Spring 2010 issue of UAB Magazine Now Online
Was Shakespeare really Shakespeare? Could the big chill help heart attack victims? Is there any way to stop cancer's spread? UAB experts tackle these questions and other conundrums in UAB Magazine’s new Spring 2010 issue, which also features digital children, sight-restoring computer chips, and a new use for the South's least-favorite vine.
Also in this issue:
• An inside look at UAB's new Women & Infants Center
• UAB tests a promising HIV vaccine
• Student researchers track mosquitoes with satellites, make music with photocopiers
UAB Alumna Finds Magic in Math
By Dale Short
Dilhani Uswatte uses innovative methods to help students understand mathematics.
Pop quiz: What do creative dance, geometry, a quarterback sneak, and a video documentary all have in common?
If you’re a student of UAB School of Education alumna Dilhani Uswatte at Berry Middle School in Hoover, the answer is a four-letter word: math. Uswatte’s mission as a teacher, she says, is to help kids see the infinite connections between everyday life and a subject that many of us can’t bear to think about. Her energetic approach to math education has already earned her a prestigious national teaching award and induction into the Alabama Teacher Hall of Fame.
“I believe the traditional way of teaching math was not the best way to lead to understanding,” Uswatte says. “Most of it was rote and memorization, as if answering 30 questions on the same concept could make it somehow ‘stick’ in a student’s mind. But then, the problem was to take that concept and apply it to the real world, which is altogether different.”
The new trend in math, Uswatte says, takes the opposite approach. “Begin with a problem in the real world; the cool part is that so many kids have an immediate gut reaction as to where to start. So the teacher’s job is to build on that intuition. Afterward, you can teach the details that make the solution more efficient, but so often, the basic problem-solving skills are already there.”
UAB Graduation Spans Two Generations
By Rosalind Fournier
Hector DeSimone (right) and his oldest son, James, earned diplomas from UAB on the same day last December.
Hector and Melanie DeSimone believe in bonding. In addition to homeschooling their four children, the DeSimones have done nearly everything together. They've even made attending college a family affair. Hector and his oldest son, James, performed a father-son act at UAB’s fall graduation in December, with Hector earning his master’s degree in engineering, and James receiving his undergraduate degree in biology a few hours later.
The DeSimone-UAB connection goes deeper. Melanie graduated from the university in 1985 with degrees in political science and psychology. The couple’s daughter Fiona, a history major and secondary education minor, graduated in 2008 and is currently teaching in the Tuscaloosa area. Dominic is now a sophomore on campus, pursuing a double major in political science and public relations; the youngest, Julian, is set to begin his studies in the fall.
Hector DeSimone, an architect in UAB’s Design Build Services group, hadn’t originally planned to continue his own education. But he and Melanie always encouraged their children to pursue graduate degrees after college, and it dawned on him that maybe he should take his own advice.