UAB Outstanding WomenUAB Outstanding Women: pictured L/R are Stephanie Meadows, Emily Dhurandhar, Connie Bonds and Aisha ReganThree women with ties to the UAB School of Health Professions, along with three other local women, were honored as part of the UAB Outstanding Women for 2014 ceremony on Thursday, March 13 in the UAB Alumni House.

Connie Bonds, administrative supervisor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, received the Outstanding Woman Staff Member Award; Emily Dhurandhar, with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center, received the Outstanding Woman Postdoctoral Fellow Award; and Aisha Regan, a student in the Healthcare Management program, received the Outstanding Woman Undergraduate Student Award.

Here are their stories from the UAB Reporter:

Connie BondsConnie Bonds - UAB Outstanding Woman Staff Member AwardConnie Bonds: Bonds, an administrative supervisor and human relations officer for the Department of Nutrition Sciences, helps women by teaching them to protect themselves through pistol safety.

“I was not surprised to learn that Connie also provides a unique service to women in the community outside of UAB,” said Paula Chandler-Laney, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. “Although I have not personally experienced Connie’s lessons, I have no doubt that she brings the same professionalism, efficiency and caring nature to this volunteer work that she displays around the department.”

Bonds is known around the department as the glue that keeps everything together and running smoothly. Her co-workers describe her as the type of person who always has an open door and is ready with an answer.

“The nutrition department depends a lot on Connie, and she always comes through,” said Sarah Peek, program coordinator for the Nutrition Obesity Research Center. “She has in the past been Employee of the Quarter, Employee of the Month and Employee of the Year. That alone says great things about Connie.”

Bonds said the best part of her job is working with her co-workers.

“You’re only as good as the people you work with,” Bonds said. “It’s not just the Department of Nutrition Sciences, but it’s also the School of Health Professions. There’s some pretty awesome people over here. I just enjoy working with them.”

Emily Dhurandhar, Ph.D.: Dhurandhar, a postdoctoral scholar in UAB’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center and assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior in the School of Public Health, helps other women succeed through mentoring.

Dhurandhar mentors female undergraduate summer interns from Puerto Rico through a National Science Foundation program in which the Section on Statistical Genetics participates.

“She has been instrumental in helping these young women gain the necessary skills and the empowering confidence that are crucial to gaining acceptance to graduate school,” said David Allison, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center. “Participation in the program and the ability to impact the lives and careers of future scientists have been particularly rewarding to her, so she continues to look for occasions to mentor young women interested in science and provide them with as many opportunities as possible.”

Dhurandhar’s research focuses on the cause of obesity in relation to human behavior. Allison notes Dhurandhar challenges the accepted stance that obesity is easily explained away by too much food and not enough exercise and believes the oversimplification encourages discrimination and deters individuals from seeking treatment, while also affecting professional treatment and the allocation of research dollars to study obesity.

Dhurandhar said she chose UAB because of its status as one of the top research universities in the nation, and she’s glad she did.

“The Nutrition Obesity Research Center really provides me with the resources and collaborators that I need to do meaningful research in obesity,” Dhurandhar said. “UAB does a great job of fostering young scientists, and I’m just really thankful to be here.”

Aisha ReganAisha Regan - UAB Outstanding Woman Undergraduate Student AwardAisha B. Regan: Regan, a junior pursuing a degree in health-care management and a minor in Spanish, was nominated by advisors who say she is a positive influence and role model to her peers.

“Her nature to exceed expectations is noticed by other students, which inspires other women to want to achieve at a high level like Aisha,” Rachel Burchfield and Hannah Davis wrote in their recommendation letter. “She is a leader in the UAB community, where she plans and implements programs that enable students to further grow and develop.”

Regan, a first-generation college student, is co-director of signature service for the Leadership and Service Council and is an UAB Emerging Leader. 

“When I decided to pursue my dream of attending school, there were two goals — make my parents proud and leave my mark on campus,” Regan said. “So, I think getting involved is the best way to do that.”

Regan said she is humbled by the award and the nomination. She said she enjoys being able to create opportunities for other students, the same opportunities that were created for her.

“It’s beautiful that they would acknowledge and appreciate my efforts,” Regan said.

The UAB Women’s Center, UAB Women’s and Gender Studies and the Commission on the Status of Women present the awards annually during Women’s History Month to honor women in the UAB and Birmingham communities who have mentored or served other women, taken a courageous stance or overcome adversity to achieve a goal.