UAB Magazine Online Archive
Foreign Language Learning Opens Doors At Home and Abroad
By Meghan Davis
From Spanish to Chinese to Arabic, UAB students are using their language skills to further diplomacy across the globe and to help businesses around the corner.
“Society is changing rapidly and drastically,” says Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. “Students prepare furiously for a globalized job market that is open to anyone in the world. Often, the decisive factor for an employer is the multi-linguistic and multicultural qualifications of applicants.”
Many students are attracted to languages for reasons beyond their resumes, of course. “I first enrolled in Chinese class because I was interested in the character-based writing system,” says junior Devin Thorne. “Writing characters is like drawing for me.” Thorne is one of the six UAB students who have won the U.S. State Department’s prestigious Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) in the past three years.
Online Global Health Certificate Appeals to Professionals, Students
By Matt Windsor
From an apartment in central Asia, Birmingham ophthalmologist C. James McCollum, M.D., dialed home for assistance. “I was working in the area of childhood blindness,” says McCollum, a 1988 graduate of the UAB School of Medicine and current director of the emergency department at UAB’s Callahan Eye Hospital. But as he treated patients in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, McCollum realized something was missing.
“I have long been interested in working overseas,” he says. “I feel it is something God put on my heart at a young age. That desire shaped many of my educational choices, including the decision to study ophthalmology after medical school, but I had no background in public or global health.”
Looking for a “knowledge base, tools, and perspective that would help me better serve the people in those countries,” McCollum discovered the online certificate program in global health studies offered by the UAB School of Public Health. He enrolled in the 15-hour program while still working in Uzbekistan and completed his coursework after he returned to Birmingham.
The Challenge of Fighting Disease in Medical School
By Carla Jean Whitley
Students have a million different motivations for pursuing a medical degree—a desire to help people, an aptitude for science, or inspiration to follow in the footsteps of a family member or childhood physician, perhaps. But for three current UAB School of Medicine students, the reasons suddenly shifted in midstream when disease became a harsh reality instead of a case study.
Encounters with Empathy
Sarah Gammons began dropping weight, experiencing night sweats, and feeling fatigued during her first year of medical school—and she was certain it wasn’t from stress. “I had a great doctor at the UAB student health clinic who kept looking when every test came back normal,” she says. He sent her to an endocrinologist who diagnosed Gammon with medullary thyroid cancer.
“I started doing research on thyroid nodules in a textbook and a database we use in school,” Gammons recalls. “Medullary thyroid cancer only occurs in 4 percent of people with thyroid cancer; 50 percent of those are genetic, but mine’s sporadic. It was a one in a million chance that I would get this disease at my age.”
She had a radical neck dissection and total thyroidectomy, but “you’re never cured of this type of cancer because there’s no treatment,” she explains. “It’s a chronic disease; every six months, the doctors monitor two hormone levels which are perfect markers for the disease to see if it comes back.”
Despite the surgery and recovery, Gammons was able to stay on track toward her medical degree. The school allowed her to make up work during the summer, and classmates took time away from their break to tutor her. “At the end of the day, I had school to fall back on,” Gammons says. “Throwing myself into my work helped to take my mind off all the bad stuff.”
Inside UAB's 3D Superstore
By Matt Windsor
Looking for a 12th century chess piece? A custom Rubik’s cube? An exact copy of a seashell, the inside of an eyeball, a relief map of an Egyptian burial ground, or an obscure protein?
UAB computer scientist Kenneth Sloan, Ph.D., has them all in stock. If you’re searching for something else—anything else—he can get it. Or, to be precise, make it. Just give him a day or two, and $20 per cubic inch.
Inside Sloan’s lab on the ground floor of Campbell Hall are five 3D printers, ranging from entry level to commercial grade. These magic machines, which recently earned a spot on the cover of Wired magazine, transform computer files into reality. Instead of ink, their “print heads” extrude a thin stream of superheated plastic in layers seven-thousands of an inch thick. Building layer upon layer, a 3D printer can make a nearly infinite variety of objects.
3D Print Lab with their own designs.Sloan and his students have made life-size models of Tetris pieces, intricate puzzles, and elaborate contraptions that could be produced in no other way. But these “toys” only offer a hint of what is possible, Sloan says. The printers’ true value is becoming clear as other UAB researchers come to the