UAB Magazine Online Features
Artist Inspires Students to Become Poets
By Glenny Brock
Sharrif Simmons (right) developed "Poet's Corner" to encourage students to find their voices and express their ideas to their peers and their communities. Photo courtesy ArtPlay.
For the past five years, Birmingham-based spoken-word artist Sharrif Simmons has run a program called “Poet’s Corner” in which he has gone into a dozen local public and private schools and convinced hundreds of students to write thousands of rhymes—and yet he will tell you he doesn’t really teach poetry.
“I create the condition for poetry to exist and be performed,” Simmons says. “I believe I succeed by using encouragement as my primary tool.”
Simmons is a teaching artist for ArtPlay, a new education and outreach initiative of UAB’s Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center, and the complete title of his program is “The Poet’s Corner: Going from the Page to the Stage.” Designed for students in grades 5-12, “Poet’s Corner” is a six-week workshop that introduces participants to the rich history of oral tradition and the intersecting lines that connect it to contemporary forms of expression such as hip-hop, rap, and rhythm & blues. Simmons’s students listen and learn and then write their own rhymes and dare to speak out loud. In other words, they become poets.
“There are, of course, universal challenges and insecurities innate to a project like this,” Simmons says. “But I’ve found that students who are more extraverted inspire the introverts, allowing them to overcome any stage fright and fully participate.”
To prepare students for these creative endeavors, Simmons performs his own music and spoken-word poetry in the classroom, and has students read and listen to works by historic and contemporary poets. To date, he has taken “Poet’s Corner” to Barrett, Hemphill, Simmons, Lewis, and EPIC elementary schools; West End, Wenonah, Huffman, and Homewood high schools; and the Cornerstone Schools.
Helping Teens Take over Diabetes Care
By Cary Estes
Carol Dashiff, right, is testing a new form of group support and education to help teens with diabetes take responsibility for their own care and to help their parents cope with the anxiety surrounding this difficult transition period.
The stretch of road where adolescence merges into young adulthood is one of the most awkward intersections along life’s highway. For teens, this transition period involves countless lessons to learn and, undoubtedly, mistakes to make. Parents are also in for an education—they must master the difficult art of letting go.
This process can be especially difficult for families dealing with chronic diseases such as type 1 diabetes. Parents accustomed to managing or monitoring insulin injections and regulating diet have to trust their increasingly independent teens to manage more on their own. And since teens with diabetes are just as likely to be forgetful and overconfident as any other adolescent, their parents tend to be especially anxious. This in turn can lead to tension and turmoil during the teen years—especially the middle years, when teens are more and more away from home.
UAB School of Nursing professor Carol Dashiff, Ph.D., hopes to help teens and their families better cope with this difficult process through a new form of group support and education. In a pilot study, she is working with teens age 15 to 17 and their parents in a multifamily format with twin goals: helping adolescents improve their ability to manage their diabetes and helping their parents become less anxious and offer non-obtrusive support.
UAB Imaging Lab Explores Science in HD
By Grant Martin
Melissa Chimento has seen the face of the enemy, and that enemy looks like—a finger. Chimento, a UAB alumna, is an electron microscopist in UAB’s High Resolution Imaging Facility (HRIF), a technology-packed lab in the Shelby Biomedical Research Building that offers researchers the chance to see their work up close and personal, even when the object of their attention is thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.
A male (right) and female fruit fly are shown at more than 75 times their size by using laser confocal microspy. To view this and other images from the HRIF, scroll down and click the arrows in the slideshow below.
At the controls of an FEI Tecnai T12 TEM, Chimento has captured images of anthrax, adenoviruses, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the potentially lethal bug that causes tuberculosis—looking remarkably fingerlike (and quite nonthreatening) in its native environment.
Each year, hundreds of researchers pay a visit to the HRIF, says Kent Keyser, Ph.D., who directs the facility and UAB’s Vision Science Research Center. Vision researchers are regular users of the lab’s equipment, which includes two electron microscopes and several high-powered light microscopes, but its users also include scientists from the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rheumatic Disease Core Center, Hepatorenal Fibrocystic Disease Core Center, Cystic Fibrosis Center, Biomatrix Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Center, and many others, Keyser notes. These centers also provide monetary support for the facility, Keyser adds, “which is critically important in helping keep fees low while maintaining a high standard of service.”
Seeing Is Believing
Researchers come to capture details of cellular processes and to take advantage of the HRIF’s ability to create two- and three-dimensional reconstructions and animations and record time-lapse video, among dozens of other applications. The devices necessary to do this “are all very expensive, so placing the equipment in a shared core facility ensures that it is accessible to scientists from all different labs across campus, as well as scientists from other universities and institutions,” explains HRIF microscopist Shawn Williams.
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Music Alumnus Helps Gospel Choir Spread the UAB Sound
By Glenny Brock
Clinton Green sees the combination of music and technology as a natural symbiosis.
For Clinton Green, there is no clear line between the digital and the spiritual. The 2008 UAB graduate has found sweet harmony between music technology and old-time gospel music, transforming his college experience into a series of rhythmic adventures.
“Music has always been my first love,” says Green. It’s also his constant companion. By day, he serves as minister of music at New Life Interfaith Ministries, Inc. in Bessemer. At nights he is the primary keyboardist for the world-renowned UAB Gospel Choir. In both positions, Green says he uses the lessons he learned while earning his degree in UAB’s music technology program.
“Music technology was a simple choice for me, because technology and music go hand in hand,” Green says. “Every time you hear music, even in many live performances, some type of technology was involved to create it, record it, manipulate it, or even to play it so that you can hear it.”