Honors students choose faculty members to create unique programs and activities

The unique academic experiences available to students in the UAB Honors College are expanding with the selection of the college’s 2016-2017 Honors Faculty Fellows. 

Written by: Tiffany Westry

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HC Faculty Fellows StreamPictured from left: Cristin Gavin, Ph.D., Steve McCornack, Ph.D., Dave Hilton, Ph.D., and Josh Robinson, Ph.D.In addition to the rigorous and innovative courses and service learning opportunities offered to students in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Honors College, this fall they will also have their pick of unique co-curricular and extracurricular activities with the selection of the college’s 2016-2017 Honors Faculty Fellows.

The fellows are tasked with creating activities and programs that provide academic enrichment and strengthen community throughout the UAB Honors College. The faculty members were nominated by their deans, asked to submitted proposals and were selected by a student panel.

“The impetus behind establishing our Honors Faculty Fellows came from a desire to enhance the intellectual vibrancy of the UAB Honors College, increase interactions between faculty and honors students outside of the traditional classroom, and provide additional opportunities to make meaningful connections with one another,” said Shannon Blanton, Ph.D., dean of the UAB Honors College. “I’m very excited about the programming that our inaugural 2016-2017 Honors Faculty Fellows are offering this year, and I want to encourage an even greater number of outstanding faculty from across the entire university to be a part of the UAB Honors College.”

Students on the selection committee say they received many quality proposals, noting each professor was passionate about their projects and wholeheartedly believed in the impact they would have on students.

“Reading each proposal reminded me of why I chose to come to UAB, and specifically the Honors College,” said Rebecca Massey, a junior in the UAB Honors College Science and Technology Honors Program. “The faculty isn’t only interested in how well we do academically, but also in cultivating our interests and skills outside of the classroom. From a science fiction book club to a running group, the proposals proved to me that honors faculty understand how important it is that students are enriched both in and out of the classroom. I wish all honors students could read the proposals we had to choose from so that they could see for themselves how invested their professors are in their honors experience.”

Cristin Gavin, Ph.D., co-director of the UAB Undergraduate Neuroscience Program and assistant professor of neurobiology in the UAB School of School of Medicine, will lead sessions on the mind-body connection that incorporate neuroscience, guided meditation and yoga. Gavin will also partner with Michelle Cook, Ph.D., assistant director of National and International Fellowships, to launch a new science-fiction book club. The club will look at social issues such as gender, race and politics through the lens of science fiction. The first book discussed will be “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, followed by “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury. Each book will feature supplemental reading and viewing that will help students further explore the social, political and cultural themes in the novels.

Dave Hilton, Ph.D., associate professor of physics in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, will coordinate a series of seminars on dealing with failure and taking productive steps forward. These seminars will include insights and participation from all of the faculty fellows. In addition, Hilton will lead a weekly running club for students and faculty. Hilton holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Josh Robinson, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics in the Collat School of Business, will offer a series of lectures and engaged discussions on contemporary social issues and economics. Topics will include the Affordable Care Act, state lotteries, increasing the minimum wage, and early determinants of skill formation. Robinson will also create a one-day workshop on comprehending statistics in empirical literature. 

Steve McCornack, Ph.D., professor of communication studies in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, will lead monthly dinners and discussions about deception as it relates to relationships, politics and other areas of life. McCornack will also collaborate with Gavin on the mind-body connection sessions for students.

Learn more about what each faculty fellow will offer for students in this video