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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. The “Link to Leadership” series features Q&As with UAB's Graduate School leaders and an opportunity for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to get to know these leaders on a deeper level.


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

A: “I was seeking a new leadership opportunity at UAB. This position as MSMBS Program Director was very attractive because it was a unique opportunity for me to build a new Graduate Program from scratch.”

Q: What is your background?

A: "I received my Ph.D. in Pharmacology & Toxicology from VCU in 1997 and arrived at UAB in 2000. My other appointment is in the Dept. of Pharmacology & Toxicology where I run a research lab studying preclinical and translational models of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND). I have mentored dozens of trainees in my career at UAB and have lectured graduate students at UAB for several years."

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

A: “I started this position in April 2018. My immediate goals were to develop curriculum for the 2018-2019 academic year and to recruit sufficient numbers of students to our program. The first few months have been overwhelming, but also completely satisfying. We have successfully completed our first semester and now have ~30 students in our Program. Our expanding partnership with INTO UAB in recruiting international students to our Program, and the launch of our Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s program are exciting opportunities to further grow the MSMBS program. I play an active role as Recruiter at local and regional events. I review all applications submitted to our Program and render admission decisions. I also serve as Course Director for our Core science class series (Molecular and Cell Biology; Biochemistry and Cell Biology; Human Physiology), for Thesis research and for Non-Thesis research. Finally, I serve as a Mentor for all students in our Program. I could not be successful in this new role without the constant support of the many Graduate School Staff, as well as the constant mentoring in particular of Dean Lori McMahon and Associate Dean Dan Bullard.”

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: “My primary goal as MSMBS Program Director is to provide individualized mentoring for every student. My hope is for students to become empowered not only to achieve academic success in our Program, but to also plan meaningfully for short-term and long-term career success.”

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 take teaching very seriously. My lectures have primarily been didactic but I strive to make them interactive throughout by posing questions to the students. I am very mindful of student evaluations and use these to improve lecture content and delivery. One of the most important goals in the first year of MSMBS has been to recruit a group of respected faculty teachers with content expertise for our core classes. In the near future, I plan to adopt active learning approaches in the hopes of further enhancing classroom learning."

Q: What influences have shaped you?

A: “I grew up in a hard-working, blue-collar family. Working hard is part of my DNA but I have also learned to enjoy life to its fullest. Now, a major priority of mine is to stay healthy through daily exercise, which reduces my stress and increases my work productivity.”

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

A: “During the workweek, I commute part way in and walk or run the remaining distance to and from campus. On weekends, I enjoy long runs, gardening and spending time with family. I also play racquetball and starting to play tennis.”

Q: Tell me a bit about your family.

A: "My wife (a physician here at UAB) and I have been married for 18 years. We have two boys (10 and 13), three cats and a new Golden Retriever puppy."

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