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UAHuntsville’s Chien-Pin Chen elected as associate fellow of AIAA

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Chien-Pin (CP) Chen, professor and chairperson of the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) was recently named as an associate fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

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UAH's second president John Wright dies after bout with pancreatic cancer

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John Wright, the second president of The University of Alabama in Huntsville, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Wright joined the university as president on Sept. 1, 1978 and held the post until August 31, 1988.

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From Duck Pond To Downtown DC

barbara gilesThis past September, one of UAHuntsville’s own, Dr. Barbara Giles, was appointed to the position of Director for NASA's Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics Division. Despite an incredibly busy schedule, including “developing policy and providing guidance for understanding the physics of the variable Sun and its influence on the Earth and other planets, and space environmental conditions and their evolution,” Dr. Giles recently took some time out to discuss her career and reminisce about her years as a student at UAHuntsville.

Q: Why did you decide to go UAHuntsville?

BG: It’s where I always thought I would go. One thing you may not know is that Huntsville is my hometown. I grew up on Redstone Arsenal, and then I lived right next door in Sherwood Park. I used to ride my bike to the duck pond on campus and feed the ducks. So when it came time to go to college, it was natural for me to walk in the door at UAHuntsville and register for classes.

Q: Was there something specific that you felt UAHuntsville could offer you as far as your career goals?

BG: My dad worked on missiles for the Army, and I wanted to do what my dad did. And Huntsville is capital of missiles, so that’s another reason why I chose UAHuntsville. Moreover, the school has a wonderful Engineering Department, and when I started, I thought I would major in engineering. Those were the first classes I signed up for. But a couple of quarters in, I was looking at the catalog and I just thought the courses offered by the Physics Department were more in line with what I wanted to do long term; I wanted to understand how things work. In engineering, you’re looking more at applied sciences and building systems. But I was really interested in what was underlying all of those systems. I wanted to know how missiles operated, as opposed to just building them.

Q: And now your focus is heliophysics. What led you to that?

BG: Heliophysics is all about electricity and magnetism in space, and those are my favorite subjects. Not everyone has that as their favorite subjects! But I’m just fascinated by electric and magnetic fields. Our Earth’s extended environment is controlled by those fields – they control our atmosphere and retain our atmosphere – and in the long term, they will help us understand why there is life on Earth.

Q: Was there anyone who had a significant influence on you or your research during your time at UAHuntsville?

BG: There was. I actually have a double major in physics and math, because you have to take so much math as a physics major. You just take 3 or 4 more classes and you can double major! And at that time, the math professors were so engaged with the students. So not only did my advisor, Dr. R. Hugh Comfort, mentor me, but there were also several math professors like Dr. Larry Foster, Dr. Kyle Siegrist, and Dr. Chia Hwa Chan who worked with me and the other physics majors. They did a lot of tutoring outside of class with groups of students and they would spend extra time with us. That made a big difference.

Q: How would you describe your experience at UAHuntsville?

BG: It was very positive. Because I was also a co-op student, I was able to work as a student trainee in space science at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) all during my undergraduate years. So in a sense, I really ended up attending both UAHuntsville and the “University of NASA.” Then one day I was in a meeting and I started looking at the people around me thinking, ‘I could do this.’ So I just kept going to school.

Q: How did you balance your graduate work with your career at NASA?

BG: NASA hired me fulltime at MSFC when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. But even though I was so engaged with the mission we were building there at MSFC, I continued taking graduated classes at UAHuntsville. And they made it very possible for students like me to continue with their education while they worked; the classes in the Physics Department were scheduled from 4-6pm or 6-8pm. So I worked all day and went to school at night and ended up getting both my master’s degree and my PhD from UAHuntsville.

Q: Do you or did you face any special challenges as a woman in the sciences?

BG: UAHuntsville and MSFC have always been extremely supportive of women in the sciences, at least in physics. No one made me feel uncomfortable. And that really enabled me to pursue this career, to have that support on both sides. But it can be a challenge as time goes on, when you’re married and want to have children, to do all of these things.

Q: Given that, what advice would you give to young women in the sciences today?

BG: Believe that they can have a family and work in the sciences – and not try to do everything at once! Take it one step at a time. One thing I did early on in my career, I did not travel as much as many other scientists, because I wanted to raise my children. In some ways that can slow your career for a little while, but if you’re patient, it’s not a problem in the long run. I think it’s about being patient with yourself, so you can pursue a good career in the sciences and also have a fulfilling personal life.

Q: Would you encourage young students in your field to go to UAHuntsville?

BG: I would, especially because of the surrounding community. It’s such a high-tech environment here and there are so many opportunities to learn while you’re a student, whether through internships or co-op experiences. And the city itself is one where you can take your time and get the educational experiences you need. Personally, I highly recommend the duck pond! I spent many hours as a student sitting on the benches by the duck pond. Then, when I was older, I took my kids there and they fed the ducks while I studied!

Q: Do you ever miss Huntsville, now that you live in Washington, DC?

BG: I do miss the city, but my family still lives there. I get lots of time to come and visit.

David Berkowitz has been named associate dean of UAHuntsville's business graduate programs

David Berkowitz has been named associate dean of Graduate and Sponsored Programs in The University of Alabama in Huntsville's College of Business Administration. - December 5, 2011

 

David Berkowitz has been named associate dean of Graduate and Sponsored Programs in The University of Alabama in Huntsville's College of Business Administration.

Belinda Ong to receive international educator community volunteer award

BelindaOng

The Association of International Educators recently honored University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) reference librarian Dr. Belinda Ong with the community volunteer award.

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UAHuntsville professor elected APS fellow

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (November 28, 2011) - Timothy B. Boykin, an electrical and computer engineering professor at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, was recently elected Fellow of The Council of the American Physical Society.
 
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The Council of the American Physical Society (APS) made the determination during a meeting earlier this month upon the recommendation of the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics. Election to APS Fellowship is recognition by peers of Professor Boykin's outstanding contributions to physics.
 
Boykin's research centers on the physics of quantum wells, superlattices, resonant-tunneling diodes, and other quantum-confined heterostructures. Most of his work has involved modeling these structures with empirical tight-binding techniques in order to include bandstructure effects.
 
Boykin received an undergraduate degree (summa cum laude) in electrical engineering from Rice University. He earned a master's degree and Ph.D., in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
 
For more information:
Joyce Anderson Maples
256.824.2101
maplesj@uah.edu

UAHuntsville nursing faculty members receive awards during annual conference

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (November 28, 2011) - The University of Alabama in Huntsville College of Nursing faculty recently attended the sixth annual Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama (NPAA) Conference in Birmingham.

At the annual conference, UAHuntsville nursing faculty members received several awards. The College of Nursing's Louise O'Keefe, clinical assistant professor and director of the UAHuntsville Faculty/Staff Clinic, was the recipient of the Outstanding Regional Nurse Practitioner Award North Alabama. Other honors included Lori Lioce, clinical assistant professor, Outstanding State Advocacy Award; and Timothy D. Bynum, clinical assistant professor, Outstanding State Advanced Practice Award.

Cindy Cooke, a UAHuntsville College of Nursing alumna was also honored as a past president of NPAA at this year's conference. Cooke is a founding member of the nursing organization.

For more information:
Joyce Anderson Maples
256.824.2101
maplesj@uah.edu

UAHuntsville graduate’s second career has her living out dream in Hollywood

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Oct. 17, 2011) — It was the junior year at The University of Alabama in Huntsville for Jennie Floyd and she couldn’t hide any longer. The time had arrived for her to take on the class she most feared.

 

Successfully completing speech class was a requirement for business-management majors in the late 1970s. The class was standing in the way for Floyd, a person who had never liked the thought of getting up in front of a crowd and talking.


jfloyd

“It was the hardest class I’ve taken in my life,” said Floyd, a 1979 UAHuntsville graduate who is now enjoying a second career as a Hollywood actor. “It’s without a doubt the toughest ‘A’ I’ve ever made.”

 

She certainly can relate to those who say public speaking is a bigger fear than dying.

 

“I was scared to death of public speaking,” Floyd said. “I had never really done it before, but that year I went from my knees knocking and teeth chattering to giving a good speech. Had I not learned to speak in public, I would never have been able to do this work.

“My education gave me confidence, good grounding logic, and it taught me how to think and ask the right questions. The business skills I learned also help with the production end of the (acting) business; you’ve got to come in on budget. I see the benefits of my education every day.”

Floyd, now 53, oversaw a $5 million management consulting business and spent 21 years in the telecommunications industry during her first career.

That career and Floyd’s life took an abrupt turn on a business trip to Boston. She was walking to work in downtown Boston when she injured her back. She was diagnosed with a ruptured disc that is inoperable.

“I was unable to go back to work at a desk job,” Floyd said. “I couldn’t sit or stand for long periods, and that continues today. Had that not have happened, I’m sure I would still be involved in the business. It was something I loved doing.”

Searching for something to do, Floyd turned to a childhood passion – acting.

As a kid, she was known as “the little performer” in her neighborhood. She put on plays and held shows at her house. She had also been involved in theatrical shows and did a little dancing and singing. But none of that prepared her for what was ahead of her in a second career.

“Since I was disabled, I started looking for something to do that was pretty flexible,” Floyd said. ”I decided to see what might be available in acting. People thought I was nuts trying to get into acting at my age. The age has never bothered me, though. I figured why not give it a shot.

“As a little girl, I always wanted to act but it never seemed practical. Back in the 1970s, no one thought a little girl from Huntsville, Alabama, would make it to Hollywood. I’m living a dream.”

Floyd has a big fan in her acting coach, Charlene Tilton. She has been working with Tilton since April in an audition technique class. Tilton is perhaps best known for her role as Lucy Ewing in the former prime time television hit “Dallas.”

I am so proud of Jennie for going all out to pursue her dreams,” she said. “Most people never take the leap of faith that is required to succeed.  She has overcome some odds to get to where she is today.

“She is very talented and a gifted actress, but she also has the tenacity and never-give-up attitude it takes to work as an actor and producer.  I can't wait for the opportunity to work with her on a television or film project.”

Among Floyd’s first acting efforts was in a community theater producing the play “Little Shop of Horrors.”  The play opened the week before the 9/11 attacks on America.

“We had a lot of fun doing that, but when 9/11 happened we all felt the responsibility to the audience to help them forget and make them feel better,” she said. “Theater and the arts in general play a major role in our society. We would all miss it if they were not available.”

After performing in numerous plays and musicals in the San Francisco area, Floyd got involved in television in 2005. In a role as a nurse on Grey’s Anatomy, “you could actually see my face,” she said with a laugh.

Her specialty has been re-enactment  TV, including roles on “I’m Alive” on Animal Planet, “1000 Ways to Die” on Spike, “High School Stories” on MTV, and “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” and “Angels Among Us” on TLC.

“My biggest role was on “I’m Alive,” Floyd said. “I was the mother of a boy who survived a close encounter with 300 fire ants.”

Most recently, she stars in a yet-to-be-released independent film “Child of God.” She plays the role of a church secretary who is recently widowed and lived a sheltered life. She also plays a supporting role as a border sheriff in New Mexico in a film about the Mexican drug cartels, “Justice on the Border,” which premiered Aug. 20.

She is co-producing and starring in an original play that probes into husbands leaving their wives for other women, “To the New Girl from the Former Mrs.”  The play opened in August in North Hollywood.

As for the future, Floyd said larger roles could be headed her way as a result of joining the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. She said membership in those organizations could lead to roles in prime time TV shows.

She said she feels no pressure to get the next job, unlike many younger actors trying to survive in the business.

“I stay plenty busy and I enjoy it,” she said.

Floyd said many people have discussed her college and home state during her numerous travels within the country and overseas. She said she loves the opportunity to tell them how proud she is of her hometown, UAHuntsville and state.

Floyd moved to Huntsville at age 5. Her father moved the family from North Carolina when he accepted an opportunity to work in the NASA space program as a project manager.

“The school was small enough where one person could have an impact,” said Floyd. “It has a big-school feel, but it is very much a small college in many ways. You have a good relationship with your professors and it’s a great atmosphere. It was challenging there, too. That combination is why I attended school there.”

Among her favorite memories at UAHuntsville is “sitting by that lake on campus and having lunch. I just remember taking in that natural beauty.”

She calls Huntsville “a treasure” and UAHuntsville “an elite engineering school that people know about all over the world.”

“Huntsville will always be my home town, and I will always have a strong tie to Alabama,” she said. “I’m proud of my heritage. I like telling people that no matter where you’re from or your circumstances, go for your dreams and don’t give up.”

 

For more information,
contact Ray Garner
256.824.6397
(256.UAH.NEWS)
ray.garner@uah.edu

Robert Altenkirch is selected president of The University of Alabama in Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Sept. 21, 2011) - Robert A. Altenkirch, president of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has been chosen to lead The University of Alabama in Huntsville. The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System voted unanimously for his appointment in a meeting today on the UAHuntsville campus. 

With extensive expertise in combustion and microgravity research, Dr. Altenkirch was the principal investigator on 10 space shuttle experiments and has close ties to the astrophysics and solar physics communities. NJIT is recognized for breakthrough research in those disciplines and operates the Big Bear (California) Solar Observatory in addition to a dedicated array of solar radio telescopes at the Owens Valley (California) Radio Observatory. During his nine-year tenure at NJIT, he led improvements in the quality of student life, emphasized private fundraising and alumni relations, and strengthened the recruitment of high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds.

"Dr. Altenkirch brings a vast amount of knowledge and experience in areas that are crucial to UAHuntsville and the city's continued growth," said UA System Trustee Finis St. John IV, who chaired the Presidential search committee. "Filling the position of president was the Board of Trustees' highest priority. We believe Bob Altenkirch is a strong leader who will be great for this university, the community and the state of Alabama."

UA System Chancellor Malcolm Portera said Altenkirch's leadership skills, his focus on student success and ability to strengthen research are an excellent fit for UAHuntsville.

"From the outset of this search process, we surveyed the entire faculty, staff and student body to hear what they were looking for in UAHuntsville's next president," Dr. Portera said. "This is a very special place with rare opportunities for growth. Dr. Altenkirch's background is an ideal match for the interests of this campus, and in this city. I an extremely proud to recommend him as UAHuntsville's sixth president."

Since Dr. Altenkirch became NJIT president in 2002, the campus' research program has doubled in size, and ranked among the 25 fastest-growing research programs in the nation.

Under Dr. Altenkirch's leadership, the university has made significant investments in new research facilities to give students the competitive edge necessary in today's global high-tech marketplace. NJIT is ranked in the top tier of national research universities by U.S. News & World Report, and fall 2011 enrollment is 9,500, a record for that university.

During his tenure at NJIT, contract and grant awards increased more than 100 percent, and the endowment's corpus has grown more than 60 percent.

Dr. Altenkirch previously served as Vice President for Research at Mississippi State University (1998-2002), where he is credited with building the foundation for unparalleled growth in MSU's research program. Before his arrival, science and engineering expenditures, as reported to the National Science Foundation (NSF), totaled $84 million. For 2010, MSU's NSF-reported expenditures reached $215 million.

He was Dean of Engineering at MSU (1988-1995) when the NSF awarded the institution the Engineering Research Center (ERC) designation. The ERC has become a nationally prominent center for computational fluid dynamics research and applications. While at MSU, Dr. Altenkirch helped lead development of the Thad Cochran Science Park, a multi-tenant incubator facility, and was instrumental in securing a $1 billion Nissan investment for the state.

Dr. Altenkirch earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University, an M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue. He and his wife Beth have two adult children.

 

For more information,

contact Kellee Reinhart

University of Alabama System Office

205.348.5938

kreinhart@uasystem.ua.edu">kreinhart@uasystem.ua.edu

OR

Ray Garner
256.824.6397

ray.garner@uah.edu">ray.garner@uah.edu

UAHuntsville COE names two new faculty

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (September 22, 2011) - The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) College of Engineering (COE) Dean Dr. Shankar Mahalingam recently announced the following faculty appointments: Dr. D. Keith Hollingsworth, Professor and Chair of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE); and Dr. Sarma L. Rani, assistant professor of MAE.


Dr. Keith Hollingsworth

Before joining UAHuntsville, Hollingsworth was associate professor and associate chair of mechanical engineering and director of MECE graduate studies program at The University of Houston (UH). He also served as associate professor of the biomedical engineering program.

His years of teaching, largely in an undergraduate laboratory setting, have been recognized with three college teaching awards. Specifically, he was the recipient of the Faculty Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research. At UH he graduated a total of 35 research students at the Ph.D., masters and honors thesis levels.

Hollingsworth's research interests span several areas of thermal science including boiling and two-phase flows, turbulent convection, liquid crystal thermography, and biomedical heat transfer. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and a recipient of the Herbert Allen Award from the South-Texas Section of ASME for "outstanding technical achievement by an engineer 35 years of age or younger."

Hollingsworth received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, and undergraduate and graduate degrees from North Carolina State University.


Dr. Sarma L. Rani


Sarma L. Rani joins the COE faculty from Huntsville's CFD Research Corporation. His research areas include large eddy simulations and direct numerical simulations of turbulent flows, particle-laden turbulent flows, analytical and computational modeling of combustion instabilities, and radiative heat transfer.

He obtained his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, in Pilani, India. Rani obtained a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University, College Station. And, he received his Ph.D., in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rani equally carried out post-doctoral research at Cornell University. At both institutions his research focus was on direct numerical and large eddy simulations of particle-laden turbulent flows.

For more information 
Joyce Anderson-Maples, (256) 874-2101 
maplesj@uah.edu">maplesj@uah.edu