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Psychology award given to, then named for, neuroscience major

  • December 17, 2012

Professor says he has never had an intro-level sudent answer every question correctly for an entire semester.

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) freshman Amy Stewart, a neuroscience major and member of the University Honors Program, won the top award for PY101 Introductory to Psychology – and now the honor will be named for her. Stewart, who is from Madison, Ala., is the only student in a class of 600 to earn a perfect score on every exam.

Carl McFarland, Ph.D., co-director of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, has been teaching the introductory psychology course since 1975. He estimates he has had more than 20,000 students in this class and has never had a student finish a semester answering every question correctly. McFarland said the top performer honor will now be called the Amy Stewart Award because “no student could ever surpass ‘perfect.’”

Stewart, who plans to pursue a career in neuroscience research, will be mentored next semester by Lori McMahon, Ph.D., in the UAB Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology. Stewart will be investigating the benefits of increasing a specific brain protein, O-GlcNAcylations, to treat the detrimental effects of epilepsy and traumatic brain injury. She will learn how to prepare hippocampal slices, perform Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry as part of the Mentored Experiences in Research, Instruction and Teaching (MERIT) Program.