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Casey Mahoney-Crane and Banks Stamp are the recipients of the 2023 UAB Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies.

“The Barker Award,” named for UAB’s first graduate dean, Dr. Samuel Booth Barker, is given each spring to one Ph.D. student and one Master’s student, both of whom expect to receive their degrees within the calendar year. The Barker Awards are given to graduate students who represent the highest level of student achievement in a UAB graduate program. Each recipient will receive a $1,000 award.

Casey Mahoney CraneMahoney-Crane, a doctoral student in the Neuroscience theme of the Graduate Biomedical Sciences program, has demonstrated a high level of research productivity and community engagement, while also maintaining a competitive GPA. She has served as a graduate teaching assistant in three different graduate courses since 2020 and has published three peer-reviewed research articles in high impact publications (one as first author and two co-authorships). She has presented at least 11 abstracts in poster and oral format, and has been instrumental in securing her own funding, most recently with her successful pursuit of an NIH F31.

“It is students like Casey that keep our student body engaged. She is always quick to volunteer, generous with her time, and approaches service and leadership with a positive attitude,” said Cristin Gavin, Assistant Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program.

In addition to her scientific contributions, Mahoney-Crane has excelled outside of the laboratory being a mentor to several undergraduate students, as well as serving in various leadership roles around campus.

“Casey takes more student trainees and assists with more vertical mentoring than any current student. She views this as an investment in UAB’s training community, and a necessary skill for a developing scientist. We appreciate this greatly,” Gavin said. “Casey holds herself to a high internal standard of accountability. She is reliable, follows through on commitments, and consistently executes tasks at a high level. I wish we had 10 more Casey’s in our theme.”

“When I received the email officially declaring me as the recipient of this award, I was so thrilled, but I didn't fully comprehend the prestige of this award, and downplayed my acceptance as a result,” Mahoney-Crane said. “I knew it was a monumental award, but it wasn't until I had discussions with multiple PIs that I fully understood what the Barker award meant. When I realized that it was the highest award given by the Graduate School, I was shocked, humbled, and honored (actually — I still am). It is so validating to know that hard work truly does pay off.”

Mahoney-Crane will graduate in December 2023 and plans to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship with aspirations to lead a lab focused on neurodegenerative diseases.

Banks StampStamp, an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s student in the Public Administration program and a UAB Honors student, has far exceeded expectations of faculty members. He won the Student Academic Excellence Award from the Alabama Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) in 2022, is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative University’s Class of 2022 and was selected as a 2023 Marshall Scholar.

“Banks is one of the very best students I have ever taught in my 10 years at UAB,” said Dr. Erin Borry, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director. “He is exceptionally bright and an engaged citizen of the classroom. He comes to classes prepared, contributes to discussions in meaningful ways and finds important connections between classroom concepts and the real world.”

Stamp has shown exceptional leadership skills in his time at UAB. He served as Mr. UAB in 2022, was a representative from the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations (BCFR) at the American Committees on Foreign Relations (ACFR) Young Leaders Initiative in Washington, DC, was the Political Director for Alabama College Democrats from 2021 to 2022 and was a Health Policy Ambassador for the Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution (GASP). These leadership skills are supplemented by his professional experience. Since October 2020, he has served as an ambassador coordinator with UAB Sustainability, and since January 2022, has served as a Civic Design Intern with the City of Birmingham’s Mayor’s Office.

“These experiences, along with his academic achievements, make it clear that Banks has a servant’s mind and heart, and hopes to increase equity and sustainability for all, but especially for historically marginalized populations,” Borry said. “He is particularly driven to work in urban areas, where people are most able to see the direct impact of policy and political change. By enacting policies to increase equity and sustainability, Banks hopes to have a hand in alleviating poverty, reducing crime and increasing economic development, all while reducing carbon emissions. Banks’s achievements — academically and professional — provide a strong foundation for Banks to realize these goals.”

“My reaction was euphoric [upon learning of the award]!” Stamp said. “These past few years have been full of growth, exploration and reflection. It is one of the greatest honors to be recognized by my institution for the dedication and service given in all my endeavors. My accomplishments are also a testament to the love and support UAB faculty, staff and colleagues show toward each other and our Blazer family.”

Stamp is slated to graduate in April with a bachelor’s degree in political science, a graduate certificate in science policy and a Master of Public Administration. As a Marshall Scholar, he will continue his academic career in the United Kingdom after graduation, where he intends to pursue an MSc in International City Planning at University College London.

“We have amazing graduate students whose exceptional work will have a significant impact locally, nationally and globally,” said Dr. Shadi Martin, Graduate School Dean and Vice Provost for Graduate and International Education. “Casey and Banks are wonderful examples of the outstanding students who represent the Graduate School and UAB as a whole.”

The Graduate School also selected the following students to receive the 2023 Graduation Biomedical Sciences/Joint Health Sciences Outstanding Student Awards: Alexandria “Ally” Hernandez-Nichols, a doctoral student in the Pathobiology, Pharmacology and Physiology theme; Joshua Baty, a doctoral student in the Microbiology theme; and Ruthie Jacobs, a doctoral student in the Biochemistry and Structural Biology theme.

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