Congratulations 2023 REU Lea Hebert

Lea Hebert

Lea Hebert participated in our 2023 Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates at UAB. She placed second in the Undergraduate Oral Presentation: Nanoscience or Material Science Pollution/Toxic Substances/Waste category at the Emerging Researchers Nation Conference (ERN). This was Lea’s first time giving an oral presentation since coming to the U.S. She says it was a very exciting experience for her. We look forward to Lea making more presentations and doing great things.

Lea’s participation in the 2023 REU program was provided by the National Science Foundation (Grant#-2148653 – Future Technologies and Enabling Plasma Process (FTPP). Her REU mentors were Dr. Thomas Vinoy, Associate Professor, Mechanical & Materials Engineering and Renjith Pillai, Graduate Assistant, Mechanical & Materials Engineering.

2023 REU Maurissa Higgins Shares Her Experience at the March 2024 APS Conference

Written by Maurissa Higgins

Maurissa Higgins at APS Conference

University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 2023 NSF Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program allowed me the opportunity to grow my research skills and interpersonal connections. Over the ten weeks, I worked closely with Dr. Yogesh Vohra and Matthew Clay under the Department of Physics. During this time, I learned a great deal about condensed matter research and the common techniques used in modern research. I then applied what I learned in several ways throughout the summer, including analyzing X-Ray Diffraction data taken at the Argonne National Laboratory and taking Neutron Diffraction data at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

After the summer concluded, I expressed interest to Dr. Vohra and Matthew in presenting our results at a national conference, which led me to the APS March 2024 conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota where I participated in a poster expo. During the expo, I had the opportunity to talk about our work with other undergraduate students, graduate students, post-docs, and career professionals. Attendees possessed a range of understanding in condensed matter research, giving me the opportunity to practice presenting the research to a diverse audience.

In addition to presenting my own work, I also had the opportunity to hear about other ongoing projects and to discuss modern problems in physics. One of the most memorable discussions I participated in was “Addressing Misinformation about Science: Moving from Correction to Connection,” where I discussed strategies in communicating about misinformation with both people working inside and outside of science fields. One unique project I had the opportunity to hear about and which I would be interested in pursuing in the future was research being conducted on clouds and hazes and molecules in exoplanet atmospheres with a focus of applications to understanding the development of our own atmosphere.

In the past few months, I’ve learned about my own interests and strengths and have grown my research and interpersonal skills thanks to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Summer REU. I can’t wait to see how these experiences will change and impact my future in physics.

UAB REU Goes to Lawson State Community College

Dr. Shawanda Thomas, STEM Director & Mathematics Instructor, at Lawson State Community College was kind enough to invite us to talk to the Lawson State STEM Scholars Program about our REU program.  In attendance from our program was Charita H. Cadenhead, REU Program Coordinator, Kayla Hardrick (Miles College 2022 REU), Jayden Parker (UAB 2023 REU), Kyla Smith (Lawson State Community College 2022 REU) and Isaiah Bastien (Lawson State Community College 2023 REU). Jaydyn Parker gave an a 3-minute poster presentation of her REU research project titled “Flammability Study of 3D Printed Continuous Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastic Composites for Space Application.”  Kayla Hardwick and Kyla Smith were on hand to answer any questions that the program had about their REU experiences.  Afterwards there were a number of excellent questions from the class about the program and we are hopeful that we will have several Lawson State Community College students applying to our program again this year.
Kyla Smith, 2022 REU has been quite busy since taking part in our program. During the Emerging Researcher’s National Conference in STEM (February 9-11, 2023, Washington, DC), she placed 2nd in the Chemistry and Chemical Science Category for her REU research poster titled “Characterization of Poly- (D,L-lactic acid)/ Titania Nanocomposite Microparticles for Photocatalytic Degradation of Organic Contaminants in Water.” Outside of her UAB REU Project, as a student representing Lawson State Community College, she received the 2022-23 American Heart Association’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Scholars Program Award. According to the 2023 STEMPOSIUM Magazine, Kyla took part in an academic-year research experience, engaged in virtual leadership workshops, and attended the AHA’s International Scientific Sessions, the largest cardiovascular disease conference in the world.
Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Dobbins (Samford STEM Scholars Director) and Ms. Velester Debro (STEM Grant Coordinator) from Samford University were also in attendance to make a presentation to the STEM Scholars Program. Many thanks also to Lawson State’s STEM Assistant, Jean Whitlow, for making sure that logistically, everything went smoothly (oh and of course for the pizza).
LSCC Visit
Shawanda Thomas, Ph.D. (Center)
STEM Director & Mathematics Instructor
Lawson State Community College
LSCC Visit
Jadyn Parker (2023 REU) Prepares to present her poster to LSCC STEM class.
LSCC Visit
Isiah Bastien (2023 REU) joins Jadyn Parker (REU 2023) on stage
LSCC Visit
STEM Class at Lawson State Community College
LSCC Visit
REU Alumni (l-r): Kyla Smith (2022), Kayla Hardrick (2022) Jadyn Parker (2023), Isiah Bastien (2023)

Congratulations to CNMB’s Drs. Kharlampieva & Wasko

Join the Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration (CNMB) in congratulating members Dr. Eugenia Kharlampieva and Molly Wasko who will be helping the National Science Foundation decide how to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to build the technologies of the future (The UAB Reporter). Dr. Kharlampieva is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry as well as the Co-Director of the CNMB and Dr. Wasko is University Professor/Associate Dean, Collat School Of Business Dean’s Office.

Their roles as program directors through NSF’s rotator program, will be integral in magnifying UAB’s existing reputation as an outstanding research institution. The rotator program is designed to bring practicing scientists into the upper echelon of scientific decision-making in the United States, where they work alongside the agency’s permanent staff.

As reported in the UAB Reporter, according to Dr. Kharlampieva, “This experience is unique and exciting and really puts you out of your comfort zone.,” In September 2023, the NSF invested $72.5 million through the DMREF in 37 new four-year projects. Kharlampieva helped to select those recipients, whose projects include designing the next generation of rechargeable batteries, organic semiconductor systems, AI-enabled automated design of ultra-strong and ultra-elastic metallic alloys, and fast energy storage. Although much of the work is administrative — selecting expert participants in grant panels, following up with principal investigators on their progress and notifying those not selected — “I am always a scientist first,” Kharlampieva said. “This keeps me on the cutting edge of research and in knowing how to find the best science.”

You can read the full story here.

2022 REU Kayla Hardrick: Recipient of Strada HBCU Scholarship

The Strada Education Network initiated the Strada HBCU Initiative in 2022 to focus on the next generation of leaders.  This is a highly selective program that provides an academic scholarship, leadership development, academic support and critical social engagement resulting in positive secondary learning opportunities that lead to a meaningful career pathway for Strada Scholar. 


The first cohort of Scholars was selected at Miles College in the fall of 2023.  Under the leadership of three advisors (Dr. Esther Suswam, Mr. Keith McKendall and Dr. Steven E. Hairston) each of the students will undertake and participate in mentoring, career coaching and other work-based learning experiences. 

The three inaugural Strada Scholars and their program area of study are Dariya Jones (Chemistry), Kayla Hardrick (Biology) and Abigail Boudreaux (Biology).  In addition to academic scholarship support and programming, each scholar has access to a stipend to assist them with career or graduates school preparation

The Miles College Strada Scholars are committed to initiating a community service project in the spring of 2024 to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the Founding of Miles College.  

Details provided by Kayla Hardrick

Congratulations to 2022 REU Kayla Hardrick. Kayla’s REU mentor was Dr. Pengfei Wang, Professor of Chemistry.

Renewal: Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration (CNMB)

Yogesh K Vohra

I am pleased to announce that the Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration (CNMB) ( ) has been competitively renewed and selected as a University-Wide Interdisciplinary Research Center (UWIRC) for the next five years 2024-2029.

Congratulations to all of the University-Wide Interdisciplinary Research Centers Selected for FY 2025