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Embarking on the graduate school journey can be a challenging experience, but it helps if you understand the major players involved in that experience. This series, "Link to Leadership," features Q&As with UAB's Graduate School leaders and staff and an opportunity for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to get to know your Graduate School leaders/staff on a deeper level.

Q: Why did you accept this position within the Graduate School?

A: "I care about the educational mission of UAB, especially at the graduate level, and I am proud to be able to positively impact a large cohort of students training in Biomedicine."

Q: How long have you been in this role? What are your specific responsibilities?

A. "I started in January 2016. I work with the GBS staff and the theme leaders to continually evaluate and improve the educational opportunities in GBS as well as the processes by which we deliver education. A large part of my role is communication with students, faculty, staff, and university leaders."

Q: What is your educational/career background?

A. "I have a BS in Microbiology and Genetics from UGA and a PhD in Microbiology from Wisconsin. I did a postdoc in Biological Chemistry at the University of California-Irvine. Since 2007, I have been a faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, and I now serve as Professor and Vice-Chair. Before serving as associate dean, I was the theme director of the Biochemistry theme within GBS."

Q. Can you talk about your own approach to teaching and how it has or has not informed your work in your current Graduate School position?

A. "I never liked memorization or coughing up knowledge for tests. When I teach, I try to inspire students to appreciate why the topic matters and why the biology is elegant. The same is true for administration, believe it or not. People can buy into a mission, but it is easier if they see the rationale behind decisions being made. I try to be transparent in my decisions and thoughtful about the impacts (personal and professional)."

Q: If you were talking with a group of incoming UAB students, what would you most want them to know about you and your hopes for their experience at the Graduate School?

A. "I hope they recognize they are part of our team. Every student matters and our jobs are to support them during their adjustment to their respective programs and through the completion of their studies. UAB has a lot to offer them, and we are pleased to connect them to the resources they need to be successful."

Q: What influences have shaped you?

A. "I am a father, a husband, a scientist, and a member of the community. All of these areas of life present different opportunities and challenges, and as I progress through life and adapt to my unique situations, I learn more about myself and how to relate and empathize with the folks I encounter every day (professionally and personally)."

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

A. "Sleep! –mostly kidding. We go hiking/walking most weekends, we love the local forests and parks. When we get time, we head to the beach. We also kayak as much as we can locally. Recently, I have begun repairing an old car with my son as he starts driving."

Q: Tell me a bit about your family.

A. "I have been married for 23 years to my lovely wife, and I have 2 children, boys, in middle school and high school."

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