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UAH 2014 Alumni of Achievement Awards set

Alumni of Achievement Awards

Alumni of Achievement Awards

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Alumni Association will honor and celebrate the achievements of alumni on Thursday, Aug. 21, at the Annual Alumni Association Meeting and Alumni of Achievement Awards Presentation.

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m., and will be held in the Wilson Hall Auditorium, on the UAH campus. The awards presentation is free to attend, and the dress is business-casual attire. An RSVP is requested to assist with planning the program, please respond to 2014 Alumni Annual Meeting RSVP.

The Alumni of Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed by the UAH Alumni Association. The award recognizes graduates who have distinguished themselves professionally and personally and who exemplify the high standards of UAH.  A committee selects the winners from nominations made by alumni, faculty, and friends.

"UAH graduates are contributing to the world around us every day and having amazing success doing so. The UAH Alumni Association continues to delight in honoring the accomplishments of our alumni. In true spirit of the Alumni of Achievement Award, this year's recipients are distinguished both personally and professionally in their respective fields and are shining examples of the high standards of UAH," said Rachel Osby, Senior Director of Alumni Relations and Executive Director of the UAH Alumni Association.

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Ethnic American literature encourages students to “imagine otherwise”

jonesTN

Most rankings of the American classics are populated with the usual suspects, from F. Scott Fitzgerald and Harper Lee to J.D. Salinger and Mark Twain. Less often included are the contributions of ethnic American novelists, says Dr. Holly Jones, associate professor of English at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

"When people are asked to rank works by American authors, they tend to choose novels that speak for all America - and that America tends to be a white America," says the Indiana native, whose husband is fellow UAH professor Dr. Nicholaos Jones. "But ethnic American books are presenting a whole new aesthetic, trying to reimagine what narrative can do or mean outside of those old standards."

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Entrepreneur finds inspiration close to home

Jiake Liu

Jiake Liu has been co-owner or CEO of three companies since graduating from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), including his most recent venture, the crowdsourcing platform ProspectWise. Where does he get his entrepreneurial spirit? You might say he inherited it.

"My mom has been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember – she owned boutiques, hair salons, and restaurants in China," says Liu, whose family moved to Huntsville just before he began high school. And despite the language barrier since that move, he continues, "she's worked very hard and moved up from being a waitress to now owning multiple restaurants."

Of course, his dad can also claim some responsibility for Liu's success, introducing the future computer engineering major to his first computer at age 6. "I have been hooked ever since!" says Liu. "I designed my first website when I was in elementary school. I've always liked computer games and wanted to develop them one day, so I knew computer engineering was right for me."

He was able to further hone those skills during his academic career at UAH, which he says culminated in a senior design project that was "definitely memorable." Inspired by the movie "Minority Report," Liu and his fellow students created GAUNTLET. The high-tech glove, which functions as a wireless keyboard, went on to win Best Buy's College Innovator Fund.

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UAH's Delois Smith named President of the Board of Directors of Girls Inc. Huntsville

Delois Smith

Delois H. Smith, vice president for Diversity at UAH, was recently elected to serve as president of the board of directors of Girls Incorporated (Inc.) of Huntsville. Smith was elected at the organization's annual meeting in May held at HudsonAlpha Institute.

Girls Inc. of Huntsville, a non-profit corporation was established in 1972, to meet the unique needs of girls year-round in a safe, nurturing environment. The mission of the organization is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, and to help girls to succeed in a competitive world.

"I have always been grateful to the mentors in my life who invested their time and energy to help me develop the skills I needed to succeed as a young woman—and that investment made all the difference," said Smith. "So when I was invited to join the Girl's Inc. board in 2012, I was delighted for the opportunity to give back as a mentor as well.  Strong, smart and bold girls become integral members of our communities and establish strong and stable families."

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Co-op position a "continuous learning experience" for UAH student

Lindsey Harris

Employers these days want to hire someone with hands-on experience, and that's exactly what Lindsey Harris is going to be able to give them. The rising junior and computer science major at UAH is spending the summer in a co-op position at local telecommunications giant ADTRAN.

"I decided to pursue a co-op position because it provides really great work experience that I never would have gained at school," says Harris, a Huntsville native whose mother also attended UAH and earned a degree in computer science. "And I figured it would give me a higher chance of getting a job faster upon graduating!"

Harris first learned of the position while attending a career fair this past fall on the UAH campus. "I talked to several people, including ADTRAN," she says. "They liked my resume and had me sign up for a follow-up interview, and it went from there." Now she is spending her days "working on assignments that mentors or managers give me, with training and meetings in between."

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UAH cyber security expert to speak at AFCEA luncheon

AFCEA

Cyber security expert Dr. Ray Vaughn, the vice president for research at UAH, will speak Tuesday, July 8, on "Industrial Control Systems Insecurity" at the Rocket City Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) luncheon.

Luncheon check-in begins at 11 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Research Park, with the program start at 11:30 a.m. and presentation at 12:05 p.m. Registration is at www.rocketcityafcea.org through July 3.

Dr. Vaughn joined UAH's administration after serving as the associate vice president for research at Mississippi State University.

Since arriving at UAH, a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, Dr. Vaughn has been working to establish full scholarships to study cyber security that are expected to be funded by the National Science Foundation's Scholarship for Service program.

While at Mississippi State, in 1997 Dr. Vaughn founded and directed the Critical Infrastructure Protection Center there. The center was supported by the Department of Homeland Security as an outreach effort to operators of the nation's critical infrastructure. The center supported training activities and research, which is primarily focused in the area of industrial control system security.

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UAH nursing grad brings classroom skills to real world

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It's a good thing that brand-new nurse Landon Dutton learned where the code button was on his first morning at Parkway Medical Center in Decatur, Ala., because two hours later, he had to push it when a patient presenting with chest pain flat-lined in his presence.

"I was the only one in the room and all of the sudden the patient's eyes rolled back and the monitor showed his heart stopped beating," says Dutton, who graduated from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) with a BSN this past spring. "I was shocked, scared, overwhelmed, and in complete disbelief that this situation would occur on my very first day! But I pushed the code button and immediately started chest compressions."

The patient ended up surviving, and Dutton's swift response earned him admiration from his new coworkers. "The nurses were impressed, proud, almost shocked that I was able to act quickly and do what was needed," he says. But while he felt "like a hero," he adds that much of the credit goes to the strong foundation instilled in him by the UAH nursing program.

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UAH nursing professor offers tips to protect yourself from food-borne illness

Food Safety

Within the last year, there has been a wave of apparent food-borne illness outbreaks in North Alabama. Recent food illnesses include similar groups of the bacteria, Salmonella and several different types of the common bacteria Escherichia coli, or E. coli.

"When it comes to bacteria the hotter and steamier the weather the more rapid the germs grow," said Dr. Louise C. O'Keefe, assistant professor of nursing at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Nursing.

But, O'Keefe pointed out that the biggest culprit of food-borne illnesses are unwashed hands. She recommends washing hands thoroughly with warm soapy water for a full 30 seconds, but not less than 20 seconds. "Hand sanitizers will do in a pinch, but when you're preparing raw meat to cook, there is no substitute for soap and water," she said. Additionally, O'Keefe advises all fresh whole fruit and vegetables be washed before eating as well.

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Computer engineering degree from UAH provides foundation for dream career

Elysian Shadows

College students are often torn between choosing a major that will quell their parents' fears about long-term job prospects and one that will allow them to follow their own career dreams. Fortunately for Falco Girgis, who had long aspired to be a video game developer, he was able to find one that would do both – computer engineering.

"I sold it to my parents saying I was going to be an engineer, but many game development companies will hire computer engineering majors," says Girgis, who graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in the field from UAH. "So my computer engineering courses taught me the programming portion and I taught myself the rest."

But whatever the rationale, there's no arguing with the success of its outcome. Girgis recently signed a publishing deal with development company WaterMelon for his programming brainchild, Elysian Shadows, a "next-gen" 2D role-playing game that fuses 16-bit classical games like Final Fantasy or Zelda with modern rendering and audio techniques.

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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.

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