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Student / Faculty Achievements


APRIL 2016


UA Journalism Student Honored with Scripps Howard Award

A UA College of Communication and Information Sciences student, Matthew Wilson, was named a winner of a Scripps Howard Foundation collegiate reporting competition. As one of nine students, nationally, winning the Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition, Wilson, a Robertsdale native, will participate in a nine-day journalism study trip to Japan. The competition, established in 1984 in cooperation with Indiana University Journalism, honors the memory of the journalist who led Scripps Howard Newspapers from 1922-1953 and United Press from 1912-1920. This year marks the 11th year that the Scripps Howard Foundation has awarded the study tour to Japan to competition winners.


UA Engineering Student Selected for D.C. Internship

Andy Cloyd, a UA senior in mechanical engineering from Lexington, KY, was selected to work as an intern this summer for Washington Internships for Students of Engineering. He will spend nine weeks in Washington, DC, where he will engage with government officials to learn how public policy impacts engineering technology and advancement. Cloyd, a member of UA’s American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers branch, will intern as a representative of the organization. ASHRAE, a global society founded in 1894, focuses on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education. The internship trains engineering students interested in the intersection of science, technology and public policy.


New Director Named At UA’s Moundville Park

Dr. Alexander Benitez was instantly drawn to UA’s Moundville Archaeological Park for many reasons, one of which was the connection between park staff and the many Native American communities who still regularly visit the area. Benitez, who recently took on the role of Moundville Archaeological Park’s director, holds a master’s and doctorate in anthropology from the University of Texas-Austin and a bachelor’s from the University of Arizona. Over the past 25 years he has worked at several state and federal museums and collections facilities in a variety of positions, and he has served on the faculty at George Mason University


UA Engineering Students Took Part in SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition

A team of UA engineering students took part in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend, a national contest on the leading edge of transportation research. Five seniors studying mechanical engineering were among 1,000 students representing more than 100 universities and three high schools at the contest at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. The teams came from 27 states and 20 countries. The Design Weekend teams were selected by SpaceX from hundreds of entries to present their concepts to a panel of SpaceX, Tesla and university judges for a chance to build and test their design prototype at the world’s first Hyperloop Test Track being built by SpaceX adjacent to its headquarters in Hawthorne, CA. This final phase of the Hyperloop competition will be held in the summer of 2016.


Texas Native Named to UA Museum Research, Collections Role

Dr. John Abbott has been an insect lover for as long as he remembers. He has studied the fascinating creatures for most of his career. The Texas native is now bringing that knowledge and passion to UA as the new director of Museum Research and Collections. Abbott received his doctorate in biology from the University of North Texas in 1999 with a biogeographical study of the dragonflies and damselflies of the south-central U.S. After a short post-doc at the Stroud Water Research Center at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, he took a faculty position at the University of Texas at Austin and became curator of entomology for the Texas Natural Science Center at UT.


UA Students Made Muscle Car Greener for National Contest

After nearly 18 months preparing, the UA EcoCAR 3 team turned a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into an advanced, significantly more energy-efficient vehicle that should maintain the speed and performance of the muscle car. In 2014, UA was selected as one of 16 institutions to participate in EcoCAR 3, an engineering competition sponsored by General Motors Co. and the U.S. Department of Energy that challenges students to create a car that uses less energy and emits less pollution without sacrificing performance, safety or consumer appeal. About 150 students from eight different disciplines were part of UA’s team. This was the first team from UA in more than 20 years to participate in the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition Series. The team also works with the Capstone Agency, a UA student-run public relations firm.


UA Engineering Students Replaced Historic Steps at Moundville Park

The steps of Alabama’s tallest mound received a much-needed makeover, thanks to a group of UA engineering students. The Mound B steps at Moundville Archaeological Park were built by Jim Caldwell and two park staff members in 1967. Although the work took several months to complete, the steps lasted for nearly 50 years.  But time and wear and tear from the thousands of people who climb those steps every year took its toll, and the steps had fallen into disrepair. In stepped UA’s Student Engineers in Action. The group of engineering students had been involved in several service projects at the park for the past couple of years, the first of which was clearing overgrowth at the front of Mound B in the fall of 2014. From there, the group visited the park and put together a list of projects. Replacing the Mound B steps was at the top of that list.


UA Names Director of the Center for Sedimentary Basin Studies

Dr. Berry H. “Nick” Tew, Jr., Alabama’s state geologist and oil and gas supervisor, has been named director of UA’s Center for Sedimentary Basin Studies and a research professor in the UA’s department of geological sciences. His work with UA will be in addition to his duties directing the Geological Survey of Alabama and the staff of the State Oil and Gas Board. A national leader in geosciences, Tew brings decades of experience to the center. He has worked with the Geological Survey of Alabama for 31 years and is nearing his 14th year as the state geologist. Formerly, he served as the president of the American Geo-sciences Institute and the Association of American State Geologists, in addition to several other service and leadership activities on boards and committees. He is a fellow in the Geological Society of America.


Student-Cadets at UA Received Air Force Reserve Officer Corps Scholarships

Seven student-cadets at UA were awarded scholarships from the Air Force Reserve Officer Corps. The corps’s In-College Scholarship program is designed to help AFROTC meet its goal to provide quality leaders as active duty officers in the U.S. Air Force. Recipients were selected from a field of nominees representing more than 145 detachments nationwide. Nominations were submitted to the scholarship board by detachment commanders based on qualities such as leadership, grade point average, fitness and high levels of participation in the AFROTC program. Nominees must be full time students with a CGPA of 3.0 or higher, an ACT score of 24/SAT of 1100 or higher, and meet AFROTC enrollment requirements. The board then used a highly competitive selection process to determine the scholarship recipients.


UAB Division of Infectious Diseases Taps New Leadership

Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH, a leading researcher in HIV and sexually transmitted infections, has been named director of the UAB School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases. She looks to build relationships and strong interactions between basic sciences, epidemiology and biostatistics, and clinical science within the Division of Infectious Diseases to collaborate on research and expand opportunities in finding new methods for preventing and managing common diseases.


UAB Students Win Gold, Silver and Best of Show at 2016 Birmingham American Advertising Awards

The American Advertising Federation Birmingham Awards, also known as the ADDYs, honored students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham for their work at a ceremony held on February 26. The students are from the College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Art and Art History and Digital Media. More than two dozen students were honored with Gold and Silver Student ADDY awards for their individual and team projects. Digital Media was awarded Best of Show. The Digital Media Fellows program is a paid student program in which students from a variety of disciplines work in teams to produce media content for clients.


UAB Researcher Named One of Five Outstanding New Environmental Scientists

Daniel Gorelick, PhD, assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, has been awarded an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The five-year grant totals $2.1 million. He and four other “exceptional early-career scientists” will receive new grants totaling $2.5 million in the first year, as part of the Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) program, according to the NIEHS.

UAB Students Named University Innovation Fellows, Launch Makerspace

Four UAB undergraduate students selected as University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation have launched a Makerspace on campus where students, staff and faculty can create and collaborate with one another. The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. Fellows work to ensure their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future and make a positive impact on the world.  Rohit Borah, Murray Ladner, Forrest Satterfield and John Shelley will represent UAB as four members of the nation’s 150 University Innovation Fellows program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell. UAB is one of 52 universities – and the only in Alabama – to have students selected for the program.

UAB Junior Heading to West Africa After Landing Competitive Scholarship

UAB junior and Tuscaloosa native Shanquela Williams is preparing for classes at a university more than 5,000 miles away. Williams is one of 800 American undergraduates from 355 colleges and universities across the United States selected for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The Gilman Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program aims to make study abroad experiences accessible to a more diverse population of students and to encourage students to choose less traditional study abroad destinations, especially outside of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.


UAB Professor One of Three Doctors to Receive National Clinical Excellence Award

Suzanne Oparil, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Vascular Biology and Hypertension Program at UAB, will be one of only three doctors from the United States to receive the Clinical Excellence Award at the National Physician of the Year Awards in New York City. The awards are given annually by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. and recognize doctors and researchers who demonstrate excellence in clinical medical practice. Castle Connolly annually solicits special nominations from thousands of physicians across the country and the leadership of more than 1,000 hospitals.

UAH Eminent Scholar Rated Top 100 Authors

Dr. Jeet Gupta, Associate Dean, Professor of Information Systems, and Eminent Scholar, has been rated as one of the top 100 authors (ranked as #30) in production and operations management research. The findings were presented in the International Journal of Production Research in an article entitled, “Twenty-six years of operations management research (1985-2010): Authorship patterns and research constituents in eleven top rated journals,” by Shang, Saladin, Fry, and Donohue.


UAH Management Professor Selected as Outstanding Reviewer

Dr. Sophia Marinova, Associate Professor of Management, was selected as an Outstanding Manuscript Reviewer by the Journal of Business Research. The journal is one of the most well-respected academic interdisciplinary business journals.

UAH Professor to Serve on NASHRM Board of Directors

Dr. William Mackenzie, Interim Associate Dean and Assistant Professor of Management, will serve on the North Alabama Society for Human Resource Management (NASHRM) Board of Directors for calendar year 2016. NASHRM is an affiliate of the national professional organization for HR professionals.


UAH Student Investment Group Attends Dinner

In February, the UAH Capital Management Group (CMG) attended the CFA Society of Alabama 2016 Fore-cast Dinner in Birmingham. The CMG is the university’s student investment management team. The featured speaker was Dr. Adam Parker, US Equity Strategist and Director of Quantitative Research at Morgan Stanley in New York.


UAH College of Engineering Faculty Recognized by Governor’s Office

ISEEM faculty member Dr. Phillip Farrington received service recognition from the governor’s office. Upon completing his second term on the Alabama Robotic Technology Park (RTP) Executive Board, he was presented with a certificate of appreciation signed by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. He joined the board in 2011 and served terms as Vice Chair and Chair.


UAH Art Students Participated in College Book Arts Association Conference

UAH Printmaking students Ilene Galloway, Allen Hutchinson, Shannon Kennedy, Aoife McDonnell, Terre Corley, and Kim Baptist attended the College Book Arts Association Conference in Nashville, TN, in January 2016. They attended lectures, work-shops, exhibitions, and participated in mentoring and open portfolio sessions.

UAH Art Professor’s Work Featured in Two Exhibits

Ms. Katie Baldwin, Assistant Professor of Art History, had her work titled “Fireworks on the Canal” selected for an exhibition titled Look Both Ways: Art at the Crossroads of Abstraction and Representation, which opened at the Woodmere Art Museum on February 13.

UAH Photography Professor Exhibited at MTSU and UAH

Photography Professor Mr. José Betancourt exhibited his work “Cuba: Reconstructing Memories,” at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN, and at UAH.


UAH Art Professor’s Work Exhibited in Multiple Venues

Ms. K. Jill Johnson, Associate Professor of Art History, exhibited her paintings in multiple venues: the exhibit Contemporary South at the Visual Art Exchange Gallery in Raleigh, NC; the Chautauqua National “What If?” exhibit at the Giles Gallery at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY; and in “Up Next” at the Next Gallery in Denver, CO. She was also featured in the January 2016 issue of Pinch Literary Journal, which featured her artwork “There’s Nothing Worse Than a Staunch Woman.”


UAH Political Science Professor Accepted for Publication

Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Anne Marie Choup had her article “Beyond Domestic Violence Survivor Services: Refocusing on Inequality in the Fight against Gender-Based Violence in America” accepted for publication in the Bulletin of Latin American Research.

UAH Communication Arts Professor Published

Dr. Pavica Sheldon, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts, published her article “Instagram: Motives for its use and relationship to narcissism and contextual age” in Computers and Human Behavior.


UAH Clinical Assistant Professor Chosen to Serve on Nursing Panel

Dr. Rita Ferguson was selected to serve on the American Nurses Association and Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association Palliative and Hospice Nursing Professional Issues Panel as an Advisory Group member.


UAH Clinical Assistant Professor Chosen to Serve as Evaluator

Dr. Rita Ferguson was selected to serve as an on-site evaluator in the national accreditation process for the review of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education programs by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


UAH Clinical Associate Professor Selected as Committee Member

Dr. Marlena Primeau, Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing, was selected as a member of the Fulbright Scholarship Interview Committee.


UAH Clinical Assistant Professor Appointed to Committee

Ms. Sharon Spencer, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, was appointed to the Alabama Health Action Coalition Diversity Committee.


UAH Research Scientist Involved in Gravitational Wave Discovery

CSPAR Research Scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor Dr. Tyson Littenberg and Space Science Department graduate student Jessica Page are members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which announced the discovery of gravitational waves on February 11, 2016. The gravitational waves came from merging black holes over 1 billion light years away, and a significant part of the work to detect and characterize the breakthrough signal happened in Huntsville.

UAH College of Science Graduate Student Receives Award

Atmospheric Science PhD candidate, Nan Feng, advised by Dr. Sundar Christopher, earned the Outstanding Student Presentation Award from the Aerosols-Clouds-Precipitation Symposium at the recently concluded American Meteorological Society conference in New Orleans, LA, in January 2016.


UAH College of Science Graduate Student Receives Award

Atmospheric Science PhD candidate Anthony Lyza, advised by Dr. Kevin Knupp, was selected as a winner of the 18th Symposium on Meteorological Observation and Instrumentation (18SMOI) Student Competition, which took place during the American Meteorological Society’s 96th Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA, in January.  His abstract, “An Intercomparison of WSR-88D and ARMOR Radar Observations of the 14 July 2015 Tennessee Valley Tornadic Quasi-Linear Convective System”, won the award of Outstanding Student Presentation.


UAH College of Science Assistant Professor Creates Consortium

Atmospheric Science Assistant Professor Dr. Robert Griffin established the Alabama Remote Sensing Consortium, a formal consortium of research universities in the state including Auburn and Alabama A&M, which will get exclusive access to research grade hyperspectral data from Teledyne Brown’s MUSES platform.


UAH College of Education Dean to Serve on National Organization Committee

Dr. Beth Quick was chosen to serve as a member of the AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) Committee on Membership Development and Capacity Building for a 3-year term.

UAH College of Education Lecturer Selected to Serve on Elite Athletic Selection Committee

Mr. David Kyle, Lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology, was selected as a member of the Elite Paratriathlon Selection Committee. He will be one of three members responsible for choosing elite athletes to represent Team USA at international Paratriathlon events.


UAH Graduate Student Competes at Regional 3MT Competition

In February, biotechnology graduate student Samuel Nkrumah-Agyeefi competed in the regional Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition hosted by The Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS). Upon winning his semifinal heat, Samuel moved on to the final round where he placed 7th overall and received a cash prize award for placing in the top ten.