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Student Research Ambassadors

Undergraduate Research Ambassadors

If you have a question about the types of research you could do within certain departments or colleges, contact one of our undergraduate research ambassadors and ask.



Samanta Mukkamala, Student Research Ambassador Samanta Mukkamala (Biology, Chemistry, Psychology)

My name is Samanta Mukkamala, and I am a senior majoring in biology on the pre-medical track. I have worked extensively in molecular biology research for three years in Dr. Stevan Marcus’ lab. I have been involved in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Summer Research Program for two years. In addition, I have begun to work on a biological anthropology research project through Dr. Jason DeCaro’s lab focusing on quantifying children’s stress response with intervention in the Head Start Program at various local elementary schools.

I am also Vice President of Research and Scholarship for the Honors College Assembly. I would be most comfortable advising in biology but I can also help with chemistry and psychology.

Maxton Thoman.Maxton Thoman (Biology, Computer-Based Honors, Community Health Sciences)

My initial introduction to academic research started at the beginning of my sophomore year. I wanted to find a laboratory that was conducting research in something I was passionate about: investigational medicine. Really, my research path began when I was exposed to the health disparities currently plaguing our neighboring communities of the Alabama Black Belt, which range in nature from metabolic diseases to healthcare access. Dr. John Higginbotham from the College for Community Health Sciences Institute for Rural Health Research introduced me to the world of community-based participatory research. It quickly became apparent to me that this form of research exemplified the exact combination of social change and academic investigation that I was searching for in a research program. It was perfect, and it just so happened that a cross-campus coalition here at the University of Alabama—including Dr. Higginbotham—had just instituted one such initiative, known as Project UNITED: Using New Interventions Together to Eliminate Disparities.

My participation in Project UNITED has changed my life. Research has inspired, instructed, and informed me in so many different ways, and has become integral to my academic and personal careers here at UA. It is because of my exposure to these examples of translational medical research that I have resolved to continue along this academic path. During my final year here at the Capstone, I am looking forward to serving as the President of the Honors College Assembly, continuing my participation in both the University Fellows Experience and the Computer-Based Honors Program, and plan on taking in as much of the Tuscaloosa and University of Alabama communities as possible.

Kaylin BowenKaylin Bowen (Journalism)

I’m Kaylin Bowen, a dual status senior undergraduate and master’s student in journalism, and I am obsessed with understanding the why of things. Specifically, why identity is related to the mass media. During my first year at the University of Alabama, I participated in the Emerging Scholars program. I was able to help Dr. Kim Bissell in her background research for a study featuring the perceptions of body image in youth. I loved it. Now that I am starting to consider what research I would like to do during my time in the MA program, body image is central to my interests. Currently, I am working on the theoretical aspects of my thesis, specifically using social identity theory to understand the possible impact of representations of women in comic books on the female reader’s body image and self-esteem. The relationship between women and comics has, so far, not been studied in depth, but given the rise of interest in the characters be it in the original print medium, television, or film I think it’s important to see if there is a positive or negative effect. I’m very excited to see where it will take me in the following year.


DSC_0575Amanda Jones (Communicative Disorders, Psychology)

My name is Amanda Jones and I am from Northport, AL. I am currently a senior at the Capstone with a major in Communicative Disorders and a minor in Psychology.  During my time at the University, I have been involved in various research projects that have allowed me to become involved with my professors and gain real life experience in my intended career field. My research experiences include serving as a Research Associate in the following studies: Here Hear Alabama under Dr. Marcia Hay-McCutcheon, Examining language in young children with ASD: “How do common language assessments measure up?” under Dr. Angela Barber and Dr. Rachel Saffo, and “Comparison of autism knowledge among rural and urban parents” under Dr. Angela Barber. Between these research experiences, I have collected, organized, and entered data, worked within database spreadsheets, and administered tests and surveys to participants.

I believe I can help as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador because I am an approachable person who loves to help guide others toward their goals. I serve as the Undergraduate Philanthropy Chair of the UA National Student Speech Language Hearing Association where I already create and provide opportunities for undergraduates to become involved. As a seasoned senior, I am aware of the various research projects that go on within the Department of Communicative Disorders. With this knowledge, I will be able to showcase research opportunities and direct students to their areas of interest. It is easy for undergraduates at such a large university to get lost in the enormity of student body activities. As an ambassador, I will have the opportunity to be the peer mentor to others that I wished to have through my journey at the Capstone.

DSC_0017-4David Nicholson (Theatre, Music)

I am a Sophomore at the University of Alabama double majoring in Music Therapy and Theater. I worked as a research assistant underneath Dr. Seth Panitch, and I learned an enormous amount. I did field research, data base research, and presented our most up to date findings at an on-campus conference this past spring. My experience with Dr. Panitch gave me a wealth of information I can use a research ambassador, and I hope to encounter more research opportunities in the near future.





Alison Farrar (Physics, Mathematics)

I am a sophomore Physics and Mathematics major from South Pasadena, CA. I am a member of the Computer-Based Honors research program and I study theoretical condensed matter physics with Dr. Claudia Mewes in the MINT Center (Materials for Information Technology). My research is focused on optimizing the micro-magnetic dynamics of exchange bias systems, which are used extensively in data storage devices like hard disk drives and spintronic random access memory. I have previously done research on using MRI technology to study iron overload in patients with Sickle Cell Disease with Dr. John Wood at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and on the ability of the bacteria Shewanella to use insoluble iron oxides as a food source with Dr. Ken Nealson at the University of Southern California.

At the University of Alabama, I am on the Cultural Experiences and Diversity Committee for the Honors College Assembly and I act with CoEDoesART (The College of Engineering Does Amateur Radical Theater).

As a Research Ambassador, I hope to introduce students to the interdisciplinary opportunities in the Physics and Math departments and to encourage women and those from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue scientific research.

Whitney Lloyd (Art, Art History)

My name is Whitney Lloyd and I was born and raised here in Tuscaloosa. The University has always been and will remain to be a part of my life considering it’s where I’ve considered my home for twenty years. I am in the middle of my junior year here at Alabama studying as a BFA Studio Art Major in which I have recently declared my concentration in sculpture and my secondary in painting.

I consider my finished work a conclusion of my study of a material. In these studies, I learn a multitude of different things about the material I’m using and also incorporate my research of other artists’ work that inspire my as well. Since my research occurs consistently and spontaneously as I work, I’ve found that keeping a sketchbook of these inquiries has benefited me most both personally and in terms of being able to communicate my research with others. (I attached a couple images of this sketchbook and also my artist statement as well)

I’ve always found that a teacher/professor have a huge impact, not only on my experience in a course, but my interest as well. The professors I’ve come in contact with here have been just the inspiration that has driven me to achieve what I could have never intended without them. Having people that were truly invested and experienced in a field I loved truly affected not only my experience as a student but as an artist as well. I think it’d be extremely rewarding to be that influence on another student/artist and I see this opportunity in the position of being the research ambassador of the Art Department.