UA Preview — May 22-28, 2023


UA STUDENTS RECEIVE U.S. FULBRIGHT PROGRAM AWARDS FOR 2023-2024 — The Fulbright Program has selected 13 University of Alabama students for various awards for the 2023-2024 academic year including three Alabamians. Fulbright is the most prestigious United States international exchange program, offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals. The Fulbright Award of the U.S. Department of State offers one-year grants for independent study and research, and for English teaching assistantships overseas. The highly competitive program selects approximately 1,500 award recipients from more than 11,000 applicants each year. UA was recognized as a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright U.S. Student Awards for the sixth time in eight years in February. For more information, contact Bryant Welbourne, UA Strategic Communications, at  

COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING TO HOST NATIONAL 2023 ROBOTIC MINING CHALLENGE — The UA College of Engineering will host 24 university teams from across the nation for the Robotic Mining Challenge May 22-26. Sponsored by Caterpillar Inc., the event is designed to create solutions to problems faced on moon exploration missions. Each team has spent the past year designing and building a robot that uses resources available on the lunar surface. During the competition, robots must autonomously navigate a lunar-simulated arena and excavate lunar soil, or regolith. This will mark the second time that the college’s award-winning Alabama Astrobotics team has hosted a robotic mining competition. For more information, contact Anna Claire Toxey, UA College of Engineering, at  

UA-LED ELECTRIC VEHICLE PROJECT WINS INITIAL NATIONAL AWARD — A proposal led by The University of Alabama to strengthen the Deep South’s role in production and support of electric vehicles was selected by the National Science Foundation to be developed further. The $1 million planning grant from the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program positions UA and its partners, the University of Georgia and Mississippi State University, to compete alongside 40 other teams for up to $160 million over 10 years in the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards, which aim to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal and technological opportunities for their regions. The NSF Engines program is a transformational investment for the nation, ensuring the U.S. remains in the vanguard of competitiveness for decades to come. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA Strategic Communications, at  

EMERITUS PROFESSOR ELECTED TO NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES — Dr. William Dressler, professor emeritus at UA, was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most prestigious honors in science. Dressler retired in 2020 as a professor of anthropology after 42 years at the University where he had also been a tenured professor in the College of Community Health Sciences and the School of Social Work. He is one of 120 new members and 23 international members elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Dressler is now part of 2,565 members and 526 international members of the NAS, which was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. For more information, contact Adam Jones, UA Strategic Communications, at  


DOLLY PARTON TAKES ON HOT TOPICS — Dolly Parton’s new song “World on Fire” breaks from her usual musical style and addresses several current hot topics. “Over many decades, Dolly Parton has consistently cultivated a humorous image that always included public advocacy of select issues important to her, including literacy and public health concerns,” said Dr. Lance Kinney, presenter of “Dolly Parton: Crisis Communication CEO” and associate professor of advertising and public relations in UA’s College of Communications and Information Sciences. “She transcends politics with her non-partisan work in these and other areas. Her criticism of politics, generally, rather than specific political figures, allows her to be involved without alienating her politically diverse fanbase.” To schedule an interview, contact Kinney at  

INCREASING ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH CARE — Licensed independent clinical social workers in Alabama will soon have the authority to make clinical mental health diagnoses for patients, just as they can in every other state in the country. “This will significantly expand the availability of and access to mental health care services in Alabama,” said Dr. Bob McKinney, associate professor of social work with The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences and director of the Office of Case Management and Social Services at University Medical Center, which the college operates. McKinney said increasing the scope of practice for the state’s more than 2,500 LICWs will allow them to help address Alabama’s shortage of mental health providers. McKinney also serves on the Alabama State Board of Social Work Examiners, which was tasked with providing definitions and guidelines for increasing the scope of practice for LICSWs. To schedule an interview, contact McKinney at   


AFTER PROMONTORY: 150 YEARS OF TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROADING — The Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum’s new exhibit, “After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading,” opens May 23 and runs through Sept. 9. The exhibit is on loan from and in collaboration with the Center for Railroad Photography and Art. “After Promontory” takes a wide view, considering the events at Promontory to be the start of a larger phenomenon, of an entire era of transcontinental railroad construction that stretched for nearly 50 years. At its core is the assertion that, collectively, the transcontinental railroads profoundly reshaped the human geography of the West, giving birth to the region we recognize today. 

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The University of Alabama strives to remain neutral on public policy issues. Strategic Communications may facilitate interviews or share opinions expressed by faculty, staff, students, or other individuals regarding policy matters. However, those opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the University or its leadership, and do not constitute a statement on behalf of the University unless explicitly designated.