agrawalGaurav Agrawal and Angelin Ponraj

Original story from Tyler Greer, UAB News

Christlin Ponraj, graduate student in biotechnology, and Angelin Ponraj, sophomore in biomedical sciences, both from Atlanta, along with Gaurav Agrawal, junior in biomedical engineering from Mobile, are seeking a simple, private way to alert Alabama residents about their risk for diabetes.

Their Integrated Latrine Technology for Early Disease Detection project will use a color indication change in toilet water to make users aware of a potential diabetes diagnosis and the need to seek further testing and treatment.

“We hope that this affordable, easy-to-use device will also allow us to advocate for the benefits of preventive medicine,” Angelin Ponraj said. “This project has the potential to expand to other states in the U.S. as well as other nations, promoting health awareness and greater longevity globally.”

DSC 1341UAB OT StudentsIn the latest U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Graduate Schools” rankings, UAB Occupational Therapy moves up three spots to number 25 while UAB Physical Therapy remains in the Top 20.

The climb by OT means the UAB School of Health Professions now has four programs ranked in the nation’s Top 25.

“When you look closely at the rankings you will notice we are the top ranked OT program in Alabama, the fifth-highest ranked program in the Southeast and #16 nationally for state-funded programs,” said Donna Slovensky, Ph.D., interim-chair, UAB Department of Occupational Therapy. “Our strategic plan outlines a path to become the premier state-funded entry level program and we are well on our way thanks to our quality students, successful alumni and an immense dedication of faculty and staff.”

Martin Donna S Head Shot Academy2755Donna S. Martin, president-elect Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Donna S. Martin, EdS, RDN, LD, SNS, FAND, a double alumna of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Nutrition Sciences, has been elected president-elect of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Martin, a 1977 graduate of what was then the UAB Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition/Dietetics program, is the first UAB graduate to hold this position at the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.

“I believe that everyone has a right to eat right – and I don’t’ think there is any greater group of people on this earth to make that happen than the members of this association,” said Martin, director, Burke County (Georgia) Board of Education School Nutrition Program. “My vision for our association is one where we collaborate, commit and communicate to every level of membership, and position our members to be advocates and leaders in our community.”

Story and photos by John Matson, Alabama Nursing Home Association

Holland UABFrom the sounds of laughter filling the room, you would have never known seven decades separated the speaker from her audience. That was the scene Thursday night in a University of Alabama at Birmingham lecture hall when Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Sylvia Holland spoke to students in the Health Care Management program.

“I can tell there are a lot of bright young people in this room,” Ms. Holland said as she began her remarks. “You can feel the energy. I can tell you’re going to be good at what you do.”

Ms. Holland’s bright smile and warm personality quickly won over the crowd of about 30 junior and senior students enrolled in the UAB School of Health Professions. She spoke about her life experiences and answered several questions from the students and instructor. The hour went by quickly as the conversation covered a wide range of topics: politics, religion, World War II, marriage and raising a family. However, the 88-year-old’s experience as a nursing home resident is why Adjunct Professor Patrick Nicovich invited her to speak to his Introduction to Long Term Care Administration class.

Volker PaustianPamela Paustian, Joseph F. Volker AwardAt the annual Faculty and Staff Awards Luncheon, the UAB School of Health Professions awarded its top honor, the Joseph F. Volker Award, to Pamela Paustian, Ph.D., RHIA, program director of the Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management program.

In her introduction of Paustian, Christy Harris Lemak, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Services Administration, said, “One criterion for this award seems specifically written with Pam in mind as she so clearly shows ‘devotion to guiding students in their intellectual development through the pursuit of truth’ every single day.” Lemak went on to point out that Paustian is a member or chair of more than 25 committees and serves all UAB faculty as secretary of the UAB Faculty Senate.

The Beverly W. Smith Outstanding Employee Award, the top honor for a non-faculty employee, went to Amanda Sherman, MS, alumni affairs coordinator for the entire school. Katie Adams, SHP’s senior director of development, said this in her introduction of Sherman, “Amanda is committed to SHP and more importantly committed to the bettering of lives of others through her work. Amanda embodies the spirit we hope every employee should strive to have and is a true asset to our team.”

SEE MORE: all photos from the SHP Faculty and Staff Awards Luncheon


Teaching MadayKristopher Maday, Excellence in TeachingKristopher Maday, MS, PA-C, CNSC, assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Studies program, earned the Excellence in Teaching Award. The honor was delivered by James R. Kilgore, Ph.D., PA-C, the PA program director, who said this about Maday, “The words you hear often when Kris’ name is mentioned by colleagues are – Facebook, podcasting, blogging and Tweeting – he makes traditional teaching with PowerPoint and lectures sound quite anemic, right? The words you hear about him from students are – awesome, passionate, exceptional and best instructor ever.”

The Excellence in Scholarship Award was awarded to Eta Berner, Ed.D., professor in the Health Informatics program. She is a Fellow in two prestigious organizations – the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI) and the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Amanda Dorsey, the Health Informatics program director talked about how Berner is a rock star in their field because of her scholarship work, “When we go to a conference and walk through a convention hall with thousands of people, she is recognized and stopped every three minutes. It’s like being with a celebrity and I just sit back like her handler and nod politely when she introduces me to the elites of our industry.”

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., is a professor and the Webb Endowed Chair of Nutrition Sciences and winner of the Excellence in Service Award. In presenting the award, Barbara Gower, Ph.D., professor and vice-chair of research in Nutrition Sciences, said "One of Wendy's most noteworthy accomplishments is helping create and update the American Cancer Society's nutrition guidelines for cancer survivors - they are 'the bible' for diet advice for health professionals and cancer patients." Demark-Wahnefried, who also serves as associate director for cancer prevention and control at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, has done landmark research including how gardens help cancer survivors cope, heal and grow and currently serves as chair-elect for the Obesity Society section on cancer.

LEARN MORE: see all the past award winners and learn about each award


The annual SHP Faculty and Staff Awards Luncheon was held Friday, March 11, 2016, at the UAB National Alumni Society House. The 2015-2016 committee, co-chaired by Joseph Garner, Ph.D. and Amanda Dorsey, included Paula Chandler-Laney, Ph.D., Mary Foster, John Lowman, Ph.D., Amanda Sherman and Sarah Tucker.

bmen streamFrom left: Garrett Stephens, Samuel Sullivan IV and Brandon CohillBrandon Cohill, a senior in the UAB Nuclear Medicine Technology program, is one of three students bestowed a new honor — the Green Blazer.

Brandon Cohill, Garrett Stephens and Samuel Sullivan IV were awarded the green blazers for 2016 at the Blazer Male Excellence Network’s Undugu Male Gathering, held Feb. 18 in the new Hill Student Center. Undugu, a Swahili word, translates to “brotherhood.”

Cohill, 23, of Birmingham, will graduate in April with a degree in nuclear medicine technology. Cohill has been an orientation leader, deputy chief of staff of Communications for the Undergraduate Student Government Association, USGA senator for the School of Health Professions, and vice president and president of the Iota Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. The recognition he received from BMEN inspired him to push through his final semester of his undergraduate career, he says.

Mark KentMark D. Kent, 2016 Jordan Distinguished LecturerMark D. Kent, FACHE, FACMPE, chief executive officer, Women’s Health Care, P.C., and a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, delivered the 12th annual L.R. (Rush) Jordan Distinguished Lecture on Friday, February 26. The Jordan Lecture is given in Birmingham annually to hospital administrators and UAB School of Health Professions alumni, plus students from across the country and Canada who competed in the annual Case Competition.

Kent told the crowd immediately, "Number one - I'm a failure."

That got everyone's attention and set the tone.

What is Failure?

He explained his dad wanted him to follow his footsteps as a medical doctor yet became a nurse. He was offered a six-figure job at American Express yet turned it down to start his own company.

Speaking directly to the students in the audience, the future leaders of health care, he told them to not worry about failure - to blaze their own trail.

He also said that even though they choose to follow a path unique to them, the true destination of success in health care should not be unique. Everyone should be searching for the best path to better patient outcomes.

1st Place MinnesotaUniversity of Minnesota, 2016 Case Competition Champion with Will Ferniany, Ph.D., CEO, UAB Health System, sponsor of the competitionThe University of Minnesota defeated 37 other teams to win the 10th annual UAB Health Administration Case Competition. Each year, graduate students from CAHME-accredited programs across the United States and Canada travel to Birmingham to compete in this capstone experience.

The preliminary round, held Thursday, February 25, featured all 38 teams in the morning. They were narrowed down to 12 semifinalists that competed in the afternoon.

On Friday, February 26, the six finalists – Army-Baylor University, Saint Louis University, Trinity University, University of Minnesota, defending champion University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and University of Utah – presented one more time to the panel of judges.

The Top 3 finishers were:

  1. University of Minnesota
  2. University of Utah
  3. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Minnesota finished third last year and second in 2013. This is their second championship having won the title in 2010.

The Case Competition, hosted by the UAB Department of Health Services Administration, allows student competitors to test their analytic abilities, teamwork and communication in solving a real-life, real-time case.

The 11th annual event will be held in Birmingham February 22 - 24, 2017.

Stribling StrunkKate Stribling and Ellen Strunk at CSMCongratulations to Kate Stribling, UAB PT ‘11, and Ellen Strunk, UAB PT ‘91, who won major honors at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Stribling, a Physical Therapy Resident at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, was awarded the Carol Gildenberg Dichter Memorial PCS Scholarship. The scholarship was created in 2003 and is designed to fund pediatric physical therapists that wish to earn Pediatric Clinical Specialist (PCS) credentials.

Subcategories