2023 in review: 12 Blazers who will inspire you

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From veteran staff members to undergraduates ready to take on the world, UAB is home to innovators all across campus. Meet 12 people whose stories we were able to share this year, and visit uab.edu/reporter and uab.edu/news to read dozens more.

Jerry Sewell

Jerry Sewell has always worked with his hands — first building houses with his father and grandfather, then learning metalworking. Sewell, a shop administrator in the Department of Physics, has worked with heart blood pumps, lasers, fiber optics and much more during his 59 years at UAB; he was recognized for his contributions during halftime at a Men’s Basketball game in February 2023.

Destiny Nelson-Miles

Defying all odds, Destiny Nelson-Miles graduated in spring 2023 with a degree in finance and a concentration in business honors; she is the first UAB graduate of the Birmingham Promise Scholars Program, which provides four years of tuition assistance for graduates of Birmingham City Schools to attend any public two-year or four-year college or university in Alabama.

Bob Hernandez

Bob Hernandez, DrPH, has watched campus, his department and UAB’s reputation blossom over the past 50 years. The Decatur, Alabama, native first came to UAB as a graduate student in 1969, in UAB’s first official year as an independent university. Now, 54 years later — 50 as a member of the staff and faculty — Hernandez has seen the program that he graduated from, and later led, become recognized as the best in the country. And retirement, he says, is still a few years away.

Jamie Tyler

Take a trip into the Alabama BRAIN Lab in UAB’s Spain Rehabilitation Center, where a team led by neuroengineer Jamie Tyler, Ph.D., is working with patient groups to test promising neuromodulation treatments for chronic pain, insomnia and more.

Alesia Jones

During her long tenure as head of UAB Human Resources, Alesia Jones expanded leave and streamlined benefits access for all Blazers — helping make UAB one of America’s best places to work. Today she is paying it forward for current students.

Dale Davis

Dale Davis, R.N., spent 29 years with UAB Medicine before he retired in July. A week later, he was back in the ED, where his UAB career began. It’s just the latest twist in an unforgettable life story.

Pappas and Leal

Alabama is a hotbed for fungal diseases — which is why experts in treating and tracking problematic fungi gravitate to UAB. Having Peter G. Pappas, M.D., and Sixto M. Leal Jr., M.D., Ph.D., in the halls of UAB Hospital is great news for Alabamians as killer fungi become a worldwide threat.

Anath Shalev

Anath Shalev, M.D., did everything she could to change treatment for Type 1 diabetes from her lab. But getting to first-in-human trials meant taking a step she had always resisted: starting her own company. The most surprising part? “I have enjoyed it,” Shalev said.

Tino Unlap

Discover the creative methods that Tino Unlap, Ph.D., uses to keep students learning. Their raves helped him earn the 2023 Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Teaching.

Lori Edmonds

School of Education faculty member Lori Edmonds, Ph.D., has an idea to combat teacher burnout as it becomes a major issue in classrooms nationwide. Thanks to the Blazer Bridge Fund from the Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, her Teacha project is moving forward.

Jenna Taer

Curiosity led Jenna Taer to the Computer Forensics Research Lab — and on to a master’s in cybersecurity. Then a major industry scholarship let her network with CEOs in a field she loves. “There is nothing more gratifying than witnessing the tangible impact of my efforts,” Taer said.