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)

Now Recruiting for 2020 NSF REU Program

Research Experiences for Undergraduates 2020

We are now accepting applications for undergraduate students from around the country to participated in our 10-week National Science Foundation (NSF) supported Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in “Experimental and Computational Materials Research”. We offer a broad range of interdisciplinary materials research experiences to undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds in physics, chemistry, applied mathematics, and engineering. Stipend for the 10-week period is $5000. Housing will be provided to non-local participants. Application Deadline: March 15, 2020. If students have any questions about logistics, housing, and travel arrangements, they may contact Charita Cadenhead, our Program Coordinator at (205) 975-8076 or via e-mail at

2020 REU Recruitment Poster

McWane Center Engineering Showcase

McWane Center Engineering Showcase

On February 22, 2019, the McWane Science Center hosted an event called the Engineering Showcase to celebrate the end of National Engineering Week. A team from UAB Materials Science and Engineering and Society for Plastics Engineers UAB Student Chapter (Dr. Vinoy Thomas: faculty sponsor, Bernabe Tucker: student chapter president) had a demonstration table with a hands-on activity “Plasma and Nano-Spider webs: How Nature Inspires Engineering.” During the demo, students were able to see an electrospinner in action which produces nano and microscale fibers that resemble a tiny spider’s web (a popular super-hero was mentioned by several attendees). Microscope station and fluorescence demonstrations were also set up. Students were able to see a plasma source and learn about how plasmas are being used in research conducted in Alabama, specifically at UAB, to change the properties of polymer materials for biomedical applications, (URLs to recent publications: and ).

According to the McWane Science Center there were over 2000 students in the K-12 range in attendance. Furthermore, many were from inner city Birmingham (which includes >75 % minority representation). This event highlighted plasma science and technology research being conducted in Alabama funded through the NSF EPSCoR CPU2AL: Connecting the Plasma Universe to Plasma Technology in Alabama project (Cooperative Agreement OIA-1655280). Dr. Yogesh Vohra (CPU2AL lead for UAB) oversees the plasma surface processing research which includes the synthesis of superhard materials (lead by Dr. Aaron Catledge and Dr. Paul Baker) and the surface processing of biomaterials (lead by Dr. Vinoy Thomas). This event demonstrated plasma technology and biomaterials to students from K-12 age ranges, thus, increasing exposure for CPU2AL project and STEM concepts. Involvement included UAB Faculty/Postdoc/Grad Students from Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), Physics, and Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration (CNMB). (written by Bernabe Tucker)