IN THIS EDITION
• UAB's Jeffrey Engler Joins Graduate School
• UAB Graduate Student Spotlight
• New Perspectives: Placing UAB in a Positive Light
• Writing Support Tailored to Doctoral Students
• New Graduate Student Online Orientation
• Announcing Electronic Submission of Theses and Dissertations
• Online Application Process
• Graduate School Courses
UAB's Jeffrey Engler Joins Graduate School
UAB graduate students have a new advocate on campus -- Jeffrey A. Engler – a respected biochemist turned academic coach and administrator. Read more.
UAB Graduate Student Spotlight
Those of us who become a part of the UAB family quickly realize that we are a part of a diverse and special community. The research that takes place on our campus is world renowned as being on the cutting edge. Read more.
New Perspectives: Placing UAB in a Positive Light
After my first nine months at UAB, I have become convinced that this university offers one of the best educational values anywhere for students in doctoral research training programs. It also provides exceptional opportunities for research scientists who wish to join a first-class institution. Read more.
Writing Support Tailored to Doctoral Students
Changes in GRD 704, “Specialized Instruction,” will improve an important writing support service for doctoral students this fall, according to Dr. Jeffrey Engler, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Read more.
New Graduate Student Online Orientation
The Graduate School Online Orientation begins this fall 2006 semester on September 1. Although the orientation is required for all newly admitted degree seeking and nondegree seeking students, everyone will be able to access the information. Read more.
Announcing Electronic Submission of Theses and Dissertations
Beginning with the Fall 2006 semester, the Graduate School and the UAB libraries are introducing a pilot project for the electronic submission of theses and dissertations (ETDs). The initial stage of the ETD project is voluntary and is open to students in any discipline. Read more.
Online Application Process
The Graduate School no longer accepts paper applications. Prospective students will need to apply online by using the Graduate School Web site, www.uab.edu/graduate. Read more.
Graduate School Courses
Fall 2006 Read more.
UAB graduate students have a new advocate on campus -- Jeffrey A. Engler – a respected biochemist turned academic coach and administrator. The new Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the UAB Graduate School, Dr. Engler is a familiar face for faculty and students in many schools across campus.
He joined the faculty at UAB in 1982 and is currently a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics in the Joint Health Sciences. In this capacity, Dr. Engler has spent 14 years as a Graduate Program Director. He brings the same easy-going advocacy he practiced in the biochemistry/genetics department to his newly created position at the Graduate School.
“I have three top priorities -- recruiting top graduate students, retaining them and partnering with faculty in UAB’s six Academic Affairs schools to provide the best quality graduate education. It’s an extension of what I’d been doing with graduate students. I enjoy helping people set and meet their goals.”
Whether he’s working on an expanded English language initiative for international students, a new exit interview to assess graduate school performance, or a grant for a training program in the responsible conduct of research, Dr. Engler’s door is always open and frequently admitting a student, instructor or fellow administrator.
“I’d describe my leadership style as conversational,” says Dr. Engler. “This is a people job, and I enjoy the interaction. I have always valued students – as students and as colleagues. And I like to talk with people. It helps me learn what they think and what they value. If my door is shut, that usually means I’m out talking with students and faculty.”
Dr. Engler began his career in chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara (B.S. 1971) and completed graduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin (Ph.D. in 1977). His postdoctoral studies at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, New York led to a staff appointment there in 1980. Twice during his tenure there, the Leukemia Society of America awarded support for his work on human adenoviruses. As a virologist, Dr. Engler also spent 7 years on the Study Sections for the National Institutes of Health, reviewing virology grants in the early days of gene therapy. He has been an Editor of Gene since 1986.
In May of this year, Dean Bryan Noe brought Dr. Engler on board as an Associate Dean because “he knows graduate programs inside and out… Dr. Engler has been an advocate for these programs his entire career. In addition to being well respected at UAB, he’s also part of the institutional memory, since I am new. Dr. Engler is also quick to see opportunities. He’s already written one grant application and is working on several more. He embodies the kind of qualities we need to assist in educating the next generation of researchers, scholars, teachers and leaders.”
UAB Graduate Student Spotlight
Those of us who become a part of the UAB family quickly realize that we are a part of a diverse and special community. The research that takes place on our campus is world renowned as being on the cutting edge. Our graduate students are quite fortunate to be able to contribute to this research. Paul Mangan is no exception.
Paul received his Ph.D. in microbiology from UAB this August. Before Paul came to study here, he graduated with a degree in biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame. After working as a pre-doctoral researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he decided to pursue a Ph.D. After receiving encouragement from two UAB dental students he met at the NIH, Paul decided to look into the biomedical research programs at UAB and discovered that they were among the best in the country. “After visiting UAB for the CMB recruiting weekend I was tremendously impressed by the warm sense of community and collaboration among the students and faculty, which is what ultimately motivated me to choose UAB”, Paul commented. “I am still grateful to those two UAB dental students, because if it were not for their recommendation, I never would have considered this excellent University, which has made all the difference in my scientific training.”
Paul worked with his mentor, Dr. Casey Weaver, on his research project which concerns the processes whereby a class of immune cells, called helper T cells (Th), is localized to different tissues throughout the body in response to infection or injury. He elaborates, “I was interested in understanding the trafficking properties of two major classes of helper T cells, T helper 1 (Th1) and T helper 2 (Th2) cells. Th1 cells mediate defenses against intracellular bacteria and viruses, whereas Th2 cells defend against infection by extracellular worms called helminthes. Overactive, Th1 responses have been implicated in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and transplant rejection. Aberrant, Th2 responses are associated with allergy and asthma. The initial molecular interactions that lead to the recruitment of Th1 cells to inflammatory sites were relatively well established; however the mechanisms whereby Th2 cells were recruited were poorly understood. Therefore, I sought to research the processes that enable Th2 cells to localize to inflamed tissues.”
The research in Paul’s lab led to the discovery of a third subtype of blood cell. Paul explains, “A little over a year ago, it became apparent that Th1 and Th2 cells might not be the only two helper T cell subtypes. Our lab published that a third lineage of helper T cells existed that was distinct from Th1 and Th2 cells. These cells were characterized by their production of a proinflammatory chemical mediator, or cytokine, called interleukin (IL)-17. Thus, these cells were named “Th17”. In previous reports, these Th17 cells were shown to be strongly associated with a growing list of autoimmune diseases that were once thought to be mediated exclusively by Th1 cells, including experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and type-II collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), which are mouse models of multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, respectively. Although we established that Th17 was a distinct lineage of helper T cells, it was unclear what was responsible for the development of these cells. With a view toward ultimately defining the trafficking properties of this new lineage, I became very interested in the developmental requirements for Th17 cells. I discovered that a cytokine called transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-â) was critical to the differentiation of Th17 cells. The finding that TGF-â was important to the development of a proinflammatory type of helper T cell was unexpected given that TGF-â was typically associated with the suppression of immune responses. Nevertheless, at least two other reports, one from the United Kingdom and the other from Harvard University corroborated this discovery. This finding is a breakthrough in our understanding of the biology of Th17 cells that could ultimately aid in the development of therapies for a number of autoimmune diseases associated with Th17 responses. With regard to my own research, this discovery enabled me to differentiate a robust population of relatively homogeneous Th17 cells to perform what we believe is the first characterization of the trafficking properties of these cells.”
Paul has obviously had some positive experiences during his academic career here at UAB. When asked about these experiences, he listed the following:
- Working with my outstanding mentor, Casey Weaver has been an enormously rewarding experience. Not only has he been tremendously helpful for advancing my scientific training, but also he has been an invaluable asset to me in guiding me to the next stages of my career.
- I had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of different investigators at UAB and at other institutions both in the U.S. and abroad.
- The students in my program have become some of my closest friends and an important support structure for helping me to succeed in graduate school.
- Participating in Graduate Student Research Days in 2005 and winning third place.
- My marriage to my wife, Kristin who is also a graduate of UAB, earning a Master’s Degree in Special Education in 2005.
- The birth of my son, Connor in May 2006.
Paul will continue his research as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Dr. Gary Koretzky’s lab. We wish Paul the best in all his endeavors.
Bryan D. Noe
Graduate School Dean
After my first nine months at UAB, I have become convinced that this university offers one of the best educational values anywhere for students in doctoral research training programs. It also provides exceptional opportunities for research scientists who wish to join a first-class institution. Yet, try as we might, we are not always able to get the word out to everyone whom we would like to hear it.
A new effort by the National Research Council (NRC) will give us just such a chance. The NRC has launched a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s research doctoral programs. Naturally, I think it is critical for the qualifying Ph.D. programs at UAB to be included in this assessment. I say that for several reasons.
First, the opportunity to place our programs in a positive light relative to peer programs across the country in a data-based assessment such as this does not occur very often. In fact, it is the first such study since 1995, and many changes and improvements have occurred at UAB since then.
Second, the study will focus on both quantitative and descriptive information related to key areas, such as scholarly productivity, effectiveness in doctoral education, research resources, demographics of students and faculty, plus characteristics of each doctoral program. In short, it will be comprehensive.
Third, once the data are analyzed, an on-line database will be developed and made available to the public at the end of 2007. This will permit comparisons of similar programs at various universities. It will also be constructed so that it can be updated regularly.
Accordingly, working in combination with individuals in the Office of Planning and Assessment, and in the Continuing Education Center, we plan to do as much as we possibly can this fall to assist the programs in gathering and reporting the information which is being requested by the NRC.
Some people get nervous about evaluations and ratings. I would rather consider this as an opportunity. With the NRC assessment, more people will have more access to the story of our quality doctoral programs. We hope that the outcome will have a positive affect on recruitment of both new students and new faculty.
Changes in GRD 704, “Specialized Instruction,” will improve an important writing support service for doctoral students this fall, according to Dr. Jeffrey Engler, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
“Writing research reports is an essential function at a research university like UAB. When doctoral students need help writing their research papers or dissertations, we want to provide the best quality support possible,” he explains.
To do that, the Graduate School is adding more structure to GRD 704, an individualized Pass/Fail course (similar to a directed study course) offered through the Professional Development Program. For one thing, GRD 704 is now being reserved for doctoral students only. Masters degree students will be encouraged to take GRD 702/712 “Research Writing.”
“This course will be most useful to students who have a specific writing project, a deadline for completing it, and all of their research ready. They are not still in the lab collecting data,” adds Dr. Engler.
Due to the limited number of slots available for Specialized Instruction, students will be eligible for a maximum of 6 credit hours in GRD 704 over their graduate career. Students will be allowed to register for GRD 704 on a first-come, first-served basis each semester.
Additional facts about GRD 704 include the following:
• It is designed to help doctoral students complete a major writing project such as a dissertation or article for publication while learning how to be a more effective writer.
• It is not an editing or proofreading service.
• The instructor will work with students throughout the writing process, not simply act as a reviewer after the draft is completed.
• During the first week of the semester, students must meet with the instructor to complete a writing plan for the semester.
• All work must be completed within the semester that the student is enrolled.
• No GRD 704 hours may be carried over or banked for future semesters.
• Students are expected to keep all scheduled appointments. Failure to keep two appointments will result in the student receiving an “F” for the course and the writing plan for the semester being canceled.
For more information, call the Program Director, Dr. Julia Austin (975-6539) or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Graduate School Online Orientation begins this fall 2006 semester on September 1. Although the orientation is required for all newly admitted degree seeking and nondegree seeking students, everyone will be able to access the information. “The orientation is an important resource for students, faculty, and staff,” says Dr. Julia Austin, chair of the orientation committee.
Beginning September 1, 2006 there will be a link to the orientation from the Graduate School Web site, www.uab.edu/graduate. Newly admitted students will have until October 9, 2006 to complete the orientation or a hold will be placed on the student’s record and they won’t be able to register for the spring semester.
Beginning with the Fall 2006 semester, the Graduate School and the UAB libraries are introducing a pilot project for the electronic submission of theses and dissertations (ETDs). The initial stage of the ETD project is voluntary and is open to students in any discipline.
Why choose electronic submission?
Actually, if you write your thesis or dissertation on a computer using any word processing application, you are already producing a digital (electronic) document, so the transition into electronic submission and publication is, any many ways, a simple one. It also has many advantages:
• Rather than printing your document over and over as you make changes and progress through the final review process, you will be able to simply make corrections to the electronic file and submit the final version to the Graduate School on a CD as a PDF file.
• You may include additional information (e.g., data or multimedia files) that might not be possible or appropriate in a paper document.
• The Graduate School review process is greatly accelerated.
• You will not need to pay to have copies made.
• You will not need to pay for having your copies bound.
• While paper copies spend months waiting to be bound and then are available only at the university library, your electronic document will be available almost immediately to a world wide audience.
The thesis approval forms and some other required forms will still need to be picked up in the Graduate School and submitted as a printed document when you turn in the thesis as a PDF file on a CD. The approval forms will be signed by each member of the thesis committee and the graduate program director.
If you will be submitting a thesis or dissertation in the Fall 2006 semester, attend the Completing a Thesis or Dissertation seminar to be held on September 19th. Both electronic and traditional paper submission will be covered and the advantages and disadvantages of each will be discussed. Email Jan Baird email@example.com for more information or to reserve a seat.
The Graduate School no longer accepts paper applications. Prospective students will need to apply online by using the Graduate School Web site, www.uab.edu/graduate. After clicking the link, Applying to Graduate School, there will be a choice for applying as a degree seeking or nondegree seeking student. Other important information included on the site is Applying for Graduate Study, Application Review Process, Test Score Policy, and Deadlines for Application Materials.
Fall 2006 GRD 701-7P Presentation and Discussion Skills, 3, Spezzini, Wed., 5:30PM-8:00PM. Pass/Fail. Course open to all graduate students and post docs. Questions? Call Dr. Spezzini (934-8357) or Dr. Austin (975-6539).GRD 702-2S Writing Up Research, 3, Masimasi, Sat., 9:30AM-12:00PM. For second language English speakers or by permission of program director. Questions? Call Dr. Austin (975-6539).GRD 706-C1 Grants and Fellowships 101, 1 Austin/Baird, Sat., 9:00AM-5:00PM. One-day workshop. Lunch and all materials provided. Location: Campbell Hall 205. Questions? Call Dr. Austin (975-6539) or Ms. Baird (975-6511).GRD 714-00 Individualized Pronunciation and Accent Training. 1-8, Staff. Permission of instructor required. Contact Ms. Shadix at firstname.lastname@example.org.GRD717-6N Principles of Scientific Integrity, 3, Kincaid, Tue., 330PM-6:00PM. Questions? Call Dr. Kincaid (934-4805). Location: Bevill Bldg., Room 170.GRD 720-P7 Effective Communication Skills, 3, Abney, thu., 5:30-8:30. Pass/Fail course. Second language English speakers. Questions? Call Ms. Abney (934-8129).GRD 724-J7 Pronunciation and Accent Improvement Workshop, 3, Staff, Tue., 5:30-8:30PM. Pass/Fail course. Permission of instructor required. Contact Ms. Shadix at email@example.com.
GRD 704 Specialized Instruction Overview and Contract
GRD 704 (Specialized
Instruction) is an individualized Pass/Fail course similar to a directed study
course. It is open to UAB doctoral students only. Because of the limited number
of slots available for Specialized Instruction, students will be limited to a
total of 6 credit hours over their graduate career. Students will be allowed to
register for GRD 704 on a first come, first served basis each semester.
Important facts about GRD
• It is designed
to help doctoral students complete a major writing project such as a
dissertation or article for publication while
learning how to be a more effective writer.
• It is not an editing or proofreading service.
• The instructor
will work with students throughout the writing process, not simply act as a
reviewer after the draft is completed.
• During the first
week of the semester, students must meet with the instructor to complete a
writing plan for the semester.
• All work must be
completed within the semester that the student is enrolled.
• No GRD 704 hours
may be carried over or banked for future semesters.
• The instructor
will keep an appointment record to monitor student hours.
• Students are
expected to keep all scheduled appointments. Failure to keep two appointments
will result in the student receiving an “F” for the course and the
writing plan for the semester being canceled.
• Students must submit their drafts to their
instructor for review in a reasonable and timely manner.
• No new papers will be accepted during the
last two weeks of the semester.
instructors are working with several students, papers are reviewed by the
instructor in the order they are received.
Students who have concerns
or questions should direct those to the Program Director, Dr. Julia Austin
(975-6539 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
The following are answers to
some commonly asked questions:
Q: What should I expect from my first session?
A: During the first session,
students will meet the instructor, read and sign the course
policy contract, and develop their semester writing plan.
Students should also inform
the instructor of any deadlines or other constraints. The
students and instructor will
then set-up a meeting schedule.
Q: How do registered hours convert to a number of
A: Contact hours include
both time the instructor spends conferencing with students
and reviewing student papers.
Q: How soon should I expect to receive my
A: Instructors need a
reasonable amount of time to review student papers. How soon you
get your paper
back from the instructor depends on a number of factors, including
- How long the paper is
- How many times you have revised this draft based
on the instructor’s suggestions (a 3rd or 4th
draft usually takes less time to review than does a 1st draft
of the same length)
- How well you’ve followed the
instructor’s suggestions for revisions (on all drafts after the 1st
- How many corrections/suggestions there are in
- How many papers the instructor is currently
The instructor will confirm
receiving the paper (by phone, email, or face-to-face) and
the student when to expect the paper back. At no time, can a student expect a
to be reviewed overnight. All GRD 704 instructors are teaching and have other
responsibilities; students should expect that it will take several days
longer for a paper to be reviewed.
Q: Can I bring my paper in at the end of the semester
A: Because of the large number of papers
due at the end of each semester, no new papers will be accepted during the last
2 weeks of each semester. During those 2 weeks, instructors will continue to
work with students on papers that have already been discussed or reviewed.
Papers will be reviewed in the order they are submitted.
GRD 704 Contract
I have explained the GRD 704
course policies to
and have completed a writing plan for the semester.
I have read and understand
the GRD 704 course policies and will adhere to the writing plan developed in
conjunction with the instructor.