• Department of English presents online SPARK Writing Festival, from July 18 to 31

    The annual SPARK Writing Festival offers fiction, nonfiction and poetry workshops for writers of all experience levels and free community events including guest speakers.

  • 2 CAS faculty receive Fulbright-Nehru Scholar awards for work in India

    Social Work’s Colleen Fisher will examine microfinance as a way to alleviate poverty among vulnerable women in low-resource countries, and Art and Art History Associate Professor Cathleen Cummings will study and map temples from the Bhosle dynasty of Nagpur, India.

  • Blazers honored for promoting mental health awareness

    Seven individuals and two registered student organizations were named Mental Health Champions by Student Counseling Services for their efforts during this past year.

  • I am Arts and Sciences: Leigh Willis

    In 1997, Leigh Willis, Ph.D., a rising senior studying sociology at Albion College in Albion, Michigan, encountered a life-changing document. It was an interest form about a graduate program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

    Leigh Willis, Ph.D.In 1997, Leigh Willis, Ph.D., a rising senior studying sociology at Albion College in Albion, Michigan, encountered a life-changing document. It was an interest form about a graduate program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

    "UAB’s Department of Sociology sent the information to my department [at Albion],” said Willis. “I completed the form, and, later that summer, UAB invited me to participate in a 10-week paid internship in Birmingham.”

    Through that program, Willis got the chance to connect with and work alongside faculty and graduate students in the UAB Department of Sociology. He also got the opportunity to participate in an engaged learning experience with the Jefferson County Department of Health.

    “The faculty were nurturing and supportive,” said Willis. “I was interested in patterns of health and illness, and [during the internship] I got the chance to interview people at the Jefferson County Department of Health and collect data.”

    During this experience, his mentors and peers in the department also encouraged him to pursue his Ph.D. at UAB. Willis quickly uncovered his appreciation for the faculty-to-student ratio in the department – he also learned that UAB had one of the few medical sociology graduate programs in the country.

    “I received a fellowship with a stipend from the graduate school and stayed in Birmingham,” said Willis. “I started the graduate program and learned the craft and skills of research. I loved the size of the program, because I had a lot of interaction with the faculty.”

    Willis went on to earn his Master of Arts in Sociology, Master of Public Health, and Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Sociology. During his impressive academic career at UAB, Willis developed many valuable skills, including creative problem solving.

    “We were very well-trained,” said Willis. “We could think big and answer hard and difficult questions for the benefit of mankind.”

    After earning his Ph.D., Willis became an assistant professor of sociology and African American Studies at the University of Georgia. Then, in 2009, he was hired to serve as a Behavioral Scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When he arrived at the CDC, he discovered he had something in common with several of his coworkers.

    “There are several UAB alumni at the CDC,” said Willis. “Many of them studied in the College of Arts and Sciences – specifically, the Department of Sociology.”

    Today, Willis is a behavioral scientist at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. He continues to appreciate the value of engaged learning, so he makes an effort to connect current UAB College of Arts and Sciences students with the CDC through internships and research experiences. He also frequently finds opportunities to visit UAB, so he can connect with students and share stories about the impact of his work. He has one career milestone in particular that he enjoys discussing with students.

    “I was one of the leaders of a team that were finalists for a Health and Human Services Innovates Award,” said Willis. “Projects are submitted from all over HHS and voted on by the general public. Through our project, we created a motion comic to educate people about HIV, because parents said it was needed. We went to HHS headquarters and received recognition for our work from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.”

    A short clip from the motion comic is available online, and, in 2018, the journal Health Communication published two articles on the innovative project.

    Willis continues to make a difference through his work, and he encourages current students and recent alumni to do the same. “Continue to work hard. Continue to gather news skills and sharpen existing skills. Don’t be afraid to try and change the world,” said Willis.

  • UAB grad and filmmaker reaching bigger audiences

    Anissa Latham nurtured her storytelling and filmmaking skills during her time at University of Alabama at Birmingham — now, with new partners and supporters investing in her work, she’s bringing her creative vision to the world.

    Anissa Latham nurtured her storytelling and filmmaking skills during her time at University of Alabama at Birmingham — now, with new partners and supporters investing in her work, she’s bringing her creative vision to the world.

    Latham earned a B.A. in African American Studies and a B.A. in Cultural Digital Storytelling (an individually designed major) from UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2017. As an undergraduate student, Latham found many opportunities to write and share stories across campus and the community. She served as a staff writer for Kaleidoscope — UAB's student-run digital news outlet — and, during her time as an intern and fellow with UAB Digital Media, she wrote content and managed social media for the African American Studies program, giving her a chance to further connect with the program and its director, Kay Morgan, Ph.D.

    Recently, Latham reconnected with Dr. Morgan for a conversation on Juneteenth with UAB School of Medicine Dean Selwyn Vickers, M.D., for his podcast, “The Checkup.” The episode will air on June 18, 2021 and will be available here.

    June will be an exciting month for Latham. She will also premiere her new film “Missing Magic” at the American Film Institute (AFI) DOCS Film Festival, which will take place the week of June 22-27. She directed and co-produced — along with UAB alumna Kelsey Harrison — the film which will be included in the festival’s Spotlight on the Hindsight Project series. "Missing Magic" will be screening free throughout the duration of the AFI DOCS Film Festival, and ticket reservations are available here.

    When asked to summarize the film, Latham offered the following description: “As uprisings spread across the country, a young poet in Birmingham, Alabama, becomes involved in local protests against decades of police brutality. As he tries to reconcile the city’s modern image as a diverse and welcoming metropolis with its violent and complex civil rights history, he suddenly becomes a part of the story when he’s arrested at a demonstration.”

    "Missing Magic'' was one of 77 films selected by the AFI for the 2021 AFI DOCS Film Festival. Latham received support for the film from the Hindsight Project, an initiative that supports Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) filmmakers living in the American South and U.S. Territories. Through the Hindsight Project, six filmmakers — including Latham — received production support from Firelight Media, the Center for Asian American Media, and Reel South.

    Reel South — a documentary series reckoning with the South’s past, present, and future — will also premiere all six Hindsight Project films on its respective public media platforms. “Missing Magic” will be featured on Alabama Public Television (APT).

    Along with support from the Hindsight Project and APT, Latham also received mentorship from celebrated filmmaker and producer Daphne McWilliams.

    Latham lends her talents to other outlets and platforms too. She edits and produces content for Meredith Corporation, creating video content for AllRecipes, Cooking Light, and Southern Living. And she’s a video producer for Red Clay Media, generating content for the "It's a Southern Thing" brand. One of her recent works for “It’s a Southern Thing” connects back to her recent conversation with Dr. Morgan — it’s entitled, Juneteenth: America has Two Independence Day.

  • Judd: Alabama does not have high enough immunity to eradicate SARS-CoV-2

    Immunity levels are keeping state case levels manageable for now, but the current vaccination rate will not end COVID and likely will lead to continued outbreaks.

  • UAB laser physicist to chair the 2021 Advanced Solid State Laser Congress

    Sergey Mirov, Ph.D., lead researcher in developing and investigating tunable lasers, will be the general chair for the Optical Society’s Advanced Solid State Laser Congress.

  • I am Arts and Sciences: Jolie Thevenot

    International studies alumna Jolie Thevenot is the executive director of the Japan-America Society of Alabama.

    Like many of her fellow students, Jolie Thevenot fulfilled a curriculum requirement to study a language during her freshman year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. For Thevenot, the experience transcended a curriculum requirement and changed both her life and career trajectory.

    "I'd been interested in Japanese pop culture like anime and manga in high school, so when I was prompted to study a language at UAB, I thought I would just take Japanese 101-102 to enhance my media consumption," she divulged.

    But, as she began studying the language, Thevenot developed meaningful relationships with her professors in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

    "[The professors] showcased the Japanese culture more so than just the language. It made me really excited to study and use it more as a tool and an avenue to communicate than just a class."

    As a student, Thevenot had many interests and often changed her major. She eventually landed in the International Studies program due to its interdisciplinary nature. That degree program, paired with a minor in Japanese, allowed her to explore courses in sociology, history, foreign cultures, political science, and economics.

    She further cemented her interest in Japanese culture through two study abroad opportunities.

    First, Thevenot was selected for a two-week Birmingham's Sister Cities exchange program in Hitachi, Japan the summer after her freshman year. "That wasn't long enough for me, so I wanted to go back and study [in Japan]." Through UAB Study Abroad, Thevenot participated as an exchange student at Nihon University in Tokyo for her junior year.

    When she returned to UAB for her senior year, Thevenot was selected for an internship with the Japan-America Society of Alabama. During her internship, the executive director left the organization, which allowed Thevenot to lean into a role outside of typical intern duties. She worked closely with board members, helped organize events, and learned how to run the organization. Those experiences gave her the confidence to apply for the executive director role when she graduated in 2017—a position she continues to hold today.

    Founded in 1989, the Japan-America Society of Alabama (JASA) is a private nonprofit organization committed to fostering friendship and understanding between Japan and the U.S. As the Executive Director of JASA, Thevenot is focused on community engagement and outreach, a value she says she learned at UAB by taking advantage of the cultural engagement opportunities and events offered across the university.

    After her first year as Executive Director at JASA, Thevenot was named a Next Generation Fellow by the American Friends of the International House of Japan. The Next Generation Fellows Program supports promising young American leaders in the U.S.-Japan relationship.

    Thevenot says UAB gave her the skillset to think critically about the world around her and consider everything from different angles and perspectives. Her interdisciplinary degree, in particular, inspired her to be open to many opportunities. "The international studies field is so broad that it allowed for different connections with different fields of study... [UAB] gave me the confidence in taking something I don't understand and knowing who to reach out to and what questions to ask," she explained.

    Her advice for current students? Use your time at UAB to get comfortable asking questions and take advantage of UAB's events and opportunities. "You never know when one Wednesday night event will completely change your perspective or get you really excited about something you never knew was possible. There are opportunities like that everywhere," said Thevenot.

    Learn about the international studies major at UAB and the minor in Japanese.

  • Journey to attorney: Pre-law summer camp for high school students

    High school students will experience intense mock courtroom trials in preparation for pre-law studies and law school.

  • UAB professor’s new book explores bioethical dilemmas posed by COVID-19

    In his latest book, “Pandemic Bioethics,” philosophy professor Greg Pence, Ph.D., examines allocation of scarce medical resources, immunity passports, vaccines, discrimination and more. It is available as an e-book now and will be in print June 18.

  • Recent UAB graduate Veronica Mixon has a passion for mental health advocacy

    Pursuing a double major requires focus, effort and passion. Add a global pandemic to the situation, and the experience becomes even more complex.

  • Preparing a new workforce to care for patients with cardiac implants

    Patients with cardiac implantable electronic devices are at risk for complications when undergoing heart surgery. UAB’s multi-disciplinary team is creating a platform to train anesthesiologists to help.

  • Record number of UAB students selected for prestigious Gilman Scholarship

    UAB has set a new institutional record for Gilman Scholarship recipients and has the most students accepted into the program in the state in this application cycle.

  • UAB Biology launches graduate-students-in-residence program with McWane Science Center

    The McWane Science Center and UAB are partnering to provide students a unique research opportunity at World of Water Aquarium.

  • Translating with the future in mind

    During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D., professor of Spanish in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, received an unexpected invitation.

    Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D.During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D., professor of Spanish in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, received an unexpected invitation.

    At the time, public health experts and campus communicators across UAB were working swiftly to share information about the emerging pandemic with faculty, students, staff, and the community. The effort — now known as UAB United — was instrumental in raising awareness of the pandemic and prompting people across UAB and beyond to take measures to limit risk and exposure to the virus. That said, the team behind the campaign recognized one substantial gap in its communications assets — everything was in English.

    Sánchez-López is an avid proponent of making Birmingham a more equitable and inclusive community for Spanish-speaking residents. So, when UAB reached out and asked for her assistance in translating the COVID-19 messages for those residents, she did not hesitate to offer her expertise and support. She, along with her colleague María Antonia Anderson de la Torre, Ph.D., translated the website content and signage in a relatively short period of time and learned a lot along the way.

    Through this experience, Sánchez-López was inspired to take a broader, systems level view of the issue presented by the UAB United campaign. As she contemplated future translation projects, she looked to her service learning courses (FLL 333 – Foreign Language Service Learning and SPA 485 – Spanish for Leadership in the Workplace) in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Historically, the courses included significant capstone projects where students worked alongside nonprofit organizatiosn to address a challenge or opportunity — clearly, there was a need to reimagine the capstone component of the courses during the pandemic.

    "I knew students could not be in the community due to COVID-19," said Sánchez-López. "I decided to ask my students to help nonprofits that serve the Latinx community and translate their website content, therefore addressing the disparity in our linguistic landscape."

    Emma Kate Sellers was one of the students in Sánchez-López's Foreign Language Service Learning class and is also pursuing her Spanish for Specific Purposes Certificate. For her capstone, she translated content for the 1917 Clinic at UAB, the largest HIV health care unit in Alabama and one of the country’s leading HIV clinics. Sánchez-López encouraged Sellers to work with the 1917 Clinic because she knew the institution aligned with Sellers's interests and passions. Her project was entitled, "Improving Access to HIV Care for Spanish-Speakers at UAB's 1917 Clinic," which she presented at the 2021 UAB Expo and garnered her the first place award in the service learning category.

    "Service-learning allows students to apply the content we learn in the classroom to real-life situations, which is what I was able to do by working with the 1917 Clinic to translate their website," said Sellers. "In class, we covered the importance of translation and interpretation in making healthcare more accessible to non-English speakers, which I was able to apply through my service-learning project."

    Other students in the Spanish for Leadership class partnered with nonprofit organizations outside of UAB, including the Coosa Riverkeeper, Cahaba Valley Health Care, and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

    For each student, Sánchez-López aimed to illuminate potential career pathways.

    Through the capstone projects, some students, including Sellers, actually discovered they do not wish to pursue careers in translation, which, according to Sánchez-López, is a valuable insight to uncover before graduating and entering the workforce.

    "While I do not want to be a translator in the future, this course did solidify my passion for health equity and collaborating with community partners, and I am grateful that myself, the clinic, and patients all benefitted from this partnership," said Sellers.

    According to Sánchez-López, these first-ever website translation projects deepened relationships with community partners and catalyzed long-term change for Spanish-speaking residents in Birmingham and the community’s linguistic landscape. "It's a sustainable approach," said Sánchez-López.

    Visit the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures website to learn more about the Spanish for Specific Purposes Certificate.

  • UAB announces new Master of Arts degree in cultural heritage studies

    The only graduate program of its kind in the state, the degree provides students with the theoretical background and practical skills necessary to enter a career in the emerging fields of cultural heritage practice, policy and management.

  • UAB students gain opportunity to study in Asia

    Students Arshnoor Grewal and Dallas Blackwell will receive Freeman Awards for Study in Asia.

  • Kudos to UAB’s “20 by 25” renewable energy plan

    Jim McClintock, Ph.D., shares his support for the UAB Sustainability Office’s energy plan, “20 by 25,” which aims to convert 20 percent of UAB’s electrical energy to renewable energy by 2025.

  • Rosianna Gray aims to reach students early in life

    If you ask Rosianna Gray, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to describe her experience at UAB over the past four years, she lights up quickly.

    Rosianna Gray, Ph.D.If you ask Rosianna Gray, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to describe her experience at UAB over the past four years, she lights up quickly.

    “Beyond my expectations,” said Gray.

    In a way, the word “expectations” defines so much about Gray and her approach to teaching, research, and community engagement. On the first day of every class she teaches at UAB, she displays a slide to all of her students that says, “Every Student Reading This Slide Is Smart.” According to Gray, it’s a message that some students might be hearing for the first time.

    “That statement is not up for debate,” said Gray. “Now, learning behavior is debatable, though.” 

    Gray’s vision for her students is informed by years of research on metacognition. “It’s teaching the idea of the process of thinking about any concept,” said Gray. For Gray, metacognition is something students can embed into their everyday behavior. 

    And she’s not limiting her metacognition strategies and pedagogy to college students, either. Gray visits high schools across the state to promote STEM disciplines, do science with students, and discuss the transition to college – especially for first-generation college students. She emphasizes exposure and encourages students to adopt a more inclusive and diverse view of scientists. 

    “I want to be more visible,” said Gray.

    Although much of her focus has been engaging high school juniors and seniors, she is now visiting elementary schools and connecting with younger students. “I started asking myself, ‘How can I reach students before they reach me?” said Gray. 

    While participating in a career day at an elementary school, Gray felt a slight tug on her lab coat. She looked down and saw a young girl.

    “The student asked, ‘You’re a scientist?’” said Gray. “I told her, ‘Yes.’ The little girl continued to look at me and she said, ‘But you’re a girl. And you’re black.’ I went to my car and cried for 30 minutes,” said Gray.

    Powerful moments like this inspired Gray to reflect on her experiences and the various barriers she faced throughout her academic journey, which is why she is so passionate about connecting with students from elementary, middle, and high schools and standing alongside them as they navigate similar challenges. Along with her research and teaching, Gray has also co-founded a nonprofit organization called Our Firm Foundation, which provides courses on social emotional learning (SEL), STEM, and career mentoring to families in Birmingham City Schools.

    KaRita Sullen, an educational technology instructor at Oxmoor Valley Elementary School, has hosted Gray in her classroom and seen the impact of her work first-hand. “Dr. Gray was always the first to commit to presenting fun, hands-on, educational activities for our students during our STEAM celebrations,” said Sullen. “She was eager to come out and always made sure she had enough supplies and materials for every student. Both years, her activities were a hit!”

    Moving forward, Gray will continue to engage with schools across Alabama, and, in the near future, she aims to publish an article on the impact and outcomes of her metacognition strategies. “My pedagogy has an interesting name,” said Gray. “It’s called ‘Grandma’s Recipe for Accountable Learning and Time Management.’”

  • UAB professor receives research grant for HIV suppression study

    Scott Batey received his second NIH R01 award in the past six months — a five-year, $2.98 million award that will help examine the social support networks of young Black men living with HIV.


Can't find a news story?

Use the search box below to search for the story.