• Department of History offering scholarships to transfer students

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of History is offering two $5,000 scholarships to deserving students who transfer from another college to major in history at UAB. Scholarship applicants should demonstrate academic promise and a commitment to the study of history.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of History is offering two $5,000 scholarships to deserving students who transfer from another college to major in history at UAB. Scholarship applicants should demonstrate academic promise and a commitment to the study of history.

    The Department of History offers a B.A. in History and an M.A. in History. In addition, the department has a general history minor, an innovative media studies minor, an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) program, and an undergraduate public history certificate.

    History students at UAB also get the opportunity to explore public history in Birmingham and across Alabama by engaging with community members who have a stake and interest in the presentation of the past. The department has nurtured strong relationships with various institutions and nonprofit organizations that provide students with hands-on public history experiences. Some of these organizations include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Sloss Furnaces, and the Jefferson County Memorial Project.

    Jonathan Wiesen, Ph.D., chair of the Department of History, hopes these new scholarships will attract students to UAB so they can experience all the university has to offer.

    “These scholarships will help students explore their passion for history in a new college setting,” said Wiesen. “We want to make the transition to UAB affordable, and we are eager to support these great history majors however we can. The department’s strengths include the history of the contemporary U.S., the World War II era, early modern Europe, east Asia, the ancient world, and public history.”

    Applicants should send a college transcript and a one-page description explaining why they are interested in studying history and what some of their career aspirations are to Walter Ward, Ph.D., wdward@uab.edu. The deadline to receive these documents is Friday, April 7, 2023, for the summer term.

  • Copes combines criminology and photography

    As a qualitative researcher, Heith Copes, Ph.D., interviews and observes people to learn about and better understand the nuances of their lives and communities. He first developed an interest in this form of research during his time as a graduate student at the University of Tennessee.

    Heith Copes, Ph.D.As a qualitative researcher, Heith Copes, Ph.D., interviews and observes people to learn about and better understand the nuances of their lives and communities. He first developed an interest in this form of research during his time as a graduate student at the University of Tennessee.

    “Tennessee had a sociology/criminology program, so I went there,” said Copes a professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Department of Criminal Justice. “I worked with a Neal Shover. He was one of the big qualitative criminologists at the time. So that… got me interested in doing qualitative research.”

    At first, Copes’ thesis focused on mapping auto theft. Given his proximity to Shover, he pivoted away from studying the broader trends related to theft and, instead, worked to better understanding the people who were committing the acts.

    “For my dissertation, I started interviewing people who steal cars,” said Copes. “This methodology is more of how I see the world as compared to quantitative research. I’ve stuck with qualitative [research] since then.”

    Copes finished his Ph.D. in 2001 and, soon after, accepted a faculty position in the J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Department of Criminal Justice (which was known as the “Department of Justice Sciences” at the time). When he arrived at UAB, Copes continued to conduct qualitative research with a focus on decision making among those who commit crime. He notes that his approach shifted after an eye-opening interview with a person who had stolen a car.

    The topic of drug use emerged during the conversation, and the interviewee was quick to let Copes know that there are important distinctions and nuances embedded in the language others use to describe their lives and experiences.

    “Insiders make important distinctions among themselves that outsiders may not recognize at first,” said Copes. “I’m interested in the symbolic boundaries that people make among each other to define themselves in positive ways.”

    Copes carried this question with him as he continued to interview people about their lives and behavior for over a decade, and, by 2015, he decided to explore something new. While editing a book on qualitative criminology, he discovered a chapter on visual criminology. The method felt exciting and different to him — in addition, Copes is a self-described fan of “street photography,” so he saw an opportunity to connect that passion with his work. He decided to channel his excitement into a new research project that combined documentary photography and qualitative criminology (also known as “photo-ethnography”).

    Since Copes is not a photographer, he invited Jared Ragland—a professional photographer and former staff member in the UAB Department of Art and Art History—to work with him on a photo-ethnography focused on people who use methamphetamines.

     “It’s a method that’s not very common in criminology... I would do interviews, and Jared would take documentary photography,” said Copes. “When we started, the goal [was] to act as a counter-visual and a counter-narrative to what most people think of people who use meth — [we want] to show the humanity and complexity and nuance of these people’s lives,” said Copes.

    Throughout their partnership, Copes and Ragland have been intentional about reflecting on and amending their approach to photo-ethnography, ensuring that participants have voice and agency in the research. With that in mind, Copes invites the participants to review and comment on the photos and also share their own images.

    “They get to direct the nature of the research in some way,” said Copes. “We don’t want to romanticize them, but we also want to portray them with some humanity. That’s the balance we’re trying to strike.”

    Using the photographs and qualitative data from the project, Copes published the first-ever photo-ethnography in his discipline’s premiere journal, Criminology.

    “People are really interested in the photo-ethnography,” said Copes. “Mainstream criminology is becoming increasingly detached from those who engage in crime and those who are victimized by it. The photographs pull you in. It’s hard to escape them. It reduces the detachment.”

    In addition, Copes published an innovative video (accompanied by an essay) in the Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice and Criminology. Another first in his field.

    And, clearly, his work is making an impact. So much so, that the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences awarded Copes and his colleagues (Jacob Erickson and Andy Hochstetler) “Paper of the Year” in 2021. They received the award for a paper they published in Justice Quarterly titled, “Meth Cooking as a Job: Identity and Dirty Work.” It was the first qualitative paper to receive the award.

    After completing his project on people who use methamphetamines, Copes shifted the focus of his research. Specifically, he and Ragland have spent the past two years interviewing and photographing people who use peyote in religious ceremonies. Much like his past work, he developed relationships with the participants and created space for them to open up about their lives. He hopes to publish the research in the near future.

    Moving forward, Copes plans to continue iterating on his approach to photo-ethnography. He and Ragland are interested in equipping future participants with technical skills and cameras so they can photograph moments in their lives, then, hopefully, display their work in a public setting. For Copes, it’s a way to create opportunities for the participants to further shape the work and the narrative.

    “The bigger method is about giving back to participants, empowering the participants to shape the direction of the research,” said Copes.

  • Learn the history, celebrate the legacy, art and culture

    Black History Month at UAB brings everyone together for explorations of history, language and Gullah culture, and see “Black Is Beautiful,” Will Downing with Maysa, and Ranky Tanky.

  • College of Arts and Sciences announces grant recipients

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences offers faculty a range of awards and grant opportunities to advance their research and scholarship and recognize their achievements.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences offers faculty a range of awards and grant opportunities to advance their research and scholarship and recognize their achievements.

    In 2020, the College announced a new grants program aimed at supporting students’ diversity awareness and building their multicultural competence. Through the program - entitled Building a Multicultural Curriculum - faculty can access grants to develop new courses or revise existing courses. Faculty can use the funds to pay for instructional materials, professional development, student assistants, and salaries. Congratulations to the 2022-2023 grant recipients:

    • Aiqi Liu, Ph.D., Department of History: “Race and Power in U.S-Pacific Relations from 1776 to 1952”
    • Gabe H. Miller, Ph.D., Department of Sociology: “The -Isms and -Phobias: Intersectionality in the Social Sciences”
    • Samiksha Raut, Ph.D., Department of Biology: “Instructional Teaching Practicum BY 488-02A; BY 488- 02B (Honors)”
    • Michelle Wooten, Ph.D., Department of Physics: “Preserving Alabama’s Starry Skies”

    In 2021, the College launched a new grant mechanism -  Mid-Career Pivot Grants - to support tenured faculty seeking to “pivot to a new direction in their research scholarship or creative activity." The individual grants are for a maximum of $10,000 over a two-year period for the disciplinary project proposed by the tenured faculty. After a review conducted by the senior faculty members in CAS, the following three pivot grants were selected for funding for 2022-2023:

    • Aaron Catledge, Ph.D., Department of Physics, “From Super-Hard to High-Entropy:
      A Novel Approach in Materials Development”
    • Stephen Merritt, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, “Social Science Research in Cellular Agriculture”
    • Gregory Mumford, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, “Coring in Lisht’s floodplain to locate the ‘lost’ Middle Kingdom Itj-tawy, Egypt”

    The College organizes monthly innovation forums to focus on some of the world's biggest problems where interdisciplinary innovations could have a significant impact and where UAB has existing strengths/interests.

    In addition to the forums, the College issues an annual call for interdisciplinary team proposals.

    Jeffrey Morris, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biology, was selected for a FY 2023 CAS Interdisciplinary Team Award of $30,000 for his proposal entitled “Alternative antimicrobials and ecology of therapeutic treatment.” This interdisciplinary team award represents a collaboration led by Morris between CAS and the UAB School of Engineering. This interdisciplinary team proposal was selected after an external review of the all the proposals that were submitted to the College in November 2022.

  • UAB secures National Science Foundation grant to help sustain artificial intelligence

     Research from UAB on neuromorphic computing is now being funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

  • UAB’s chapter of SWE attends international women in engineering conference

    Seven UAB students were selected to attend WE22, the world’s largest conference for women in technology and engineering.

  • New exhibition highlights Birmingham people who live with physical disabilities

    Photographer Harper Nichols, a 2022 UAB graduate who focused on her own disability for a photographic series while in school, hopes the exhibition opens conversations.

  • Dieting for the new year? Learn more about unhealthy eating motives and how to break them

    Researchers at UAB help people understand their motives behind overeating palatable food, which can cause weight gain and obesity.

  • UAB student earns highly distinguished Marshall Scholarship to study in the United Kingdom

    Undergraduate student Banks Stamp, a senior from Phenix City, is excited for a “lifetime opportunity” to learn in London.

  • Hear Ukrainian women’s voices in special issue of NELLE literary journal

    In addition to NELLE’s usual annual compilation of diverse, risky, smart writing from women writers, the new edition features a special folio by writers who are Ukrainian, Ukrainian American or who live in Ukraine.

  • Alumni prepare for new careers in public relations

    Two award-winning graduates of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s public relations (PR) program are getting ready to apply their skills and knowledge in the real world.

    Two award-winning graduates of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s public relations (PR) program are getting ready to apply their skills and knowledge in the real world.

    Samuel J. Adams, III and Isabel Chimento—communication studies majors with concentrations in mass communications and specializations in PR—earned their bachelor’s degrees in December 2022. Now, just a few weeks after crossing the commencement stage, they are both starting new careers with companies in Greater Birmingham.

    “I will be working with Etheridge HVAC Company—I’ll be doing their marketing, their advertising, their PR, their general external communications, and their social media,” said Chimento. “It will be me… a one woman show. In the next year, I want to grow in this company.”

    “I actually received an offer for a job… the day before we graduated. That felt so good,” said Adams excitedly. “I got a job with o2ideas [an advertising agency in Birmingham]. I will be an assistant account executive. I really love their organization, and I could tell that we have similar thoughts based on their campaigns from the past. I’m very excited to work with them.”

    Both graduates share a deep appreciation for the PR program and its director, assistant professor Jacquelyn S. Shaia, J.D., Ph.D. According to Adams and Chimento, the program equipped them with everything they need to be successful as they start their careers.

    “The PR program is perfect in the way that it’s laid out. It all makes sense and it all builds,” said Chimento. “[Dr. Shaia] teaches you so much more than PR. She teaches you… about life and about being a good person.”

    “The degree is absolutely amazing,” said Adams. “I like how it’s structured — every course that Dr. Shaia [offers] is a way to fully understand what public relations is all about.”

    For Adams, the journey to the PR program began after he completed four years of service in the U.S. Navy. As he left the military and contemplated his next steps, he considered pursuing a career in electrical engineering but quickly realized the field was not aligned with his passions.

    “I love media, I love creating videos, I love being creative, I love to talk a lot. So, I knew that I had to choose something where… I could be surrounded by the things I love to do,” said Adams.

    With that in mind, Adams started researching communication studies programs and, eventually, found Shaia’s name and contact information. He reached out to her and inquired about the PR program.

    “I called Dr. Shaia… and we had a 45-minute conversation about what public relations [is],” said Adams. “She hit all the right notes with me. Without talking to her, I would not have gone into public relations.”

    Chimento’s path to UAB and the PR program was significantly different. She grew up in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, and after graduating high school, she attended a community college for a year. At the time, Birmingham was not on her radar.

    “I grew up on the beach,” said Chimento. “It was unlike any other place to grow up. It was almost a utopia.” While contemplating her future in Santa Rosa Beach, Chimento learned that her father needed a kidney transplant and would receive care at UAB Hospital. Chimento followed her father to Birmingham and, soon after arriving, fell in the love with the city and explored UAB’s campus for the first time.

    “Ultimately, these people [at UAB] saved my father’s life,” said Chimento, “That’s when I first saw the campus, when I was coming up with my dad for doctor’s visits. And I just thought, ‘This is unlike anything I’ve seen. It’s a college campus… it’s spread out through a diverse, growing downtown environment.’”

    Chimento decided she would enroll at UAB, which prompted her to evaluate prospective majors. Prior to leaving Florida, she supported a local fine jewelry store with its social media campaigns, so she decided communication studies and PR might be a good long-term fit.

    “[While running the store’s social media] I found a passion for helping people turn their visions into creative, physical results. That’s why I thought, ‘Okay, communication, PR, this is what I’m going to do,’” said Chimento.

    While studying PR at UAB, both Chimento and Adams found a supportive community through the UAB chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama/Public Relations Student Society of America (PRCA/PRSSA), a student-led organization open to students across campus who are interested in public relations. Shaia serves as the advisor for UAB PRCA/PRSSA which conducts workshops, hosts networking events and guest speakers, and offers service-based learning in the community. Chimento served as Vice President of Programs for PRCA/PRSSA, and Adams served as Vice President of Membership and Chair of STAR Chapter Awards.

    At the PRCA/PRSSA 2022 Annual Banquet, Adams and Chimento received the Most Outstanding Campaign Award. Both students, along with their fellow classmate Katlynn Mitchell, received the award for an innovative PR campaign they developed for Hand in Paw, a Birmingham-based nonprofit organization that offers animal assisted therapy. The students collaboratively worked on the campaign for several months and leveraged the knowledge and skills they developed throughout their time in the PR program.

    As Chimento reflects on the award, she notes that her relationship with Adams helped drive the work. “We emphasized being friends before being classmates, and I think that’s what made us stand out as a team,” said Chimento.

    Adams—who won the prestigious PR Strategist Award from the Alabama Public Relations Society of America—also acknowledges the ways in which he and Chimento learned to support one another throughout the project. “We took time to recognize our own weaknesses. And, once we did that, we literally took [our] strengths and then put those where each other’s weaknesses were,” said Adams.

    Now, both Adams and Chimento are bringing their award-winning instincts and talents to the workforce, while still fondly reflecting on their time at UAB and with PRCA/PRSSA. “The UAB PR program and PRCA/PRSSA impacted my life in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined,” said Chimento.

    For Shaia, it’s clear that both graduates have bright futures ahead of them.

    "Working with Sam and Isabel has been a joy," said Shaia. "They worked hard in every class, were focused on their goals, and took every opportunity UAB offered them to ensure their education prepared them for success upon graduation. That attention to detail is critical in the public relations field and made both of them the kind of employees an organization wants to hire. I am so proud of these young professionals who will use their skills and strong ethical standards to make our community—and world—a better place."

  • UAB’s master’s in cybersecurity named best in the country by Fortune

    UAB’s cybersecurity program prepares graduates for careers in the high-demand field.

  • Jan. 22, UAB Piano Series presents Clayton Stephenson

    In 2022, American pianist Clayton Stephenson became the first Black finalist at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

  • Bill adds $76 million in federal funding to UAB biomedical research facility

    A new Biomedical Research and Psychology Building — made possible by a $76 million federal appropriation — received stage 1 approval from the UA System Board of Trustees.

  • Ensemble concerts, solo recitals offered in 2023 by UAB Department of Music

    On the schedule are pianists Clayton Stephenson and Rachel Breen, guest artists, plus a variety of faculty recitals featuring art songs, chamber works and more.

  • UAB cancer site tops 1 million visits by cancer experts seeking precision medicine treatments

    The UALCAN data-mining portal at UAB has been used by cancer clinicians and researchers from more than 100 countries in their search for the molecular basis of cancer.

  • First intentional virtual study abroad program designed for UAB students; gives them Ireland experience at home

    UAB partners with the Institute of Study Abroad Ireland to create an intentional virtual study abroad experience for students in Alabama.

  • Four easy steps to be a safer pedestrian

    Downtown Birmingham has a pedestrian culture, and therefore, following safety tips such as using the sidewalks and limiting distractions is of utmost importance.

  • See selected student works of art at the 47th Annual Juried Student Exhibition

    Works by art students chosen by guest juror and artist Donté K. Hayes will be on exhibition at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts from Jan. 13-March 25, 2023.


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