The Emerging Scholars Program is an exciting opportunity for students at the University of Alabama that helps them get involved in research with a faculty mentor in their chosen field. The mission of the Emerging Scholars Program is to improve and enrich student learning and to nurture student success. The research opportunities allow a student to gain experience that deepens his or her understanding in a field of study, to develop the necessary professional skills to interact with a diverse group of other students and faculty members, and to learn appropriate methods and techniques for presenting professional research. The Emerging Scholars Program also benefits faculty by connecting them with students eager to learn and participate in research throughout their UA careers.
Manoj Sunny is from Des Plaines, Illinois pursuing his undergraduate degree in economics and finance while simultaneously taking master’s degree classes.
Hoping to utilize the concepts he was learning in his business classes and apply them to the professional world, Manoj was able to enlist Dr. Paul Drnevich via the Emerging Scholars network and eventually Colin Gilstrap during his research semester. The three studied returns through a market reaction lens at mergers and acquisitions deals, but specifically how investors – rather than corporations – reacted to it. They hoped their study would provide investors with knowledge on how to respond to mergers, as well as benefit the companies. With the help of Colin Gilstrap, a PhD student (now an assistant professor at Toledo University), Manoj gathered information from a database and statical analysis using SAS. They found there was an excess return of 14 basis points – basis points being a measure of financial return – in the data, which implies that mergers allow investor to receive more from their investments using this particular strategy.
Come one, come all to a fan favorite event hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research! Join OUR, fellow students and talented faculty for free pizza and the chance to learn about interesting research happening now at UA! Pizza with Professors will take place Wednesday, October 3, from 12-1 p.m. in Gorgas 205. The event is free to attend! Professors of various disciplines will present to explain their research and answer students’ questions.
Among the slated professors is Dr. Ryan Earley whose current research centers on the mangrove rivulus fish. Read on for a sneak peak at what Dr. Earley will be discussing at Pizza With Professors!
Deep in the mangroves of Florida, the Caribbean and Central America, there’s a fish that defies all odds and exhibits some truly remarkable characteristics. Mangrove rivulus fish live in some of the nastiest conditions on Earth and can tolerate dramatic fluctuations in oxygen levels, salinity, temperature, and water availability, as well as infiltration of pollutants into their natural environment. They are highly plastic and exist predominantly as self-fertilizing hermaphrodites, which allows (effectively) for the production of clones. They can also change sex from hermaphrodite to male, live on land for 2 months, navigate terrestrial environments using Olympic jumps, and engage in intense combat. We have combined field and laboratory-based studies to examine a host of questions related to phenotypic plasticity, physiology, morphology, behavior and performance in this species. I will discuss a number of recent advances that have emerged from studying this odd organism; a potpourri of cool science driven largely by the graduate and undergraduate students in my lab!
Whether you’re an incoming student or a returning student, Get On Board Day (GOBD) is a staple UA tradition that you don’t want to miss! Held each spring and fall, GOBD offers countless opportunities for you to get connected to your passion at UA. The Office of Undergraduate Research staff is looking forward to seeing you there to answer your questions about undergraduate research and the Emerging Scholars program!
Get On Board Day will be located at the Ferguson Student center from 5-9 p.m. on Thursday, August 30, and is free for students to attend. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll meet you there at the same time and place on September 4!
Abstracts for the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium (GCURS) are due September 12, and students interested in the Materials Engineering section are invited to apply! The purpose of the symposium, held at Rice University, is to provide a forum for undergraduate researchers to present their research, as well as foster intercollegiate interactions among students and faculty who share a commitment to undergraduate research. This year’s event will be held on on Saturday, October 6, 2018, and the deadline for submitting abstracts is Wednesday, September 12, 2018. The symposium format is 10-12 minutes, individual, oral PowerPoint presentation with an additional 2-3 minutes for a question-and-answer period.
Advisors are invited to accompany their students, and symposium organizers are happy to involve accompanying advisors as judges in the sessions. Funds will be made available to help offset travel costs for GCURS participants. A limited number of rooms at the Marriott Hotel are available for participants and visiting judges traveling to Houston.
Interested students should register online at gcurs.rice.edu and submit a one-page research abstract by Wednesday, September 12, 2018. The symposium can accommodate 30 students in the Materials Engineering section. Last year we were able to accommodate all registrants who wanted to speak, but if capacity becomes limiting, organizers will select participants on the basis of submitted abstracts. Advisors can also register online at gcurs.rice.edu
For questions regarding the application process, please contact Professor Zachary Cordero of Rice University.
The Office of Information Technology works to block dark web traffic from entering UA, but for five students in Cyber Hall, the dark web serves as a place of employment.
The Network Intrusion Lab, located in Cyber Hall, houses faculty and student researchers building mechanisms to monitor and analyze dark web network traffic. According to UA OIT, the dark web is a part of the internet that is only accessible by means of special software that allows users to remain anonymous to conduct mostly malicious activity.
Austin Rife, a junior studying computer engineering and mathematics from Grand Rapids, Michigan
Jake Wachs, a sophomore studying computer science from Annapolis, Maryland
Austin Hose, a junior in New College studying cybersecurity from Meridianville, Alabama
Spencer Fuhriman, a sophomore studying computer science from Meridian, Idaho
Alex Dunbrack, a senior studying management information systems from Orlando, Florida
The First of its Kind
The NIL opened in January 2017 and is a joint project through the continued partnership between UAPD and the College of Arts and Sciences. The Office of Information Technology provides the NIL a secure research environment where students can work with faculty to build network analysis tools.
“In the NIL,” said Wachs, “we get to see the real-world implications of what technology can do.”
The NIL strives to increase awareness and knowledge about cyber activity, particularly with law enforcement. The NIL is a function of the Joint Electronic Crimes Task Force. Established in August 2014, the JECTF assists local and national law enforcement officials with processing digital evidence for use in cybercrime prosecutions.
“People become victims of cyberattacks just because they don’t know any better,” said Hose. “That’s what scares me, the lack of knowledge about cyber activity.”
The students in the NIL work not only to monitor network activity, but also to provide necessary information to local and federal law enforcement to prevent malicious activity and to help solve criminal cases.
“We take this data, and we determine how much of a negative impact it can have to society, and we share it with the proper audiences and law enforcement,” said Fuhriman.
The students working in the NIL bring a variety of experience and diverse majors of study to the group.
“I really enjoy working with the other students in the NIL,” said Dunbrack. “We’re all pursuing different majors of study, and when I hear their perspectives it really broadens my personal understanding of what cybercrime is becoming in this world. We’re all bringing different skills to the table.”
The research being conducted at the NIL is the first of its kind. Fewer than 10 academic institutions across the United States have a digital forensics task force, and the UA NIL, as a part of such task force, is the first of its kind.
“No one has done the research that we’re doing. We hope that our research opens up a new discussion in the cyber field of study.” Dr. Adam Ghazi-Tehrani, assistant professor in cyber criminology and criminal justice at UA
Network Intrusion Lab Internships
NIL internships are available to students in all majors of study.
“Through the NIL, we offer students a different way of thinking about problems,” said Dolliver. “There’s a difference between learning something in a classroom and actually applying the knowledge. These students are getting real experience.”
Undergraduate and graduate students can now apply for internships at the NIL at cybercrime.as.ua.edu.
“Students thinking about studying cybersecurity should have an interest in computer programming, and a passion for computing with a willingness to learn,” said Rife. “It’s so cool to learn how something works, and then reverse it to prevent somebody from getting in. You always have to think ahead. If there is something out there that you’re interested in, go after it. Ask a faculty member about it and start learning.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.