UAB Magazine Online Features
Alumnus Helps Start-Ups Find Success
By Charles Buchanan
Look around, right now. Could the person sitting next to you have the idea for the next Facebook or Amazon inside his or her head? Matt Wright’s mission is to unlock those ideas and help potential entrepreneurs create vibrant new companies.
After graduating from the UAB School of Business in 2001 with a finance degree, Wright worked his way up the banking ladder, working on an equity trading desk and managing a hedge fund. Eventually he founded NuVault Financial, which specializes in management consulting and investment banking. “I advise small companies on ways to grow their business through finance, efficiencies, or everyday operations,” says Wright. He also serves as associate director of the Birmingham Angel Network, an organization of business leaders who invest resources and expertise in local start-up companies.
“Globalization is here, and the only way for the United States to compete is through innovation,” Wright says. “Our goal in the Angel Network is to help these new companies on the front end, mentoring entrepreneurs who may not understand how to commercialize an idea. I tell them that starting a business and running a business are two different things. You’ve got to understand the differences in order to be successful.”
Tracing Malaria’s Epic War with Humanity
By Matt Windsor
Lori Cormier knew she had to hurry. The young anthropologist had already seen several life-threatening malaria infections during her time among the Guaja hunter-gatherers of the Brazilian Amazon. Seizures were not a good sign.
Malaria is caused by a cunning parasite with a complex lifecycle; in fact, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the villains in the Alien movies. Here’s how it works: A female Anopheles mosquito, carrying the parasite Plasmodia in its salivary ducts, bites a human. The parasites move into the person’s bloodstream, where they migrate to liver cells and reproduce. A few days later they emerge in the thousands from each cell and invade nearby red blood cells, where they grow and later burst out again to infect new red blood cells. The process causes high fever, convulsive chills, anemia (not enough red blood cells), and flu-like symptoms, usually 10 days to four weeks after the infection begins. (See “A Vicious Cycle,” below.)
When a five-year-old child was rushed to her hut one morning with seizures, Cormier sprang into action. “I had aspirin, but that doesn’t work fast enough,” she says. “So I ran to the river and soaked a blanket in cold water to try to cool her.” Eventually, the child recovered, but for the rest of her life the fever would threaten to return.
By Matt Windsor | Illustrations by Tim Rocks
There's big money to be made in the computer industry these days. In fact, someone with the right skills and the wrong motives can expect to pull in millions every week by engaging in cybercrime.
Can you stop the bad bugs? Fight back in this video game inspired by the work of UAB researchers
Mega-salaries don’t come without risks, of course—including the increasing likelihood that your efforts will attract the attention of UAB researcher Gary Warner and his dedicated team of caffeine-fueled student analysts. In a lab overlooking the UAB football practice field, Warner’s undergraduate and graduate students are playing a high-stakes game of their own, matching wits with criminal masterminds a world away. The students’ efforts have been recognized with official thank-yous from Facebook and the FBI, and job offers from Microsoft, PayPal, and a who’s who of the current hot tickets in Silicon Valley.
Read on to learn about some of the group’s most notable exploits—and how you can become a digital detective with UAB’s new master’s degree program in computer security.
Kaleidoscope Alumni Win Pulitzer for Tornado Reporting
By Grant Martin
In the newspaper business, every deadline is a crisis.
But as the hours ticked by at the Tuscaloosa News on April 27, 2011, the paper’s staff found itself at the center of one of the worst natural disasters in the state’s history. Working with limited electricity in the wake of a massive tornado that devastated the city and surrounding communities, the News staff provided real-time updates online through Twitter as well as in-depth coverage in the next day’s newspaper. One year later, the paper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.
Shweta Vora Gamble and Anthony Bratina, veterans of UAB’s Kaleidoscope student newspaper who both graduated in 2000, were part of the team of journalists who staffed the newsroom that day and shared in the honor.
“Winning the Pulitzer was bittersweet,” says Gamble, a former editor-in-chief of the Kaleidoscope and a design editor at the News. “The prize announcement came so close to the one-year anniversary of the storm, so it was fresh on all our minds. There was some celebration, but we also were very aware that 52 people lost their lives. When we think back on our roles, most of us just feel that we were doing what we were supposed to be doing—covering the news of the day and getting the information out to people however we could.”