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The University of Alabama

UA in the News: November 21, 2012

UA professor developing prosthesis that works like a real leg
Tuscaloosa News – Nov. 21
Xiangrong Shen has a goal — to improve the quality of life for amputees. To do this, he is developing a prosthesis that functions and feels like human muscle. “When you build something to replace a human limb, you want the device to be as similar as possible (to the limb),” said the University of Alabama associate professor of mechanical engineering. “You want the same mechanism that is in the human body.” Current leg prosthetics are energetically passive, which means they can only dissipate energy, or store and reuse energy in walking. As a result, the amputee’s other joints have to work harder, which causes the amputee to use more energy, leading to an unnatural walk, Shen said. “That’s the problem we want to solve.” For the past six years, Shen has been researching and developing a flexible, robotic actuator that functions like a biological muscle. Initially, he focused on above-knee amputees, but with the help of a recently received $564,000 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Shen can now work on developing a below-knee prosthesis that will be able to power the ankle joint in use.

Alabama wasn’t a part of the Dust Bowl, but that doesn’t mean the state didn’t feel similar effects – Nov. 20
Alabama — Ken Burns, America’s foremost documentarian, has taken on many subjects, from the Civil War, to baseball, to jazz. Most recently, Burns trained his camera on the Dirty Thirties, on the dust-covered Okies, and on the Great Plains region. The result was “The Dust Bowl,” a two-part, four-hour-long series that aired on PBS Sunday and Monday.  . . . Alabama is not a Plains state. It was not a part of the Dust Bowl. But the South saw similar agricultural problems, and a crisis that some say was on a similar level to the Dust Bowl in the west.  . . . “A lot of the current agricultural policies that we have today come out of the Dust Bowl, (including) soil conservation efforts and the system of government subsidies that we still pay for agricultural producers,” said Charles Roberts, a Birmingham native who earned his doctorate in history from the University of Alabama this year and wrote his dissertation on rural poverty, the Great Depression, and the New Deal.

Auburn’s Beat Bama Food Drive tops UA’s Beat Auburn Beat Hunger in annual competition – Nov. 20
Auburn University’s Beat Bama Food Drive has won the 19th annual “food fight” competition over the University of Alabama. Auburn students, alumni, fans and members of the Auburn community donated an equivalent of 273,650 pounds of non-perishable food items to the East Alabama Food Bank, a record amount in the competition.  This year, Alabama’s Beat Auburn Beat Hunger campaign raised the third-highest amount of food in the history of both drives with an equivalent of 266,737 pounds of food in monetary donations and items for the West Alabama Food Bank. Alabama’s drive exceeded its goal of 250,000 pounds. Auburn’s new record tops the previous record of 270,913 pounds set by UA in 2008. The win marks the 11th time Auburn has collected more food than Alabama. Alabama has won the competition eight times since it began in 1994. Last year, UA raised 237,079 pounds and Auburn collected 134,102 pounds.
Tuscaloosa News – Nov. 21
Auburn Opelika News – Nov. 20
WTVM-ABC (Columbus, Ga.) – Nov. 20
WTXT-Fox (Columbus, Ga.) – Nov. 20
NBC 13 (Birmingham) – Nov. 20

Be wise and safe
Steuben Courier (Bath, N.Y.) – Nov. 20
Thanksgiving Eve (the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving) is one of the biggest drinking nights of the year.  It has been coined “Blackout Wednesday” by some because of the blackout that happens to certain individuals from too much alcohol consumption. . . . A recent study by The University of Alabama Center for Advance Public Safety found that alcohol/drug DUI crashes are more than 25 percent higher during Thanksgiving week than a regular week any other time of the year.

UA gets ready for the Iron Bowl
CBS 42 (Birmingham) – Nov. 20
While fans are gearing up for this weekend’s iron bowl, the University of Alabama is getting things ready in Tuscaloosa. All RV lots, including the free lot, are full. With a later kick-off time and the good forecast, 150 thousand people are expected in and around Bryant Denny Stadium.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.