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Lemons among seven lauded for 40 years of service to UAB

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  • February 17, 2012

University Professor Jack Lemons, Ph.D., says his parents were telling him the truth when they said time tends to go by more quickly as you age.

Jack Lemons is in his 40th year of teaching at UAB, and the University Professor of Dentistry, Engineering and Medicine says the students have made his time here enjoyable.

“That’s certainly true,” Lemons says. “You realize that when you get above 70 years old. It seems to be running by in a hurry. But there are a lot of great memories — wonderful memories.”

Lemons’ comments also reflect on a stellar career in academia, where he has had the opportunity to affect the lives of students for more than 40 years in his positions in the school of Dentistry, Engineering and Medicine. Lemons is one of seven faculty celebrated for four decades at UAB during the annual Service Awards. The other 40-year honorees include Vithal Ghanta, Ph.D., professor of biology; Ken Marion, Ph.D., professor emeritus of biology; Jerry Spenney, M.D., professor of gastroenterology; Sergio Stagno, M.D., chair and professor of pediatrics; Joseph Van Matre, Ph.D., professor of business; and Richard Whitley, M.D., Distinguished Professor, pediatrics and infectious disease.

A luncheon honoring more than 220 employees with 20 or more years of service will be held at noon Friday, March 2 in The Doubletree Hotel as part of the annual Service Awards Program. All employees with five or more years of service are invited to a drop-in reception in their honor from 3 to 4:30 p.m. the same day.

Lemons’ primary appointment and activity is in the School of Dentistry Department of Prosthodontics, known as Biomaterials when he chaired it years ago.

“Biomaterials, or prosthodontics, is really just the things you use to make teeth,” Lemons says. “My subspecialty was using materials to make implants.”

Biomaterials, Lemons says, is based largely on engineering. That’s what led to his appointment in his early days in materials engineering. He moved to biomedical engineering later and eventually merged into medicine because of the extensive use of implants in medicine. Lemons’ specialty there was orthopedic surgery.

But the one constant for Lemons through the years — regardless of where he spent his time — has been the students.

“The key to my memories is the student body I’ve had the opportunity to interact with,” Lemons says. “They’re all delightful, wonderful people. Academically, they are the tops of the tops. You couldn’t ask for more qualified people.”

Former students remember Lemons fondly, including interim Provost Linda Lucas.

Lucas was Lemons’ first doctoral student in biomedical engineering, and he also was her advisor.

“Dr. Lemons was the best advisor a student could have,” Lucas says. “He provided guidance when needed, but he also let you explore your own ideas. I developed a love for the area of biomaterials through Dr. Lemons. I appreciate all he did for me and the hundreds of other students who worked with him.”

Lemons has directly interacted with more than 300 students through the years beyond the regular classroom lectures, as an advisor or through research endeavors. He saw many of them recently at a dentistry alumni meeting on campus, and says memories of their research work came flooding back.

“These were students in a professional degree program, and many of them are practicing orthopedic surgeons, dentists, dental specialists and biomedical engineers,” Lemons says. “Most of the former students in dentistry or medicine are practicing or are faculty. They’re all personal friends.”

The satisfaction for Lemons is the same today as it has been for more than 40 years — watching the students’ reaction when they finally got it. He considers it a privilege that so many have given him the opportunity to teach them.

“I get to experience the lighting of that light bulb when they figure out the details of what it all means,” Lemons says. “I get to see them make a change in understanding. And my academic children are so bright, you know when the light bulb goes on, you know it will carry on with them for the rest of their lives.”

Lemons was honored in November at the School of Engineering’s 40th anniversary celebration when it was announced that the Department of Biomedical Engineering created the Dr. Jack Lemons Endowed Scholarship in Biomedical Engineering as a token of gratitude for his contributions to graduate education at UAB. The endowment income will be used to support graduate student training in Biomedical Engineering, says Timothy Wick, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department.

“Jack is a dedicated mentor and educator,” Wick says. “He has trained more than 300 graduate students and impacted countless others who have gone on to careers in biomedical engineering, dentistry and medicine. I meet many of Jack’s students, and they all speak very highly of him. He is a great mentor and colleague.”

Lemons says he’s not sure how much longer he will teach. A lot depends on his health. “Being healthy at my age is called being able to pick the right parents,” he jokes. Lemons and his wife Benta just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in January, and he says they might like to do some traveling together. But Lemons also says he wants to stay close to his students.

“We always have to say at some point in life you smell the roses, but for me smelling the roses is doing what I do on a routine basis,” Lemons says. “It’s always important that you have respect for what’s good for your family. Traveling, visiting museums and taking walks on trails would be nice. So smelling the roses might be running around the country in an RV — at least part of the time.”

Those honored for service:

Honored 35-Year
J. Barry Andrews (Materials Science & Engineering); Linda P. Austin (Preventive Medicine); Charles R. Clark (CAS Info Technology); John C. Cook (Building Alteration Svcs); Tracey Craddock (IRB); Mark Goldberg (Preventive Medicine); Lila V. Graves (English); Dorothy W. Hand (Building Services); Tim J. Heaven (Dentistry); N. Rama Krishna (Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics); Hiromi Kubagawa (Laboratory Medicine); George M. Munchus (Mgmt, Info Sys, Quant Methods); Kathleen G. Nelson (General Pediatrics); Robert F. Pass (Pediatric Infectious Disease); Gregory E. Pence (Philosophy); Ollie S. Powers (Accounting & Finance); Cecelia J. Pridmore (Print Plant); Mary L. Ross (Sterne Library); Rosalia N. Scripa (Materials Science & Engineering); Donna J. Slovensky (SHP Dean’s Office); Hymie R. Vinik (Anesthesiology); Michael V. Yester (Radiology)

Honored 30-Year
Franklin R. Amthor (Psychology); Bobby Brake (Infrastructure Services); Marsha G. Brand (Immunology/Rheumatology); Sandra G. Calloway (Cardiovascular/Thoracic Surgery); Monica V. Collins (Neonatology); James E. Cox (Psychology-Ret.); Ada Elgavish (Immunology/Rheumatology); Gabriel A. Elgavish (Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics); Fouad H. Fouad (Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering); David G. Green (Electrical & Computer Engineering); William E. Grizzle (Anatomic Pathology); John W. Hutchings (English); Howard L. Irving (Music); George L. Johnson (Campus Maintenance); Juanita W. Lenyard (Cardiovascular Disease); Doretta M. Potts (ISSS-Ret.); Jeffrey C. Sellers (Comprehensive Cancer Center); Chris D. Shoemaker (Center for Biophysical Sciences/Engineering); Marshall M. Urist (Surgery-Oncology); Pam Varner (Anesthesiology); Kim A. Wellborn (Office of the President); Peter O. Welte (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation); John W. Wittig (Communication Studies); Nancy H. Wooldridge (Pediatric Pulmonary)

Honored 25-Year
Karen O. Allen (Comprehensive Cancer Center); Richard M. Allman (Gerontology/Geriatrics/Palliative Care); Peter G. Anderson (Molecular & Cellular Pathology); Diane Taylor Baer (Cystic Fibrosis Research Center); Gredda C. Bailey (Registrar); William H. Benjamin (Laboratory Medicine); Etty Benveniste (Cell Biology); Eta S. Berner (M.S. in Health Informatics Program); Wanda K. Bernreuter (Radiology); Paul E. Billings (Comprehensive Cancer Center); J. Edwin Blalock (Pulmonary/Allergy/Critical Care); Janet M. Bronstein (Health Care Organization & Policy); Dianne Caddell (Preventive Medicine); John A. Caldwell (Medical Education); Royal H. Carlisle (Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism); Robert T. Collum (Occupational Health & Safety); Jan E. Comer (Surgery-Urology); Edwin W. Cook (Psychology); Regina M. Craig (Clinical Genetics); Rebecca A. Creamer (Infectious Diseases); Linda L. Cusimano (Comprehensive Cancer Center); Mark H. Deierhoi (Surgery-Transplantation); Michael D. Downing (Hospital Maintenance); Sharon A. Dudley (Comprehensive Cancer Center); Thomas P. Edmonds (Accounting & Finance); Eric C. Farr (Hospital Maintenance); Paula A. Faucett (Surgery-Trauma); Dale S. Feldman (Biomedical Engineering); David W. Garber (Gerontology/Geriatrics/Palliative Care); Renitta Goldman (Curriculum Instruction); Dawn M. Grill (College of Arts & Sciences); Regina H. Hand (Office of Assoc VP Development & Alumni); Joseph G. Harrison (Physics); Alyce Hartley (HR); Virginia F. Heaton (Clinical Pathology); Samuel R. Hill (Grounds); Henrietta Horton (Managed Care Contracting); Mark A. Jacques (Hospital Maintenance); David B. Joseph (Surgery-Urology); Kathryn H. Junkins (Anesthesiology); John I. Kennedy (Pulmonary/Allergy/Critical Care); James R. Light (Huntsville Med-OB/GYN); Richard B. Marchase (Office of VP Research & Economic Development); Wendy Marsh-Tootle (Optometry); Beverly A. Martin (OB/GYN); John P. McArdle (Campus Maintenance); Susan B. Miller (Nutrition Sciences); Dianne M. Moon (Telecommunications); John Owen (OB/GYN); Gilbert J. Perry (Cardiovascular Disease); Connie Preston (Predoc Dentistry); Stanley K. Putnam (Student Information Systems); P. K. Quinlan (English); Brian L. Rosenow (Optometry); David L. Roth (Biostatistics); Richard M. Shewchuk (Health Services Administration); Mark Swanson (Optometry); Edward Taub (Psychology);  Bor-Yi Tsay (Accounting & Finance); Nancy C. Walburn (Academic Student Success); Carol A. Walker (Preventive Medicine); Douglas A. Weigent (Physiology & Biophysics); Rosalyn E. Weller (Psychology-Retired); Iris E. Williams (HR); Sharon C. Wise (Post Office); Paul E. Wolkowicz (Cardiovascular Disease); Anthony F. Zagar (Radiology)

Honored 20-Year
Ed Adair (Student Housing); Deborah L. Alvis (Physician Relations & Patient Referral); Carolyn S. Ashworth (Pediatrics); Marie F. Baisden (HRM); Derrick D. Baldwin (Hospital Maintenance); Joseph P. Barchue (Cardiovascular Disease); Linda H. Barnes (Emergency Med); Asim K. Bej (Biology); Suzanne M. Bergman (Nephrology); Pam Bounelis (Medicine); Steve D. Bradford (Occupational Health & Safety); S. Louis Bridges (Immunology/Rheumatology); Teresa J. Bryan (Internal Medicine); Delana S. Burdette (Huntsville Clinic); Sherry M. Bush (Huntsville Clinic); Ubol M. Butler (Cardiovascular Disease); Waldemar A. Carlo (Neonatology); Naymond Clark (University Police); Anita N. Clemon (HRM); William C. Cockerham (Sociology); Carl H. Coghill (Neonatology); Ronal Coleman (Hospital Maintenance); Patricia Cosper (Art & Art History); Alfonzo L. Cotton (Hospital Maintenance); Carol J. Dashiff (Nursing Fam/Child Health/Caregiver); Susan L. Davies (Health Behavior); Colin J. Davis (History); Debra A. Davis (Hospital HR); Sonja H. Deloach (Health System); Melanie P. DeRamus (Health Care Organization & Policy); Maria D. Descartes (Clinical Genetics); Kenneth W. Doss (Cardiovascular Disease); Stephen W. Duncan (Health System); Samuel L. Eaton (Elevator Maintenance); Alan W. Eberhardt (Biomedical Engineering); Clara E. Edwards (Optometry); Mahmoud H. El Kouni (Pharmacology/Toxicology); Kimberly P. Estell (Physiology & Biophysics); Charles N. Falany (Pharmacology/Toxicology); Kathryn C. Fallon (Neonatology); Crayton A. Fargason (General Pediatrics); Winfield S. Fisher (Neurosurgery); Mona N. Fouad (Preventive Medicine); Stuart J. Frank (Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism); Kohtaro  Fujihashi (Pediatric Dentistry); Thomas L. Gallimore (Center for Biophysical Sciences/Engineering); James F. George (Cardiovascular/Thoracic); Patricia S. Goode (Gerontology/Geriatrics/Palliative Care); Truman B. Grayson (Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism); Yolanda V. Guyton (Center for Clinical & Translational Sciences); Mark N. Hadley (Neurosurgery); Tracy P. Hamilton (Chemistry); Robert W. Hardy (Laboratory Medicine); Dennis R. Harris (Campus Maintenance); Sharon Harrison (Dentistry); Jin He (Plastic Surgery); Cynthia D. Hedgepeth (Education); Thomas S. Huddle (Internal Medicine); Larry W. Johnson (Genetics); Victoria A. Johnson (Infectious Diseases); Walter H. Johnson (Pediatric Cardiology); Pauline E. Jolly (Epidemiology); Victor L. Jones (Central Utilities); Ryoichi  Kawai (Physics); William D. King (Pediatrics); Krystyna  Kolasa (Physiology & Biophysics); Janice Lambert (Psychology); Elliot J. Lefkowitz (Microbiology); Cora E. Lewis (Preventive Medicine); Xiao-Ying Liu (Clinical Genetics); Sandra G. Long (Occupational Therapy); Teresa R. Lowery (Sociology); Tobithia W. McKinney (Microbiology); Demetra A. McLin (Family & Community Medicine); Linda D. Milazzo (Plastic Surgery); Francine M. Montgomery (Medicine); Kathryn D. Morgan (Justice Sciences); Ronald E. Murphy (Hospital Maintenance); Toni T. Neumeier (Dentistry); Willie L. Odom (Clinical & Diagnostic Sciences); Clara C. Orji (OB/GYN); Amy B. Perkins (Microbiology); Vanessa Pickens (Center for Educational Accountability); Cheryl A. Pledger (Telecommunications); Alan Randich (Psychology); Nicholas S. Rogers (International Recruitment Retention); Robyn L. Rouleau (Center for Biophysical Sciences/Engineering); Souheil Saddekni (Radiology); Kamellia Safavy (Infectious Diseases); Mary J. Sanspree (Optometry); Curtis Michael Sasser (HUC Operations); Kimberly A. Schnormeier (Theatre); Joseph E. Schumacher (Preventive Medicine); Judy A. Sheppard (OB/GYN); Melanie J. Smith (Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism); Wlad T. Sobol (Radiology); Marsha S. Sturdevant (Pediatrics); Derek J. Tarr (Men’s Tennis); Ozburn E. Taylor (Physical Security); Cynthia Terry (Registrar); W. Anne Burton Theibert  (Neurobiology); Victoria Tripp (Procurement Contracts); Brenda D. Tucker (Post Office); Sheila D. Turner (Pediatric Dentistry); Herman L. Turner (Campus Maintenance); William P. Vaughan (Hematology & Oncology); Maria S. Voce (Optometry); Denise Walker (Building Services); Mark Walter (Microbiology); Miles T. Ward (Campus Maintenance); Raymond G. Watts (Pediatric Hematology/Oncology); Gilbert Weinstein (Mathematics); Caroline West (Women’s Center); Diane Williams (Preventive Medicine); Douglas E. Williams (Hospital Maintenance); Craig M. Wilson (Epidemiology)