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Laila-Rose Hudson is the UAB Political Science Program’s Outstanding Student for 2018.

Several of our students have been recognized for outstanding research and academics.

A group of social work students who went to Kenya this spring break for study abroad presented their experiences at UAB's Spring EXPO.

Caroline Wood, a social work honors student, presented a poster on her research project titled "Prevalence and Predictors of Antiretoviral Medication Non-Adherence among HIV/HCV Co-infected Patients in Clinical Care."

The Department of Biology recognized a number of undergraduate and graduate students at its 2018 Spring Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on April 12.

Dr. Stacy Moak was recognized as a Faculty Fellow in Engaged Scholarship on March 23, 2018.

The UAB Department of Social Work celebrated Social Work Month with students and their families. Grace Dugger, SW Alumni Society President, was the keynote speaker.

While we have any number of outstanding male faculty members, students, and alumni who deserve recognition and are included, by and large this issue is about the women of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Palo Alto Networks' Cyber Competition for High School Students.

Catch up with some of the big events sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, from Homecoming to an exhibit at AEIVA.

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  • I am Arts & Sciences: Forte'

    Criminal justice alumna Forte’ received the UAB National Alumni Society's Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019 for dedicating her time and effort to improving the university.

    Name: Forte’
    Degree earned: B.S. in Criminal Justice
    Graduation year: 2002
    Current profession: Chief Joy Officer, Birmingham Education Foundation


    In 2019, College of Arts and Sciences alumna Forte’ received the UAB National Alumni Society's Volunteer of the Year Award for dedicating her time and effort to improving the university. Currently, she works at the Birmingham Education Foundation as the “Chief Joy Officer” and assistant to the executive director. In her spare time, she leads the UAB National Alumni Society Black Alumni Chapter as its president, engaging alumni through service events, socials, and more. Forte’ is also a veteran, having served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1996 to 2006.

    Congratulations on being the UAB Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal this year! What was it like?

    The experience was phenomenal for #UAB50. Green and gold filled the streets everywhere. As the 2019 National Alumni Society Volunteer of the year, the honor will always be remembered. Even cooler? My team [at the Birmingham Education Foundation] participated in the parade.

    Why did you decide to attend UAB and pursue a degree in Criminal Justice?

    Growing up in the Black Belt region of Alabama, I had my own unique style. The style left me misunderstood by school leaders. In 8th grade, I committed to studying criminal justice and being the change I wanted to see. Education and crime have a complex correlating relationship. My goal is always to extend a helping hand and share hope with students. After living in Birmingham for a short time in high school, I knew I’d return home one day to attend good ole’ UAB.

    How have your experiences at UAB helped you in your career?

    Thanks to UAB and a job listing in the Kaleidoscope, I landed my first job in education 22 years ago. While at UAB, I stayed on campus the entire time and witnessed diversity at the core; I worked on a paid federal research project in the local jails. UAB is large; I learned to build networks and cultivate support systems. UAB is the gift that keeps on giving: I’m part of the Leadership UAB Class of 2016 and in 2018, I was selected as a Birmingham Business Journal Veteran of Influence.

    What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their experience at UAB?

    1. Please don’t graduate with a degree and no experience. The labor market is challenging and competitive.
    2. I directly sought opportunities to distinguish me as the best candidate in the workforce, leveraged the UAB Career Center and attended versatile workshops across campus.
    3. Creating meaningful relationships is key; my first full-time GEARUP teaching job was catalyzed by my UAB Math Professor. Go Blazers!

    Read more "I am Arts & Sciences" alumni profiles:
    Dr. Stephen G. Odaibo of RETINA-AI
    Sarah Randolph of Birmingham Audubon
    Dr. Johnny E. "Rusty" Bates

    Read more...
  • Alumni Spotlight: Eric Meyer, Owner and Founder of Cahaba Brewing

    Cahaba Brewing is one of the most popular and successful breweries in Birmingham. “When I began brewing, I started looking at what the science of brewing is,” says Eric. “A lot of people relate brewing beer more to cooking than anything else, but there’s so much more to it.

    by Morgan Burke

    In 1996, Huntsville-native Eric Meyer arrived at UAB with his sights set on a career in medicine. Like any good pre-health track student would do, he registered as a biology major and started on the path to medical school. In the Biology Department, he was introduced to professors who broadened his experiences and introduced him to new ways of thinking. Dr. Dan Jones and Dr. Ken Marion shared their love of botany and wildlife with Eric and included him in field research studies.

    “As a young person, you just have to hold on and be ready to grab hold of small bits of what Dr. Marion has to offer,” Eric says.

    Photo credit: Cary Norton.By his junior year, Eric had a change of heart. Over the past two years, he had fostered his passion for the environment, botany, and natural sciences and had developed a curiosity in geographic information systems (GIS). With dwindling interest in medical school, Eric worked with his academic advisor to create an Individually Designed major with a minor in Biology. This new course of study landed him an internship with the Jefferson County Storm Water Management Authority canoeing and hiking the Cahaba River while mapping the entire river with GPS. Eric graduated in 2001 and continued his GIS work with Jefferson County while completing Emergency Medical Technician classes at UAB to be a firefighter. For the past 16 years, Eric has worked as a full-time firefighter in the city of Mountain Brook.

    When he wasn’t at the firehouse, Eric spent his downtime experimenting with home beer brewing. After years of refining his craft, he and a group of friends devised a plan to open a brewery. In 2011, Cahaba Brewing Company was born. Eight years in, and Cahaba Brewing is one of the most popular and successful breweries in Birmingham. At Cahaba, Eric is able to put his scientific background to good use.

    “When I began brewing, I started looking at what the science of brewing is,” says Eric. “A lot of people relate brewing beer more to cooking than anything else, but there’s so much more to it. Any little change [in ingredients or process] can alter the beer’s flavor and appearance.”

    He relies on research methods honed during his years at UAB to improve upon the production process and create a clean and consistent product.

    Though Eric’s two full-time jobs and family life keep him busy, he has continued to stay active in the UAB community. Over the past couple of years, he has collaborated on beer-related grant proposals and research with Dr. Jeff Morris, Microbiologist and Assistant Professor of Biology, and Elliott Greene, a recent graduate of the Department of Biology. Elliott now works in Cahaba’s lab running tests on beer to search for wild yeast and bacteria that can harm their product.

    In 2015, Eric was recognized by the UAB National Alumni Society as a member of the UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 class. In 2017, he was honored with the College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) Distinguished Young Alumni Award, and he is a current member of the UAB CAS Alumni Board. Eric also regularly provides a lending ear and mentorship to UAB undergraduate students aspiring to be entrepreneurs and scientists.

    In addition to supporting UAB, Eric supports the greater Birmingham community by donating a portion of Cahaba’s proceeds to local charities and organizations during their ‘Goodwill Wednesdays’ and other special events. Eric appreciates the support and foundation he received as a UAB undergraduate student, and now he’s doing his part to pay it forward and help his community.

    Read more...
  • Arts and Sciences alumni honored at UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 event

    Ten alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences were honored as members of the UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 class of 2019.

    Left to Right: Adam Aldrich, Brady McLaughlin, Julie McDonald, Kristen Greenwood, John Boone, David Brasfield, Carol Trull Pittman, Dustin Welborn, and Jennifer Smith (not pictured: John Burdett)On June 20, ten alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences were honored by the UAB National Alumni Society as members of the UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 class of 2019. The dinner and awards ceremony took place at the UAB National Alumni Society House.

    The annual Excellence in Business Top 25 program is designed to identify, recognize, and celebrate the success of the top 25 UAB alumni-owned or UAB alumni-managed businesses. In addition to our ten honorees, two alumni won top honors in Fastest Growing Companies Under $10 Million: John Boone of Orchestra Partners, 2198% growth; and David Brasfield of NXTsoft, 317% growth.

    Congratulations to our deserving graduates!

    • Adam Aldrich, president and co-founder of Airship, graduated in 2008 with a B.S. in Computer and Information Sciences.
    • John Boone, principal of Orchestra Partners, graduated in 2010 with an M.A. in History.
    • David Brasfield, CEO of NXTsoft, graduated in 1984 with a B.S. in Computer and Information Sciences.
    • John Burdett, CEO of Fast Slow Motion, graduated in 2000 with a B.S. in Computer and Information Sciences.
    • Kristen Greenwood, executive director of GirlSpring, graduated with a B.A. and an M.A. in Art History in 1999 and 2006, respectively.
    • Julie McDonald, Ph.D., co-founder of McDonald Graham LLC, graduated with an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Psychology in 1993 and 1995, respectively.
    • Brady McLaughlin, CEO of Trio Safety CPR+AED, graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2009.
    • Carol Trull Pittman, founder and CEO of RedKnot Resource Group, graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2001.
    • Jennifer Smith, director of operations of Down In Front Productions LLC, graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2016.
    • Dustin Welborn, president of Down In Front Productions LLC, graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2013.

    Read more...
  • UAB in Norway: Fulbright Seminar Weekend

    "It was inspiring to see all the incredible work that is being done through the Fulbright Program. I was humbled to share the floor with some of the brightest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of knowing."

    From left to right: Shruthi Velidi, Adam Wise, Remy Meir, Anna Schwartz, and Arunima Vijay

    Editor’s Note: For the 2018-2019 academic year, UAB had a record number of students and alumni selected for the prestigious Fulbright Student Program, the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Four of the six award recipients are from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, including Remy Meir. An Auburn, Alabama, native, Meir has been awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct research at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. Meir graduated from UAB Honors College in Spring 2018 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscienceHer research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction. 

    We’re excited to feature monthly posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which began in August 2018, at the University of Oslo.


    By Remy Meir

    I normally don't care for Valentine's Day, but this year I had a very special day (well, weekend). On February 14, all of the Fulbrighters in Norway got together to host a seminar where we all gave 10-minute presentations on the work we have been doing for the past six months. And when I say all, I mean all of us. We had those doing research grants, study grants, English teaching assistant grants (ETA), roving scholars, and everyone in between present at the event.

    The great thing about the Fulbright Scholarship is that grant recipients aren't forced to pursue any particular project on any particular timeline. There are several students like me who have recently completed a bachelor's degree and wanted to pursue an in-depth research experience or complete a master's program. There are also scholars who may be professors at a university in the U.S. who are using the Fulbright Program to teach a class abroad or collaborate with an exciting research partner. Then there is an assortment of people who are working as ETAs or roving scholars. These Fulbrighters may have just completed a bachelor's degree, have been working in their career for a couple years, or are currently working as teachers in the United States and wanted to see how the education system differs abroad.

    So, even though we share a grant title, our projects and experiences have been vastly different. And on Valentine's Day, I got to hear talks spanning from how my friend Adam is modeling the aerodynamic wake interaction between multiple utility-scale floating wind turbines to how my friend Kelly is working in Ås as an ETA but spends most of his time talking to Norwegian high schoolers about American government and culture. Twenty-five of us presented that day, and all 25 had different projects and experiences to share. It was inspiring to see all the incredible work that is being done through the Fulbright Program. I was humbled to share the floor with some of the brightest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of knowing.

    Following the day-long seminar, we continued the festivities into the evening with a reception at the American Ambassador's house. It was a delightful evening filled with two more talks from Fulbrighters and intermingling between the grantees, political officials, and notable guests. The house was beautiful, the food was exceptional, and the company was unparalleled.

    The following day we all loaded onto a bus and headed into the mountains. We spent Friday through Sunday tucked away at Skiekampen in Lillehammer, Norway. We spent the days indulging in downhill or cross-country skiing, which was followed by a trip to the sauna and hot tub. At each meal, we would sit together and share in our experiences. It was fun to come together as a group and not only talk about our work, but actually get to know one another. This weekend allowed me to build lifelong friendships with some truly amazing people. I am so thankful to Fulbright Norway, especially Rena, Kevin, and Pedder, who organize these events where we get to build bonds and see the work that is coming to fruition with this scholarship.

    This weekend will go down as my favorite Valentine's Day celebration and I'm not sure that anything will top it.

    Pictured below: Photos from our Fulbright Seminar Weekend, from a selfie taken at the U.S. Ambassador's house to the top of a ski run in Lillehammer, Norway.

    Read More from Remy Meir in Norway:

     

    [widgetkit id="44" name="Remy Meir Fulbright Seminar Weekend"]

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  • The College Honors 2018 Alumni Award Recipients at Annual Reception

    The College of Arts and Sciences recognized three notable alumni at the annual Scholarship and Awards Luncheon on March 21, 2019. Our 2018 honorees were recognized for their diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service.

    The College of Arts and Sciences recognized three notable alumni at the annual Scholarship and Awards Luncheon on March 21, 2019. Our 2018 honorees were recognized for their diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service. Congratulations to our three deserving winners!

    Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

    David Brasfield, B.S. in Computer Science, 1984

    This is the College’s highest honor, and is awarded to prominent alumni who have achieved distinction through exceptional contribution to their professions. This award highlights the diverse talents, notable accomplishments and extraordinary service of our alumni and is reserved for those with a history of excellence in their careers.

    David Brasfield is the current founder and CEO of NXTsoft.com. Over the last 30 years, he has demonstrated a track record of success in creating and developing several technology companies from inception through to successful exit.

    David has successfully developed and implemented strategies for sales, marketing and software product development. He is the founder and former CEO of Tri-Novus Capital, LLC, SBS Corporation, SBS Data Services, Inc., Brasfield Technology, LLC and Brasfield Data Services, LLC, all of which were providers of automation technology solutions for community financial institutions. He has been a director of a community bank and is currently a member of other boards in the Birmingham area, including our Department of Computer Science Advisory Board.

    Distinguished Young Alumni Award

    Ashley M. Jones, B.A. in English, 2012, UAB; M.F.A. in poetry, Florida International University

    This award honors alumni age 40 or younger for significant accomplishments in industry and/or their career field or for service in the College.

    Ashley M. Jones is a poet, organizer, and educator from Birmingham, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from UAB and an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University. She is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned local and national awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award.

    Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at UAB and at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival here in Birmingham.

    Alumni Service Award

    Isabel Rubio, B.A. in History, 1987, Southern Mississippi University; B.S. in Social Work, 1993, UAB

    This award honors alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary service to the local, national, or global community.

    Isabel Rubio was born in Mississippi and is a second-generation Mexican-American. After graduating from UAB, she went to work in the social work field in the greater Birmingham area. After eight years, she founded the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!) in 1999, where she has served as Executive Director since 2001.

    ¡HICA! is a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers Alabama’s Hispanic community through its educational, leadership, community development, and advocacy work. ¡HICA! has engaged thousands of Hispanics across Alabama to increase opportunities and, as the only Latino-serving organization in Alabama, is a bridge builder with many local, regional and national organizations.

    Isabel is deeply involved in her community and serves on numerous local, statewide, and national boards, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Alabama Business Charitable Trust, and the Regions Financial Corporation Diversity Council.

    As a result of her many years of experience, Isabel is now a nationally recognized speaker on the issue of immigrants in the South.

    Read more...
  • UAB in Norway: Full of thanks for Fulbright

    In Norway, the holiday season passed in a blur. The days were short, dark, and cold. However, that did not stop me from creating some of my warmest memories.

    Remy Meir standing in the Oslo City Hall before the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony began.

    Editor’s Note: For the 2018-2019 academic year, UAB had a record number of students and alumni selected for the prestigious Fulbright Student Program, the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Four of the six award recipients are from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, including Remy Meir. An Auburn, Alabama, native, Meir has been awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct research at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. Meir graduated from UAB Honors College in Spring 2018 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscienceHer research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction. 

    We’re excited to feature blog posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which began in August 2018 at the University of Oslo.


    By Remy Meir

    Here in Norway, the holiday season passed in a blur. The days were short, dark, and cold. However, that did not stop me from creating some of my warmest memories.

    A Fulbright Thanksgiving. From left to right: me, Ann Lin, Tyler Chapman, Kelly Fisher

    Thanksgiving crept up on all the Fulbrighters in Norway. The five of us in the greater Oslo area decided we should come together to celebrate. So, I invited everyone over to my student apartment with the requirement that they make their favorite Thanksgiving dish. We gathered around my candlelit table and shared our favorites foods and what we were thankful for that year. I was thankful for the chance to come together with these wonderful people and talk about what we had accomplished in 2018 and what we will go on to achieve. All of the people I have met through Fulbright constantly inspire me to push the boundaries of what I am doing and to do so with passion. We all have such unique projects and interests, but one thing we share is our eagerness to try to solve the problems we see in the world. I am so thankful for nights like that when we come together and share not only a meal but a good time.

    December was filled with even more inspiration. As a Fulbrighter, we get entered into a ticket raffle to attend the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. This year, I had the honor to attend the 2018 ceremony. The Peace Prize is the only Nobel Prize awarded in Oslo, Norway. This year the prize was split between two winners, Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. The focus of the 2018 award was ending sexual violence as a weapon of war. Dr. Mukwege works in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a gynecologist who specializes in treating women who have been raped or suffered sexual assault as a result of war. Nadia Murad was only 19 when she was captured by the Islamic State from her village in northern Iraq and forced to be a slave who suffered heinous acts by her captors. (I encourage all to read Nadia Murad's memoir, "The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State.")

    Listening to their stories and hearing their calls to action was one of the most inspiring moments of my life. These individuals have dedicated their lives to fighting the injustices they see in their countries and they are not afraid to point fingers or call for help. This experience served as a reminder that we cannot solve all the world's problems alone, we must come together to pursue the justices we believe in. I hope the powerful words spoken by Dr. Mukwege and Nadia Murad were able to reach and inspire the world as they inspired me.

    UAB alumni and friends in Amsterdam. From left to right: Aaron Landis, Marena Leisten, Reid Ballard, me, and Cooper Crippen

    The rest of the holiday season continued to be filled with special experiences. I spent December in Norway continuing to work on my project until my family came over to celebrate Christmas. It was exciting to show them around my new home and have them experience Nordic life-from dog sledding to watching the northern lights. After my family left, my UAB friends—who have all pursued different passions and paths—came to visit. Cooper Crippen, my close friend and fellow Blazer, is currently completing a master's program in environmental chemistry in Amsterdam and offered to host a New Year's reunion of UAB alumni. Our group was made up of Reid Ballard, a post-bac researcher at the NIH; Aaron Landis, a first-year UAB medical student; and Marena Leisten, a recent UAB grad who secured a job with Red Bull. It filled me with so much joy to see how all my friends from university have gone on to chase their goals. UAB prepared us to go out into the world with passion; this was yet another encouragement to go into the new year with an appetite for success. I'm so thankful UAB provided me with such amazing friends who continue to show me that everyone has their own version of success and that it can always be achieved.

    These past couple have months may have been cold and dark, but they have filled me with so much light. I have immense gratitude for every person I have encountered in my journey—from my fellow Fulbrighters and UAB alumni to Nobel laureates. They continue to challenge me to be better and do better.

    Read More from Remy Meir in Norway:

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  • I am Arts & Sciences: Stephen G. Odaibo, M.D.

    Mathematics alumnus Stephen G. Odaibo, M.D., is an ophthalmologist and retina specialist, as well as a mathematician, computer scientist, and physicist.

    Dr. Stephen G. Odaibo is an ophthalmologist and retina specialist, as well as a mathematician, computer scientist, and physicist.

    He is currently the co-founder and CEO of RETINA-AI, a biotechnology company that specializes in developing artificial-intelligence software technology to improve physicians' ability to diagnose and treat retinal disease.

    Clinically, Dr. Odaibo focuses on caring for patients with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vascular occlusions, retinal tears, and localized retinal detachments.

    He is the author of two books: Quantum Mechanics and the MRI Machine published in 2012, and The Form of Finite Groups: A Course on Finite Group Theory, published in 2016.

    Dr. Odaibo was part of the Mathematics Fast Track Program at UAB, earning both his bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics in 2001 and 2002, respectively. He is the only ophthalmologist in the world with graduate degrees in both math and computer science (Duke, 2009).

    In 2017, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the College of Arts & Sciences. This award is the College's highest honor, reserved for prominent alumni with a history of excellence in their careers.

    "The UAB Math Fast Track Program was a wonderfully rich experience for me," Dr. Odaibo says. "It provided me with a solid foundation in rigorous critical thinking, which has served me well in my career."

    Read more on Dr. Stephen Odaibo.

    Read more "I am Arts & Sciences" alumni profiles: 
    Sarah Randolph of Birmingham Audubon
    Johnny E. "Rusty" Bates, M.D., of Quality Correctional Health Care
    Christina Richey, Ph.D., of NASA

    Read more...
  • I am Arts & Sciences: Christina Richey, Ph.D.

    Physics alumna Christina Richey, Ph.D., is a planetary scientist and astrophysicist with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

    Christina Richey, Ph.D., is a planetary scientist and astrophysicist with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. She first came to UAB as a junior from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia as a participant in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Her experience in that program led her to pursue both her master's and doctoral degrees in physics here at UAB. Richey left Birmingham in 2011 and has built a successful career in the competitive, mostly-male, field of planetary sciences.

    We profiled Richey in the Spring 2018 issue of Arts & Sciences magazine. Read an excerpt from our interview with her below or read the entire feature article "Stellar."

    On why she chose UAB: "I found out about the REU program at UAB my junior year, and so I came to Birmingham and I just fell in love with UAB and the physics department… I was doing graduate-level research for an entire summer."

    On her experience in the Department of Physics: "The general community in the physics department was just fantastic; everyone was really supportive. Right from the beginning of my graduate work, I knew I would do well; it was just the right environment. Dr. [Ryoichi] Kawai was a huge influence on me, and so was Dr. [Renato] Camata, who had a big service aspect to his worldview, and that was so important to me coming from a Jesuit school."

    On how she almost missed her window to finding her dream job with NASA: "I had told my advisor at UAB that I wanted to be at [NASA] headquarters in 20 years, but when a funding situation almost shortened my post-doc position [at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center], I realized the job opportunities were becoming really slim, really quick. I had missed all of the Congressional deadlines, and I just went to my car and cried. But the next day, I started looking at contractors working with NASA, and I ended up as a contract program officer with Smart Data Solutions, and then with Arctic Slope. Basically, I went from thinking I was going to be unemployed to jumping ahead about 20 years in my career."

    On her advocacy for female scientists in a field notorious for harassment and abuse: "We're making progress. We have to allow the system to fill with diversity. We have to welcome these young people into the sciences who are coming in with their eyes open. They're less tolerant than we were; they're getting proper harassment and bystander training. And that's occurring more now because more women are in positions of power. Too many times I'm the only woman in a room, or my black colleague is the only non-white person in the room. But that game is changing now and it needs to continue to improve."

    Continue reading "Stellar."

    Read more "I am Arts & Sciences" alumni profiles:
    Sarah Randolph of Birmingham Audubon
    Dr. Johnny E. "Rusty" Bates

    Read more...
  • I am Arts & Sciences: Dr. Johnny E. "Rusty" Bates

    Rusty Bates is an alumnus of the College of Arts and Sciences who went on to complete his medical degree at the UAB School of Medicine. He founded and is the chief executive officer of Quality Correctional Health Care, which provides inmate healthcare in the correctional environment.

    Rusty Bates is an alumnus of the College of Arts and Sciences (Mathematics, 1979) who went on to complete his medical degree at the UAB School of Medicine in 1983. He founded and is the chief executive officer of Quality Correctional Health Care, which provides inmate healthcare in the correctional environment. In addition to his membership on the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Board, he serves on the UAB National Alumni Society Board of Directors and has been a two-time recipient of the Excellence in Business Top 25 Awards in 2016 and 2017. Dr. Bates recently established the Henry E. Bates, Jr. Scholarship in honor of his father. The scholarship is part of the new UAB Blazing the Way program, by which UAB provides a 1:1 match for annual scholarships. We asked Dr. Bates to tell us more about his family and his journey through UAB and to his professional success today.

    My father had an associate's degree from the University of North Alabama. However, after I was born, he had to take a job and provide for his growing family. This kept him from pursuing his education further. On several occasions, I remember him mentioning that he was not eligible for some positions with engineering companies that he worked for because he did not have a bachelor's degree.

    My dad worked for several sub-contractors for NASA and was project manager on several major projects related to the Saturn-V launch pad. He never felt quite good enough, because he lacked his bachelor's degree. We were both determined that would not happen to me.

    I knew at quite a young age that I wanted to be a physician. I had survived TB meningitis just a short time after the introduction of INH therapy (developed to treat tuberculosis) and always marveled at the stories my mom told me about this event. I became unable to walk and cried from headaches and back pain. I wanted to be a doctor, like the one who saved my life. I wanted to completely fulfill my dreams and in so doing, fulfill my father's dreams as well. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to UAB back in the day when there were only three main buildings on campus.

    I loved UAB and still do to this day. I also loved mathematics for its purity and the fact that all the other sciences are dependent upon an understanding of mathematical principles. I still enjoy the symmetry of mathematics to the natural world. It was with all of this in mind that I wished to honor my father with a scholarship in his name. It is a pleasure for me to help someone else fulfill their dreams. One of my favorite quotations is from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." This scholarship takes me back to the past in hopes of providing a better future.

    Learn more about The Henry E. Bates, Jr. Scholarship.

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  • I am Arts & Sciences: Sarah Randolph of Birmingham Audubon

    Alumna Sarah Randolph puts her College of Arts and Sciences degree to work at Birmingham Audubon.

    Sarah Randolph is the outreach and communications director at Birmingham Audubon, a 72-year-old non-profit organization and chapter of the National Audubon Society that is dedicated to the enjoyment and conservation of birds, their habitats, and the natural world. She spent some time with us recently to talk about her education at in the College of Arts and Sciences and how it prepared her for her career.

    Randolph graduated from UAB in 2008 with a degree in communication studies and a concentration in communications management. She minored in marketing in the Collat School of Business. A transfer student, she transitioned to UAB in 2003 after starting her degree at Jefferson State Community College.

    "I started out a business major at Jeff State, but as I was transferring to UAB, I was becoming more environmentally conscious," she says. "This career that I now have at Birmingham Audubon, I had really sought it for 10 years. As I learned about climate change and other issues, I wondered how could I use my strengths in English and math to help a cause, because not only can you market products, you can also market ideas. Communications is a very versatile degree, it's prevalent in everything and if you can learn how to master communications, then you can excel in any field."

    Birmingham Audubon supports conservation efforts for birds such as the chimney swift.
    Journey to Audubon
    Randolph says the training she got in the Department of Communication Studies prepared her well for the work she does today, as did some of the jobs she took before landing her position at Birmingham Audubon.

    "I've used my degree in many facets of my career: communications marketing, some public relations, some event coordination," she says. "I worked my way through college in the back office and then in the marketing and communications office of Pro-Equities, which is a broker-dealer for Protective Life. After that, I moved out West and was the marketing manager for the Arapaho Basin Ski Area, but I came back to Alabama because I didn't like the cold!"

    Another opportunity returned her to UAB—this time as an employee, not a student. "After I moved back to Birmingham, I went to work for UAB in development because I was looking to get into the non-profit sector after spending most of my career in the private sector," she says. "I could see the potential in having a development background tied in with my communications and marketing experience and how that could launch my career in yet another direction."

    Alabama—Sweet Home for Birds 
    That direction pointed her to Birmingham Audubon, where Sarah is charged with communicating the organization's goals and impact, as well as working to connect it to the city and state. "Our mission is to promote conservation and a greater knowledge of birds through habitat and the natural world," she says. "So, anything we can do to promote the state's Forever Wild program, saving some of Alabama's last natural resources through habitat, and improving natural habitat for birds are our goals."

    Chimney swifts forming a "swiftnado," seen during a Swift Night Out event.

    With Randolph's help, Birmingham Audubon has recently partnered with Putnam Middle School on a habitat restoration project. "We're hoping to continue to steward the land there for the next 10 years because it's a great habitat for brown-headed nuthatches, and there are some white-eye vireo, red-shouldered hawks and other birds there as well," she explains. "The school also has a nature trail and an outdoor classroom, so it's improving the lives of the students there, which is a big push for us as well. We had about 60 people attend that event, including Mayor Woodfin."

    Birmingham's Chimney Swifts
    Randolph says that, even with the hundreds of bird species native to and migrating through Alabama, sometimes the best approach is to focus on an individual bird—especially one with an urban habitat. "We've been trying to support the chimney swift with a lot of conservation efforts, like building chimney swift towers throughout Birmingham," she says. "We recently installed a tower on top of the McWane Science Center parking deck. We have three 'Swift Nights' a year [where people can watch the birds flying above the city]. Most people don't realize those flights are happening. They are an amazing species: they migrate to the headwaters of the Amazon every year and then they come back, but they're losing habitat we're losing a lot of these old chimneys that they've been roosting in because of all of the new development in Birmingham."

    "It's so rewarding when people can make that connection and say, 'That's a cool urban bird that we have here and I don't know much about them and I want to learn more,'" she says. "My goal is to find ways to engage more people and to get a broader more diverse community going to these events, caring about birds, learning about nature. It's great to be able to use my communications degree and experiences to help make that happen."

    To learn more about Birmingham Audubon, visit birminghamaudubon.org. Photos courtesy of Birmingham Audubon. 

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  • UAB in Norway: The importance of communicating science

    "I received an email saying I was needed to help film a segment for a show on NRK, the largest media organization in the Norway."

    Editor’s Note: For the 2018-2019 academic year, UAB had a record number of students and alumni selected for the prestigious Fulbright Student Program, the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Four of the six award recipients are from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, including Remy Meir. An Auburn, Alabama, native, Meir has been awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct research at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. Meir graduated from UAB Honors College in Spring 2018 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscienceHer research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction. 

    We’re excited to feature monthly posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which began in August 2018 at the University of Oslo.


    By Remy Meir

    For Halloween this year, I dressed up as an IKEA shopping bag as everyone in Norway loves IKEA and uses the bags to complete daily tasks, like grocery shopping.Science and research fuel where society is headed-how we treat illnesses, how we advance with technology, how we are going to conserve or create resources. However, there tends to be a disconnect between the scientists trying to unlock this information and those who can use that information to implement change. Additionally, there exists an even bigger gap between scientists and the general public.

    With field-specific jargon, complicated data, and no one willing to simplify their work, the public is often confused about what exactly is happening in the field of science. Most people aren't going to sit down and sift through Google Scholar articles to try to understand current cancer therapeutics or Alzheimer's medications. While news sources do address some of the exciting findings in science, I believe the scientists should be doing more to communicate their ideas to the public.

    One thing I admire about my mentor, Dr. Siri Leknes, is her drive to make her research findings accessible to and understood by the public. Last week, I received an email from Dr. Leknes saying that I was needed to help film a segment for a show on NRK. NRK is the government-owned, public broadcasting company in Norway, which also happens to be the largest media organization in the country. One of the shows wanted to address the topic of loneliness. The segment's purpose was to incorporate a scientific experiment to demonstrate how loneliness and social stress can affect you. We decided that we could implement a modified version of our current experiment into their show to model the effects of social stress.

    The project I am piloting utilizes the Trier Social Stress Test as a way to induce psychosocial stress in participants. The main tasks are to do a five-minute public speaking task followed by a five-minute arithmetic task all in front of two cold, unresponsive panel members. There are other factors at play to help generate a stressful situation, but if you are like most people, just the idea of speaking in front of strangers is enough to make your palms sweat.

    Our modified version for the TV segment had the host, a woman in her twenties, come into a tiny room to give a five-minute talk about why she is a good friend while the panel members, a clinical psychology student and myself, sat quietly staring blankly at her. In order to see how the social stress situation affected her, we recorded her heart rate variability before, during, and after the social stress paradigm. From the minute she entered the room, you could sense her discomfort. She refused to make eye contact with us (which she later told me was because she was really intimidated by us) and kept looking to her camera crew for some sort of support.

    After she made it through the task and they recorded all the measurements, we were able to officially meet her with smiles. It was interesting to discuss with her how she felt during the "experiment" as well as go over her results. Her heart rate variability showed that she was able to recover quickly during a stressful event. She was excited to hear this, and it was fun to see how for her this experiment shed light not only on her topic but also on her personal qualities. My Primary Investigator (PI) and the doctor who recorded her heart rate variability went on to talk on the show about social stress, loneliness, and their impacts on one's health. It was cool to see how they were able to adapt the concepts they are studying in the lab and present them for a general public audience. I think that sort of openness and interest in science should be pushed for in public programming and events.

    There has been a large push to create more accessible and open-source science. This has been seen with the development of the programming language R and open-access journals. There is also a greater effort by news outlets to convert impactful studies into interesting articles. However, sometimes there is a lack of rigorously reported science in these cases. People presenting these scientific ideas to the public want to make them as interesting as possible; because of this, the articles can lose some of the scientific validity found in their original reporting. Therefore, I advocate for scientists themselves to get more involved in sharing their results with the general public. It can be frustrating to step out of the comfort of field-specific jargon, but I think it is important that society be able to relish in exciting discoveries alongside the discoverers.

    Interested in accessible science? The article, "Accurate science or accessible science in the media – why not both?" published by The Conversation, addresses the topic and provides information about groups working to deliver scientific findings to the public.

    Pictured below: Fellow UAB alumnus Adam Brookins and I went hiking in Bergen, Norway, when he came to visit me this fall.

    Read More from Remy Meir in Norway:

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  • UAB in Norway: Celebrating my mentor

    "The whole evening reminded me why I am pursuing science."

    My friend Ria and me at the celebratory dinner for Dr. Leknes.Editor’s Note: For the 2018-2019 academic year, UAB had a record number of students and alumni selected for the prestigious Fulbright Student Program, the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Four of the six award recipients are from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, including Remy Meir. An Auburn, Alabama, native, Meir has been awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct research at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. Meir graduated from UAB Honors College in Spring 2018 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscienceHer research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction. 

    We’re excited to feature monthly posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which began in August at the University of Oslo.


    By Remy Meir

    Wine, speeches, dancing, and oh yeah, lots of science. This describes one of my favorite evenings I have had since arriving in Oslo as a Fulbright Scholar.

    My research mentor at the University of Oslo, Dr. Siri Leknes, received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford under the guidance of one of the biggest names in pain research, Dr. Irene Tracey. However, Dr. Leknes was a bit disappointed when she found out that in Oxford people do not have big professorial dinners to celebrate the completion of their doctoral degrees. In Scandinavian countries, when one successfully defends their dissertation and earns their Ph.D., it is truly a celebration. Dr. Leknes would talk about grand dinners with intermittent speeches followed by a lively party.

    Since Dr. Leknes did not have a professorial dinner after earning her Ph.D., she decided to host one in celebration of becoming a full professor at the University of Oslo. She started off the day by hosting an Affective Neuroscience Symposium in which some of her closest colleagues came to speak about their current research. The lectures started with Dr. Irene Tracey giving a talk titled "All Pain and No Pleasure," and ended with a talk by Dr. Marie Eikemo and Guro Løseth, who discussed the current projects in the Leknes Affective Brain Lab, where I've also been conducting my research project through the Fulbright Fellowship. It was exciting to see the people that Dr. Leknes has been able to work with throughout the years, from her Ph.D. supervisor to her post-doc advisor, all the way to the people she now mentors in her own lab. It was exciting for me to see all the different paths you can take with your research. Just because you start in one lab with one particular focus, it does not mean you cannot grow to fit the focus of other labs and then develop a focus for your own lab.

    My research mentor, Dr. Siri Leknes, giving her toast about getting full professorship.Dr. Leknes has one of those infectious personalities that is equally great for getting students excited about a lecture and for hosting grand parties. In the evening, we had a lavish three-course dinner at the National Museum and, as is typical in Scandinavian celebrations, there were a number of speeches given by her past mentors and current mentees. Each person talked about how innovative, intelligent, and inspired Dr. Leknes was as a researcher and a person. After dinner, I was able to speak with the people who helped her along her path. I never thought I would have the chance to speak with the likes of Dr. Irene Tracey, but there I was with her in the museum gift shop discussing my past research projects and societal implications of the data.

    The whole evening reminded me why I am pursuing science. I love being surrounded by people who encourage me to see the world in different ways and to ask interesting questions. I left that dinner filled with good wine, great food, and high spirits. I was reminded that science does not always have involve sitting in a room surrounded by mice or struggling with statistics. Sometimes it is just about coming together with your peers and sharing ideas, and sometimes that happens at the best party of the year.

    Pictured below: I did a lot of hiking this month outside the city of Stavanger in Western Norway. Two hikes were to Preikestolen and Kjerag: Preikestolen is the flat sheer cliff and Kjerag is the rock that is wedged between two cliffs.

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  • College alumni chosen as 2018 Young Alumni Rising Stars

    Three of the five winners of the 2018 UAB Young Alumni Rising Star Awards are graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences.

    Top to Bottom: Asha Dickerson, Ph.D., Aaron Neal, Ph.D., and Katrina WatsonThe second-annual UAB Young Alumni Rising Star Awards were recently presented by the National Alumni Society (NAS) at a reception at the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, which established the program to recognize five young alumni who have demonstrated personal and professional excellence, as well as service to the campus and surrounding communities. This year's winners are rising stars in their careers and are blazing a path for future generations of young alumni. We are proud to announce that three of the five winners are graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences.

    Eligible winners must be 35 years of age or younger at the end of the year in which they are nominated and must have received an undergraduate or graduate degree from UAB.

    The Award Selection committee considered each nominee's personal and professional accomplishments, commitment of volunteer time to civic and community organizations, and service to UAB during their time as a student or an alumnus.

    Congratulations to our College of Arts and Sciences alumni winners!

    Asha Dickerson, Ph.D.
    2004 B.S. - College of Arts & Sciences
    2005 B.A. - School of Education
    2009 M.A. - School of Education
    Director of Training at Argosy University, Atlanta

    Aaron Neal, Ph.D.
    2010 B.S. - College of Arts & Sciences
    Honors College/Science & Technology Honors
    International Health Scientist at National Institutes of Health

    Katrina Watson
    2016 M.P.A. - College of Arts & Sciences
    President & Executive Director at The Literacy Council of Central Alabama

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  • UAB in Norway: Comparing cultures

    Fulbright scholar Remy Meir reflects on the differences and similarities between American and Norwegian cultures.
    Remy Meir introduces herself and her research project to the Fulbright Committee and distinguished guests at the Fulbright welcome reception.

    Editor’s Note: For the 2018-2019 academic year, UAB had a record number of students and alumni selected for the prestigious Fulbright Student Program, the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Four of the six award recipients are from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, including Remy Meir. An Auburn, Alabama, native, Meir has been awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct research at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. Meir graduated from UAB Honors College in Spring 2018 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscienceHer research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction. 

    We’re excited to feature monthly posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which began in August at the University of Oslo.


    At the University of Oslo's welcome celebration where they welcome back students and celebrate the start of a new school year.

    By Remy Meir

    It has been nearly a month since I packed up my things and moved halfway across the world to pursue my Fulbright Scholarship in Norway. This first month has passed in a blur due to international student orientation at the University of Oslo, Fulbright orientation for all American grantees, and getting settled in my new research lab. One of the main focuses of both orientations I attended this month was understanding Norwegian culture and society.

    While there are many differences between American culture and Norwegian culture, there are a few similarities that have made the transition easier. Just like "Southern hospitality" is centered around being polite, Norwegian culture also instills the desire to be polite and to make others feel comfortable. But I quickly learned that is where the similarities between the two come to an end. Back in the South, if I wanted to make someone I did not know feel welcomed and comfortable, I would smile warmly or ask how they were doing on the street. In Norway, in order to be polite, you do not disturb another person. When passing someone on the street, smiling can make another person uncomfortable. You should also never sit directly next to someone on the metro if you can avoid it. Personal space is of the utmost importance here. You should not interfere with others as they go about their day and they will not interfere with you.

    Standing outside the Nobel Peace Institute where the Fulbright welcome reception was held. While this version of being polite may make Norwegians seem disengaged, it is part of what shapes their societal views. Their respect for individuals goes far beyond just giving someone enough space on the metro; it translates into policy. For example, maternity leave is nearly a year with the option to split part of it between maternity and paternity leave. They value gender equality and have one of the lowest gender pay gaps in the world. Norway is also a welfare state, meaning that its citizens have equal access to healthcare and education. These are just several of the standout social developments that come from Norwegians' devotion to treating each individual with respect and care.

    Over the past month, I have made friends from all around the globe, including Turkey, Canada, Sweden, Australia, and many more countries. One of the exciting things about being part of the international community is discussing Norwegian society and how it relates to our home countries. The University of Oslo helped encourage these conversations by throwing a semester start-party in which international students dressed up as Norwegians and the incoming Norwegian students got assigned different countries. It gave everyone the chance to see how others viewed their country and open up a dialogue about what that means for these countries, both at home and internationally. I think discussing these differences allows us to see our individual countries' strengths and weaknesses and what sort of changes need to be introduced. For me, this past month has been about engaging in global conversations and reminding myself that just because a culture feels different, it does not mean it is wrong.

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  • Professional Writing alumni profile: Jay Haywood

    The skills Jay learned in the Professional Writing program at UAB are crucial for how he navigates his professional life.

    I have had two jobs since graduating, and while they are very different in scope, the skills I learned in the Professional Writing program at UAB are crucial for how I navigate my professional life.

    Just after graduating, I accepted a position with Cahaba Brewing Company in Birmingham, Alabama, managing their online media and working in sales. As Cahaba Brewing Company’s media manager, I was responsible for maintaining and developing the brewery’s brand and message through the brewery’s social media channels and website. I was also responsible for writing press releases for upcoming events and beer releases, as well as designing informational signs and slides for our in-brewery video board as needed. As a sales representative, I was responsible for communicating the needs of our accounts to the brewery’s distributor and to the brewing staff.

    I have since been working as a Product Support Representative at Fidelity National Information Services. I am responsible for application support for banks and other financial institutions — and I am fairly certain I am one of the only members on my team with an English degree. As my employer has found, my degree is an asset to the team. In the Professional Writing program I was also challenged with learning new applications quickly, which helped me prepare for a career in technical support. In addition to the technical knowledge, the position requires clear, concise communication between the various teams within the company and each of our clients. It is necessary to research and break down incredibly technical information into easy to read material for each client.

    I will be forever grateful for my time in the Professional Writing program. By the time I graduated I had written a grant proposal for a non-profit, collaborated on a digital and print magazine, designed a website, and packaged my best work in a digital portfolio I could show to potential employers. I felt comfortable in my ability to learn technical applications quickly. However, the greatest thing I learned was how to communicate effectively to a wide variety of audiences through various media. It is this skill that has allowed me to excel in the professional environment.

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  • Professional Writing alumni profile: Amy Roberts

    Amy is the Communications Coordinator at Growing Kings, a non-profit providing school-based, group mentoring programs for at-risk males in Birmingham City Schools.

    I am the Communications Coordinator at Growing Kings, a non-profit organization that was started in 2009. We provide school-based, group mentoring programs for at-risk males in Birmingham City Schools. Our programs focus on character development, violence prevention, and personal enrichment. We are based on a high school feeder pattern, so we can provide long-term engagement with our students from 4th grade through high school. Currently, Growing Kings is in five Birmingham City Schools, with plans to be in 10 by fall 2014.

    As Communications Coordinator, I am in charge of our social media platforms, but my priority is developing a fundraising strategy for the program. My first project was to submit an application for our first federal grant proposal, where we are looking to partner with the Department of Justice Sciences at UAB. Below are some of the things I do in the position:

    • Develop and implement an integrated strategic communications plan to advance Growing Kings' brand identity; broaden awareness of its programs and priorities; and increase the visibility of its programs across key stakeholder audiences.
    • Serve as communications counselor to Growing Kings' leadership.
    • Oversee development of all print communications.
    • Work closely with the Executive Director on donor management and fund development.
    • Develop and oversee day-to-day activities of all Growing Kings' social media outlets.
    • Actively engage, cultivate, and manage press relationships to ensure coverage surrounding Growing Kings' programs, special events, public announcements, and other projects.
    • Research funding sources and trends, with foresight, to get ahead of major funding changes.

    I am indebted to the Professional Writing program at UAB. Had it not been for the wonderful professors and classes I wouldn't be where I am. The wealth of knowledge I gained from Dr. Bacha, Dr. Ryan, Dr. Wells, and Dr. McComiskey is immeasurable. I've made a lot of great connections in my short time with Growing Kings and every time my boss introduces me to people or I tell them I'm a Professional Writer and this is what I can do, they are so impressed.

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  • UAB in Norway: Fulbright scholar Remy Meir leaves for Oslo

    UAB neuroscience alumna Remy Meir begins her Fulbright Student Program at the University of Oslo in Norway.

    Remy Meir spent the spring semester of her junior year studying abroad in Oslo, Norway. Now she's returning to the University of Oslo on a Fulbright Scholarship to continue her research.

    Editor’s Note: For the 2018-2019 academic year, UAB had a record number of students and alumni selected for the prestigious Fulbright Student Program, the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Four of the six award recipients are from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, including Remy Meir. An Auburn, Alabama, native, Meir has been awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct research at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. Meir graduated from UAB Honors College in Spring 2018 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscienceHer research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction. 

    We’re excited to feature monthly posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which begins this month at the University of Oslo.


    By Remy Meir

    I was sitting in the library at the University of Oslo in early March watching the snow fall outside the window when I realized that a semester in this beautiful country was not enough. I quickly pulled up my email to send a message to Dr. Ashley Kuntz, director of fellowships at UAB, to tell her about my time in Norway and that I already wanted to come back. She followed up by sending me all the information I would need to start an application for the J. William Fulbright Scholarship. The Fulbright Program provides grants that are aimed to enhance cultural exchange between the United States and other countries through research, study, and teaching opportunities.

    While previously studying abroad in Norway, I worked under the guidance of Dr. Siri Leknes and helped design a human model that would address the role of stress in addiction. My previous research at UAB, in the lab of Dr. Robert Sorge, was all in rodent models, so much of my time in the Leknes lab was spent discussing the differences in animal and human research models. Having this scientific exchange allowed me to understand that the scientific questions I am interested in are multifaceted. It also opened my eyes to translational research and had me eager to explore this area of addiction research further.

    To date, most addiction research has relied on rodent models, and few translational studies have been done. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Clinical Director Dr. Heilig, most promising treatments in rodents fail once they reach human clinical studies. To close this translational research gap, we need to explore social factors, such as stress and social support, in addition to standard drug interaction studies.

    Norway is the ideal place for me to continue to explore this topic because their society allows for a greater investigation into these social interactions as behavior-influencing mechanisms, as they have reduced the stigma surrounding drug addiction that is still overtly present in the United States. This focus on drug addiction is supported by their government’s commitment to making prevention of drug and alcohol abuse a public health priority. Additionally, the Leknes Affective Brain Lab is the ideal lab for my project given their focus on understanding how the human brain encodes value in regard to reward and how this understanding can be used to improve treatments for substance abuse disorder and chronic pain.

    With Dr. Leknes continuing as my mentor, my project in Norway will focus on using an interdisciplinary model to explore how psychosocial stress can translate into increased vulnerability for addiction and the extent to which addictive drugs and social support act on overlapping pathways in the brain. While stress has primarily been studied as a factor for addiction relapse, this study takes a novel approach by assessing the role it may play in the initial development of addiction. This study could prove to be very beneficial by influencing the development of new interventions and policies regarding addiction. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15 million people suffer from opioid dependence, yet only 10 percent receive treatment. These statistics make it evident that this should be a public health and scientific priority across international borders. Hopefully, my time as a Fulbright Scholar will allow me to shed more light on this topic while having the adventure of a lifetime.

    Read more: UAB in Norway: Comparing cultures

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  • Good communication skills lead to unexpected places

    Good communication skills are essential to every job and in every medium.

    Good communication skills are essential to every job and in every medium. Rebekah Kummer finished her Masters in English 2017 with a superb set of communication skills (although she wishes in hindsight that she’d taken even more Professional Writing classes!), and one month after graduation she landed a job as a Technical Writer/Editor II at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. During her first year at NASA, she worked on several special projects outside of her normal duties, including a government contract worth $3 billion, and learned that if you’re an incredibly hard worker, people take notice and give you opportunities.

    Beka says that the NASA job taught her not to worry about making the “wrong decision” about a major or career. This job arrived unexpectedly, and with hard work, she made it into the right decision for her. It then paved the way to her current job as a Senior Technical Writer for proposals at Hexagon Safety and Infrastructure, a company that supports global projects in public safety, transportation, and utilities.

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  • Falling in love with Vietnam

    DeJordique Pearson never planned to be an English teacher in Vietnam, but he quickly fell in love with his "backup country."

    DeJordique Pearson never planned to be an English teacher in Vietnam. An English major with a concentration in Linguistics and a passion for phonology, DeJordique decided that after graduation he would teach English in Japan. But facing long waiting lists for Japanese positions, he shifted his focus to Vietnam. Because the Vietnamese language has not been as studied as extensively, he was also excited at the opportunities for linguistic investigation.

    DeJordique quickly fell in love with Vietnam. In fact, he later got a position in Japan but then gave it up after a year. “The beauty of Vietnam was cemented in my brain, making it all I dreamt of during my time in Japan.”

    He now works there as a teacher, translator, and academic director, and he is interested in opening his own school. Although none of this was in the original game plan, DeJordique says that things have worked out even better than he imagined. He advises current students to consider teaching abroad, and not to get too hung up on any particular place: “If you are lucky like me,” he says, ”maybe, just maybe, your backup country will turn out better than your primary one.”


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  • Introducing the new members of the Arts and Sciences Alumni Board

    The College of Arts and Sciences is proud to introduce the new alumni board members for 2018.

    The College of Arts and Sciences is proud to introduce the new alumni board members for 2018.

    These eleven board members graduated from a variety of programs at UAB and were students during different eras. They've also pursued careers in a wide range of fields.

    • Johnny (Rusty) Bates: Founder, President and CEO, QCHC, Inc. Math, 1979; M.D., 1983
    • Kristin Chapleau: Program Specialist II, UAB Biomedical Sciences Program. Communication Studies, 2004; M.A. Education, 2005
    • Kathleen Drake: Head of School, Foundations Early Learning & Family Center. Social Work, 1992
    • Mike Guest: CEO and President, Guest Associates. Individually Designed, 1987
    • Joe Maluff: President, JAM Food Company. Psychology, 1996
    • Natasha Moore: Banker, Hometown Bank of Alabama. Criminal Justice, 2010
    • Tim Meehan: Vice President of Senior Services, Always Best Care. Communication Studies, 1986
    • Alexander Shunnarah: President and CEO, Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. Political Science, 1991
    • Tim Stephens: CEO, Tim Stephens Media LLC. Individually Designed, 2015
    • Tom Walker: Associate Attorney, Maples, Tucker & Jacobs, LLC. Political Science, 2002
    • Stephen Walsh: Partner, Adams and Reese. Math, 1995

    Want to get involved? Join the UAB National Alumni Society: Arts & Sciences Chapter.

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