Current Students

Current Students

Mackenzi Barrett

Senior | Economics

Mackenzi Barrett is a senior in the Randall Research Scholars Program. She will be graduating in May 2022. Because she is in the Accelerated Master’s Program, Mackenzi will graduate with both her bachelor’s degree and master’s in economics. After graduating from The University of Alabama, she intends to pursue her J.D. and Ph.D. in economics. The Randall Research Scholars Program has been a central part of Mackenzi’s time at The University of Alabama. Not only has RRS supplied her with opportunities to get involved with research on campus and develop her professional skills, but RRS has also provided her a community of like-minded peers. She met many of her closest friends through RRS and is grateful to RRS for the plethora of connections that it affords.

While at UA, Mackenzi has participated in a variety of extracurricular activities. She participated in UA’s Mock Trial Association where she had the opportunity to compete as an attorney at various tournaments across the Southeast. She also was an active member of the Legal Research Club and served as president during her junior year. As a member of the Legal Research Club, she had the opportunity to write for its online legal blog, the Commentary, and serve as a junior editor on its law review, the Capstone Journal of Law and Public Policy. Mackenzi is also a Group Exercise Instructor at University Recreation where she teaches strength and cardio classes.

Mackenzi has worked on three different research projects while at UA. The first was in the College of Education’s Prison Education Research Lab. Through PERL, she researched the effects of fiscal policy on postsecondary correctional education programs in the state of Alabama. After participating in UC San Diego’s Summer Program for Women in Philosophy, Mackenzi was inspired to pursue a research project in philosophy for the fall of her junior year. Under the mentorship of Dr. Rekha Nath, she explored the connection between state autonomy rights and immigration. She wrote an article called “On Self-determination, Territorial Rights, and Coercion: A State's Right to Control its Borders,” which she presented at multiple conferences and had published in Johns Hopkins University’s journal Prometheus. Currently, she is pursuing her passion for law and economics and researching with Professor Benjamin McMichael at UA Law. They are exploring the effects of scope of practice laws governing certified nurse midwives on birth outcomes.

One of Mackenzi’s favorite RRS memories involves a game of Jeopardy. While RRS is a program dedicated to research, the social aspect of RRS is crucial to its students’ success. Dozens of RRSers were gathered in a room (pre-COVID), divided into teams, and led by an upperclassman through a competitive game of Jeopardy. Students were laughing and learning a lot about each other. About RRS, Mackenzi says, “RRS is truly a family. We learn together and grow together. While there is no better program at UA to develop your research skills, there is also no better place to forge friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Sabrina Jung

Senior | Math & Finance

Meet Sabrina Jung, a senior from Wildwood, Missouri. She is double majoring in math and finance and currently in the Accelerated Master’s Program for finance at UA. This summer, she worked as an intern on the finance team at the World Wide Technology Headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. While at school, Sabrina is a member of the Randall Research Scholars Program currently working as a Professionalism Dimension Leader for the program’s Peer Resource Organization in which she assists fellow RRS students with various professional development and alumni engagement activities. Sabrina also completed her RRS research project studying risk preference behavior in sequential order contests with Dr. Paan Jindapon and UA’s Department of Economics.

When asked about how RRS has impacted her academic career, Sabrina says, “The Randall Research Scholars Program has far exceeded my expectations coming into college. It is a fun, fast paced, and collaborative environment designed to challenge each student while bringing together a diverse group of inquisitive and driven individuals. The students, alumni, and faculty of the program come together to learn as a group in a supportive and growth-oriented community. I have met many life-long friends through the program, and I am only beginning to see the impact that the program and all of its wonderful people have had on my life.”

Outside of academics, Sabrina is an involved member of her sorority, serving as both the Director of Member Finance and as an ambassador for the University’s sorority and fraternity life. In her free time, she volunteers in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham communities as a Culverhouse LIFT class leader for veterans and GED students. She also enjoys running and hiking.

Candice Keogh

Senior | New College & Pre-Med

Candice Keogh is a senior in the Randall Research Scholars program, and she will be graduating in May 2022. Next year, she will be taking a gap year while shadowing, participating in clinical summer programs, and applying to medical schools. Candice chose to attend UA because of the RRS Program, the Blount Scholars Program, and the Caldwell Lab research experience. In addition, the New College’s interdisciplinary focus allowed her to design a customized major in the neurological sciences that would best prepare her for medical school and beyond. The RRS Program has been an essential aspect of her growth as a student, researcher, and critical thinker.

The Randall Research Scholars Program has helped Candice understand how quickly technology is evolving and appreciate how complicated developments in artificial intelligence will change the world. As a student on the Pre-Med track, she realized how valuable modern technology is for the field of medicine, and she knew that she wanted to become part of the next generation of doctors and researchers that were not only aware of the medical technology’s advancements but who were also fully equipped and adept to use technology for the greater good. Candice also believes that RRSP has allowed her to develop into the professional and confident presenter she is today. Being able to have discussions with Dr. Sharpe and learn from his experiences in both the biomedical and business fields have been extremely invaluable. Learning about effective communication and formatting techniques, being able to gauge an audience’s interests and knowledge, and learning to confidently speak about personal experiences and capabilities have not only served her well in the RRS Program, but also in other class projects, research presentation conferences, and interviews. Candice believes that the RRS Program been truly instrumental in helping her prepare for a career in the biomedical fields and, most importantly, in life.

The Randall Research Scholars Program allowed Candice to begin undergraduate research work during the fall of her freshman year in the Caldwell Lab. Otherwise known as the “Worm Shack,” the lab investigates neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and ALS, via the utilization of the nematode roundworm, C. elegans, in order to understand the genetic, epigenetic, and gene-environment interactions underlying these diseases. Under the guidance of her graduate student, she has performed several experiments investigating the effects of diet and environment on neuron longevity and protectivity. Under the guidance of Dr. Kim Caldwell, Candice has done research utilizing RNAi and gene silencing technology to understand the importance of specific genes/mutations necessary for neuroprotection, as well as investigating the effectiveness of certain neurodegeneration analysis mechanisms.

When she is not in class or in the lab, Candice serves as Co-President of the UA Neuroscience Society. She also is a freshman mentor in the Randall and Blount programs, and she is an active member of the Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity. She enjoys shadowing different physicians, especially those in the neurological fields. In addition, she believes that understanding both Western and Eastern medicine is critical for the success and continuation of modern medicine. So, this past summer, she began shadowing a licensed local acupuncturist and naturopath. Candice also loves to sing and cantor at St. Francis University Parish, and she enjoys working out at Pure Barre.

Candice’s favorite memory as part of the RRS Program happened during her freshman year. “One of the Monday night classes just so happened to be our professor Darren’s birthday. He would always show up to class with a royal blue polo shirt with a Phifer logo, since he usually came to class directly from work. As a class, we decided that we should all dress up like him just to see what he would do or if he would even notice. We waited for him to come into the classroom with the lights turned off, but as soon as he turned them on, all he saw was a sea of blue, and the look on his face was priceless! That moment really helped bond our class because I don’t think any other CBH/RRS class has done anything like that, so moments like these illustrate much fun we like to have with each other and how much we care for our professors, too.”