John AthanasuleasJohn Athanasuleas, a Senior Lab Assistant at Atherotech Diagnostics Lab in Birmingham, AL, recruited his future employer—not the other way around.

“After I completed the Biotechnology Graduate program at UAB, I began to seek out a career in Diagnostics, so Atherotech was an obvious choice,” he says. “I was really excited in my interview to learn that Atherotech was hiring to develop PCR based assays for pharmacogenomics.”

Athanasuleas was the first assistant hired to the Atherotech genetics division, now two years old. “I was patient, but persistent,” he says.

John OddaThe University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Health Professions is no stranger to cross-cultural and international collaboration. Our leaders, faculty members, students, and alumni have worked, taught, and volunteered on nearly every continent in the world.

So it’s no surprise that John Odda, a 2007 graduate from UAB’s M.S. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences program and native resident of Tororo, Uganda, found a home here.

“The UAB School of Health Professions was the home of my pearl,” Odda says. “It was the academic home for me to be.” As an undergrad in Uganda, Odda earned his Bachelor of Biomedical Laboratory Technology from Makerere University. He fell in love with the profession, and the school.

“Makerere was and is indeed still the top university in Uganda based on research, teaching, and community outreaches,” he explains. “It is also currently among the top 15 best ranked universities in Africa.” Odda, who completed his Ph.D. in Natural Products from Makerere in December 2014, was determined to work for his alma mater—but first he needed to develop his professional skills.


Sherri Van PeltSherri Van Pelt
Photo credit: J. Woodber
“I often say that my resume does not make a lot of sense unless you know my story,” laughs Sherri Van Pelt, a 1977 graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s B.S. in Occupational Therapy program.

Van Pelt recently retired from her position as Vice President of Glenwood, Inc., Center for Autism and Behavioral Health, capping off a 38-year career in high-profile roles ranging from consulting services, creating opportunities in the arts for people with chronic illness and disabilities, and fund raising for cancer research. In March 2015, UAB commemorated Van Pelt’s successful career with its distinguished Outstanding Woman in the Community Award.

“I now plan to focus on my career as a glass artist,” says Van Pelt, whose kiln formed glass artwork might be familiar to Birmingham’s residents. “I’m currently showing my work at Birmingham’s juried art shows, such as ArtWalk, the Bluff Park Art Show, Magic City Art Connection, and the Moss Rock Festival. I can’t wait to see what happens next!”

Ashleigh AllgoodAshleigh Allgood has it all planned out.

“I chose Health Care Management because I knew I wanted a great foundation in healthcare organization, strategy, and management,” the young professional says. “I wanted to have a unique skill set as I pursued a master’s degree and a career in healthcare quality.”

A 2012 graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s B.S. in Health Care Management (HCM) program, Allgood is now earning her Master of Public Health from UAB and her Healthcare Quality and Safety Certificate from the UAB School of Health Professions—all while working at Alabama Quality Assurance Foundation (AQAF), a non-profit business working to improve healthcare quality in Alabama.

Richardsons 1You could call it UAB legacy.

Ron Richardson, Clinical Director and Owner of TherapySouth – Hoover LLC, earned his B.S. in Physical Therapy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1974. He is an accomplished physical therapist with nearly 41 years of practice under his belt.

Richardson also serves as a clinical instructor for students from the UAB Department of Physical Therapy. Moreover, his organization, TherapySouth, supports one UAB student every year through the TherapySouth Sponsored Scholarship.

But giving back is only one component of Richardson’s UAB legacy. The other is his son, Ryan Richardson, who graduated from UAB’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program in December 2014. Ryan recently joined his father as a physical therapist at TherapySouth.

Derek HuffmanThe Midwest. The Deep South. The Northeast. For Derek Huffman, a 2007 graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s  Ph.D. in Nutrition Sciences program, no distance is too great when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge.

Originally from St. Joseph, Missouri, Huffman now works as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY. He’s also the Principal Investigator of a lab dedicated to studying the interplay between aging, metabolism, and cancer. “We hope to identify strategies to delay the onset of disease,” he says. “There is an enormous amount of data now to support the importance of diet, physical activity and body weight to susceptibility of age-related diseases, including cancer risk.”

Though he has studied in many states, Huffman insists that the UAB School of Health Professions was vital to his career.

“This journey started in Missouri, but really flourished in Birmingham,” he says.