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The Edge of Chaos Scholars

Dr. David B. Allison joined the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2001, where he currently Distinguished Professor, Quetelet Endowed Professor of Public Health, Associate Dean for Science, Director of Office of Energetics, and Director of the NIH-funded Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC).  Prior to UAB, he was a research scientist at the New York Obesity Research Center and Associate Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.  Dr. Allison received his Ph.D. from Hofstra University in 1990. He then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a second post-doctoral fellowship at the NIH-funded New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital Center.  Dr. Allison has authored over 500 scientific publications and edited five books. He has won several awards, including the 2002 Lilly Scientific Achievement Award from The Obesity Society (TOS), the 2002 Andre Mayer Award from the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO), and the National Science Foundation Administered 2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). In 2009, he was awarded the Centrum Award from the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) and the TOPS research achievement award from the Obesity Society.  In 2013, he was awarded the Alabama Academy of Science's "Wright A. Gardner" award and the American Society of Nutrition's (ASN) "Dannon Institute Mentorship" award.  He was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) in 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2008, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2009, the NY Academy of Medicine in 2014, the Gerontological Society of America in 2014, and inducted into the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars in 2013.

Thomas Anthony is the Director of the Big Data Research and Analytics Laboratory and works in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research interests   include big data analytics for brain mapping using magnetic resonance imaging, high-performance and high-throughput computation for scientific applications and simulation of wireless sensor networks. He has extensive expertise in scientific computing systems development and management. His current projects are funded by pilot grants from the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Institute of Health for the detection of Parkinson’s Disease using imaging and by a compute allocation grant from the National Institute for Computational Sciences at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is also part of Research Computing at UAB IT, which is tasked with developing and maintaining the high performance computing system at UAB. He also teaches courses in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He Completed his B.E. in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from the University of Pune, India and worked as a Network Engineer with a company in India for a year before coming to Birmingham to further his education in Computer Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He received an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Control Systems, Computer Engineering, and Parallel Computing.

Dr. William Cockerham is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and the Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He performed post-graduate work at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, after completing his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. Among his recent books is Medical Sociology, 13th ed. (Routledge, 2015) which was included on the International Sociological Association’s List of “100 Sociology Books of the 20th Century”. He serves on the editorial board of Society and Mental Health and as associate editor of Social Current. He served as President of the Research Committee on Health Sociology for the International Sociological Association from 2006-2010, and he is the Editor-in-Chief of the five volume Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior and Society.

Dr. William Curry is a Professor of Medicine who joined the UAB faculty in 2004. He is the former Associate Dean of the Tuscaloosa Regional Medical Campus of UAB (1997-2004). He formerly was in private practice in Rural Alabama. Dr. Curry is also the Associate Dean for Primary Care and Rural Medicine. He was the former President of the State Medical Association and member of the State Committee of Public Health and Board of medical Examiners. He served as Chair of the HRSA Advisory Committee in 2009-2010. He does significant work attending and clinic supervision at the BVAMC and University Hospital. Dr. Curry received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University, Tennessee and his Residency and Chief Residency at the Vanderbilt University Hospital. Dr. Curry’s research interests include medical education and clinical system improvement. He has been involved in projects that investigated curricular improvement methods for resident education, diabetes care improvement by rural physicians, interdisciplinary patient care, and characteristics of successful medical student education on regional campuses. He also has an interest in narrative medicine.

Dr. Joel Dobbs  serves as an Executive in Residence in Entrepreneurship at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  He is an experienced life sciences executive with over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He has served in a variety of senior leadership roles in information technology as well as general management, academia and consulting. He has extensive experience and exceptional success in the conceptualization, planning, development, implementation and management of innovative information management technologies, solutions and services to meet mission-critical business requirements of high-profile global pharmaceutical enterprises. Dr. Dobbs has served as a high-performance member of the top-tier executive teams of dynamic organizations in startup, rapid-growth, turnaround, merger, integration and change phases. He is a visionary leader with a big-picture perspective, detail orientation, high-caliber management qualifications, innate business acumen, and sound judgment. 

Dr. Michelle V. Fanucchi is the Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).   She received her B.A. in Biology from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. She earned a Ph.D. in Pharmacology & Toxicology from the University of California at Davis and was a postdoctoral fellow in Environmental and Toxicologic Pathology at Michigan State University.  Dr. Fanucchi began her academic career as a research faculty member at the University of California before coming to the UAB School of Public Health.  She was appointed as Chair in 2012 after serving one year as interim chair.  Dr. Fanucchi s research interests include environmental pollutants and their effects on children’s lung development, new animal models for the study of cystic fibrosis and the development of therapeutics for use after chemical exposures.  Dr. Fanucchi’s passion for a healthy environment for children has led her to become engaged in community action groups and to act as a Resource partner for the North Birmingham Community Coalition, a group formed to revitalize that neighborhood after decades of environmental contamination. Dr. Fanucchi is also a strong advocate of mentoring the next generation of scholars: she serves as the Director of the Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine Theme of the UAB Graduate Biomedical Sciences doctoral program; as an Advisory Committee Member for the UAB Medical Scientist Training Program, a joint M.D. and Ph.D. degree program; and is also involved in teaching at both the professional school and doctoral levels.

Dr. George Howard is Professor and Chair of Biostatistics at UAB. He received his training in biostatistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently the overall project PI for the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) project, a national study developing a cohort of 30,000 individuals to provide insights to the excess stroke mortality among African Americans and Southerners. Having mentored junior faculty to the point where they could assume the Principal Investigator position from him, he is the immediate past PI of the Coordinating Centers of the Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy Stenting Trial (CREST), Secondary Prevention of Small Subcortical Strokes (SPS3), and the Trial of Early Aggressive Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis (TEAR) Trial - all studies still underway under the leadership of faculty in Biostatistics and Epidemiology. He was previously the PI of the Coordinating Center for the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study, the Autoimmune Ear Disease Study, the Prospective Randomized Evaluation of the Vascular Effects of Norvasc Trial, and as co-PI in the Southeastern Consortium on Racial Differences in Stroke. He has been a co-investigator in numerous epidemiological studies and clinical trials including the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities, the Community Hospital-Based Stroke Program, the Postmenopausal Estrogen/Progestin Interventions study, and the Asymptomatic Carotid Atherosclerosis Study. He has published extensively in the analysis of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk factors, and has nearly 30 years of experience working directly with clinical investigators.

Dr. Eric Jack is the Dean of the UAB Collat School of Business. Dr. Jack is a past recipient of the UAB President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Jack, a naturalized U.S. citizen born on the island of Trinidad and Tobago, served as a United States Air Force officer for 21 years before beginning his academic career. He earned his B.S. in Industrial Engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology, an M.B.A. from Wright State University, and a Ph.D. in Business with a concentration in Operations Management from the University of Cincinnati. His research interests include operations strategy, health care management, service operations, quality management and supply chain management. He is a member of the Academy of Management, the Decision Sciences Institute, and the Production and Operations Management Society, as well as the certified fellow with the Association for Operations Management.

Dr. Andrew Keitt is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Graduate Program. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. He specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern Europe, with a focus on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain. He is the author of Inventing the Sacred: Imposture, Inquisition, and the Boundaries of the Supernatural in Golden Age Spain, along with numerous other articles and book chapters. Dr. Keitt teaches classes ranging from surveys of Western Civilization to upper-division seminars on topics such as the Renaissance and Reformation and the Spanish Inquisition to graduate seminars on the cognitive science of religion. He has introduced innovative teaching methods at UAB, such as Team-Based Learning and Reacting to the Past. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research and teaching, including, most recently, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, CASE, Alabama Professor of the Year award.

Dr. Meredith Kilgore is Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy. Dr. Kilgore holds degrees in Nursing and Political Science from the University of Hawaii, a MSPH from the UAB School of Public Health, and a PhD in Policy Analysis from the RAND Graduate School. he teaches clinical decision making and cost-effectiveness analysis in the UAB School of Public Health. Dr. Kilgore has conducted cost-effectiveness and technology assessment studies involving clinical information systems, clinical surgery, home health and hospice services in older cancer patients. His more recent work includes studies cancer treatment costs and cancer clinical trial design. Dr. Kilgore's current research includes studies of the burden of disease associated with osteoporosis and related bone fractures and the effects of bone metastases on skeletal related events, an intervention to improve osteoporosis in the home health setting, the effectiveness of prophylactic enteric feeding tubes in patients undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer, and a study of the quality of primary care for patients diagnosed with cancer. 

Dr. Josh Klapow, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Klapow is a member of the South Central Center for Public Health Preparedness, where he serves as the Center's Disaster Mental Health expert. He is the author of more than 100 professional articles, abstract, and book chapters in the area of behavioral medicine and health psychology. He is also the author of Living SMART: 5 Essential Skills to Change Your Health Habits Forever, a consumer focused book on lifestyle change. In addition to his academic pursuits, Dr. Klapow has made over 500 media appearances across a variety of television and radio outlets. he further has been interviewed by a variety of national print outlets including: Self, Men's Health, Women's Day, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, Prevention, Redbook, Shape and Fitness.

Dr. Nichole Lariscy (M.A., Northwestern University, 1996; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2007) specializes in multicultural American literature with emphasis on class, race, region, feminism, and maternity. Her dissertation, From Tears to Pearls: Untrashing the White Trash Momma, investigates contemporary attempts to “untrash” the literary figure of the “white trash momma” through sympathetic fiction and memoirs. She teaches undergraduate composition and literature survey courses.


Dr. Gerald McGwin is a Professor and Vice Chairman in the Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also holds appointments in the Departments of Surgery and Ophthalmology at the UAB School of Medicine. Dr. McGwin obtained his B.S. from the University of Vermont and his M.S. degree from Harvard University. He is an associate editor for the American Journal of Epidemiology, the preeminent journal in that field. Dr. McGwin has a lengthy and distinguished scientific reputation as a researcher, having authored or co-authored over 300 peer-reviewed manuscripts, with an emphasis on injury and ophthalmic epidemiology. Dr. McGwin currently serves as the Associate Director for the Center of Injury Sciences at UAB and the Associate Director for the Clinical Research Unit in the Department of Ophthalmology. He is also the transportation domain director for the CDC-funded Injury Control Research Center at UAB. Dr. McGwin is also director of the UAB Center for Clinical and Translations Science and co-leader of the CCTS' Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design component.

Dr. Paul Muntner is a Professor of Epidemiology and Professor of Medicine at UAB. Dr. Muntner received an MHS in Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins University, followed by a PhD in Epidemiology, also from Johns Hopkins University. He’s worked as a Professor of Epidemiology and Professor of Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and as Associate Professor of Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.  He has served as the associate editor for the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. He was a finalist for the Sandra Dougherty American Heart Association Award, and a recipient of the Jean Coombs Award for his presentation of “Plasma Lipids and the Initiation of Renal Dysfunction.” His work has been extensively published and cited. 

Rosie O'Beirne develops and coordinates initiatives that integrate multimedia and digital technologies with student learning and faculty teaching. She also oversees the UAB Digital Media team that produces and shares the stories of the dynamic faculty, staff, and students at UAB. Through the support of a National Science Foundation fellowship, Rosie earned her Masters in anthropology, with a focus on media, at the University of Alabama. Along with Michele Forman, she co-founded the UAB Media Studies program that began in 2003 and served as co-director until 2012.A strong proponent of experiential learning, she has spent over a decade teaching classes that use media and digital technologies to explore local history and share community stories. Her students have produced an archive that includes over 150 short films that document local communities and subcultures in the Birmingham area. She has also produced digital oral histories for StoryCorps, Vulcan Museum, and Red Mountain Park.

Dr. Gregory Pence has taught in the Philosophy Department at UAB since 1976, and between 1977 and 2011, he taught Medical Ethics to students in the School of Medicine. He now directs UAB's Early Medical School Acceptance Program (EMSAP). In 1994, he won the Ingalls Award, UAB's highest award for teaching, and in 2008, he won the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. He graduated cum laude in 1970 (philosophy) from William and Mary, and he earned a Ph.D. in 1974 from New York University.

T. Scott Plutchak has been Associate Professor and Director of the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) since 1995.  From 1999 through 2005 he was the editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA). He is a founding member of the Chicago Collaborative, a group dedicated to finding common ground among the librarian, publisher and editorial communities.  In 2009 he was a member of the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable, which was formed at the request of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology to develop recommendations for providing public access to federally funded research results – their report was issued in January 2010.   He is a frequent speaker to publisher and library groups on topics ranging from intellectual property to scholarly communication to the future of librarianship.  He leads the international librarian rock band, The Bearded Pigs.

Dr. Frank M. Skidmore, MD, is an Assistant Professor at UAB in Neurology. He completed medical school at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, followed by internship and residency at Indiana University Medical Center and fellowships at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical System.

Dr. Diane Tucker is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Science and Technology Honors Program. She is the author of scores of articles, and serves as a manuscript reviewer for, among other prestigious journals, American Journal of Physiology, Cardiovascular Research, and Annals of Behavioral Medicine. She has received numerous awards and grants for her exceptional work.

Dr. Timothy M. Wick, PhD, is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and co-Director of UAB’s BioMatrix Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (BERM) Center.   Dr. Wick has more than 25 years' experience in research, education and collaboration developing innovative strategies to solve health-related problems and improve healthcare technology to benefit society.  His primary research focus is development of bioreactors and 3-D human tissue constructs for tissue engineering and as human organ equivalents for toxicity testing, drug discovery and drug screening.  He also has expertise in development of novel drug delivery systems and drug formulations that enhance transdermal delivery of therapeutics.  Dr. Wick regularly works with companies to create, foster and grow new ideas and businesses.  Dr. Wick is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society.  He earned his Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his doctorate in chemical engineering from Rice University.

Dr. Majd Zayzafoon, MD, PhD, MBA is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology. He serves as the Director of the UAB-Center for Metabolic Bone Disease (UAB-CMBD), and the Director of the UAB-International advanced clinical training program (UAB-InterACT). Majd Zayzafoon was born in Birmingham and grew up in Norwich, England. He went to medical school at Damascus University, Syria where he obtained his MD degree. After graduation, he completed his residency in Internal Medicine followed by a fellowship in Gastroenterology at Preston Hospital, Tyne & Wear, England. Majd then moved to the United States and joined the Physiology Doctoral Program at Michigan State University, where he earned his Ph.D. degree. In 2002 he moved to UAB as a post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, Department of Pathology. Since that time Majd has moved rapidly through the ranks, being promoted to Associate Professor in 2009. Majd completed his MBA studies in the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2013. In 2011 he started a new educational program at UAB; International Advanced Clinical Training Program (InterACT). The major goal of this project is to provide international trainees with strong clinical and research experience as well as an education of the current U.S. medical system as it is conducted at UAB.