UAB Magazine Online Features
From UAB Student to Toy Engineer
By Caperton Gillett
Wendy Sudsinsunthorn gets paid to play. The 2007 UAB School of Engineering alumna and native of Pell City, Alabama, has applied her creative and technical skills as an intern with Harley-Davidson and in a research and development job with Birmingham-based Summit Toys. Now she has moved to the big time—and the big city—with a position in the Thomas & Friends division of Fisher-Price toys in New York City, where she works with the design, marketing, and engineering groups to manage toy projects “from concept phase to first shipment.”
You’ve worked with Harleys. You’ve built toys. And now you’re living in New York and hanging out with Thomas the Tank Engine. Question: Awesome job, or awesomest job ever?
Student Caregivers Help Underserved Patients
By Meghan Davis
UAB School of Medicine, she was intrigued by the opportunities students had to work in the state-of-the-art facilities at UAB Hospital and The Kirklin Clinic. But what attracted her most was the chance to work in a far less well-equipped building a few miles east of campus.When Marielle Baldwin was interviewing for a place at the
Baldwin previously served in AmeriCorps in Colorado, working as a health educator at a pediatric primary care clinic, which sparked an interest in primary care and in the larger issues of health care access and affordability. When she found out about Equal Access Birmingham (EAB), a student-run volunteer organization at the UAB School of Medicine, she was eager to get involved.
“It was important to choose a medical school where I could not only learn to become a physician but also interact with my community and take a public health approach,” says Baldwin, now a second-year student and EAB president.
Now in its seventh year, EAB has steadily added members, expanded its services to reach more local communities, and increased its fund-raising. By the end of the summer, the group plans to be able to open a free student-run clinic of its own. From its inception, EAB has planned a sustainable, freestanding clinic to ease the burden on the city’s emergency services and clinics and offer students a chance to help their community, says Baldwin.
UAB Researcher Tests the Limits of Distracted Driving
By Matt Windsor
If you are reading this story behind the wheel, do the rest of us a favor and put down the smartphone.
While texting, mobile browsing, and push e-mail have been a boon for chatty teens and globetrotting executives, they are just about the worst thing that has ever happened to the American roadway, says Despina Stavrinos, Ph.D., an expert on distracted driving and director of UAB’s Translational Research for Injury Prevention Laboratory, or TRIP Lab. When the information superhighway meets the real thing, wrecks are bound to occur.
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Can a UAB Magazine editor—and serious multitasker—pass the distracted-driving challenge? Find out in this video.
“Over half a million drivers are injured each year due to distracted driving, and more than 6,000 people die from collisions caused by cell phone-related distractions,” says Stavrinos.
You don’t need a cell phone to practice distracted driving. Old standbys like tuning the radio or applying makeup will also take your eyes off the road. In fact, distraction is probably as old as assisted locomotion. Humans are naturally attracted by novel stimuli and bored with repetition, so we all have a tendency to take our minds off what we are doing when we’re moving around—whether it’s by horse-drawn buggy or SUV.
But you have much more room for error behind the reins of a horse than behind the wheel of a Hummer pushing 80 on an urban interstate. The range of distractions open to drivers these days is wider than ever, too—with cell phones leading the way. “Texting is particularly dangerous because it involves all three categories of distraction: You have to take your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, and your mind off the road as well,” Stavrinos says.
Mock Trial Team Faces Tough Cases and Competition
By Caperton Gillett
The prosecutor stalks before the judge’s bench, his opening statement thrumming with a quiet intensity. His delivery full of gravity but lacking in melodrama, he presents the case at hand: a young woman accused of killing a friend in a drunk-driving incident. The defendant sits across the room next to her three attorneys, unexpectedly unruffled for a woman facing time in prison (and somewhat underdressed for a day in court).
Luckily, casual attire notwithstanding, the defendant’s freedom remains unthreatened, and her friend is safe and sound—and fictional. The entire setup, from faux judge to pretend witnesses, is a practice round—a “scrimmage”—for UAB’s mock trial team. In April 2012, the team put in a strong showing at the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) national championships in Minnesota, earning Outstanding Trial Team Honorable Mention in the Hon. Edward Toussaint, Jr., Division and All-American honors for team members Valencia Jackson (witness category) and captain Grady Lowman (attorney category). (See a video of the team’s practice below and learn more about their performance at the national championship here.)
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Body of Evidence
Mock trial is simply “addictive,” says team co-coach Joseph Dease, himself a UAB mock trial alumnus now in his final year at Cumberland School of Law. “Once you go to that first competition and understand why you’ve put in all the time and effort, you’re hooked.”
The drunk-driving case was provided by the AMTA and will be used by all competing teams throughout the year. Dease has a binder with the relevant materials: affidavits from witnesses and experts, receipts, and even, he says, “crime scene photos.” (Squad captains Grady Lowman, Brian Price, and Kimberly Jeter jump in simultaneously to object: Until the prosecutors have proven that a crime actually has been committed, the photos are merely “incident photos.”)