Category Archives: Announcements

Tuskegee Science and Technology Open House 2016

One of the greatest problems America faces is reducing the gap between the numbers of qualified workers and the increasing need to fill jobs in science and technology fields. Tuskegee University continues to be on the forefront of addressing the future of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers in underserved areas. For about 10 years, students and teachers from around the state have been invited to the annual Science and Technology Open House to be motivated to discover more about the possibilities in STEM. Read More. TUOPENHouse

Dr. Christopher Lawson Named Vice-Chair for the Coalition of EPSCoR States

Dr. Christopher Lawson
Dr. Christopher Lawson

The EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation/Coalition is an organization that organizes national EPSCoR activities and lobbies on its behalf to the U.S. Congress. The Foundation is the non-lobbying arm, and the Coalition includes lobbying activities. More details are available here.

Dr. Lawson has been on the EPSCoR / IDeA Coalition Board of the Directors since 2010. He has been very active in Coalition activities in support of EPSCoR generally and Alabama EPSCoR specifically.

The previous Vice-Chair, Bill Gern, VP for Research at the University of Wyoming will take over as Chair from Tom McCoy, who is is leaving EPSCoR (he is the new VP for Research at Univ. North Texas).

As Vice Chair of the Coalition, Dr. Lawon will have increased influence and ability to lobby on behalf of Alabama EPSCoR.

UAH hires new VP of Research with background in cyber security, military

The University of Alabama in Huntsville has hired a new vice president for research who has an extensive background in cyber security and is a retired Army colonel.

Rayford Vaughn joins the UAH administration after serving as associate vice president for research at Mississippi State University since 2010.

During his career at Mississippi State, which began in 1997, Vaughn founded and directed the Critical Infrastructure Protection Center. According to UAH, the center was under sponsorship from the Department of Homeland Security as an outreach effort to operators of the nation’s critical infrastructure. The center supports training activities and research, which is primarily focused in the area of industrial control system security.

Visit the AL blog to read more.

UAB named to national list of 50 Advancing Women in STEM

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has been named one of 50 Colleges Advancing Women in STEM by The College Database, a leading not-for-profit resource for college-related data and rankings.

stem_ranking_sUAB earned distinction for its suite of programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with a high level of female enrollment and an impressive yearly female graduation rate.

“UAB’s STEM programs are consistently recognized for excellence, and we are honored that our commitment to fostering participation from outstanding female students and graduates has received this recognition,” said UAB Provost Linda Lucas, Ph.D., who is an engineer. “Encouraging women in these vital areas will remain a priority for us.”

Thousands of colleges and universities were researched for the final list.

“It’s vital that women are encouraged to participate in strong STEM programs like the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers to narrow the gender gap in these traditionally male arenas, academically and professionally,” said Sarah Durkin, managing director of The College Database. “As job opportunities shift in this direction, The College Database wants to recognize the colleges and universities advocating for women’s educational advancement in STEM.”

Visit UAB News to read more.

UAB and BBA partner to win prestigious $600,000 NSF Partnership for Innovation grant

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will support a University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)/Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) collaboration through a $600,000 Partnership for Innovation (PFI) grant, which has the potential to enhance and create more knowledge-based jobs in the Birmingham region through UAB startups and spin-off companies.

This is one of only 17 PFI grants awarded this year, and the first ever given in the state of Alabama. PFI grants encourage academic and industry partners to work together on research discoveries to bolster U.S. competitiveness or provide a solution to a national and/or global problem.

The grant will support a synthetic diamond research project — “Innovations in Chemical Vapor Deposited Diamond Crystals and Nanostructured Diamond Coatings” — and it represents a significant milestone in a growing strategic trend of collaborative efforts between the BBA and UAB.

Visit UAB News to read more.

UAB becomes largest cancer study enrollment site in the U.S.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham community came out in full force to support the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), becoming the largest single-site enrollment location in the United States with 1,209 participants. This surpasses the previous record set in Albany, N.Y., where 1,200 people enrolled at one site.

“We’re thrilled to break this national record,” said Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and past-president of the American Cancer Society. “I’m so proud of the UAB community for showing up and answering the call.”

Partridge had set a goal for UAB to break the single-site recruitment record with at least 1,201 participants. Partridge explained that going beyond that number is exciting, “but I am even more excited at the prospect of what this historic study is going to reveal to us about our understanding of cancer.”

Visit UAB News to read more.

Alabama STEM education initiative gets worldwide attention

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Six-year-old Blake examines three small wheat seeds under a magnifying glass and then documents what he has observed. He pinches together a piece of paper towel until it fits into a straw. The student deposits his seeds in the straw and the teacher places the straws in cups.

The class discusses whether the seed could grow without soil. It is determined that plants need air, water, and sun to grow. The teacher places the straws in water in the windows and the class will observe them during the next few weeks and record their findings.

Visit Made in Alabama to read more.

Testimony of Christopher M. Lawson, Ph.D.

lawson_testify_113x150 (1)Executive Director, Alabama EPSCoR
Director of the Graduate Research Scholars Program
Professor, Department of Physics, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Submitted to the House Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, my name is Christopher Lawson. I’m a UAB physics professor, and I also serve as Executive Director of Alabama EPSCoR. Thank you for this opportunity to testify about NSF EPSCoR and NASA EPSCoR.  For Fiscal Year 2014, we respectfully request $160 million for the NSF EPSCoR budget and $25 million for the NASA EPSCoR budget.

Congress established the EPSCoR program to ensure that research universities in all states participate in Federal science and technology activities.  Although EPSCoR states have 20% of the nation’s population, and close to 25% of its doctoral research universities, these states only receive about 10% of the Federal research outlays.  EPSCoR provides a mechanism to address these geographical imbalances.  The program has been a huge success—investments have generated growth in state economies, attracted students into STEM fields, and created a broader base of high-tech research expertise.

In my home state of Alabama, NSF EPSCoR funding has generated revolutionary advancements in science and engineering that have led to new business growth and high-paying jobs. For  example,  EPSCoR  funded research  at  UAB  has seeded  a  new  type  of  ultra-sensitive “laser optical  nose”,  that  can “sniff” environmental  toxins  from  spills  caused  by  natural disasters.    It also  may  enable long range laser “sniffing” of explosives such as roadside IED’s, to protect our soldiers. This  new  technology  led  directly  to  the  creation  of  a  new  multi-million dollar startup company in Alabama.

NSF  EPSCoR  dollars  have introduced  more  than  2,000  individuals  across  Alabama  to science  and  technology  concepts  in  the last year  alone.    In  a  time  when  the President  and  Congress  talk  about  the  urgency  of  getting  more  of  our students engaged  in  STEM  fields,  it  only  makes  sense  to  build  on  this success by continuing to fund NSF EPSCoR at $160 million.

Like  its  NSF  companion,  Congress  designed NASA EPSCoR to increase the research capacity of states with little NASA research involvement.    The  program  helps  states  compete for  funding  in  areas  that  are  directly  relevant  to  NASA’s  mission  in  earth and space science, human spaceflight, and aerospace technology.

For example, NASA EPSCoR research at the University of Alabama on  fluid  dynamics  has  the  potential  to  reduce  airflow  drag  by  30%.  A  1% reduction  in  drag  can  save  an  airline  company  $100,000  to  $200,000  in fuel  per  year  per  aircraft.  Thus,  this  research  could  ultimately   reduce  the nation’s  dependency  on  fossil  fuels,  CO2  emissions  into  the  atmosphere, and costs. Funding the NASA EPSCoR program at last year’s request level of $25 million will help to develop additional new types of NASA related technologies for additional economic growth.

At a time of economic challenges and tight budgets, programs like EPSCoR that seek a broader distribution of research funding make solid fiscal sense.  Limiting these resources to only a few states and institutions is self-defeating for our nation in the long run.  NSF and NASA EPSCoR help all states to benefit from taxpayer investments in Federal research and development, and they generate long-term growth and a skilled workforce for the future.  NSF and NASA EPSCoR stretch limited Federal dollars farther through state matching.  Not only do states benefit from increased research capacity and growth, but our nation benefits from the rich and diverse pool of talent that our entire country can provide. In a time that 33 percent of all bachelors degrees in China are in Engineering, compared to 4.5 percent in the U.S., if we are to remain globally competitive, instead of restricting ourselves to only a few states and institutions, we need to be training and harnessing all of our nation’s brainpower, and EPSCoR is working to achieve this goal.    Thank you for inviting me to testify today.