Information systems professor keeps abreast of – and contributes to – research

Dr. Xiaotong Li

Dr. Xiaotong Li is not unaware that game theorists like him have won more than ten Nobel Prizes in Economics over the last 20 years. But the associate professor of Information Systems has set a much more modest goal for his research into the field. "I just do it for intellectual curiosity," he says. "This is a mainstream theory, so mainly I wanted to contribute to it, even if it's a very minor contribution."

Thus far, however, his contribution has been far from minor. Since arriving at UAH in 2001 Dr. Li has published a dozen journal articles and has two more in press: "Relational Contracts, Growth Options and Heterogeneous Beliefs: A Game-Theoretic Perspective on IT Outsourcing," in the Journal of Management Information Systems and "Externalities, Incentives and Strategic Complementarities: Understanding Herd Behavior in IT Adoption," in Information Systems and e-Business Management.

He's also been able to apply game theory to several new business contexts using "a relatively new theoretical development – behavioral game theory," he says. Unlike game theory, which assumes everyone is perfectly rational, behavioral game theory incorporates behavioral anomalies such as overconfidence, loss aversion, myopia, and a wealth of other psychological and sociological factors to understand strategic decision-making.


UAH student Joshua Blackburn's goal: raise funds, replenish supplies at tornado-damaged South Lincoln Elementary School

Lincoln County tornado

About one thousand dollars each. That's what South Lincoln Elementary School (Lincoln County Tennessee) teachers lost in educational supplies and materials on Monday, April 28, when an F-3 tornado hit the school causing significant damage.

And, while it may not seem like a lot of money to most people, "teachers spend more than $1,000 at a minimum on stocking their classrooms with supplies, books, tables, bookcases, decorations, and educational tools," said Joshua Blackburn, a junior education student at UAH. "It truly is a small fortune that teachers pay out of their own pockets to give our children the education they deserve. In addition to the educational supplies, teachers lost valuable lesson plans, that required hours of individual research time developed over the course of their teaching careers."


There’s no place like home for one UAH student

Abtin Iranmanesh

It takes some longer than others to figure out where they're supposed to be. That was certainly the case for Abtin Iranmanesh, who after more than decade away has finally returned to his hometown to earn a bachelor's degree in biology from UAH.

Iranmanesh's journey began after graduating from Bob Jones High School in 2000, when he headed north to attend Vanderbilt University. "Like many young people, I was excited to become a collegiate athlete, move away from home, and be fully independent," he says. Once there, he earned both a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in organizational leadership.

Shortly thereafter, he accepted a competitive position at a boutique investment bank in California. Yet in spite the material reward he received in return for working 50- to 100-hour weeks, he realized it wasn't a field that suited him. "I saw the lifestyle of my bosses and I didn't want that lifestyle," he says. "I wanted to do something that would have a direct impact in the community and improve the well-being of others."


Syrian student makes UAH his second home


Ali Darwish hasn't spoken to his father for more than a few precious minutes over the last two months, but it's not for want of trying. Because while Darwish is here in the U.S., pursuing his Ph.D. in computer engineering from UAH, his father is thousands of miles away in Syria, where civil war has raged for the last three years.

"I just want to make sure he's safe, but there are no phone lines because of the situation," says Darwish, explaining that his family had only just moved back to their hometown of Aleppo when the war began. Eventually his mother was able to find refuge in Istanbul, staying with her brother; his father, however, refused to leave.

"He says, 'I was born here, I am going to die here.' And most Syrians think the same way," says Darwish. But as the fighting gets worse, it becomes harder and harder for those who remain. Like many other Syrians, his father is no longer able to work as a civil engineer and has lost "almost everything" in the war.


UAH's Delois Smith, Daylan Woodall presentation wins high praise at national conference on race and ethnicity


UAH's chief diversity officer, Delois H. Smith, recently gave a presentation at the 27th Annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE).

Smith, who serves as the UAH vice president for Diversity, and co-presenters Daylan Woodall, a UAH admissions counselor; and C. Nichole Thompson, assistant director, of the Office of Accountability and Advocacy, Auburn University Montgomery, presented the session "Being The Only One: Understanding the Intricacies and Pressures of Often Being the Sole Minority in a Majority Culture." The session drew a standing-room only crowd at the NCORE conference, held in Indianapolis, Ind., May 27-31.


UAH Space Science chair’s research paper on Top 12 list

Dr. Gary Zank

A plasma physics paper written by Distinguished Professor Dr. Gary Zank, the chair of the UAH Department of Space Science, has been selected as one of 12 Classic JPP Papers published by the Journal of Plasma Physics.

"I was quite delighted to receive the notification email, since this represents recognition of the long-term lasting impact of my work – at least one aspect of it – on my scientific community," says Dr. Zank.

Dr. Zank's paper, "The equations of reduced magnetohydrodynamics" (Journal of Plasma Physics; JPP 48, 85; 1992), was selected by the journal's editorial board from all papers published in the journal with more than 100 citations.

The paper presented a mathematical derivation of a plasma physics model that describes how plasmas behave in the presence of a strong magnetic field.


UAH graduate brings STEM program to public high schoolers


After Adam Martin graduated with his mechanical engineering degree from UAH last summer, he realized he wanted others to have the same opportunity he did to pursue his passion. So he did something about it. He founded the Alabama Future Technology Initiative, or AFuture, an outreach effort to increase interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields among public school high school students across the state.

Each spring and fall, AFuture is offered from 12 to 5 p.m. for five consecutive Saturdays. For the first four, participants take part in hands-on experiments and receive college-level instruction on "every topic" relating to the STEM fields, he says. The fifth is set aside for a project open house, in which students to present a prepared research topic in the hopes of winning a scholarship prize.

It's an approach Martin says he would have appreciated as a high school student himself. "I had no idea about mechanical engineering when I picked it and I still didn't know until two or three years later," he says. "It turned out to be perfect, but I thought about what I would have liked to have known and that's how I crafted the framework."


Marsha Adams named dean of UAH's College of Nursing

Dr. Marsha Adams

Marsha Howell Adams, Ph.D, RN, CNE, ANEF, a nationally recognized leader in the nursing field has been named dean of the UAH College of Nursing. She assumes her duties on Monday, July 14.

Adams, is currently senior associate dean of academic programs and professor at The University of Alabama (UA) Capstone College of Nursing (CCN).

"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Marsha Adams as Dean of the College of Nursing at UAH, " said Dr. Christine Curtis, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. "Dr. Adams has numerous distinctions and achievements and brings a wealth of experience in leadership and administration, research, scholarship, and teaching. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Adams as the new dean of the College of Nursing at UAH."


UAH student – and cancer survivor – examines power of words

Monique Whitaker

When Monique Whitaker decided to delve into the psychological ownership of cancer for her senior research project at UAH, her interest was more than just intellectual. The former nurse and Ohio native is, as it turns out, a breast cancer survivor. But what began as an assignment, she says, "was very healing for me personally."

Whitaker was first introduced to the world of online cancer support forums by assistant professor of psychology Dr. Aurora Torres, who suggested she research the language used in posts to determine ownership. So with the help of fellow student researcher Adam Schneider, she set out to collect, analyze, and compare hundreds of posts from two cancer discussion boards, one for breast cancer and one for prostate cancer.

"I copied the whole post or a series of posts, took out any personal identification, and assigned them a number," she says, adding that any non-cancer posts were immediately eliminated. "Then I took note of any information about their or type or grade or stage of cancer, and I started counting pronouns."


Sundar A. Christopher named dean of the College of Science

Dr. Sundar Christopher

Sundar A. Christopher has been appointed dean of the UAH College of Science. His new duties will begin June 1.

"Dr. Christopher has numerous distinctions and achievements and brings a wealth of experience in leadership and administration, research, scholarship, and teaching," said Dr. Christine W. Curtis, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. "Please join me in welcoming Dr. Christopher to his new role here at UAH."

Christopher currently serves as professor and chairman of the Department of Atmospheric Science in the College of Science. Additionally, he directs the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications, and is associate director of the Earth System Science Center at UAH.