Tuesday, May 21, 2013

SBP graduate shines at UAB

Timothy Jason Feliciano Fernandez graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama, Birmingham on Saturday, May 11, 2013, with two separate degrees: a B.S. degree in Biology with a concentration in Molecular Biology; and a B.S. degree in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry.  Timothy is graduating summa cum laude with University Honors and Honors in Chemistry.  Just recently, he was named the Department of Chemistry’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student as well as the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Student Dean's Award (Top Undergraduate Student in the School) and was the UAB Banner bearer at the May 2013 commencement ceremony.  Timothy will be starting medical school at UAB in July.

Timothy is the son of Dr. Raymond and Mrs. Nola Fernandez of Gadsden, Alabama.  His brother Jordan graduated from St. Bernard in 2007, then UAB, and is now a medical student at the University of South Alabama.  Brother Jeremiah attended St. Bernard as a freshman and is now a student at Georgetown University.

The University Honors Program (UHP) recruited Timothy from Saint Bernard Preparatory School in Cullman, Alabama. After graduation from St. Bernard in May of 2009 he joined the UHP the following August. He received a merit-based Golden Excellence Scholarship from UAB and was also selected for the Chemistry Scholars Program. As a Chemistry Scholar he has served as a Laboratory Instructor for Introductory Chemistry and Qualitative Analysis and as a Recitation Instructor for the entire General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry sequences. He was awarded the Department of Chemistry’s Excellence in General Chemistry Award in his freshman year. Timothy started research in January of his freshman year under the mentorship of Dr. Jamil Saad in the Department of Microbiology working on the assembly and trafficking of the components of the HIV-1 virus, specifically the intricacies of intracellular Calmodulin cell signaling pathways and the ability of the HIV virus to replicate. He gained valuable experience with a wide variety of techniques including mutagenesis, protein expression and purification, 2D and 3D NMR, isothermal titration calorimetry and various centrifugation techniques. For a separate project on the expression and purification of XMRV matrix protein he learned Studier Auto-induction for protein expression. He conducted an independent project on the structural, biophysical, and biochemical characterization of the interactions between Fas and Calmodulin for which he introduced differential scanning calorimetry to the lab. Timothy's research and scholarship resulted in at least thirteen different conference presentations including poster presentations at the Spring and Summer UAB EXPO (2010), the annual meeting of the Alabama Academy of Sciences (2011), the University of Alabama System Honors Research Conference (UASHRC)(2011, 2012, & 2103), The National Collegiate Honors Council (Phoenix, 2011 and Boston, 2012), the 45th Annual American Chemical Society South Regional Undergraduate Research Conference (SURC)(Birmingham, 2013), and the prestigious National Conference on Undergraduate Research (Ithaca, NY 2011 and La Cross, Wisconsin, 2013) and podium presentations at the 31st Annual Undergraduate Research in Chemistry (Memphis, 2011) and at the Southern Regional Honors Council annual meetings (Tampa, FL 2012 and Louisville, 2013). It is to Timothy’s credit that he is always able to communicate with superb focus and clarity the nature and significance of his work. He has won top awards for his presentations at the UAB EXPO and at the University of Alabama System Honors research conferences, the latter being adjudicated by faculty from all three campuses. Timothy's research has also been recognized on a national level. In 2011, he received Honorable Mention in the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship competition and in 2012 was selected as one of three UAB students to become the UAB's first ever Beckman Scholars, a distinction that funded the awardees with over $19,000 to support their research. Of most significance is the fact that Timothy is graduating having published three papers in professional journals. He is an author on two papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and one paper in Frontiers of Virology. Moreover, Timothy is first author on a paper under review at the Journal of Biological Chemistry for his work on Fas-Mediated Apoptosis, which has implications in potential future cancer treatments. Such productivity is unprecedented for an undergraduate. His excitement for research is contagious. Upon the departure of the founding Director of Undergraduate Research who helped launch the UAB EXPO, Timothy stepped in to rescue and basically organize the 2011 and 2012 EXPOs, which were resounding successes. Somehow, Timothy has time to engage in extracurricular and community service activities. He has been President of the UAB Undergraduate Research Association, an editorial board member for Inquiro, UAB's undergraduate research journal, Vice President of Finance and Scholarships for UAB's Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Treasurer of the Student Affiliate of the American Chemical Society, and a UHP representative on the Honors College's Student Executive Committee. He was a tutor in chemistry for UAB's Ronald E McNair program and our Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. He was a major force in establishing the UAB Table Tennis Club and serves as Team Captain for competitions in the National Collegiate Table Tennis (NCTTA) in the Dixie Region. On Sundays you will find him in the choir at either St. Stephens or Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church. He has taught chemistry and physics at Riverchase Middle School and has volunteered at the 1917 Clinic and with Birmingham AIDS Outreach.


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