Two students and one faculty selected for a prestigious national research program

The research program is aimed at transforming students into advocates for scholarship, leadership and creative inquiry.
Written by: Tehreem Khan
Media contact: Brianna Hoge

Trip InsideA team of two students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Rachael George and Ali McDearmond, along with faculty member Despina Stavrinos, Ph.D., have been selected by the Council on Undergraduate Research for the 2022-23 Scholars Transforming Through Research Program. 

George, a native of Sterrett, Alabama and a public health major, and McDearmond, a native of Eva, Alabama and a psychology major, went through a rigorous application process to be selected with 75 other teams to be a part of the STR program. It is a professional development opportunity for teams consisting of a campus representative and one or two undergraduate students. Stavrinos, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the founder and director of the Translational Research for Injury Prevention Laboratory, will lead the two Honors College students to conduct research with her. 

“Undergraduate researchers in the TRIP Lab are encouraged and empowered to participate in the research process through direct mentorship, access to a state-of-the-art driving simulator, and ongoing leadership and professional development opportunities,” Stavrinos said. “We are committed to gaining a better understanding of the psychological aspects of transportation-related injury through multidisciplinary research and translating those findings into the practice of injury prevention and control.”

Through this program, the UAB team will have the tools needed to engage in successful collaborative interactions with stakeholders, which include legislators and the public. 

“We aspire to transform real-time, transportation-related policy priorities and hope to learn effective ways to communicate with policymakers and better understand legislative reasoning,” Stavrinos said.  

The overall aim of the STR program is to develop students’ communication and advocacy skills, so they are well-prepared to convey the power of the high-impact practices of undergraduate research, scholarship and creative inquiry experience to diverse stakeholder groups.