Students who represent highest level of achievement honored by UAB

Casey Mahoney-Crane and Banks Stamp are the 2023 recipients of the Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies — the UAB Graduate School’s highest honor.

Two University of Alabama at Birmingham graduate students are being recognized for representing the highest level of student achievement.

Casey Mahoney-Crane and Banks Stamp are the 2023 recipients of the Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies. The Barker Award, named for UAB’s first graduate dean, Samuel Booth Barker, Ph.D., is the UAB Graduate School’s highest honor. It is awarded each spring to one Ph.D. student and one master’s degree student who expect to receive their degrees within the calendar year. Each will receive a $1,000 award.

Mahoney-Crane, a doctoral student in the neuroscience theme of the Graduate Biomedical Sciences program and the National Institutes of Health-funded Roadmap Scholars Program, will graduate from UAB in December.

Stamp will graduate from UAB on April 28 with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree and a graduate certificate in science policy, through UAB’s Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Program.

UAB has amazing graduate students whose exceptional work will have a significant impact locally, nationally and globally, says Graduate School Dean and Vice Provost for Graduate and International Education Shadi Martin, Ph.D.

“Casey and Banks are wonderful examples of the outstanding students who represent the Graduate School and UAB as a whole,” Martin said.

Casey Mahoney CraneCasey Mahoney CraneCasey Mahoney-Crane

Mahoney-Crane, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is an accomplished scientist and leader among her peers — an exceptional student who is deserving of this high recognition for her accomplishments in research, leadership and service, says Cristin Gavin, Ph.D., assistant director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program.

“It is students like Casey that keep our student body engaged,” Gavin said. “She is always quick to volunteer and generous with her time, and she approaches service and leadership with a positive attitude.”

Mahoney-Crane has demonstrated a high level of research productivity and community engagement while maintaining a competitive GPA. She has published three peer-reviewed research articles in high-impact publications. In 2021, she was recognized as the Parkinson’s Association of Alabama Scholar and received the Young Investigators Award at the Inaugural International Research Conference on Neurodegenerative Diseases. Mahoney-Crane has been instrumental in securing her own research funding, most recently with her successful pursuit of a National Institutes of Health F31 predoctoral fellowship. As an extension to her academics, she has been a graduate teaching assistant in three different graduate courses since 2020, including one for the Dauphin Island labs that requires intensive training.

In addition to her scientific contributions, Mahoney-Crane is a leader and excels inside and outside the laboratory as a mentor to undergraduate students.

As a Roadmap Scholar, Mahoney-Crane has given her time to serve on the executive board as both the mentoring and tutoring coordinator and the social media coordinator. She has been an active mentor in the laboratory to five undergraduate and summer students over the last three years. She is a near-peer mentor for the R25 Blazer BRAIN Summer Program, working with multiple students each summer to orient them to the culture of science and assist them in preparing applications to graduate school.

“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 Caseys in our theme.”

Mahoney-Crane says she was “shocked, humbled and honored” to receive the award. 

“It is so validating to know that hard work truly does pay off,” Mahoney-Crane said.

She plans to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship with aspirations to lead a lab focused on neurodegenerative diseases.

Banks StampBanks Stamp
Photography: UAB National Alumni Society
Banks Stamp

Stamp, a native of Phenix City, Alabama, is in the UAB Honors College’s Personalized Path and the College of Arts and SciencesPolitical Science and Public Administration program.

He will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a Master of Public Administration degree. The nationally ranked MPA program prepares students for successful careers in public service where they can serve the greater good.

Stamp 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 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 Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director Erin Borry, Ph.D., in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration

Stamp has exceptional leadership skills, including serving as:

  • An ambassador coordinator with UAB Sustainability since October 2020
  • UAB 2022
  • Civic design intern with the City of Birmingham’s Mayor’s Office since January 2022
  • Representative from the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations at the American Committees on Foreign Relations Young Leaders Initiative in Washington, D.C.
  • Political director for Alabama College Democrats from 2021-2022
  • Health policy ambassador for the Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution

Stamp hopes to help alleviate poverty, reduce crime, increase economic development and lower carbon emissions by enacting policies to increase equity and sustainability. His achievements — academically and professionally — provide a strong foundation for him to realize these goals, Borry says.

“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.”

Stamp says his reaction upon learning of the award was euphoric.

“These past few years have been full of growth, exploration and reflection,” Stamp said. “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.”

As a Marshall Scholar, Stamp will continue his academic career in the United Kingdom after graduation, where he intends to pursue a Master of Sciences degree in international city planning at University College London. 

The Graduate School also selected three students to receive the 2023 Graduate Biomedical Sciences/Joint Health Sciences Outstanding Student Awards: