• UAB Goldwater Scholars announced for 2023

    The scholarship recognizes outstanding natural sciences, engineering and mathematics students by awarding up to $7,500 for academic expenses.

  • Six UAB students awarded NASA Alabama Space Grant Consortium scholarships

    Six University of Alabama at Birmingham students have been awarded NASA Alabama Space Grant Consortium scholarships.

  • Panion’s work for The World Games 2022 lands 19 wins in 44th annual Telly Awards

    Music from The World Games 2022, including the theme song “Hope of Alabama” and other orchestral works written, arranged and produced by UAB University Professor of Music Henry Panion III, Ph.D., was recognized for excellence in video and television.

  • Four elements to swim safety this summer

    Attention, proximity, continuity and competency are four key ways to keep everyone safe in the water this summer.

  • Get a sneak peek inside the new South Science and East Science halls

    Classes will begin this fall in the new $76 million, 138,842-square-foot South Science Hall and East Science Hall facilities, part of the Science and Engineering Complex. Take a look through the new buildings, which house faculty and staff offices, classrooms, collaboration rooms and labs.

  • UAB students awarded prestigious Gilman International and Freeman-ASIA scholarships to study abroad

    Six students have been named Gilman Scholars and two students received Freeman-Asia scholarships to study in Europe and Asia.

  • Eat your veggies! UAB expert explains the science behind how cruciferous vegetables can help prevent cancer

    Learn a way to help prevent cancer with these healthy tips from a UAB expert.

  • Anthropology student earns internship with Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

    This summer, UAB Student Nick Long will complete an internship with the center’s archaeological laboratory, which hosts one the largest archaeological databases in the United States.

  • Magic City Data Collective a model for “City as Classroom” experiences

    On April 14, 2023, 16 University of Alabama at Birmingham students took the stage at the Alumni Auditorium in the Hill Student Center for the second annual Magic City Data Collective (MCDC) Demo Day.

    From left to right: Chattada (Pi ) Viriyaphap, Bryce Hampton, Emma Bocanegra (front), Dallas Blackwell, Philip Hyde, Laquandria Leatherwood, David Hedrick (project data guide, ThinkData Solutions Inc.), and Lauren Rast. Photo credit: ThinkData Solutions, Inc.On April 14, 2023, 16 University of Alabama at Birmingham students took the stage at the Alumni Auditorium in the Hill Student Center for the second annual Magic City Data Collective (MCDC) Demo Day. During the event, the UAB students—along with students from the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Samford University, and Lawson State Community College—presented data analysis projects to an audience that included faculty members, students, community partners, and entrepreneurs.

    For Philip Hyde, a senior studying computational physics, the experience illuminated the value of conducting work that might lead to real outcomes and change. “I found the MCDC experience to be profoundly beneficial. It gave me the opportunity to expand upon both my personal and professional development through the interaction with a real company and real data. Not only that, but the knowledge that the final product will be used for real world purposes also helped create a sense of reward and fulfillment upon completion,” said Hyde.

    The MCDC launched in the summer of 2021 and is a public-private partnership between UAB, the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), and other local stakeholders. Through MCDC, undergraduate and graduate students take on paid projects with local employers in business, tech, education, and philanthropy to work on real-world projects that require them to use their data analysis skills. Lauren Rast, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Physics, serves as the project director and principal investigator (PI) for the initiative, which receives grant funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (part of the U.S. Department of Commerce). She views the MCDC as a multi-faceted experience through which students gain skills and a better understanding of how their work can impact the community.

    “I think it’s important when we teach our students data analysis, data science, and any data-driven discipline that they also get the side of data that is civic, and that they’re making a contribution to the public space,” said Rast. “That seemed to be the thing that impacted the students the most.”

    The April Demo Day featured the second official cohort for the MCDC. MCDC is supported by several businesses and organizations in Birmingham, including the Birmingham Business Alliance, Landing, Prosper, and ThinkData Solutions, Inc. The second cohort received both sponsorship and data from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), a nonprofit organization that works to inform and improve the decision making of state and local leaders in Alabama through objective research and analysis. PARCA provided the students with a range of data sets all focused on a common issue: education in Alabama.

    “It’s one thing to read about and study the generalities from textbooks and journal articles, but it is an entirely different experience to dig into the nitty-gritty of real-world observations, where messy, contrary data points humble one’s confidence about the precision of policy-making assumptions,” said Joe Adams, Ph.D., research coordinator for PARCA. “It’s always better to examine outcome data to see how well our expectations match reality. With the understanding that comes with that experience, wiser policies can be crafted, grounded in a better understanding of reality. Data analysis can change policy conversations.”

    “I think it became very clear where the needs are in public education in the state of Alabama… and that’s something they can take with them as future leaders,” said Rast.

    The students in this MCDC cohort formed four teams to analyze the data, and they pursued the following projects: School Systems Budgets and School Performance; Failing School Performance, School Budgets, and County Population Demographics; School System Budget Tool; and School Performance Comparison Tool. Within each team, students brought varied perspectives, experiences, and disciplinary interests, ranging from computational physics to economics to world languages. For Rast, it is important to make sure the program is inclusive and welcoming to a diverse group of students.

    “The people who work in STEM and work in data really shape our future,” said Rast. “It’s very important that when students are doing data science that they have diverse perspectives, so that as the world is shaped it is shaped by a wide variety of people. Diverse problem solvers are better problem solvers.”

    After two successful cohorts, Rast is looking to the future with expanded goals in mind. Specifically, she hopes to reach more students with hands-on data analysis projects through a new course in the Blazer Core (titled “Community Data Research”) and further build out data infrastructure for the city of Birmingham. In addition, she aims to continue aligning the MCDC project with the labor force needs of the community and prepare her students for the opportunities and challenges presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And, given the experience of her most recent group of students, her approach appears to be working.

    “My experience with the MCDC and PARCA has demonstrated to me the influential role of data in shaping and enhancing public education in Alabama,” said Dallas Blackwell, a public health major who participated in the second cohort of MCDC. “Through data analysis, I witnessed the potential for impactful change and gained invaluable skills in collaboration and problem-solving as well as analysis tools like Tableau and Microsoft Power BI. This experience has enriched my career prospects and instilled a sense of purpose and passion for data-driven solutions in me."

  • Four from UAB awarded prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards

    The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants to study, teach and conduct research in more than 160 countries.

  • $8 million awarded to UAB to establish a Stewardship Science Academic Alliances Center of Excellence under the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Agency

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham has been awarded $8 million from the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Agency.

  • UAB-developed app keeps pedestrians safe and is cost-effective, study shows

    New study indicates that StreetBit has the potential to save millions of dollars annually and reduce pedestrian injuries by implementing such programs on a larger scale.

  • Baggiano made the most of UAB’s award-winning PR program

    Over the past two years, Dylan Baggiano earned some of the most prestigious public relations awards in the state of Alabama. But, surprisingly, his college career did not begin in communications.

    Over the past two years, Dylan Baggiano earned some of the most prestigious public relations awards in the state of Alabama. But, surprisingly, his college career did not begin in communications.


    Dr. Jacquelyn Shaia and Dylan Baggiano. Instead, while growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, Baggiano dreamed of a career in medicine. He attended high school at St. James School and considered himself a “science-oriented” student. So, when it came time to research his college options, he looked for institutions with renowned medical programs, leading him to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

    He enrolled at UAB in 2017 and declared a major in biology, and, in his second year, he secured a rigorous summer internship in a faculty member’s research lab. It was through this experience that Baggiano began to reevaluate his skills and interests, prompting him to seek new academic opportunities at UAB.

    “[During the internship] we started a lab journal review series,” said Baggiano. “The other undergraduate [intern] and myself had to review a paper and present what was going on in that particular experiment and create a presentation on it. That’s when I started putting my communications skills to use. It made me realize I enjoy presenting, speaking, writing, and teaching.”

    This realization led Baggiano to the Department of Communication Studies. After researching the department’s programs, he decided to change his major to mass media communication studies (and, eventually, selected a concentration in public relations).

    “The storytelling component, the ethical component, and being the key communicator of an organization or group is what attracted me to [PR],” said Baggiano.

    In addition, he found a new mentor through the program: Jacquelyn Shaia, Ph.D., J.D., associate professor and director of the UAB Public Relations program.

    “The mentorship I received from Dr. Shaia is immeasurable,” Baggiano said. “For the skills I developed through working on projects with her and my classmates to better our community, I would not trade for anything. Through working with Dr. Shaia and other professionals in Birmingham, I’ve learned communication is truly a transformative tool that can be used to actualize the world we wish to create.”

    Soon after he declared his new major, COVID-19 emerged, challenging Baggiano and his classmates to find new ways to reach target audiences and network with communications professionals. Despite the challenges, Baggiano still found ways to gets hands-on experience and also take on a leadership role with the Public Relations Council of Alabama/Public Relations Student Society of America (PRCA/PRSSA) at UAB.

    “I really connected with the previous leadership of the [PRCA/PRSSA] chapter,” said Baggiano. “One former student really pushed me to have the confidence in myself and to set out and do what I wanted to do. And for the longest time, I was afraid of taking leadership positions, because I don’t really like to be the center of attention.”

    That fear faded quickly, though. After joining PRCA/PRSSA at UAB, Baggiano became the Vice President for Award Submissions, a role that allowed him to nurture his leadership skills, interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills, and writing skills.

    “I knew that I wanted to improve my writing skills,” said Baggiano. “I was responsible for putting together a concept and theme for comprehensive annual reports… I quickly learned how to write a compelling program summary and really speak to all of the strengths of our chapter.”

    In addition to his responsibilities with PRCA/PRSSA at UAB, Baggiano was excelling in the PR program. According to Shaia, “Working with Dylan over the past several years has been a joy. He took an introductory class to see if this was something he might be interested in, and it was a delight to watch this student discover his true interest and then work as hard as he did to learn everything he could—and perfect his skills—so that he could succeed in a career in that field."

    Baggiano found the “Public Relations Campaigns” course to be particularly useful and engaging. Through the class, students research a community-based organization (generating an audit known as a “backgrounder”), develop a proposal for a campaign, execute a contract with the “client,” then implement the project.

    “I [developed] leadership skills, project management skills, and time management skills,” said Baggiano. “The most impactful class that I had in the program was definitely the ‘Campaigns’ course, because it gave you practical, on-the-job work experience that… provides you the foundation needed to excel in the public relations industry.”

    Through the course, Baggiano worked with Birmingham-based nonprofit Better Basics, an organization that aims to eradicate illiteracy among children in Central Alabama. Baggiano formed and led a team—known as Parma Public Relations (PR)—to support Better Basics, and, together, they proposed a plan to promote and support a community event titled “Blazers Read.” They actively listened to the organization to help them achieve their goals, and, as a result, the work garnered Baggiano and his peers numerous awards from the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA), the Public Relations Society of America (Alabama Chapter), and UAB.

    “I won the PR Strategist Award from PRSA Alabama for the Fall 2022 campaign for Better Basics,” said Baggiano. “The medallions I was awarded from PRCA [Birmingham] were for the work of my team [Parma PR]. We were awarded a medallion award for the campaign as a whole, and then we won a medallion for Blazers Read, for a special event. We also won in the category of media relations.”

    In addition, Parma PR won the Judges’ Best in Show from PRSA Alabama, and PRCA/PRSSA at UAB won Chapter of the Year (from both PRCA and PRSA Alabama) and Outstanding Student Organization from UAB’s Office of Student Leadership and Involvement.

    Along with his responsibilities in the PR program and with PRCA/PRSSA at UAB, Baggiano also participated in two internships. First, he worked as a media intern with UAB’s University Relations team, then he secured a position with American Cast Iron Pipe Company (ACIPCO). Through both experiences, Baggiano discovered a passion for internal communications, which is what he aims to pursue after graduation.

    And, clearly, internal communications is a real strength for Baggiano. While at ACIPCO, he authored a feature story in the AMERICAN News Center highlighting the ways in which the company’s engineers create high quality products that support water and energy infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, the work sparked another award for Baggiano: the PR Wordsmith Award from PRSA Alabama. Shaia sees this award—and the many others Baggiano earned—as a sign that he has a long and fruitful career ahead.

    "The program is structured such that students receive as much individual attention as possible so that the student is allowed to focus on a particular segment of the public relations field—whether it be health, nonprofit, education, business, government, etc. This is done through one-on-one mentoring as well as internships and opportunities for volunteer work in different areas,” said Shaia. “Oftentimes, as in Dylan's case, the student will complete several internships (sometimes as a student for class credit as well as a volunteer without class credit). The mentorship, together with the internship experience and the regular contact with a client in the ‘Campaigns’ class allows the student to graduate with not just the hard skills in public relations—but the soft skills needed to succeed in any field."

    Baggiano graduated this past April, and he is looking to the future with excitement and optimism. As he evaluates his career options, he has a guiding principle that informs his approach to work and community engagement.

    “If you go somewhere and you’re in a role, you should always leave it in a better state than it was before you were there,” said Baggiano.

    Given all that he accomplished while at UAB, it’s safe to say that he left the PR program and UAB in a better state than when he arrived.

  • UAB piano student Mary Elisa Wagner wins at AMTA State Concerto auditions

    The Alabama Music Teachers Association named Wagner the winner in the prestigious College Concerto category, and she will now perform at the AMTA state conference.

  • UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 to be recognized June 22

    The program, in its 11th year, celebrates these exceptional business leaders and their accomplishments with a seated awards dinner presented by the National Alumni Society.

  • Walker named inaugural holder of the J. Frank Barefield, Jr. Endowed Chair in Communities and Crime

    Walker is an internationally renowned researcher in the discipline of criminology whose accomplishments have brought substantial international attention to UAB.

  • Record number of UAB students accepted to 2023 World Congress on Undergraduate Research

    Selected students worked on research projects impacting the challenges that the global community is facing.

  • New grad says “nothing more gratifying” than hunting cyberthreats

    Curiosity led Jenna Taer to the Computer Forensics Research Lab — and on to a master’s degree in cybersecurity. Then a major industry scholarship let her network with CEOs in a field she loves.

  • 5 simple ways to stay safe cycling around campus

    Before you hop on that bike to commute to work or head across campus, make sure you, your bicycle and your knowledge of the road are ready.

  • 4 easy steps to stay safe as a pedestrian on campus

    From choosing crosswalks over jaywalks to choosing smart clothing options for nighttime walking, it's simple to safely commute by foot on campus.


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