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  • February 8th, 2021

BEST BETS

PANDEMIC’S EFFECTS WILL LINGER ON STATE’S GROWING ECONOMY  The state’s economy could grow by 2.6% in 2021, a good clip that will not pull the state out of the hole created in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report published by economists at The University of Alabama. The 2021 Alabama Economic Outlook, available for free on the center’s website, reports the vibrations of the economic shocks from the pandemic will be felt for years, even with economic interventions from the federal government. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA communications, at adam.jones@ua.edu

EARLY PROMISE FOR NATURAL COMPOUND IN COMBATTING PARKINSON’S A lab at The University of Alabama has shown a compound found in a common shrub in India exhibits neuroprotective effects against Parkinson’s disease characteristics induced by an herbicide in fruit flies. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA communications, at adam.jones@ua.edu

UA RESEARCH TO HELP RURAL RESIDENTS WITH HEARING LOSS A more than $2 million grant will accelerate The University of Alabama’s work to improve the lives of people with hearing loss living in rural areas of the state. Dr. Marcia Hay-McCutcheon, professor of communicative disorders and an Alabama Life Research Institute Fellow, will lead the grant from the National Institutes of Health that addresses accessibility and affordability of hearing healthcare in rural communities. The 5-year grant will help to mitigate the negative effects of hearing loss for those living in underserved communities in five rural counties. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA communications, at adam.jones@ua.edu.

UMC-FAYETTE TO OFFER PRENATAL CARE University Medical Center opened a location in Fayette, Alabama, Feb. 5 that will provide prenatal care services to expectant mothers in a county that has a high infant mortality rate. The infant mortality rate for Fayette County was nearly twice the national average, with 10.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019. UMC-Fayette will be open from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Fridays. Dr. Cheree Melton, a family medicine-obstetrician at UMC in Tuscaloosa, will care for patients at the Fayette location. For more information, contact Bryant Welbourne, UA communications, at bryant.welbourne@ua.edu.

UA’S NORTH CAMPUS WAY RENAMED TO HONOR RANDALL FAMILY LEGACY In recognition of Pettus and Cathy Randall’s substantial generosity and longtime commitment to The University of Alabama, along with their noteworthy civic engagement, North Campus Way was renamed Randall Way by The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees Friday, Feb. 5. For more information, contact Shane Dorrill, UA communications, at shane.dorrill@ua.edu.

UA BFSA LAUNCH FIRST INTERCOLLEGIATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH SCHOLAR BOWL The University of Alabama’s Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA), in partnership with the Division of Student Life, will host the inaugural Dr. Trudier Harris Intercollegiate Black Scholar Bowl on Feb. 27, at 11 a.m. Teams of undergraduate students from UA, Stillman College, Alabama State University and Alabama A&M will participate in the bowl. A Zoom press conference on the bowl will be held on Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. For more information, contact Jamon Smith, UA communications, at jamon.smith@ua.edu.

CURRENT COMMENT

MINING MARS ISN’T EASY, BUT NECESSARY BEFORE HUMAN TRIP – Dr. Kenneth Ricks, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and advisor to award-winning student robotic mining team at The University of Alabama, said NASA’s soon-to-land Perseverance rover, with the task of collecting soil and rock samples for a possible return trip on a latter mission, has a lot of challenges to overcome, but the mission is worthwhile. It will help answer questions on Mar’s past while also helping us better understand the Earth’s resources. Plus, the rover will help understand oxygen extraction from the Martian soil or air. “This is necessary if we plan to send humans to Mars because it is not feasible for astronauts on Mars to rely on resupply from Earth for such critical life support,” he said. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA communications, at adam.jones@ua.edu

BAIL REFORM BILLS BEING CONSIDERED THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION COULD RESULT IN HIGHER PRETRIAL DETENTION RATES Two bail reform bills, HB130 and HB 131, proposed by Rep. Chris Brown, R-Mobile, expected to be discussed in the Alabama legislature during the current session, will result in higher rates of pretrial detention, according to Jenny E. Carroll, the Wiggins, Child Quinn and Pantazis Professor of Law at The University of Alabama. “Brown’s bill, known as Aniah’s Law, expands the categories of offenses for which a suspect can be detained prior to trial,” Carroll said. “Pretrial detention can have a tremendous impact on marginalized populations. It not only increases the probability that the detained will plead guilty, even if they are not, but can also result in lost wages, lost jobs, lost homes and even affect child custody.” For more information, contact Jenny Carroll at jcarroll@law.ua.edu.

PROPOSED BILL CLEARLY AIMED AT THOSE PROTESTING RACIAL INJUSTICE A bill proposed during this session of the Alabama legislature is clearly designed in response to the protests that occurred across the state during the summer of 2020 after the death of George Floyd, according to Jenny E. Carroll, the Wiggins, Child Quinn and Pantazis Professor of Law at The University of Alabama. “The goal of HB 133 is to expand law enforcement authority and chill future activism,” Carroll said. “Such an expansion is unnecessary, as all acts described in the bill are already criminalized under the state’s criminal code, and it raises questions about the state’s willingness to curtail rights of speech and assembly.” For more information, contact Jenny Carroll at jcarroll@law.ua.edu.

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The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.