks in Top 10
UAB’s Medical Psychology program, which trains students to become scientists and practitioners in clinical psychology, has recently been praised for its high quality in two national surveys. Read more.
UAB Opportunity Zone Graduate Programs Fair
The UAB Graduate School hosted its second annual graduate programs fair, the Opportunity Zone, Oct. 15, 2008, to encourage potential students to explore advanced degrees. The fair attracted more than 180 people who had a chance to hear from experts like deans and associate deans as well as experienced students. Read more.
Eighteen months after the UAB Graduate School began a grant application incentive plan, the number of individual fellowships held by pre-doctoral trainees has jumped by 209%, reports Dean Bryan Noe. “The program has been more successful than we ever imagined,” he adds, noting that 23 of the 51 students who applied more than six months ago were successful.
In total, 79 Ph.D. students have submitted new individual fellowship applications; 28 applications are still pending. Of those submitted in the first 12 months of the program, the capture rate was 45 %. Noe initiated the program in April 2007 after noticing the relatively small number of students who had applied for and secured an individual fellowship to support their predoctoral education.
“I was surprised to see such a small percentage of individual fellowship funding among our predoctoral students. Only about 1 percent of the predocs at UAB were supported by individual fellowships as of April 2007. UAB ranks among the top 25 universities in the country when it comes to research expenditures, with more than $400 million annually. At peer institutions which garner similar levels of research funding the proportion of students who hold individual fellowships is much higher than at UAB.”
Based on what he had seen at Graduate Student Research Days and from his contact with Graduate Program Directors and students, Noe knew that the quality of research being performed was competitive. “In fact, I thought the quality of work was outstanding. What’s more, because many programs already require students to write dissertation proposals in the NIH 398 grant application format, students were poised to go one step further and use some of what they had already prepared for the individual fellowship application process.”
Not only does the additional stipend support of more than $450,000 from the new individual fellowships already funded boost support for the students and their departments, the practice of writing and winning a fellowship offers some of the best professional training a graduate student can get.
“The ability to apply for and secure funding is a survival skill today,” says Noe, with a rueful smile. ”Frankly, I was supported on a training grant as a predoctoral trainee. I never saw the inside of a grant application until got my first faculty appointment and the letter of invitation mentioned a grant deadline that was less than three months away! Needless to say, the first grant application I wrote was not funded.”
Details about the Fellowship Incentive Plan
Basically, the Incentive plan offers $250 for students who apply for individual fellowships; to earn the initial incentive, the student’s program director or mentor must certify that the application is considered competitive, explains Jeffrey Engler, associate dean of academic affairs. If a student’s application is funded, the student may then qualify for a supplement to his/her stipend – as much as $2,000 – based on the amount of support provided by the student’s advisor, the size of the fellowship and the general rules governing Graduate School stipends.
Travel back in time with Dr. Mary Flowers Braswell, UAB professor of English, in a thoughtful essay on Graduate Student research during on a recent trip to the United Kingdom, which was funded jointly by the Graduate School (Ireland Awards) and the English Department. In “Hearing the Overtones”: One Mentor’s View of Graduate Student Research, Dr. Braswell ponders the “secret world of a scholar” and marvels at how readily her two students entered that realm. Follow her back into the Middle Ages as she chronicles the story of instructing two English master’s students Patricia Rippetoe and Anne Markham Bailey on their respective journeys. Learn about Rippetoe’s interest in a fascinating 14th century manuscript –Lay Folks Mass Book written by a medieval priest – and now housed in the British Library Reading Room. Bailey studied the Ancrene Rule, a conduct book for an anchoress (female spiritual leader), as well as images of architectural ruins attached to churches. “Several challenges faced me,” wrote Bailey. “The history of the anchoress is mostly unknown. There are very few manuscripts recording her own voice…”
Who do you turn to when you are confronted with an ethical problem -- your friends, your professors, or the chairman of your department? Are you getting the information that you need to complete your academic research with integrity?
A new online survey should produce some answers with the goal of improving responsible conduct in research, says Dr. Jeffrey Engler, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate School. “The survey is being conducted jointly by the graduate schools at UAB, UA, and UAH, to identify areas of student concern and to be sure that we are providing the best information that will help you solve ethical problems without compromising your integrity.”
At UAB, the survey is being conducted by the Graduate School, the Graduate Student Association, and the Postdoctoral Association. “Informal surveys and discussion sessions show graduate students have questions about a variety of ethical issues ranging from sharing lab materials to copyright law, but this is only an anecdotal picture. We want to get better information, so we can support researchers in all aspects of their work.”
The invitation to participate in the online survey will be distributed by email starting October 27, 2008. The survey is short (15 questions) and should take 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will receive an email directing them to a specific website on surveymonkey.com. Adds Engler: “We encourage everyone to take the time to participate in this survey. This offers you a chance to let us know what’s on your mind, and help provide the information that you need as you pursue your graduate degree with the highest integrity.”
The data collected will be entirely anonymous and the results will be reported only in the aggregate, by school and by the number of years of training. The UAB Institutional Review Board for Human Use has approved the survey protocols and questions.
Students new to Graduate Biomedical Sciences (GBS) learned about practice and policy and mingled with each other and faculty at the Aug. 18 Orientation in the Bevill Biomedical Research Building. After a welcome by Dean Bryan Noe and Senior Associate Dean Susan Rich, students from Cellular and Molecular Biology, Integrative Biomedical Sciences, Genetics, Neuroscience, and Vision Science graduate programs heard presentations that ran the gamut from taxes and the sexual harassment policy to HIPAA to personal security on campus.
In addition to the program, students and faculty attended a Welcome Reception and two days of faculty Poster Sessions in the Finley Conference Center. Faculty presented posters detailing their research, their labs, and other projects. New students were given the opportunity to meet the faculty and to size up where their research interests and those of the faculty met and might result in lab rotations and possible future collaborations. More than 60 faculty members participated in the sessions and orientation, which were deemed successful by faculty, staff, and students.
The Graduate Biomedical Sciences (GBS) community at UAB encompasses approximately 450 graduate students and 300 faculty. They participate in multiple interdisciplinary programs that integrate more than 25 departments in the School of Medicine, partner Schools throughout the university and the Southern Research Institute. For photos of incoming students and more information about GBS, visit the Web site at http://www.uab.edu/gbs/
Dr. John D. Ruby, associate professor at the UAB School of Dentistry, enjoys nothing more than working with talented dental students. But when he encounters a brilliant student who simply cannot write, his heart sinks.
“I’m not capable of helping them. I have so much work to do with pediatric dentistry, I just can’t teach the reality of the English language and writing,” he says, ruefully. “The sad thing is the student can do the research, but he or she can’t write it up for publication.”
That’s why for years, Ruby has been sending students to the Graduate School’s Professional Development Program. Founded in 1991, the program offers more than 20 graduate, credit-bearing elective courses and workshops in areas ranging from professional presentations and academic English for internationals to research writing/publishing, teaching at the college level, and scientific integrity.
“Last spring,” Ruby recalls, “I sent one of my international students to the academic writing courses, and I saw a major transformation in her understanding of the language. I honestly wasn’t sure that she was going to make it, but in the end, she wrote a wonderful master’s thesis.”
Ruby credits the student’s “dedication and hard work” and the intensive, graduate-level academic writing instruction with her ability to bring her work up to standard in a period of about six months. “It takes the right kind of student, then direction and guidance from a writing instructor who understands the demands of research communications.”
In the School of Public Health, Dr. John Waterbor, associate professor, says he sees two kinds of graduate students who need help. The first includes international students who are still mastering academic English. The second group includes American-born students who need more instruction and practice at graduate-level research writing. “They may be brilliant mathematicians or scientists, but they have trouble communicating and/or can’t write well in a scientific format… When we recommend the Graduate School’s writing courses, they are very grateful. They are glad to have the support.”
Ruby adds that he became a fan of the program as a post-doctoral program, when he took the course, Teaching at the College Level and Beyond, taught by Dr. Julia S. Austin. “Most Ph.D.s at research universities have no formal education in teaching. That course permitted me to change the way I think about my teaching. Honestly, it was one of the most useful times in my life as an educator.”
The Hughes Med-Grad Program, a Ph.D. fellowship program sponsored by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, held the first annual Med-into-Grad Scholars Student Meeting on August 14 - 15th, 2008. The UAB program is one of 13 in the nation, and currently has 20 student participants in its third year of funding. Students from UAB organized the event, and hosted students from two Med-into-Grad Programs in Houston, TX—Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University.
The program began with a welcome reception and poster presentations by all of the participants. On the following day, there were two oral presentations of selected abstracts from each of the programs. Following the oral presentations was a keynote address by Dr. Tim Townes, Professor and Chair, UAB Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics entitled “Globin Gene Regulation and iPS Cell Strategies for the Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease”. Dr. Townes reviewed his current program of using reprogrammed stem cells in treatment of sickle cell disease. The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion on Translational Research in Basic Science, Clinical Research, and Industry. Lisa Guay-Woodford, MD, Professor and Director, UAB Center for Clinical & Translational Science and Richard Myers, Ph.D., Director, HudsonAlpha Institute, Huntsville, AL joined Dr. Townes in this panel discussion. The discussants reviewed their current understanding of translational research and the attributes of the Hughes Med-Grad idea, in terms of building teams that could translate discoveries. Overall, the students and faculty agreed that the cluster meeting was a success. Plans for a second meeting in Houston are underway.
By Kellie Carter
At the end of each fall and spring semester, commencement brings to mind images of happy graduates along with all the pomp and circumstance. While the large commencement ceremony held at the Bartow Arena is very impressive with families and friends lining all the way up to the rafters, the sea of green-robed graduates on the arena floor, and the platform party following in cadence with the procession of bagpipers and drummers, there is another commencement that takes place on the same weekend.
The Graduate School’s Doctoral Hooding and Commencement Ceremony, held in the Alys Stephens Centre, is the graduation ceremony for doctoral candidates. While this ceremony may not be as large as the commencement for undergraduates and master’s candidates (it only lasts about an hour), the intimate setting of the Jemison Concert Hall offers an elegant nuance for those who have achieved the University’s highest degree.
On the day of the ceremony, each candidate and his or her mentor gather in the Odess Theatre for robing and instructions. The expression of joy on the graduate’s and mentor’s faces is infectious. Even though I am there as an employee, I can’t help but get caught up in the happiness of the day. As the events coordinator in the Graduate School, it is by far my favorite event. Other Graduate School staff members feel the same way. We see the students when they first come to graduate school, and then we are watching them, their families and friends, their peers and mentors, celebrate as they walk across the stage to be hooded by Dean Noe. We are all very proud to mark each doctoral graduate’s ultimate academic achievement with a special ceremony just for them.
Dr. Jeffrey Engler, one of the Graduate School’s associate deans, participates as a marshal for the ceremony and on occasion will help to hood a graduate from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, his faculty appointment. He says, “The hooding ceremony is a wonderful tribute to the accomplishments and hard work of so many graduate students. It also marks the start of a new challenges and opportunities for each doctoral awardee.”
The December Hooding Ceremony is fast approaching and I am looking forward to seeing the happy faces of friends and families, mentors and graduates, and Graduate School employees, as we say good-bye to “graduate student days” and hello to new beginnings.
Hooding Ceremony Changes
Ready to graduate? Mark Sunday, December 14, for the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony and Commencement Ceremony for Summer and Fall graduates. (UAB holds two Doctoral Hooding and Commencement Ceremonies each year; one in May and one in December for Summer and Fall graduates.)
The Doctoral Hooding Ceremony is the graduation ceremony for doctoral candidates receiving PhD, DrPH, EdD, and DScPT degrees. If you are a doctoral candidate who will be graduating in August or December 2008, you must fill out the commencement form by November 24 at 5:00 p.m. in order to participate in this ceremony. Simply showing up for the ceremony is not an option. This ceremony will be held in the Alys Stephens Centre at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 14. Students and the faculty member hooding them should arrive by 1:30 p.m.
The commencement ceremony for master's and undergraduate students will be held in Bartow Arena at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 13. Students should arrive at the Bell/Wallace Gymnasium (on the corner of 6th Avenue South and 13th Street, no later than 1:15 p.m.) All master's graduates who would like to attend commencement should look at the graduation information online at http://students.uab.edu/academics/show.asp?durki=49764&site=3048&return=5303.
Full regalia (caps, gowns, hoods) are required for both events. Graduating students will be able to order regalia during the Graduation Fair October 21 – October 23. For information, contact the Barnes and Noble at UAB Bookstore at 996-2665.
While you were working hard to obtain your bachelor’s degree, you probably became aware of how important deadlines are, especially during your last semester. In graduate school, when a candidate is near graduation, she or he must pay close attention to Graduate School deadlines. Important dates include the following Spring and Summer semester deadlines:
Spring 2009 deadlines
- Application for Degree January 30
- Defense Deadline March 27
- Admission to Candidacy January 6
- Change of Residency January 6
Summer 2009 deadlines
- Application for Degree June 5
- Defense Deadline July 6
- Admission to Candidacy May 8/May 29
- Change of Residency May 8/May 29
Completing all paper work and final payments by the posted deadlines will ensure that a candidate will graduate by the expected date.
By Joseph Daft
They’ve come from all over the country, in fact, all over the world to study at UAB. They explore many different subjects from history to medicine. It would seem that their paths would never cross, but thanks to the Intramural program run by the UAB recreation department, this diverse group of students has a chance to meet.
“The UAB Intramural program is devoted to developing, organizing, and promoting student involvement at all levels. Grad students make up about 35% of all those who participate in intramural events. So as you can see they play a big role in our program,” says Charles Judkins, assistant director of Intramurals.\
From table tennis to flag football, a wide variety of sports are available for students to choose from. Men, co-rec, and women’s leagues allow for all levels of competition, while providing an ideal chance to socialize.
"IM sports give us an opportunity to not only interact with each other outside of the classroom and lab, but provide a great way to stay connected with the rest of campus,” says Scott Tanner, second-year grad student in pathology.
Liselle Bovell, who came to UAB through the Integrated Biomedical Science (IBS) program, has had a similar experience with the IM program. "IM dodge ball was a fun and refreshing addition to my everyday academic routine, and it was great exercise too!"
For more information, visit the Intramurals link at the Campus Rec web site http://studentaffairs.uab.edu/CampusRecreation/index.html
Joseph Daft is a second-year pathology student in the Integrative Biomedical Sciences (IBS) Graduate Program
UAB’s Medical Psychology program, which trains students to become scientists and practitioners in clinical psychology, has recently been praised for its high quality in two national surveys. A 2007 review in Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice ranks the UAB program 10th in the U.S. in total publications and in scholarly productivity. Another survey in 2000 ranked the Medical Psychology program as tied for 12th in the nation, along with seven other programs.
The doctoral program is unique at UAB and in Alabama because it focuses on medical and health psychology. It provides hands-on clinical training experiences for students, both at UAB and across the U.S. For example, in the year 2008-2009, the Medical Psychology Program had nine students apply for APA-approved internships. Not only did all nine match, but they were accepted at some of the nation’s finest internship programs.
In addition, graduates of the program have moved on to challenging careers after completing their studies. Students have also won competitive national fellowships and continued their careers with postdoctoral training in clinical psychology at prestigious institutions and hospitals. Find out more information about the program and read an online brochure at http://www.psy.uab.edu/medpsych.htm.
The UAB Graduate School hosted its second annual graduate programs fair, the Opportunity Zone, Oct. 15, 2008, to encourage potential students to explore advanced degrees. The fair attracted more than 180 people who had a chance to hear from experts like deans and associate deans as well as experienced students.
Kellie Carter, the event organizer, explains: “We had a dual-purpose in mind for the event. In one room we had 10-minute ‘hot topic’ presentations that covered subjects like how to pay for graduate school, what you can do with an advanced degree, and how to survive and succeed in graduate school. The other rooms were more of an open fair where people could speak one-on-one with graduate program representatives.”
Student presenters included Anne Diers, from the department of pathology, who spoke on “How to Survive and Succeed in Graduate School.” Another student, Shani Forbes, of the Industry Roundtable, raised awareness about life after graduate school with a presentation entitled: “Career Options: What do You do with an Advanced Degree?”
The Opportunity Zone wasn’t just for undergraduates at UAB, says Jeffrey Engler, associate dean of the Graduate School, who spoke on “How to Select a Program.” “Those in attendance were people from the Birmingham community, students from other local universities, and UAB employees. We want them to know what UAB has to offer, but more importantly, we want them to think about career options after completing their four-year degree.”
This year’s event showed an increase in attendance for the “hot topics” discussions, says Laura Burchfiel, a Graduate School employee who also helped to organize the event. “We also had steady traffic in the fair with almost 40 booths representing the range of graduate studies on campus. Some people came in with very specific questions; others were just looking for general information. I think it served everybody.”