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The new UA News Center features news channels specifically for students, faculty and staff, media and research. The UA News Center uses video, photography and narrative to tell the UA story to our various audiences. It also serves as a hub for finding information on campus resources and calendars. http://uanews.ua.edu will remain in place temporarily as an archive, but will no longer be updated.

The University of Alabama

UA Preview

MONDAY, AUG. 22 – SUNDAY, AUG. 28, 2016

BEST BETS

WHEELCHAIR TENNIS PLAYER TRAINING FOR PARALYMPICS  – Shelby Baron, a Hawaii native and UA communicative disorders major, will compete for the United States Women’s Wheelchair Tennis team in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, which begin Sept. 7. Baron, who is training for her first Paralympics five days a week at UA until flying to Rio on Sept. 1, is available to meet with media this week and next. For more information, contact David Miller, media relations, 205/348-0825 or dcmiller2@ur.ua.edu.

UA ROBOTICS PREPARING FOR NASA CENTENNIAL CHALLENGE – A team of engineering and computer science students from UA is one of only two collegiate teams – and the only one in the Southeastern Conference – set to compete in a high-profile NASA robotics contest the first weekend of September. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA media relations, at 205/348-6444 or acjones12@eng.ua.edu.

INTERACTIVE VIRTUAL SANDBOX LETS KIDS, ADULTS LEARN ABOUT HYDROLOGICAL PROCESSES – Dr. Sagy Cohen, a UA assistant professor of geography who specializes in global hydrology, has completed the creation of an augmented reality sandbox, which is on exhibit at the Alabama Museum of Natural History on campus. Through a National Science Foundation grant, Cohen built an educational tool that allows kids and adults to interactively create topographic features and generate “virtual” rain that flows downstream, teaching them about topographic mapping and hydrological processes. Cohen is available all mornings this week, except Thursday. He can be reached at sagy.cohen@ua.edu, 205/348-5860, or, via cell, 720/315-1594. For more information, contact Jamon Smith, media relations, jamon.smith@ua.edu, 205/348-4956. 

SCOGIN WINS APA ADVANCEMENT AWARD – The American Psychological Association recently presented the Committee on Aging’s Award for the Advancement of Psychology and Aging to Dr. Forrest Scogin, a UA professor of clinical geropsychology. Scogin’s contributions to geropsychology include his work on the effects of psychological treatments for depression and memory problems and improving quality of life in diverse older adults. The honor was presented at the APA’s 124th Annual Convention.  For more information, contact David Miller, UA media relations, at 205/348-0825 or dcmiller2@ur.ua.edu.

OBESITY RESEARCH AND FRUIT FLIESFor a fruit fly, what its grandparents ate may affect how much it weighs. The significance of new UA research is that similar relationships between generational diet and obesity may hold true for humans as well. But the passing down of a body type based on diet is not a simple cause and effect, says the UA researcher. Dr. Laura Reed, assistant professor of biological sciences, studies obesity by experimenting on multiple generations of fruit flies, or Drosophila melanogaster. She and her colleagues fed some fruit fly larvae a high-fat diet and a control group a regular diet. The researchers then studied weights and phenotypes – physical characteristics, such as fat storage — of subsequent generations of fruit flies fed a regular diet. Flies with the high-fat grandparents may have the obese phenotype, depending on which grandparent – grandma or grandpa — got the special diet. The paper containing the results, “Genetic and sex-specific transgenerational effects of a high fat diet in Drosophila Melanogaster,” published Aug. 12, in the journal PLOS One. For more information, contact Richard LeComte, media relations, rllecomte@ur.ua.edu, 205/348-3782.  

BLACKBURN SYMPOSIUM — Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report and columnist for the National Journal, will be the keynote speaker in the annual Gloria and John L. Blackburn Academic Symposium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Ferguson Center on UA’s campus. Cook’s lecture is free and open to the public as part of the Blackburn Institute’s Annual Symposium. He also will meet privately with UA’s Blackburn Institute students, Fellows and advisory board members. For more details, contact Richard LeComte, media relations, rllecomte@ur.ua.edu, 205/348-3782.

SUICIDE RATES INCREASE WHEN TORT LIABILITY INCLUDES PSYCHIATRISTS, RESEARCH INDICATES – Research authored by Shahar Dillbary and Fredrick Vars, both professors of law, UA School of Law (along with Griffin Edwards, an economist and business school professor at UAB), shows suicide rates increase when potential tort liability is expanded to include psychiatrists — the very defendants who would seem best able to prevent suicide. Using a 50-state panel regression for 1981 to 2013, they found that states that would hold liable psychiatrists (but not other doctors) for malpractice resulting in a suicide experienced a significant increase in suicides. “We do not believe this is because suicide prevention doesn’t work,” Dillbary, Edwards, and Vars write in their research paper, “The Costs of Suicide.” “Rather, we theorize that it is because some psychiatrists facing potential liability choose not to work with patients at high risk for suicide.” For more information, contact Monique Fields, UA Law, manager of communications, 205/348-5195 or mfields@law.ua.edu or contact Vars or Dillbary directly at fvars@law.ua.edu or sdillbary@law.ua.edu. To arrange an interview with Griffin, contact Katherine Liles Shonesy, UAB public relations specialist, kshonesy@uab.edu or 205/975-3997.

CURRENT COMMENT

INSIGHT AVAILABLE ON RECORD-BREAKING FLOODS – Since last fall, the U.S. and the world has been bombarded with record-breaking floods, including the latest historic flood in Louisiana. Dr. Sagy Cohen, a UA assistant professor of geography who specializes in global hydrology, is closely monitoring these floods and is available to offer his expert opinion on why they’re occurring. Cohen’s Surface Dynamics Modeling Laboratory research unit received a research grant from the National Water Center to develop a flood inundation map repository using satellite remote sensing imagery. Cohen is also affiliated with the Dartmouth Flood Observatory where he’s been working closely with the National Water Center on developing a new flood prediction system that can warn people about the possibility of a dangerous flood occurring in their area in time for them to seek safety. Cohen is available all mornings this week, except Thursday. He can be reached at sagy.cohen@ua.edu, 205/348-5860, or via cell, 720/315-1594. For more information, contact Jamon Smith, media relations, jamon.smith@ua.edu, 205/348-4956.

WOMEN ATHLETES DOMINATE PRIME TIME TELECAST OF 2016 OLYMPICS – A UA sports communication researcher and his colleagues are exploring potential gender, race and nationality disparities within television coverage of the Olympics.  Initial results from the study, by Dr. Andrew Billings, director of the Alabama Program in Sports Communication and the Ronald Reagan chair of broadcasting in UA’s department of telecommunication & film, and colleagues from the University of Delaware and Utica College, show women athletes account for 58.5 percent of NBC’s primetime coverage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio and men 41.5 percent. For several decades, men received the majority of the primetime clock time, but those results shifted in 2012, with women athletes receiving an average of 55 percent of the primetime coverage. For more information, contact Jamon Smith, media relations, jamon.smith@ua.edu, 205/348-4956.

RISING HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS – Business experts from UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce are available this week for comment on increases in health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare. “The Affordable Care Act was designed to provide adequate health care coverage to all citizens at affordable insurance rates,” says Larry Baldwin, director of the Alabama Human Resources Institute/clinical instructor. “Recent premium increases, some up to 40 percent by insurance carriers, seem to indicate the carriers are not enrolling enough healthy people to offset the actual claims expenditures for those insured with medical issues. Healthy enrollees are a critical component to keeping the premiums stabilized under ACA.” “The price of health insurance follows the cost of health care,” said Lars Powell, director of the Alabama Center for Insurance and Information Research, located on UA’s campus. “Alabama Blue Cross is one of the most efficient health insurers in the country, yet they lost more than $100 million on Affordable Care Act exchange policies last year. It is clear that premiums need to rise for the exchange to be viable.” To interview Baldwin or Powell, contact Edith Parten, UA media relations, 205/348-8318 or eparten@culverhouse.ua.edu or UA media relations, 205/348-5320.   

LOOKING AHEAD

LIFT PROGRAM SEEKS PARTICIPANTS FOR JOB SKILLS TRAINING COURSES – UA’s Learning Initiative and Financial Training at the Culverhouse College of Commerce seeks participants in the Tuscaloosa area for free computer and financial classes. Classes start Sept. 12. LIFT provides free training for residents in the community to help improve the job skills of adult and teen populations. Classes are open to anyone who would otherwise not have access to such courses. The training focuses on improving job marketability through training in software, including Quickbooks, Excel, Word and PowerPoint.  Other courses include financial literacy (money management), professional development (resumes, interviews, and other career skills), business communication, math skills for the workplace and computers for beginners. Visit the program website culverhouse.ua.edu/lift for a list of classes, locations and registration, or phone 205/928-8258. For media assistance, contact Edith Parten, UA media relations, eparten@culverhouse.ua.edu, 205-348-8318.

ADAPTED ATHLETICS PROFESSOR TO BE FEATURED IN DOCUMENTARY; FREE SCREENING TO BE HELD – Dr. Margaret Stran, UA assistant professor of disability sport, is featured in a soon-to-be released documentary titled “Trials Finding the Medal,” which chronicles the efforts of four para-rowing competitors in their training for the U.S. National Team. A screening of the documentary will be held at 7 p.m, Thursday, Sept. 1 at Cobb Theatre in Tuscaloosa. Admission is free, though donations are welcome. All proceeds will go directly to UA Adapted Athletics. For more information, contact David Miller, UA media relations, at 205/348-0825 or dcmiller2@ur.ua.edu.

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.