By Susannah Felts
When Paul Janeway (above, left) walks onstage, audiences snap to attention. They stand up, they get down, they holler and shake as Janeway, a bespectacled blond clad in one of his father’s old suits, and his bandmates—a.k.a. St. Paul and the Broken Bones—crank out one soulful song after the next. Janeway might pause to mop his brow with a towel or bust dance moves that have earned comparisons to none other than James Brown, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. “A little hyperbolic,” he says. “But I’ll take it.”
Not bad for a 28-year-old UAB accounting student, who seems thrilled and surprised by the turn his life has taken in recent months.
Putting a New Spin on Computer SecurityBy Matt Windsor
Computer security researchers put themselves into the minds of cybercriminals to figure out what they might do next. Nitesh Saxena, Ph.D., takes a different approach. His mission is to get inside the minds of users—quite literally, in his latest project—to figure out how to protect them from new attacks.
Saxena is the head of the SPIES (Security and Privacy in Emerging Computing and Networking Systems) research group in the UAB Department of Computer and Information Sciences. “Most traditional security research focuses on the attackers,” Saxena says. “We work on the defense side, with an emphasis on the end users.”
The SPIES lab puts the “strengths and weaknesses of the computer user” under the microscope, Saxena explains. Or under the brain scanner, to be precise. In one new project, Saxena has partnered with Rajesh Kana, Ph.D., a researcher in the UAB Department of Psychology who specializes in using brain imaging for autism research. The interdisciplinary duo has started scanning volunteers while they perform everyday security tasks. The subjects have to decide whether the sites they are looking at are real or fake—the actual Facebook home page or a knockoff, for example—or they are asked to heed a security warning while reading an article.
“We want to understand, from a neuroscience perspective, what happens when people are making these security decisions, and especially what happens when they are rushed into making decisions, as often happens online,” Saxena says. “We are still in the early stages, but this may give us clues on how to design warnings and safeguards that are more effective.”
Selling UAB in the 21st Century
By Matt Windsor
It’s just another day at one of America's largest hospitals. On the ground floor, in an emergency room the size of a football field, staff are treating everything from household accidents to severe trauma. In the floors above, patients are in the middle of life-saving surgeries and other treatments, while new lives are entering the world in the adjacent Women and Infants Center. But right now, in the second-floor atrium, a grandmother is calling out for help, while a camera crew looks on.
How do you summarize UAB in 60 seconds? For a new TV ad, filmmakers traveled from UAB Hospital to Sterne Library to the Comprehensive Cancer Center and beyond, with sequences in Washington, D.C., the Egyptian desert, and outer space. The creators of this minute-long commercial faced a unique challenge: unifying the academic and medical sides of UAB’s campus for the first time under a single branding campaign with a common tagline—“UAB: Knowledge that will change your world.”