UAB faculty receive national recognition for policy leadership

Written by 
rep biga jones 550pxPeggy Biga, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biology, and Peter Jones, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, are co-leaders of the Alabama Scholars Network, a chapter of the national Scholars Strategy Network.

The Alabama Scholars Network has been awarded the inaugural Outstanding Chapter Award for 2023 from the Scholars Strategy Network.

Co-led by UAB College of Arts and Sciences faculty Peggy Biga, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biology and Peter Jones, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, the award signifies the dedication of the chapter’s leadership to the development and achievement of policy improving initiatives and opportunities.

The Scholars Strategy Network is a national organization housing members of collegiate and university-based researchers focused on developing and improving policy and creating opportunities for its members to develop skills and expertise in this arena. The Alabama chapter aspires to connect its members with policymakers, civic leaders, and journalists on issues related to health and education policy.

“We were humbled and honored to receive this recognition,” Biga said.

Jones said, “Dr. Biga and I started this work because we believe in SSN’s mission—that academic researchers should use their expertise to inform policymaking. Everything we’ve done the last few years has been with that goal in mind, and while we’ve worked hard to support scholars across the state to engage in the policy process, it was still a bit of a surprise to be recognized.”

Jones acknowledged how this chapter has positively impacted academic innovation at UAB.

“Through our work with SSN, Dr. Biga and I created a graduate certificate in Science Policy, which offers a chance for UAB students, faculty, and staff to understand how they can bridge the gap between science and public policy,” Jones said.

Jones attested to the value of the organization saying, “As members, Dr. Biga and I have also enjoyed amazing networking opportunities within our respective disciplines. Dr. Biga was selected for the prestigious AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship, and our former chapter fellow, Dr. Jazmine Benjamin (a soon to be UAB grad) was also selected as an inaugural FASEB Howard Garrison Advocacy Fellow. I recently attended a conference at Yale University for scholars studying fines and fees in the criminal justice system. At least for me, I probably would not have been invited to that conference if not for my work with SSN.”

Biga reiterated the value that UAB has in the success of the Alabama Scholars Network.

“Additionally, many of our chapter members are UAB faculty, and for them, we serve as a resource to connect them with nonprofit and civic leaders who need rigorous research to make the best decisions,” Biga said. “We hosted a couple of workshops called “Training Researchers to Inform Policy (TRIP)” where we provided UAB researchers with best practices in how to inform the policymaking process. 

Last year, the chapter hosted “Policypalooza 2.0,” partnering with the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy at UAB to provide grants to researchers who would work with a nonprofit organization to affect policy change.

Jones and Biga expressed their excitement for the future of the chapter and noted the potential for the amplified success of affiliated students and faculty of UAB.

“We hope to leverage the network and playbooks we’ve developed so that more scholars can get their research in the hands of decision makers,” Jones said.