Research Ambassadors

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Research Ambassadors are a select group of highly accomplished students who have participated extensively in academic research at UAB. Research Ambassadors have been involved in their labs for a minimum of one year and have been chosen to act as representatives and advocates for undergraduate research in their respective fields of interest.
IMG 7503Name: Bliss Chang

Class Standing: Junior

Major(s): Biomedical Engineering, Biology

Minor(s): Chemistry

UAB email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact if you are interested in:

Cell Biology and/or Biomedical Engineering

General Undergraduate Research



I am working in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Sztul in the UAB Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology. Our lab focuses on Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors (GEFs), believed to be central players in the regulation of vesicular cargo trafficking. Our lab utilizes molecular biology techniques such as Western Blots, PCR, pull-down assays, immunofluorescence, and co-immunoprecipitation. The goal of my mentor's lab is to identify pharmacological targets for therapy of complex disease mechanisms, such as diabetes and cancer, that involve defects in secretory and/or trafficking pathway(s). As a student researcher that spends large amounts of time in the lab weekly, I have a good working knowledge of the demands and intricacies of undergraduate research in conjunction with a heavy academic load. I am more than glad to assist any students in need of advice pertaining to research.





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Name: Hylton Molzof

Class Standing: Junior

Major(s): Psychology

Minor(s): Biology

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Neuroscience/ Psychology Research



I am an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Dr. Karen Gamble in UAB's Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology department. My research lab investigates the circadian rhymicity of the body's various organ systems and the specific brain regions that serve to synchronize the body's many internal daily rhythms. The majority of biological processes exhibit a rhythm that naturally oscillates in 24-hour intervals; however, external cues and environmental signals can exert significant changes and effects on this standard pattern. My research project explores the effects of melatonin (an internal biological cue) on the behavioral activity patterns and neuronal spike rates of wild-type and disease-model GIRK2 knock-out mice.







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Name: Jun Yu Jacinta Cai

Class standing: Junior

Major(s): Computer and Information Sciences

Minor(s): Mathematics

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Contact if you are interested in:

Computer Science Research



I work in two research labs, both focused on entirely different fields of computer science. I volunteer as a phish analyst in a computer forensics lab that gathers information on active phishing sites, archives it, and shares it with corporate partners and law enforcement bodies. Currently, I work with both the phish and scam aspects of the lab to develop a web interface using PHP and PostgreSQL for accessing the scam database for emails and queries. In the Security and Privacy in Emerging Computing and Networking Systems (SPIES) lab, computer science is combined with sociology in order to address security issues. My responsibilities include developing various scenarios and performing psychological studies.








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Name: Danielle Keyes

Class standing: Senior

Major(s): Anthropology (BA) and Environmental Health Sciences (MPH)

Minor(s): Biology and Chemistry

UAB email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact if you are interested in:

Public Health research


My research experience covers a broad range of fields. I first became involved in research through a NASA internship called DEVELOP, in which I worked with a team studying the ecology of the Cahaba River using Satellite Imagery and Remote Sensing. This research was published in Earthzine and won 'Best Graphics' at the UAB Expo 2011. I now utilize the skills I learned in that internship in Dr. Sarah Parcak's lab, where we study the impact of smoke pollution on nearby cities by tracking the height, speed and distance smoke travels using NASA's GOES satellites. During the summer of 2012, I also volunteered in UAB's Department of Environmental Health Sciences for Michelle Fanucchi, where we studied the effects of ozone exposure on the fetal lung.








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Name: Ben Graham

Class Standing: Senior

Major(s): Materials Engineering

Minor(s): Chemistry

UAB email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact if you are interested in:

Material Science Research, Engineering



I am working under Dr. Amber Genau as part of the Honors Engineering program. Currently I am working on characterizing two-phase dendrites, a complex microstructure found in metals. Little is known about them, and we hope to gain a better understanding of their structure and formation. Much of my work on this project has consisted of metallography. This includes sample preparation (sectioning, mounting, grinding, and polishing samples) and microscopy.








IMG 7519Name: Pranayraj Kondapally

Class Standing: Junior

Major(s): Biomedical Engineering

Minor(s): Biology, Chemistry

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Nutritional Sciences (for example, diabetes or obesity research)



I am in the Science and Technology Honors Program and currently work in the lab of Dr. Krista Casazza's, who specializes in Dietetics and Nutrition. My research is in the nutritional science field. I am currently working on the evaluating the relationship between obesity and bone mineral density in the pediatric population. Some of my interests in this area include understanding the relationship between bone and muscle and their interactions with adipose tissue, and evaluating the energy expenditure of people in different environments and conditions.










Ethan
Name: Ethan Jacob White

Class Standing: Senior

Major(s): Physics with biophysics concentration

Minor(s): Chemistry, German

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Contact if you are interested in:

Physics Research



I have been working for over a year in the lab of Dr. Aaron Catledge. My project involves the development of a novel bio-sensing technique, primarily taking advantage of molecularly imprinted polymer technology. Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) are tailored to template molecules to create "artificial antibodies"—cavities within the polymer that are complementary to the template molecule in size, shape, and chemical functionality. The MIPs can be deposited using "dip-pen" nanolithography and detected using a variety of fluorescent/spectroscopic techniques. A novel device using this technique would be exciting because for many proteins and biomacromolecules, antibodies for traditional immunoassay detection do not exist or are unstable outside of natural environments. In addition the device would be robust and relatively inexpensive compared to traditional immunoassays.




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Name: Kenneth Gray

Class Standing : Senior

Major(s): Molecular Biology

Minor(s): Chemistry, Spanish

UAB email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Cancer Biology, Neuroimmunology



Since the summer of 2011, I have worked in the lab of Dr. Etty (Tika) Benveniste, Chair of the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology. In the past, my research focused on inflammatory signaling in the context of glioblastoma, the most common and deadly form of malignant glioma. I am currently examining a) the ability of a protein called CK2 to control the signaling of two prominent inflammatory pathways (NF-κB and JAK/STAT3) in breast cancer and b) the therapeutic benefit of CK2 inhibition. My lab's interdisciplinary focus has exposed me to cancer biology, autoimmunity, and glial biology. I was named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar in 2012.








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Name: Yamini Bhat

Class Standing : Junior

Major(s): International Studies

Minor(s): French, Legal Affairs

UAB email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact if you are interested in:

International Studies, Foreign Languages, Study Abroad, Pre-Law



Africa is my area of concentration in international studies. I am currently working on applying for a study abroad program in Senegal where I will be doing research in national identity. I have a great interest in foreign policies and international legal systems. Peace conflicts in the Middle East and countries that are undergoing civil war are also primary interests of mine. Research in this field is different from research in the hard sciences. In order to understand a country and any conflicts it is experiencing, one must understand that country's languages, culture, and history. Rather than working in a lab, you are expected to read articles, watch documentaries, and study in these countries. Understanding a country's conflict in terms of its national identity is my goal while I am studying at UAB. I am more than happy to assist anyone who has any interests in international studies, legal systems, or foreign policy.