Department of English announces 2021 Faculty Awards

Two Department of English faculty members are being recognized for their commitment to excellence in teaching and composition this year.

By: Dena Pruett

Two Department of English faculty members are being recognized for their commitment to excellence in teaching and composition this year.

Core Teaching Award

Assistant Professor Joseph Wood is this year’s winner of the Core Teaching Award. This award was established by a community advisory committee years ago as a way to honor excellent classroom instruction in 100- and 200-level courses. Wood has taught a wide variety of courses and is especially gifted at creating a dynamic discussion environment.

Wood is the author of four books and five chapbooks of poetry, which include YOU. (Etruscan, 2015) and Broken Cage (Brooklyn Arts, 2014; finalist for 2013 National Poetry Series). His work has appeared widely, in journals such as Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, North American Review, and Verse Daily, among others. At UAB, he teaches world literature, creative writing, and composition.

The Walt Mayfield Adjunct Teaching Award

This year’s winner of the The Walt Mayfield Adjunct Teaching Award is Sally Anne Perz. Much like the namesake of the award, Perz is a positive and encouraging teacher. She currently teaches EH 102 and tutors in the University Writing Center.

Perz recently graduated from UAB with a M.A. in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition. She hopes to continue her project on the rhetoric of oppression and exclusion. Though she has a lifelong passion for literature, she specifically chose rhetoric to focus her studies on anti-racist pedagogy and designing anti-racist curricula.

  • Michele “Mike” Williams – In Remembrance

    Dr. Michele “Mike” Wilson passed away May 30, 2021. She retired as associate professor of sociology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2008) and continued working for the university for several years afterwards.

    Dr. Michele “Mike” Wilson in 2007 at the UAB Diversity Awards Dinner. Photo by Patricia Drentea. Dr. Michele “Mike” Wilson passed away May 30, 2021. She was born December 8, 1942, in Puerto Rico to a military family. Her parents were also politically active, which is where she inherited her activist genes. Dr. Wilson earned her doctorate degree in sociology from the University of Connecticut in 1978.

    She retired as associate professor of sociology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2008) and continued working for the university for several years afterwards. She had a large following of students and won Outstanding Teacher of the Year at UAB. She taught Introduction to Sociology, Social Problems, the Sociology of Gender, and Deviance. Dr. Wilson was a scholar/activist, and she started and directed the Women’s Studies Program at UAB. Dr. Wilson’s research was on abortion. She also studied government leaders and activism in government, the civil rights movement, and abortion rights. In 2006, she received the UAB President’s Diversity Champion Award for her tireless work in equality.

    Dr. Wilson was an active member of the Southern Sociological Society and was known to bring groups of undergraduates to the meetings. She also advocated for female graduate students in the 1980s through the 2000s — a period of time during which she went from being the only female professor in the Department of Sociology, to retiring alongside equal numbers of male and female professors in the department.

    She was committed and steadfast in her activism and courageous in her fight for equality for women. She headed the local chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and escorted women to and from Planned Parenthood and across protest lines. Also, she was instrumental in setting up Birmingham's suicide prevention call center. Together with her beloved husband Jack Zylman (deceased 2013), they worked tirelessly for the civil rights movement and in promoting racial equality in Birmingham. She is survived by her brother Rick Wilson and sister-in-law Hope, of Florida, and cousins, nephews, and nieces. She is also survived by stepdaughter Alicia Di Giovanni and grandchildren of San Antonio, TX.

    The Department of Sociology mourns her death. She was brave and ahead of her time. Those who wish to contribute in her name can give to the Dr. Michele Wilson and Professor Becky Trigg Endowed Award, which gives a scholarship to a deserving undergraduate who is academically successful and dedicated to activism and/or gender equity. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests any memorial gifts be made to the endowed award. Gifts can be mailed to UAB Gift Records, AB 1230, 1720 2nd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-0112 or made online at go.uab.edu/mikewilson.

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  • Roger T. Lewis - In Remembrance

    Roger Lewis has passed away, but his impact on the development of our Mathematics Department will be felt for many years by both students and faculty. 

    Roger Lewis has passed away, but his impact on the development of our Mathematics Department will be felt for many years by both students and faculty. Before entering graduate school at the University of Tennessee, Roger had worked in industry as a mathematician at the Ballistics Research Labs (Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland) and RCA Service Corporation (Patrick Air Force Base in Florida). Following this, he received his M.S. in mathematics from the Florida Institute of Technology (1964) and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee (1972). He was briefly at Slippery Rock State College in Pennsylvania before joining UAB in 1975.

    At this time, UAB was only two years beyond the conversion from junior college to university status, and the Department of Mathematics was essentially a junior college department, with faculty involved primarily in teaching remedial and elementary mathematics courses. Further, at this time there were no organized research or grant initiatives in mathematics. 

    Then, in 1978, the department had a new chairman who placed some emphasis on visible research programs which could attract funding. Roger made the most of this opening. He had continued to expand on the work of his doctoral thesis, and in 1980 he received the department’s first NSF research grant. 

    This was followed by a bold plan developed jointly by Roger and Ian Knowles, who Roger had first met at a conference in Scotland in 1974 and who later joined our department. Although on paper UAB did not have facilities to host a large international conference, in 1986 they managed to find space and organize a conference which brought many of the world’s leading researchers in differential equations and mathematical physics to Birmingham (260 mathematicians from 22 countries). This was followed up by conferences in 1990, 92, 94, 97, 99, 2002 and 2005. These were so successful that Barry Simon of CalTech encouraged several of his graduate students to apply for positions at UAB upon receiving their doctorates. And some applicants for positions in the department commented on the impact our meetings had on them and their interest in joining the UAB faculty.

    Roger was chairman of the department in 1984 - 87 and 1997 - 2001 and continued the practice of filling new positions with research talent. This was paying off, and UAB at one point was ranked number three in the Southeast (just behind Duke and Georgia Tech) in NSF grants per faculty. This success was no doubt made possible partly through Roger’s personal manner as chairman.  He was a familiar figure to department members, who knew him as a reasonable person who could be approached with ideas and observations. He was meticulous in honoring agreements, and one had the confidence that he was always trying to do the right thing, which in this setting was to achieve best results for faculty and students. He brought a high level of integrity to his position as chairman, and inspired confidence in those who worked with him on various projects to improve department teaching and research.

    In addition to individual grants faculty were winning for their research, the university was awarded an EPSCoR grant (1986 - 91). These grants were for Established Programs to Stimulate Competitive Research and were large interdisciplinary university grants designed to enable promising departments to develop their research potential. Over the next few years, the Mathematics Department (along with Physics and other areas) enjoyed substantial EPSCoR funding to develop research activities they had been building over the past few years. Roger was a lead investigator on our first EPSCoR proposal.

    In addition to these successful efforts to develop research areas, productivity and funding, the department took the significant step of beginning a doctoral program. Previously within the Alabama system there had been a doctoral mathematics program only at the Tuscaloosa campus. But Roger engaged UAB administration and interested department members to lead UAB’s objective of raising its graduate program to the highest level. After skillfully weaving through sensitive and highly political issues, a joint program involving the Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville campuses emerged and received state approval. Our doctoral program is now a high point of our department and has generated additional initiatives to raise the level of hiring research faculty and developing the research capabilities of our students. And in his leadership role, Roger continued his productivity past retirement, producing a total of 51 books and papers.

    Finally, it is a sign of the current status of the department that UAB was selected to host an NSF Fast Track program, in which undergraduate students showing talent for mathematics are given the opportunity to accelerate their programs to reach the graduate level more quickly. In this way the tremendous success of the research and graduate activities of the department have helped develop new opportunities for undergraduate students as well.

    Through these efforts, Roger has been a significant figure in achieving the present success of the department, and in pointing a way to build an even more exciting future for our students and faculty.


    Funeral services will be held on Monday, June 14, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. at Independent Presbyterian Church, 3100 Highland Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35205.

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  • 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.’”

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  • 2021 winners of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Awards for Excellence in Teaching

    The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching. Award winners must have held faculty status at UAB for a minimum of three years and may receive the award only once in any three-year period.

    The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching. Award winners must have held faculty status at UAB for a minimum of three years and may receive the award only once in any three-year period.

    The CAS President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Committee selected the 2021 award recipients from each of the following disciplines:

    • Arts and Humanities: Art and Art History, Music, Theatre, English, Foreign Languages and Literatures, History, and Philosophy
    • Natural Sciences and Mathematics: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics, and Mathematics
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences: African American Studies, Anthropology, Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, Political Science and Public Administration, Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology

    The 2021 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching winners include:

    [widgetkit id="78" name="2021 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching winners"]

    Also, in the near future, one of these winners will be awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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  • Department of English announces 2021 Faculty Awards

    Two Department of English faculty members are being recognized for their commitment to excellence in teaching and composition this year.

    By: Dena Pruett

    Two Department of English faculty members are being recognized for their commitment to excellence in teaching and composition this year.

    Core Teaching Award

    Assistant Professor Joseph Wood is this year’s winner of the Core Teaching Award. This award was established by a community advisory committee years ago as a way to honor excellent classroom instruction in 100- and 200-level courses. Wood has taught a wide variety of courses and is especially gifted at creating a dynamic discussion environment.

    Wood is the author of four books and five chapbooks of poetry, which include YOU. (Etruscan, 2015) and Broken Cage (Brooklyn Arts, 2014; finalist for 2013 National Poetry Series). His work has appeared widely, in journals such as Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, North American Review, and Verse Daily, among others. At UAB, he teaches world literature, creative writing, and composition.

    The Walt Mayfield Adjunct Teaching Award

    This year’s winner of the The Walt Mayfield Adjunct Teaching Award is Sally Anne Perz. Much like the namesake of the award, Perz is a positive and encouraging teacher. She currently teaches EH 102 and tutors in the University Writing Center.

    Perz recently graduated from UAB with a M.A. in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition. She hopes to continue her project on the rhetoric of oppression and exclusion. Though she has a lifelong passion for literature, she specifically chose rhetoric to focus her studies on anti-racist pedagogy and designing anti-racist curricula.

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  • Honoring the Founding Director of UAB Gospel Choir

    The College of Arts and Sciences and UAB community are heartbroken that our beloved Department of Music Professor and the Founding Director of the UAB Gospel Choir Kevin P. Turner died on Monday, March 1, 2021, after an extended illness.

    The College of Arts and Sciences and UAB community are heartbroken that our beloved Department of Music Professor and the Founding Director of the UAB Gospel Choir Kevin P. Turner died on Monday, March 1, 2021, after an extended illness.

    During his extraordinary life and career, Turner was an accomplished songwriter, organist, pianist, gospel singer, choir director, minister of music and educator. He directed the UAB Gospel Choir for more than 22 years and established it as one of the first in the country to be offered and sanctioned by college music departments within the music program for college credit. Turner also taught courses for UAB’s African American Studies Program and served as senior pastor at Holy Harvest Ministries.

    Turner was also a suffragan bishop in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World denomination, and graduated summa cum laude from Andersonville Theological Seminary. For his outstanding contributions to church music and worship, he was awarded an honoris causa Doctorate in Divinity degree from St. Thomas Christian University. He worked for the American Red Cross for seven years, was a loaned executive for United Way of Central Alabama annual fundraising campaigns, participated in the music ministries at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church, the Alabama District Council of Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Sixth Avenue Baptist Church and Faith Apostolic Church. 

    “Kevin's life and his work was sharing his love of music and his love of God with young people, and with all who had ears to hear, and we are grateful for the legacy he built in the UAB Department of Music and the wider university,” said Department of Music Chair Patrick Evans, D.M.

    During his time with UAB’s Department of Music, Turner reached thousands of students and brought significant attention and acclaim to the UAB Gospel Choir. Through Turner’s passionate efforts, the UAB Gospel Choir performed countless concerts and produced and recorded albums that were featured both on the radio and in music stores. As a result, the UAB Gospel Choir reached audiences across the globe.

    Turner helped develop a powerhouse strategy of turning out above-average student talent and presenting sold-out concerts. Under Turner’s direction the UAB Gospel Choir performed live from campus to 5 million viewers on NBC’s The Today Show; created songs that reached No. 1 on amazon.com and XM Satellite radio; and proudly represented UAB locally, nationally and with self-funded international tours. During UAB's 40th anniversary, the UAB Gospel Choir was included as one of 40 UAB breakthroughs. Turner retired in 2017.

    “UAB, the City of Birmingham, the State of Alabama, this country and the world will forever be blessed by the legacy left by Kevin P. Turner,” said University Professor of Music Henry Panion III, Ph.D.

    Our hearts are with Turner’s family and loved ones.

    The UAB Department of Music encourages people to celebrate Turner’s life and work by listening to a collection of recordings titled “Legacy.” The recordings can be found here.

    Also, WVTM 13 produced a wonderful tribute video about Turner. The piece features performances from Turner and the UAB Gospel Choir, as well as a heartfelt reflection from a former student and choir member Steven Wilson.

    In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests any memorial gifts be made to the Kevin Turner Gospel Choir Scholarship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Gifts can be mailed to UAB Gift Records, AB 1230, 1720 2nd Avenue South Birmingham, AL 35294-0112, call 205-934-7242 or online at go.uab.edu/KevinTurnerGospelChoir.

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  • Kharlampieva’s lab makes microsponges to clean wastewater using just ultraviolet light and oxygen

    Eugenia Kharlampieva’s lab at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has developed microsponges to clean wastewater using just ultraviolet light and oxygen. Read more about it in Chemical and Engineering News.

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  • French professor wins national award for mentorship

    Charly Verstraet, Ph.D., an assistant professor of French, was recently awarded “Best University Professor” by the American Journal of French Studies for his mentorship and dedication to his students.

    Charly Verstraet, Ph.D., an assistant professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, was recently awarded “Best University Professor” by the American Journal of French Studies for his mentorship and dedication to his students.

    Verstraet, originally from the French region of Flanders, knows how daunting publishing in a foreign language can be. He was excited to offer his students an opportunity to publish their work and gain practical experience writing in French when he heard about the American Journal of French Studies essay contest. 

    “Every professor hopes their students will be successful, no matter what they do,” said Verstraet. “One of the biggest rewards is when you receive an email from a student telling you what they have done or become. That warms your heart.”

    Verstraet encouraged five students to submit essays to the journal for publication. Recent alumna Abby Garver received third place for her personal essay. She wrote about her experience with bipolar disorder and how French became her “asylum from the madness.” Garver later became the journal’s Director of Operations after graduating from UAB. 

    “For me, the biggest moment of happiness isn’t me receiving an award but seeing my students succeed,” said Verstraet. “I was much happier for Abby to receive an award than me. She’s at the beginning of her career.”

    The American Journal of French Studies is based in Louisiana and began in 2019. Verstraet encouraged his students to submit work to the journal due to the region’s similarity to South Alabama. Verstraet is interested in the similarities shared by communities and cultures between the South of the U.S. and the Caribbean.

    “There are many, many different Souths just like there are many different Caribbeans. And that’s a question of representation and visibility, of different histories, of different cultures, different waves of immigration. All of these factors play into that,” said Verstraet. “It is important to advocate for all of them, not just one.”

    Currently, Verstraet is teaching a course called, “The French Revolution and its Caribbean Aftershocks.” He is also translating Crusoe’s Footprint by Martinican writer Patrick Chamoiseau in association with the University of Virginia Press. Verstraet uses his experience publishing in a second language to advise his students.

    “I had a student who told me in French this semester, ‘I’m so scared to speak French, I’m still a nestling, I’m still a little bird.’ The fear of flying is part of the process of flying. You have to be scared and jump into the void to learn how to fly,” said Verstraet. “It’s very similar for languages or learning other cultures. It's scary and there’s fear in the process but once you overcome that fear there’s a whole world that’s waiting for you.”

    Learn more about the French concentration in the UAB Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

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  • Advanced Materials Characterization research core selected by IRCP

    The UAB Office of Research and the Institutional Research Core Program announced the selection of a total 15 cores that align and contribute to UAB’s research mission and provide access to cutting-edge technology and/or specialized expertise.

    The UAB Office of Research and the Institutional Research Core Program announced the selection of a total 15 cores that align and contribute to UAB’s research mission and provide access to cutting-edge technology and/or specialized expertise. For the first time, a research core led by the College of Arts and Sciences in Advanced Materials Characterization has been selected for funding. Dr. Paul Baker, researcher in the Department of Physics, is the director with co-director Dr. Vinoy Thomas from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. This new institutional core will consolidate materials characterization facilities in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering under one organizational structure and will result in improved maintenance of high-end capital equipment and result in new interdisciplinary collaborations on UAB campus.

    Selections were made based on merit from 24 applicant cores. Criteria included alignment and contribution to UAB’s research mission, access to cutting-edge technology and/or specialized expertise represented in the services of the core, and core leadership. Learn more about the 15 cores.

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  • History Professor Publishes New Book

     
    Andrew S. Baer, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of History, has published a new book entitled, “Beyond the Usual Beating: The Jon Burge Police Torture Scandal and Social Movements for Police Accountability in Chicago.”
     

    Andrew S. Baer, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of History, has published a new book entitled, “Beyond the Usual Beating: The Jon Burge Police Torture Scandal and Social Movements for Police Accountability in Chicago,” (University of Chicago Press).

    Baer studied the Civil Rights Movement early in his career, but over time he began to focus on cities in the northern United States, including Chicago.

    “My research interests lie on the intersection of race, policing, and social movements,” Baer says. “While this book focuses on Chicago from the 1970s to the present, these issues are timeless, and I hope my arguments are transportable to other contexts. I decided to study police torture in Chicago and social movements for police accountability because I wanted to join scholars who have pushed research on the Civil Rights Movement into new directions, namely by focusing on the period after 1970, on issues other than voting rights and desegregation, and locations beyond the South.”

    Baer says the book is applicable beyond a specific city or time frame. “The Chicago police torture cases remain relevant for both abstract and concrete reasons. On an abstract level, many of the general themes of my work—racial disparities in law enforcement, police violence, and grassroots resistance—remain prevalent in cities across America today. Activists and policymakers might draw lessons from this history to improve policing and ensure accountability in the present day. On a more concrete level, the survivors of police torture in Chicago continue to suffer the effects of their abuse.”

    Baer is now working on his second book, “Black and Missing,” which explores the intersection of race, law enforcement, and missing persons.

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  • Honoring the 2020 winners of Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

    Congratulations to Drs. Danny Siegel (English), Renato Camata (Physics), and Jason Linville (Criminal Justice)
    From left: Dr. Renato Camata, Dr. Danny Siegel, and Dr. Jason Linville.

    The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching. The individual must have held faculty status at UAB for a minimum of three years and may receive the award only once in any three-year period. The 2020 winners were chosen from these three distinctive areas and departments:

    • Arts and Humanities: Art and Art History, Music, Theatre, English, Foreign Languages, History, and Philosophy
    • Natural Sciences and Mathematics: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics, and Mathematics
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences: African American Studies, Anthropology, Communication Studies, Criminal Justice, Political Science and Public Administration, Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology

    The awards were based outstanding accomplishments in teaching as demonstrated by criteria including:

    • Broad, thorough knowledge of the subject area and the ability to effectively convey difficult concepts to students.
    • Exemplary classroom instruction as evidenced by student and peer evaluation.
    • Fairness, open-mindedness, and accessibility to students in and out of the classroom setting.
    • Effective use of innovative teaching methods and assurance that his/her courses stay abreast of current theory and use of modern technology.
    • Ability to infuse students with a commitment to life-long learning and professional development.

    The three winners, who were selected by the CAS President's Award for Excellence in Teaching Committee, will be considered for the final College of Arts and Sciences nominee for the President's Award of Excellence in Teaching. 

    Arts and Humanities: Dr. Danny Siegel, Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of English

    Natural Sciences and Mathematics: Dr. Renato Camata, Associate Professor, Undergraduate Program Director, Department of Physics

    Social and Behavioral Sciences: Dr. Jason Linville, Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Criminal Justice

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  • Why I Give: Robert Collins, Ph.D.

    Many of our donors give to the College as a way of showing their appreciation for the people who inspired and guided them to academic and professional success. We asked a few of our supporters to share their stories of why they give and how investing in the College will ensure the success of our future students.

    Many of our donors give to the College as a way of showing their appreciation for the people who inspired and guided them to academic and professional success. We asked a few of our supporters—including Emeritus Associate Professor Robert Collins, Ph.D.—to share their stories of why they give and how investing in the College will ensure the success of our future students.

     

    Arts & Sciences magazine: What do you do for a living?

    Robert Collins: I have been retired from the Department of English for almost a decade. Before I retired, I taught American literature and writing, including creative writing, for thirty years in the English Department at UAB. While serving as an English professor, I co-founded Birmingham Poetry Review with Randy Blythe, Ph.D., and directed the creative writing program for almost ten years. Since retiring, I have published two volumes of poetry, Naming the Dead (FutureCycle Press, 2012) and Drinking with the Second Shift (Word Tech, 2017). I am currently working on another collection of poems.

    A&S: Did you benefit from scholarships when you were a student?

    RC: Yes, I did. I attended Xavier University in Cincinnati on a presidential scholarship.

    A&S: What made you decide to make a gift to the College of Arts and Sciences?

    RC: I had several reasons for making a gift (the Collins Family Scholarship in Creative Writing) to the College of Arts and Sciences at UAB. First, I wanted to honor a worthy student with the gift of time, so precious to any writer, and to raise the status of creative writing, which is as demanding a discipline as any other in the arts and sciences. Second, I wanted to express my gratitude for the position I held in the English Department at UAB, which gave me the opportunity “to pursue my talents in the direction of excellence” as John F. Kennedy, one of my heroes, observed when asked why he wanted to be president. Third, and most importantly, I wanted to honor and express my gratitude to my parents John and Veronica Collins for the way in which they stressed the importance of education, especially higher education, which they rightly believed to be the key to a better life.

    A&S: Where do you see the College of Arts and Sciences in the next ten years? Fifty years?

    RC: So many physical changes have taken place on campus in the ten years since I retired that I hesitate to say anything about what might happen in the next ten, let alone fifty. I can speak, however, to what I would like to see happen in the next decade. Primarily, I'd like to see UAB redirect its resources to assure that faculty are secure, prosperous, and not overworked. Since enrollment at UAB has increased so dramatically in the past decade, I’d like to see the university focus on hiring many more faculty members in tenure-track positions and compensating them commensurate with the heavy load they carry. The colleagues I worked with during my 30 years at UAB were the smartest and hardest working people I knew.


    Donor support is invaluable in ensuring that our students receive the quality education that, regardless of their course of study, will set them on the path to success. For additional information regarding gifts to the College of Arts and Sciences, please contact Camille Epps at camilleepps@uab.edu or call (205) 996-2154.

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  • Political Science and Public Administration faculty win national awards

    Three faculty members in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration received organization-wide awards from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.

    Three faculty members in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Dr. Nevbahar Ertas, Dr. Akhlaque Haque and Dr. Wendy Gunther-Canada, received organization-wide awards from NASPAA (Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration). NASPAA is the accreditation agency for schools of public policy and public administration, and is the primary organization for pedagogy and administration in those fields.

    Ertas won the NASPAA Award for Outstanding Service, specifically for her role as Chapter Advisor of Pi Alpha Alpha, the honors organization in the area of professional public administration.

    Haque and Gunther-Canada will be honored for co-authoring the 2019 Article of the Year in the Journal of Public Affairs Education (JPAE). JPAE is the flagship journal of NASPAA and is and is widely considered a top journal of pedagogy and program administration within the field. Their article, "Public Service For All: How a Global Ethic Prepares Public Administrators for a Transnational Century," was lauded for its “span of coverage, methods, and impact to the field.” The awards committee further cited the articles’ role in helping to “increase evidence-based instruction and administration of public affairs programs.”

    They will accept their awards at the national meeting of NASPAA, which will be held in October in Los Angeles.

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  • Hurst-Wajszczuk named new associate dean of UAB Honors College

    As Associate Dean, Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk will help lead the teaching and engagement mission of the UAB Honors College and facilitate the recruitment and academic success of a diverse student body.

    Shannon L. Blanton, Ph.D., Dean of the UAB Honors College, announced today that after a university-wide search Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk, DMA, will be the new Associate Dean of the college. Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk is an Associate Professor of Voice, and Director of Opera, in the Department of Music in the College of Arts and Sciences.

    As Associate Dean, Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk will help lead the teaching and engagement mission of the UAB Honors College and facilitate the recruitment and academic success of a diverse student body. She will contribute to the intellectual life of the Honors College and the University as an active faculty member, continuing to teach and engage in scholarly activity through the Department of Music.

    Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk received both Bachelor of Music in voice performance and a Master in Music in voice performance and pedagogy from Westminster Choir College of Rider University in 1991 and 1994, respectively. She went on to the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in voice performance and pedagogy.

    As a soprano, Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk is a specialist in the lute songs of John Dowland, and her solo CD of lute songs was released in 2008 by Centaur. In 2018, she gave the world, European, and Canadian premieres of Lori Laitman’s The Secret Exit, composed for her and clarinetist Denise Gainey. A CD is under negotiation and is forthcoming. She debuted with the Boulder Bach Festival in 2004, Alabama Symphony in 2011, and the Tuscaloosa Symphony in 2016. In demand as a clinician throughout the United States and Europe, she has been featured at several national and international conferences and presents regularly at many universities and colleges. She teaches applied voice to music majors, minors, and musical theater majors, and has served as stage director and musical director for UAB Opera, which has won three awards through the National Opera Association under her direction. She began serving as Coordinator of Voice in 2018, previously has taught honors courses with the Honors College, and served as a 2018-2019 Honors Faculty Fellow.

    “I am delighted that Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk is joining our leadership team as the first associate dean for the UAB Honors College,” says Dean Shannon Blanton. “She has already made important contributions to Honors education as both a professor of honors courses and as an Honors Faculty Fellow. Her interdisciplinary research and teaching, as well as her compassion, thoughtfulness, and organizational skills, will be a true asset for the Honors College as we continue to support a rapidly growing number of outstanding students in their journey to achieve their academic and leadership goals.”

    Dr. Patrick Evans, Chair of the Department of Music, notes that Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk "brings a great deal of artistic, pedagogical, and administrative experience to the role, as well as those qualities of heart and mind that make her such a student-centered professor. We are grateful she will still be teaching some voice students in the Department of Music during her tenure as Associate Dean, and look forward to supporting her in this new and exciting role in every way we can."

    “My teaching in the Honors College, its University Honors Program, and as an Honors Faculty Fellow has been deeply gratifying and has informed my work in the Department of Music,” says Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk. “I’m looking forward to working with Dean Blanton and my colleagues in the Honors College, and am excited to join such a creative team. Both my department chair, Patrick Evans, and Honors colleagues have been very supportive, and for that I am very grateful.”

    Dr. Hurst-Wajszczuk will begin her new duties as Associate Dean on August 12, 2019.

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  • Dr. Gregory Pence wins 2019 Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction

    Dr. Gregory Pence, Professor in the Department of Philosophy, has been named the 2019 winner of the Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction.

    Dr. Gregory Pence, Professor in the Department of Philosophy, has been named the 2019 winner of the Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction.

    Dr. Pence graduated with a B.A. from the College of William and Mary, then received his M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University, where he studied applied ethics with renowned ethicist Peter Singer. He joined the faculty at UAB in 1976 and has not only been instrumental in developing our bioethics program within the Department of Philosophy, but also taught, for three decades, a required bioethics course to all UAB School of Medicine students. Dr. Pence served as chair of the Department of Philosophy from 2012-2018.

    Now an acclaimed bioethics scholar, Dr. Pence's research and teaching interests include cloning and assisted reproduction. He also studies and teaches on other emerging issues in bioethics, including neuroethics, enhancement, the Ebola virus, and the Affordable Care Act.

    Within his field, Dr. Pence is best known for his best-selling Medical Ethics textbook, now in its eighth edition (2017). He's also widely known for his defense of humane biotechnology—such as cloning and genetically modified crops—a position that has often put him at odds with his peers in the scientific community. His ideas on biotechnology have garnered him significant public appearances and media engagement, including testifying before the U.S. Congress and the California State Senate against bills criminalizing cloning. He has published more than 70 opinion essays in publications such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Wall Street Journal.

    In addition to his seminal textbook, Dr. Pence has also published two books that have been influential not only in the field of bioethics, but within our broader society: How to Build a Better Human: An Ethical Blueprint (2012), and What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics and Philosophy in "Orphan Black" (2016), which references the blockbuster BBC America television program that ran from 2013-2017. He's also given nearly a dozen endowed lectures on bioethics at universities across the U.S. as well as in Brazil, Switzerland, China, Norway, Israel, and England.

    As a UAB professor, Dr. Pence has won both the Ingalls and President's Teaching Awards; he also directs the Early Medical School Acceptance Program. Many of his students have won prestigious national scholarships and fellowships, including the Marshall and Fulbright; two students have won Rhodes Scholarships. More than 50 of his students have been awarded scholarships to medical school, and six have entered Harvard Medical School.

    In addition, for many years Dr. Pence coached the UAB Ethics Bowl Team, which won the national championship in 2010. He continues to coach the UAB Bioethics Bowl Team, which won national championships in 2011, 2016 and again in April of this year.

    Congratulations to Dr. Pence on this achievement.

    The Ireland Prize

    Charles W. Ireland and his wife Caroline P. Ireland established The Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Endowment for Scholarly Distinction, which today funds two annual Ireland prizes. The Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award is given to a distinguished intellectual outside of the UAB academic community whose work is groundbreaking and transformational in his or her field. While on campus, honorees give a public lecture and share their knowledge through informal meetings with students and members of the faculty.

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  • Rich Gere named new chair of the Department of Art and Art History

    Print media artist Rich Gere comes to UAB from the Department of Art and Design at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

    Photo: Edgar De La GarzaRich Gere has been named chair of the Department of Art and Art History. He will begin his new position on August 15, 2019.

    Gere comes to UAB from the Department of Art & Design at Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi. He received his B.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his M.F.A. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

    After starting a career in finance and marketing, Gere co-founded a graphic design firm in Knoxville in 1998. While working as a professional designer, he taught courses at community colleges in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia; he also helped develop an adult education program with fellow faculty members at Tusculum College in Knoxville. In 2001, Gere joined the faculty as a professor of foundations and painting in the School of Fine Arts at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) at their Savannah campus; in 2002, he transitioned to professor and director of printmaking at SCAD, Savannah. From 2006 to 2013, Rich was professor and founding chairperson of print media, as well a director in the School of Fine Arts for SCAD's new Atlanta campus. In that role, he was responsible for developing the B.F.A, M.A., and M.F.A. programs in print and digital media. In 2014, he was named professor and chairperson of the Department of Art & Design at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

    As a print media artist, Gere explores alternative photo processes; works of paper, sculpture, and installation; and his work is currently centered around border issues and the ecology of South Texas. As a lecturer, artist, and co-investigator, he has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including funding from the Rauschenberg Foundation and a multimillion-dollar grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) which currently supports his research on integrating the visual arts as pedagogy into the nursing curriculum.

    Gere has served on many national and international art boards and juries and appeared on a wide range of conference panels and councils. His recent conference activity includes presentations at SGCI (Southern Graphics Council International Conference); Southeastern College Arts Association Conference (SECAC); the College Arts Association Conference (CAA); and the Mid America Print Council (MAPC).

    As an artist, he has appeared in more than 200 juried, solo, and group exhibitions, including recent exhibits at the El Paso Museum in El Paso, Texas; the Museo de Arte de Ciudad, Juarez, Mexico; SCOPE Basel, Switzerland; ArtHelix Gallery, Brooklyn, New York; and at the Toolbox Gallery, Berlin, Germany. His artwork appears in a number of public and private collections, and he is represented by Marcia Wood Gallery of Atlanta.

    We look forward to working with Rich. We are also deeply grateful to Jessica Dallow, who has served as interim chair since 2017 and will return to the art history faculty.

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  • Amsler, Kempin Reuter receive mentorship award

    The UAB Graduate Dean's Excellence in Mentorship Award recognizes full-time regular UAB faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments as mentors of graduate students and/or postdoctoral fellows.

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  • Pioneering Women in UAB Biology: Nancy Love

    On June 5, 1971, Nancy Love became the first woman to receive a master’s degree from the Department of Biology.

    First Woman to Graduate with a Master’s Degree

    Nancy Love, a Gadsden, Ala. native, arrived at UAB in spring 1968. She had completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, at Vanderbilt University and was eager to delve deeper into biology. Under Dr. Patrick Dagg’s mentorship, Nancy joined the UAB Department of Biology graduate program and began research on early developmental events of mouse embryos. The program had just been established, and she was one of only a few female students. Even so, she recalls UAB feeling like a breath of fresh air after spending four years in Vanderbilt’s high-pressure environment. She enjoyed the opportunities UAB offered, particularly the graduate classes she took in UAB’s medical school and serving as a teaching assistant for the undergraduate introductory biology course. One special opportunity was provided by Dr. Dagg who arranged for Nancy to spend the summer of 1969 doing research at Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. On June 5, 1971, Nancy became the first woman to receive a master’s degree from the Department of Biology.

    Nancy went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and later joined the faculty at the University of Maryland’s Zoology Department. She spent thirteen years at the University of Maryland, eventually transitioning into an administrative role where she served as the Assistant Provost of Behavioral and Social Sciences and later as the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies. After relocation to Charlottesville, Virginia, and marriage to a University of Virginia faculty member, Nancy joined the faculty of the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, where she spent 10 years in research administration before retiring in 2000. Nancy and her husband Tom currently enjoy a calm life in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. In her spare time, she works away at a fiction book she’s writing – a murder mystery at a medical school – using all her experiences during graduate school to describe faculty and graduate students and their misadventures.

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  • Pioneering Women in UAB Biology: Janice Roberts

    In August 1971, Janice Roberts became the second woman to graduate with a master’s degree from UAB’s Department of Biology.

    One of the First Women to Graduate with a Ph.D.

    Upon graduating from nearby Judson College, Janice Roberts took a research position at Birmingham’s Southern Research Institute. Confident in her desire to pursue a career in research, she enrolled in graduate school at the Extension Center for the University of Alabama (soon to become UAB) researching ribosomes under Dr. Donald Fattig’s mentorship. During that time, something unexpected happened: Janice developed a love of teaching. Since childhood, she declared she would never become an educator, but the teaching assistantship that helped fund her graduate studies sparked her passion for teaching and changed the trajectory of her career. In August 1971, Janice became the second woman to graduate with a master’s degree from UAB’s Department of Biology.

    Later that year, Janice accepted a position as an instructor in the Biology Department at Jefferson State Community College (known then as Jefferson State Junior College). She thrived in the classroom, teaching courses in microbiology and freshman biology, as well as the interdisciplinary honors science course. In 1980, Janice took a leave of absence from JSCC to return to UAB to pursue her Ph.D. Janice’s doctoral research, performed under Dr. Patrick Dagg’s mentorship, studied caffeine-urethane interactions in mouse embryos. She was happy to be back at UAB among the close-knit group of graduate students. In 1983, Janice received her doctorate from UAB’s Department of Biology (only the second woman to do so) and then returned to her teaching career at JSCC. During her time at JSCC, Janice received many local, regional, and national accolades, including a Fulbright Teacher Exchange Fellowship in England, as well as the state of Alabama’s first ever Outstanding Junior College Faculty Award.

    Janice retired from Jefferson State Community College in 2010 after 38 years of service. A long-time supporter of Birmingham’s arts scene, Janice is a docent for the Birmingham Museum of Art and leads tours of the museum. As a lay member of the Board of the American Pulmonology Medicine Institute, she helps promote scholarship programs for medical students. Since retirement, Janice has indulged her love of travel and has visited six of the seven continents. In her down time, she enjoys playing bridge and spending time with her family, especially her great nieces and nephews.

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  • Pioneering Women in UAB Biology: Dr. Vithal Ghanta

    In 1986, Dr. Vithal Ghanta joined the Department of Biology as an Associate Professor, making her the department’s first female tenured faculty member. In 1989, she was promoted to full professor. Dr. Ghanta has spent the past 33 years advancing the department’s research and teaching.

    First Female Tenured Faculty Member

    In 1986, Dr. Vithal Ghanta joined the Department of Biology as an Associate Professor, making her the department’s first female tenured faculty member. In 1989, she was promoted to full professor. Dr. Ghanta has spent the past 33 years advancing the department’s research and teaching.

    Prior to joining the Department of Biology, Dr. Ghanta worked in the Department of Microbiology for 15 years as a postdoctoral fellow and an Assistant Professor researching immunology and cancer in mouse models. Over the span of her career, Dr. Ghanta’s research has primarily focused on tumor immunology, the immunology of aging, and regulation of the immune system by the central nervous system. Several years ago, she ceased her research efforts to focus on teaching.

    Since her early days in the department, Dr. Ghanta has been a staple in our classrooms, teaching courses such as Immunology, Biology of Aging, and Evolutionary Medicine. She is known and beloved by many students, going above and beyond to help them grow—not just as students, but as people. One student says, “Dr. Ghanta is a fantastic professor. She consistently makes herself available for questions and goes out of her way to ensure students understand the material if they approach her. She has definitely become one of my favorite teachers at UAB.”

    After almost 50 years at UAB and more than 30 years in the Department of Biology, Dr. Ghanta reflects back on her career with affection. She has cherished her time at UAB and says she is appreciative to have worked in a unified department with colleagues who were always supportive, respectful, friendly, and caring. Outside of work, Dr. Ghanta can be found tending to her garden and spending time with her husband of 43 years, Dr. Subbarao Vadlamudi.

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