“I am proud to join the network of incredible alumni who are part of the CBH family and I hope I can continue to give back to this program that has allowed me to achieve beyond what I ever imagined.” – Alison Farrar


Major: Physics

Hometown: South Pasadena, CA

Alison is a senior in the Computer-Based Honors Program, and she will be graduating in May. Next year, she will be attending Harvard Medical School as a member of the Harvard-MIT MD/PhD program to pursue a career in medical research. Alison chose to come to the University of Alabama because of the Computer-Based Honors Program. She knew that she wanted a career in research, and the program provided all the resources and a community of people to help her accomplish this goal.

Alison has gotten involved with the program by serving on the CBH-PRO Research Team and has become a mentor to younger students by helping them develop and present their research. Throughout her four years at Alabama, Alison has been involved in many clubs and activities outside of the Computer-Based Honors Program, including serving on the Cultural Experiences and Diversity Committee within the Honors College Assembly. Alison is currently involved with the International Students Association, where she serves as President, and she volunteers at the Good Samaritan Clinic in Northport as a laboratory technician.

Alison is a student researcher in the UA Magnetics Lab, where she is working on the physical theory of modern magnetic materials. Modern magnetic materials are essential for devices like fast and energy-efficient computer memory and drug delivery nanoparticles, but her research lab recently discovered that in certain structures, the standard equations used to predict their behavior are insufficient. She has developed a new form of the equation used to describe how the magnetization in these materials changes over time and coded simulations that can be used by other researchers to include this precision when designing new devices.

When asked what about her favorite memory from her four years in the Computer-Based Honors Program, Alison said “My freshman year, a bunch of us made an intramural CBH floor hockey team. We were absolutely terrible, and we won zero games, but we made t-shirts with binary numbers on the back and we had a team cheer: ‘2 bits 4 bits 8 bits a byte–come on CBH fight fight fight!’ The CBH family, including Dean Sharpe and Mrs. Batson, has also been there for me during some really difficult times, and I will never forget their support and kindness.”



Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Conifer, CO

Clayton Wagenhals is a senior in the Computer-Based Honors Program, and he will be graduating in May 2018. Next year, he will be attending the Manderson Graduate School of Business at UA to complete his MBA. This summer he will be working with the Global Facilities group at Burns & McDonnell in Kansas City, MO as a mechanical engineering intern.  Burns & McDonnell is an engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm that plans, designs, constructs, and manages facilities all over the world.

The Computer-Based Honors Program has continually been one of the main reasons Clay has enjoyed his time at The University of Alabama., and the introduction that CBH provided him in the realm of computer science, software development, and project management has been invaluable in his engineering education and has allowed him to broaden his prospective career paths.   The small community and family atmosphere supported him through his first year and he has made some of his best friends through the program.

Throughout his time at UA, Clay has given back to the campus community through various leadership positions. He has served as a CBH freshman mentor, played on the UA Club Baseball Team, served as Director of Student Life for the Honors College Assembly, collaborated with projects through the Alabama Rocketry Association, and was an A-Team Member for the Camp 1831 First Year Experience. Currently, Clayton serves as the Treasurer for the Honors College Assembly and the Outreach Committee Chair of Ambassador Group for the STEM Path to the MBA Program, and he has recently been involved with starting his own business, Covert Cooling.

Covert Cooling manufactures and sells cooling apparel to professionals, athletes, students, and individuals who experience thermal discomfort in their daily activities. Covert Cooling has developed a cooling shirt that allows their customers to take control of their individual climate and limit their thermal discomfort.  Their shirt is lightweight, discreet, and effective at capturing heat generated by the body.  The first functional prototype has been completed and they are working to refine and finish the first product in accordance with customer expectations.

Most of his extracurricular time this year has been spent developing the product/technology and competing in business plan competitions to obtain startup funds. Clayton has also been involved in two main research projects at UA. In the first project, he worked with Dr. Richard Branam in the Aerospace Department on the design and manufacture of a Micro Hall-Effect Thruster for the in-space propulsion of small satellites.  Using superheated gas (plasma) and strong electrical and magnetic fields, they created a thruster that can orient and move satellites in orbit.  The value in their design was its weight reduction over conventional systems.

For his second project, Clay worked with fellow CBHer Reid Ruggles and Dr. Semih Olcmen in the Aerospace Department on a software tool for modeling and completing the initial design calculations for solid and liquid rocket engines.  The initial design process for creating a rocket is very cyclical and calculation heavy, so Clay and Reid developed a program that allows students and engineers to reduce the time it takes to make preliminary design decisions and allows them to gather insight for further system refinement.

Clay’s favorite memory in CBH is from his first year in the program: “I took a study break with a bunch of CBHers and drove to IHOP at two in the morning.  It was October or November and we had three or four people in the back of a pickup truck for the 15-minute drive.  Of course, we were wearing shorts and t-shirts, so it was positively frigid.  We had some great conversation about issues on campus and just UA in general.  It was a great bonding experience and just a fun morning after studying for so long.”



Lauren is a senior in the Computer-Based Honor Program, who will be graduating in May. During the 2018-2019 school year, she will be teaching English at one or more elementary schools in the Aix-Marseille region of France through a program sponsored by the French government. Lauren minored in French at UA and she is excited both to teach and to practice her own language skills. In fall of 2019, she will be starting her JD at Harvard Law School.

Lauren has been involved with a number of service efforts during her time at UA. To name a few, she teaches French at a local elementary school, has provided consulting services to small businesses throughout Alabama through the LIFT program, has been a READ mentor, and has been part of the Al’s Pals program. She is also planning a fourth trip to Haiti with other Culverhouse students to provide business training and small business consulting to aspiring entrepreneurs in a small village. Her work in Haiti inspired some of her CBH research, as well.

She is involved with the student ministry at Calvary called the Well and spent two years on the leadership team. She also was a part of the Business Honors Program. Finally, she is in the Elliott Society, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Mortar Board honor societies.

CBH has opened Lauren’s eyes to the research opportunities available to her at UA, even though she is in a major (Operations Management) not typically associated with research. On campus, Lauren’s main project last year involved doing target market research for a Haitian textiles company that was looking to export its products to the US. Lauren utilized Qualtrics and XLSTAT to conduct a survey and a MaxDiff analysis of the responses, as well as working closely with the company throughout the year to understand their position, expectations, and goals. Lauren’s research also helped to clarify her career goals.

Summer of 2016, she did research in Hong Kong under the supervision of a law professor, which confirmed her desire to go to law school.