UAB Magazine Online Features
Preparing Teachers for the Challenges of Urban Education
By Claire L. Burgess
Donna Jones, a recent graduate of UAB's Urban Teacher Enhancement Program, at Birmingham's Robinson Elementary School
In many urban schools, the biggest dropout risk is at the head of the class. Faced with crowded classrooms, inadequate funding, and a host of other challenges, teachers in these schools are often tempted to quit the profession entirely or transfer to a suburban school at the first opportunity. According to 2005 data from the Alabama Department of Education, approximately 25 percent of new teachers in high-poverty school districts in the Birmingham area leave their positions within their first three years.
Deborah Voltz, Ed.D., knows what those teachers are going through. She taught at a high-needs elementary school in Birmingham for five years before joining the UAB School of Education. But she also is convinced that helping urban students take their first steps to a better life is one of the most rewarding roles any teacher can play. “I feel like I was able to make a real difference, and that was important to me,” Voltz says. “Yes, there were challenges. But there would be challenges anywhere.”
The Creative Side of Medicine at UAB
Christina Cooley has always enjoyed the visual and tactile pleasures of painting. So when it came time to pursue a career, the young artist naturally chose . . . surgery. “My artistic side influenced my decision,” says the third-year student in the School of Medicine at UAB. “I love working with my hands and looking at things meticulously.” In turn, Cooley adds, immersion in the world of health care is influencing her art. “It has given me new themes—passion, life, and death—and mediums I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.”
Cooley isn’t alone in mixing medicine with the muse. In the slideshow below, meet the winners of the 2009 School of Medicine Art Show. And don’t forget to view part 1 of this story, an exploration of the possible origins of creativity.
UAB Neurobiologist Ponders the Creativity Impulse
By Charles Buchanan
What kindles the spark of creativity? David Sweatt, Ph.D., finds that question doubly interesting. As neurobiology chair, director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at UAB, and Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging, Sweatt investigates the cellular and chemical mechanisms of learning and memory. And as an abstract painter, he is curious about the possible biological basis for his vivid ideas.
In this slideshow, Sweatt shares his thoughts on the possible relationship between neurobiology and creativity.
UAB Scientist Offers New Views of Space
By Jennifer Ghandhi
More than 800 million miles from Earth, the space orbiter Cassini is busy shooting pictures of the planet Saturn and its moons. Thousands of these in-flight images are available online on Cassini’s home page—but the spacecraft’s oeuvre includes many recordings that cannot be appreciated with human eyes alone. They’re snapshots of data gathered by an onboard instrument called the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS), which records measurements of reflected UV light that is invisible to humans. On Earth, UV rays can be harmful, but in space, UV data is immensely useful to astronomers measuring the composition of distant planets.
Right now, NASA scientists don’t have a way to effectively interpret the UVIS data Cassini is relaying, so they’ve tapped UAB physicist Perry Gerakines, Ph.D., to help. He was awarded a three-year, $408,000 grant to create thin, icy films of materials thought to be on Saturn’s moons and then analyze them with a custom-built UVIS of his own. “We’re going to measure these spectra—the way different compounds absorb and reflect light—in the hopes that we can use them to interpret the spectra we see from the icy moons on the rings of Saturn,” Gerakines says.