Wednesday, May 29, 2013

UAB student not afraid to be first; Scriber breaks ground and ice on his way up

By Kevin Storr

Kevin Scriber, a graduate student in the UAB Department of Biology, is a man of firsts. He is the first male in his family to graduate high school and college, and he will be the first to earn a master’s degree come August 2013. Scriber is also the first of his family to live in Alabama; the first time he even visited Alabama was the first day he lived in Birmingham as a UAB student.

“I wanted to apply to a school where I could be around important science, and the world would recognize the validity of what I learned because of the people I am around,” said Scriber. “I found that at UAB, so I didn’t need to see the campus or the city to know this was the best place for me.”

Two years ago Scriber, sold everything he owned and boarded a train in Washington, D.C., bound for Birmingham. He was met at Birmingham’s train station by UAB’s endowed professor of Polar and Marine Biology, James McClintock, Ph.D.

The world-renowned biologist gave Scriber his first tour of UAB and Birmingham. He would also be responsible for Scriber’s first research trip ever, to the Bahamas, and his first trip to another continent, Antarctica, as well as Scriber’s trip later this month to the first home for environmental evolution research, the Galapagos Islands.

“If I don’t go somewhere new or try different things, then I become stagnant,” said Scriber. “UAB has a strong Study Away program, so I am fortunate that the opportunities presented to me for research are amazing locations.”

READ MORE: Scriber’s Blog post “Thoughts on Leaving” Antarctica

Scriber admits he grew up in a tough neighborhood. Academics were his buffer from trouble. He attended Norfolk State University, from which he graduated in 2010, and interned at the National Institute of Health for four years.

As the son and grandson of military veterans, Scriber appreciates discipline, honor and loyalty. He understands being the first is only important if you are not the last. 

“If you have a positive outlook and exude positivity to people, then nothing but a positive result can come out of that,” said Scriber. “I just want to be somewhere where I can make a positive influence on people’s lives and try to help them follow their dreams.”

At UAB, Scriber’s biological research centers on the preferential feeding of freshwater amphipods, Hyalella azteca. He is studying the roles of chemical and structural defenses and nutritional value in their selection of prey. In spring 2013, he was part of the National Science Foundation-funded UAB in Antarctica program. There he learned about ocean acidification and much more.

“Antarctica makes you feel like you are seeing something that nobody else has ever seen, and that it will not be the same the next time you see it,” said Scriber. “It is easy to become a consumer of products and not think about where they come from. If you don’t appreciate the precious bubble that you live in, then at some point, it will collapse because it is not a sustainable system.”

READ MORE: Scriber’s final Antarctica Blog post “Adieu Palmer Station

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