UAB Magazine Online Archive
UAB Researcher Advances Security on Computing’s Frontier
By Matt Windsor
Imagine you are a security guard, charged with protecting a diamond necklace. Unfortunately, the necklace has been broken into a few million pieces—and they’re scattered from Seattle to Singapore and everywhere in between.
That’s the essence of the problem facing UAB computer security expert Ragib Hasan, Ph.D. Hasan is searching for ways to safeguard the far-flung packets of data created when companies entrust their information to “the cloud.” He is also preparing students for a new wave of technological change by getting them up to speed on one of the hottest topics in tech.
Apple and Google have invested heavily in cloud computing in recent years, offering users the chance to store their music and other files on computer servers rather than on their personal machines. The advantage: instant access to songs, documents, and other data from any device, whether it’s a cell phone, the office laptop, or a home computer.
SImulated Patients Help Med Students Learn People Skills
By Matt Windsor
Bill Moates is sick for a reason. Several times a year, he adopts an alias, carefully rehearses his symptoms, and tries to convince medical students that there is something wrong with him. Tonight, as the students start to visit his exam room, he has a story to tell.
Moates isn’t looking to score some medication or a free night in the hospital. In fact, he’s fulfilling an essential role in the doctor-training enterprise at the UAB School of Medicine. He is a member of the public enacting the part of a standardized patient, commonly known as an SP, in order to help medical students learn the physical and emotional skills they’ll need to care for real patients.
Story continues after video
On this August evening, Moates is preparing for a five-hour shift as UAB senior medical students take their Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE). “I’m having a ball,” he says with a grin. The medical students are not so relaxed. A passing grade on the OSCE is required for graduation, and the tension on the third floor of Volker Hall is palpable.
While the rest of the building is given over to lecture halls, research labs, and offices, the third floor looks a lot like a private medical practice—with some special features. There are 20 exam rooms on the floor, branching off two long corridors. Outside each room is a computer terminal and a chair, and sitting in the chairs are 20 medical students, staring straight ahead with expressions of nervous concentration.
A voice comes over the loudspeakers: “Please enter your rooms now.” In unison, the students stand up, knock on the closed doors of their exam rooms, and get to work.
UAB’s Newest Sport Brings the Beach to Birmingham
By Grant Martin
Even though Spring Break was still a few weeks away, one group of UAB student-athletes was already hitting the beach this February. No road trip was required, however, for the members of UAB’s first sand volleyball team—their “beach” of choice is a brand-new three-court facility adjacent to the Blazer soccer stadium.
UAB has long been home to a successful women’s indoor volleyball team, but head coach Hal Messersmith says fans at the Blazers' home matches this year are in for a whole new experience. “It’s a completely different game when you take it outside,” says Messersmith, who has spent the past six seasons inside Bartow Arena as the Blazers’ assistant volleyball coach. “The weather alone is a big factor, since you’re having to adjust to wind and temperature changes, and then there are the differences in the game itself; sand volleyball has a whole different dynamic.”
The NCAA announced it was designating sand volleyball as an “emerging sport” at roughly the same time that UAB began looking for women’s sports to replace its synchronized swimming program. (The emerging sport designation identifies new athletic opportunities for female athletes.) The university added bowling as a fall sport in 2011, with sand volleyball making its debut in spring 2012. But unlike the bowling program—which required the university to find a coach and assemble a team—the sand volleyball staff and players were on hand almost from the outset. In addition to being the assistant volleyball coach, Messersmith is the husband of UAB head volleyball coach Kerry Messersmith. Together, the two have led the Blazers to more than 130 wins in six seasons, having won 20 or more games in four of those seasons, including a 23-9 record in 2011.
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UAB Language Professor Teaches Air Force Cadets
By Matt Windsor
UAB foreign languages professor Sheri Spaine Long, Ph.D., is no stranger to culture shock. For two decades, she has introduced UAB students to the wonders of Europe and Latin America on Study Away excursions. But when she took a post as a distinguished visiting professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy in fall 2011, Long had to learn a whole new way to communicate.
“I’m on my own Study Away program—in the military,” Long says. “I’m still teaching Spanish, just as I was at UAB, but things are very different here.” For one thing, Long, who lives on the vast Air Force base on which the Academy’s campus is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has to pass through two checkpoints to get from her house to her classroom. And she knows that each lecture will bring her students to their feet.
“They don’t have to salute me because I’m a civilian,” Long says. “But when I walk in, all of my students stand at attention and say, in Spanish, ‘All present and ready to learn.’ They do that for all their classes. It’s a great way to break with whatever they’ve been doing and reminds them why they’re in the class in the first place.”
Trained to Teach
Long heard about the visiting professorship positions from a colleague. Faculty members invited to the program must have a national reputation in their field of study; Long’s role as editor of the academic journal Hispania and her leadership on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese made her a perfect fit. She was intrigued by the chance to build new research partnerships—and explore a completely different culture.