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Maria Claudia Norena

Associate Center Director, Strategy & Innovation

Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center
School of Engineering

Contact Information:

UAB | University of Alabama at Birmingham
MT 512F | 1717 11th Avenue South | Birmingham, AL 35294-4410 | USA

Maria C. Norena is Associate Center Director for Strategy & Innovation in two interdisciplinary research centers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center (UAB SSC), and the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC).

Since the inception of the UAB SSC in 2012, Maria works with Director, Fouad Fouad, PhD, Professor and Chair, UAB Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, in the strategic planning and development of the center.  This includes the establishment of strategic alliances with local, national and international entities to promote joint research, training, and outreach programs to advance the science of cities. Alliances include:

Signing Memorandum Of Understanding with the City of Birmingham Mayor's Office in 2013 to lend technical support to the city's sustainability projects.  Under this collaboration, the City of Birmingham was selected as one of the winners (among 100 participating cities) of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Global Competion in 2014. 

Affiliation Agreement for Research and Training with Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom in 2013. Maria proposed the development and structure of a joint online Master's Program in Sustainable Smart Cities to train the specialized workforce in the emerging science of cities, globally. A Dual Master's in Sustainable Smart Cities launched in 2015.

Since 2003, she has worked with Mona Fouad, MD, MPH, Professor and Director UAB Division of Preventive Medicine, and Director of the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC), in the establishment and strategic development of UAB MHRC. Since then, the Center has received $100 million in competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health. The most recent work focuses on the intersection of health, economic development, the social determinants of health, and the impact of the built environment in population health. 

Prior to her current positions, Maria Norena directed the International Strategic Planning and Business Development initiatives for the UAB Health System. Her work included the creation of the UAB International Medical Services and establishing a network of academic affiliations with top institutions in Latin America for physician training and patient referrals.  

Education and training:

Bachelor in Social Communication Sciences - Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.
Diploma in Advanced Marketing - University of California at Berkeley - Executive Training Program.
Fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Center for Creative Leadership.
Alumna of the MOMENTUM Women's Leadership Program (2005)

Board Member:

YWCA OF CENTRAL ALABAMA (2013 – present)
BIRMINGHAM BUSINESS ALLIANCE -Chair, Hispanic Business Council (2011 – 2013)

Languages: Spanish and English.

Updated July 2015
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UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center (SSCRC)

1075 Thirteenth Street South
Birmingham, Alabama 35294-4461, USA