Written by Bob Shepard, UAB News

Jose FernandezJosé Fernández, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for Education in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions, has been named the inaugural winner of the Shiriki Kumanyida Diversity Leadership Award from the Obesity Society. The award recognizes an investigator whose research has made a significant difference in the field of obesity disparities.

The prevalence of obesity has significantly increased among the population of the United States over the past 30 years, with nearly one-third of adults now considered obese. Obesity is a known risk factor for many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Significant racial/ethnic disparities continue to exist in the occurrence of obesity.

Fernández joined UAB in August 2001, bringing special expertise in the application of statistical models to detect and disentangle genetic and environmental influences in obesity-related traits. His main research interest is the identification of genes that contribute to racial differences in obesity and diabetes. He uses the genetic admixture approach as a tool to decompose the genetic, social and cultural components underlying racial and ethnic differences in complex traits.

Kelly West (pictured far left)Kelly West (pictured far left)Rachel Sullivan and Anna Harrison, with the Dietetic Internship program, and Kelly West, with the M.S. in Nutrition Sciences program, have each earned an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Scholarship.

Sullivan, who is originally from Huntsville, received the Irene Jones Scholarship in the amount of $2,500.

Harrison, who is from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, received the Dietetics in Health Care Communities DPG Horizon Scholarship for $4,500.

West received the Patsyjane O’Malley Memorial Scholarship.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, with more than 75,000 members, is the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in the world. Their scholarships are highly competitive. 

Camille SchneiderCamille Schneider, '17When Camille Schneider applied to the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, she didn’t know that she would end up jointly enrolled in both the Dietetic Internship and Ph.D. in Nutrition Sciences programs.

“I’d mentioned in my personal statement that my ultimate goal was to get a Ph.D., but I was not aware of a combined DI/Ph.D. program at UAB,” Schneider says. “I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call from Susan Miller, the Dietetic Internship program director. I came to visit UAB and absolutely loved it.”

Schneider completed her Dietetic Internship in June 2013 and became an RD in September 2013. Now she’s using her clinical training to bring a fresh perspective to the Ph.D. experience.

barbara gower2Barbara Gower, Ph.D.Two faculty members in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are among 23 recipients of the 2015 Scientist, Clinician, Educator/Mentor & Young Investigator Awards given by the American Society of Nutrition.

Barbara A. Gower, Ph.D., has received the Dannon Institute Mentorship Award, supported by the Dannon Institute, in the category of Senior Investigator – Educator & Mentor Awards.

In the category of Young Investigator Awards, Daniel L. Smith Jr., Ph.D., has received the Bio-Serv Award in Experimental Animal Nutrition, supported by Bio-Serv Inc.

Gower and Smith, along with the other award winners, will be recognized in a ceremony Sunday, March 29, during the ASN Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Susan Miller MS RD LDSusan Miller, RD, LDSusan Miller, R.D., L.D., assistant professor, in the University of Alabama at BirminghamDepartment of Nutrition Sciences, volunteered to lecture at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility on January 20, 2015. Her visit was part of the UAB Donaldson lecture series providing inmates bimonthly college-level lectures each year from September through May.

“It was just like a regular classroom at UAB where you walk in, greet students, make them feel welcome and make sure they are comfortable interjecting and asking questions – which they did and I was pleased with that,” said Miller, director of the UAB Dietetic Internship Program in the UAB School of Health Professions.

The Donaldson lecture series was created in 1988 by Ada Long, Ph.D., former director of the UAB Honors Program, today known as the UAB Honors College. UAB has sent dozens of faculty members to lecture hundreds of prisoners since then. So far this year, the lecture series has featured Pulitzer Prize winner Joey Kennedy discussing “The Rise and Fall of Journalism” and former UAB Honors Program Director Michael Sloane talking about “Altruism: Genetics and Epigenetics.”

“They are hungry for information. Absolutely hungry for it,” said Miller. “Living in a correctional facility should not restrict anyone from continual learning. They should still have the ability, the capability and the right to learn.”