5 months ago

Lynne Chronister is a 2020 Woman of Impact

So many things in the world are worthy of intensive research. Yet, there are only so many resources available to make that research a reality.

That is where Lynne Chronister steps in.

A self-described “change agent,” Chronister is vice president for research and economic development at the University of South Alabama.

It is that ability to bring about change and push the boundaries of what is possible that has sustained her throughout her remarkable career.

“I am not doing my job if I look around campus and all I see is ‘status quo,’” Chronister explained in a recent interview with Yellowhammer News. “Research, by its nature, changes our healthcare, our knowledge, how we understand and perceived cultures and creates new technology. If none of this is happening, then leadership and the necessary support are lacking. I get to see change and progress every day. And I get to share, mostly vicariously, in the successes of so many people. I am excited every time one of our researchers and scholars here at South Alabama receive a grant that will enable a new discovery or support the development of a new technology.”

For more than two and a half decades, Chronister has crafted strategic plans to execute and fund countless research projects at the University of South Alabama and beyond.

The thought of extending people beyond their knowledge base has been present throughout her journey.

“I have a picture on the wall of my office that I have carried with me every place I have been,” she noted. “It is part of the Story People series created by Brian Andreas, and it says, ‘Most people don’t know that there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life.’ How can you not love a profession that always keeps you uncomfortable and awake?”

The journey which brought Chronister to such a vital position at the University of South Alabama has been a lengthy one.

She likes to say that she got into research administration “accidentally” or “sideways.”

A graduate of the University of Vermont, with an undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology, she obtained a position with the Vermont Department of Corrections in the Research and Program Evaluation Division.

“Actually, for most of my time there, I was the division,” she jokingly offered. “So they put me to work writing grant proposals and then managing the awards. It turns out, I really enjoyed the challenges and the processes involved in writing and seeking grant funding.”

There was a move to Florida, where she entered graduate school, followed by another move to Mobile where she took a position at the newly-formed Office of Sponsored Programs at the University of South Alabama. After eight years at the University of South Alabama, there were stops at Mississippi State, University of Utah, University of California-Davis, University of Washington and finally back “home,” as she termed it, to her present position in Mobile.

“I never really intended to become a research administrator and didn’t even know the profession existed,” Chronister remarked. “My plans were to be a psychiatrist, instead I went sideways into a career that has been a joy and incredibly fulfilling.”

Listed in International Who’s Who and the Who’s Who in Executives and Business, Chronister has served on national and international task forces and review boards. She has also co-edited a research administration book, “Research Administration and Management,” which is the only book of its kind available for researchers and research administrators.

She says the rewards attached to her career have been plentiful.

“There are not many professions where you have the opportunity to work with the most brilliant, driven people who make incredible discoveries and share them with the world,” Chronister stated. “I absolutely love working with researchers and scholars who are possibly doing work that will change the world or increase our quality of life through new drug development or unearthing ancient civilizations. It is so rewarding to know that sometimes you have a role in a young researchers’ success in obtaining grant funding. And to know that grant may impact our lives in the not too distant future.”

Chronister cites transparency, communication and an awareness of leadership capacity as attributes contributing to her success. In addition, persistence is an essential part of her profession.

“Research and research administration are areas that you don’t usually succeed the first time you try for funding or try finding a cure for COVID or cancer, or really any other research accomplishment,” she explained. “It is all trial and error and then eureka! So sticking with people and projects is critical.”

Chronister recalls the advice she received from two of her mentors as she ascended her profession. The advice to continue looking forward is something she took to heart and has passed on to others.

“One said to me on the first day of my first job in a leadership, management role, ‘Remember, this is the day you begin to prepare for your next position,’” said Chronister. “I remember taking slight offense, thinking that I just got this position, why would I start planning to leave? But after the initial negative reaction, I realized that what they were saying was ‘If you look forward to the next step on your career path, you will be sure to do the best job possible in your current position.’”

For women, specifically, entering the profession, she offers some wisdom previously passed on to her from one of those mentors.

“Another mentor said to me a number of times, ‘We should get over our Midwestern modesty,’” she recalled. “What she was telling me was to step up, don’t step back and wait for someone else take the lead. I have shared this advice with many women, and hopefully it has helped guide them as well as it has me.”

The road ahead for Chronister and her colleagues will continue to bring them in contact with an endless stream of problems and opportunities requiring their expertise. And that is something from which she draws significant motivation.

“Every day, interacting with our faculty and staff, I learn something new,” she said. Research administration is one of those professions that renews itself constantly so there are always new challenges and new reasons to be excited about coming to work every morning.”

Yellowhammer News is proud to name Lynne Chronister a 2020 Woman of Impact.

WATCH:

See the full interview here

Editor’s note: Yellowhammer Multimedia recently announced the third annual Women of Impact Awards. Honorees are being featured on Yellowhammer News each weekday through September 30. We will tell their stories one-by-one, utilizing written and video formats. Check back daily for more of Alabama’s best and brightest.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

4 hours ago

7 Things: Alabama State Health Officer says to take any coronavirus vaccine, Alabama Democrats think all protesters are rioters, U.S. Capitol still faces threats and more …

7. Joe Reed: Keep straight-ticket voting in Alabama

  • Democratic Party leader Joe Reed has come out against a piece of legislation that would get rid of straight-ticket voting throughout Alabama. Reed asked that the 24 Democratic members of the House of Representatives who have decided to co-sponsor the bill remove their support.
  • Reed asked the question, “What is wrong with a person voting the straight-ticket?” He added that he doesn’t know of any “harm” straight-ticket voting does to the “Democratic process,” and he focused on how removing straight-ticket voting would ultimately hurt the Democratic Party as it would remove support from candidates with less name ID.

6. $15 minimum wage is out of the coronavirus stimulus bill

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  • Congressional Democrats’ attempts to force a minimum wage hike into a completely unrelated coronavirus stimulus bill were stymied by Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian who declared the provision violated budgetary rules.
  • Democrats will now have to gain Republican support for the measure or do it by killing the filibuster, a move they probably can’t pull off. Democrats like U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) are not happy and expressed as such, saying, “I’m sorry — an unelected parliamentarian does not get to deprive 32 million Americans the raise they deserve. This is an advisory, not a ruling. VP Harris needs to disregard and rule a $15 minimum wage in order. We were elected to deliver for the people. It’s time we do our job.”

5. Equality Act passes in Congress, Alabama takes another path

  • With only three Republicans voting for the Equality Act, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in a 224-206 vote. The bill provides protections for those in the LGBTQ+ community in a wide range, including allowing transgender people to participate in their chosen gender’s league for sports.
  • In Alabama, a bill was approved by a House committee that would forbid doctors from using puberty-blocking medications, hormones and surgeries on transgender minors.

4. Legislature taking their time with medical marijuana

  • Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) has said that in the House of Representatives, they’re going take their time with the medical marijuana bill by sending it through the Judiciary and Health Committees.
  • McCutcheon said, “We’re going to go through the bill page-by-page.” The medical marijuana bill has already passed the State Senate and has to be passed by the House before Governor Kay Ivey can sign it into law.

3. Threats against the U.S. Capitol ahead of State of the Union

  • It hasn’t been scheduled or announced when President Joe Biden will give his first State of the Union address, but acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman has said that there are credible threats to “blow up” the U.S. Capitol during the address. Pittman said this is why it’s necessary for security measures, like National Guardsman and the barbed wire fence, to stay in place.
  • Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) wants a fair and balanced investigation into the riots at the U.S. Capitol. He will even testify under oath during it, and he may get it after all.

2. Bill targeting rioters is somehow aimed at peaceful protesters

  • The legislation brought by State Representative Allen Treadaway (R-Morris) that would make rioting or inciting a riot a felony has received some backlash from State Senator Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), who claims that the bill will actually target peaceful protesters.
  • Smitherman said that this bill “seeks to take us back 60 years to where we were at that particular time,” referencing the 1960s and 1970s when protestors were arrested. He went on to assert that this bill would lead to those who are protesting being arrested, adding, “We can’t allow to go back 60 years in time to try to oppress people from being able to…speak out.”

1. State Health Officer: Take the coronavirus vaccine made available to you

  • State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris is advising that people in Alabama should simply take whichever coronavirus vaccine that’s available to them. This came into question as it’s anticipated that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be approved by the Food and Drug Administration soon.
  • Dr. Harris stated, “This is a vaccine that prevents deaths and prevents even serious illness and hospitalization at the exact same rate as the other vaccines,” which doesn’t seem to be true.

5 hours ago

PSC President Cavanaugh: Measures implemented to protect Alabama against Texas-like widespread electric utility failures

Last week, the nation watched as Texas suffered electricity outages during an unprecedented winter storm that wreaked havoc on the Lone Star State.

Could that happen here in Alabama? Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh said although no utility is completely invulnerable, measures have been taken to protect customers.

During an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Cavanaugh elaborated on why Texas and Alabama are uniquely different and why Alabama may have fared differently under similar circumstances.

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“[I] did not know a whole lot about Texas until this started happening,” she said. “Since then, I have studied and tried to make sure we have covered all our bases here in Alabama, and that does not happen. Now, let me give this disclaimer — there is never 100% on any utility. Obviously, there are things utilities must do to be prepared. But there are things that can go wrong no matter how prepared you are. I always give that disclaimer.”

“However, Texas and Alabama are completely different in their setup,” Cavanaugh continued. “Alabama Power is the largest power utility in Alabama, and it is a regulated utility. The other utilities that produce electricity in Alabama are TVA, which is a federal-run utility — it is a quasi-government-run utility in North Alabama. We also have some cities that have their own system. They’re called municipals. And then, there are co-ops in some of your rural areas. In fact, I believe Baldwin County has some co-ops. And so, those are run by their members.”

“We regulate Alabama Power Company, which many of your listeners in Mobile have,” she added. “They are regulated. In Texas, 90% of their power is not regulated. In other words, they are deregulated, is what the industry calls it. And after reading this — I think the easiest way to put this is when you’re regulated, we look at everything as how do we protect the people, or how do we protect the customers. In a non-regulated arena, it is how do you protect the profits of these companies.”

According to Cavanaugh, the difference in governing utilities makes such a scenario that Texas faced less likely in Alabama.

“There’s just a completely different philosophy in the two,” she said. “And one of the things in a regulated environment like Alabama Power Company, we always want to weigh things on how it will affect customers. We do that through — is it reliable for consumers? And is it affordable? They have to present to us, I say, on a monthly basis, but it is actually a continual basis. They are audited. And we ensure they do what it takes to be able to handle the load, no matter what the load problems may be.”

Cavanaugh also explained how that given Texas is on its own grid, which covers 90% of that state, prevents it from bringing power in from other states, which is a protection that exists with Alabama’s electric utilities.

She added that there is also less of an incentive to undergo the expensive effort of winterizing in a deregulated environment like Texas.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

6 hours ago

State Rep. Treadaway on anti-rioting bill: ‘This is not a race thing — This is a law and order thing’

State Rep. Allen Treadaway (R-Morris) on Thursday morning interviewed with Talk 99.5’s “Matt & Val Show” regarding his HB 445, which would create new crimes and penalties for individuals who incite or participate in riots.

His interview came the day after State Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) took to the Senate floor to lambast the legislation — and those who support it — as wanting to “snatch” up Black Lives Matter protesters and “take us back 60 years.” Smitherman said the legislation was part of a general oppressive movement he compared to the killing of George Floyd.

Treadaway recently retired as Birmingham Police Department assistant chief following a 31-year career on the force; he was on the ground when protesting turned into violent and destructive rioting, looting and arson for one night in the Magic City this past summer. Speaking to co-hosts Matt Murphy and Valerie Vining, Treadaway reiterated his firsthand — and the city’s — experience was the genesis of his bill.

“We all saw what played out across the country last year,” Treadaway said. “And then it came to Birmingham — was actually brought to Birmingham.”

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“So, I’m just going to go over some facts for you real quick just to put a backdrop to this thing,” he outlined. “We know for a fact the night before the protest in Birmingham, folks came in and they planted incendiary devices, gasoline, bricks, and somebody’s funding that. So, there’s a very organized effort going on in this country to keep chaos up. And when they did that, the protesters came in, and — for the most part — our local protesters were peaceful.”

The career law enforcement officer noted that this protest was different than the many peaceful ones he had personally experienced beforehand in the city.

“In this instance, the outsiders that came in to the city of Birmingham were hell-bent on destruction. And that’s a fact,” Treadaway remarked. “Approximately 70 people were arrested. But out of that 70 people, probably 1/3 of them were local.”

He added that most of the locals were arrested for “minor offenses like failure to disperse and things like that.”

“But there was an element that was embedded into those protesters that came into the city of Birmingham and started rioting, started inciting a riot,” he continued. “And when that happened, they went to the shrubbery, the plants, that were around these buildings downtown where they had planted these devices. And they used them to try to destroy the city. Sledgehammers, the incendiary devices, gasoline.”

Treadaway stressed that this factual account was the motivation and basis for the bill.

“And the whole race issue that’s been coming up, I want to talk about that for just a second. Because many of the folks that were arrested from out of town were college-age white kids, OK. And the ones that were bashing windows in. So, this is not a race thing,” he stressed. “This is a law and order thing.”

“I knew when I brought the legislation it would be controversial — with some,” he acknowledged. “But I firmly believe that the masses of Americans — black, brown and white — that they don’t want this (rioting) in their city. They don’t want folks hijacking a cause. And they don’t want them hell-bent on trying to destroy and burn down their city.”

The fourth-term legislator from Jefferson County further highlighted that “law enforcement needs more protection.” He shared that an individual from outside the state was behind the jail the night of the rioting “with a sack full of cash.”

“And why is that? We have a $300 cash bond,” Treadaway explained, outlining that the individual was helping others bond out straight back onto the street to rejoin the rioting. His bill would prevent that by instituting a mandatory hold period for those arrested for rioting or inciting a riot.

“You can’t have a situation where we’re trying to put this type of riot down and people are bonding out and coming back in and joining the fray,” he underlined. “It just doesn’t work.”

Murphy then asked if the Birmingham rioting could have easily resulted in much worse property damage and physical bodily harm.

“There’s no doubt about it, we dodged a bullet,” Treadaway responded. “And then there was those who tried to hang around and reignite the situation.”

He praised the police department’s community policing emphasis for warding off a worse outcome.

“We dodged a bullet that day. They tried to reignite that situation,” he reiterated. “And I think we did a really good job in making sure that that did not happen.”

Treadaway shared that Mobile similarly had a problem with out-of-state people traveling to the city “trying to incite riots there.”

“These folks are sharing information with one another, and when there is a legitimate protest — a peaceful protest — being organized, there’s an element now that’s out there — a criminal element — that’s hell-bent on embedding themselves in those type of causes,” he advised. “That’s just a fact. So, the legislation is an attempt to address some of that.”

He subsequently went on to define what participating in or inciting a riot entails pursuant to HB 445, differentiating those activities from peaceful protesting.

“The First Amendment is something I believe in greatly,” Treadaway reaffirmed.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

18 hours ago

State legislature recap: Bills on license plate scanners, dogs at restaurants, historic renovation tax credit pass their respective chambers

MONTGOMERY – Both chambers of the Alabama State Legislature met on Thursday for the ninth day of its 2021 regular session.

The Senate met for around 90 minutes in the morning and moved quickly through a limited calendar, much of which was left over after a filibuster prematurely ended the chamber’s Tuesday business.

Most notably, the upper chamber passed a bill regulating the use of license plate scanners by law enforcement, as well as legislation updating the standards required of local school board members.

The House spent much of the day in session, dealing with sunset bills in the morning before passing legislation extending a popular tax credit and a bill allowing dogs to be brought to the outdoor portions of restaurants.

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Alabama Senate

Sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), SB2 would more closely regulate the use of license plate recognition systems by law enforcement agencies.

It would require that agencies keep confidential all data gathered from the scanners and destroy it after five years. Among other holdings, law enforcement agencies would have to adopt and publicize their policy governing use of the data gathered.

Another impactful bill passed by the upper chamber on Thursday was SB170 from Senator Vivian Figures (D-Mobile). The legislation would establish a new set of standards, training and discipline for local school board members.

The bill would have the State Board of Education adopt a model code of conduct for school board members. Local boards would be allowed to implement their own codes of conduct, but they would have to include at minimum the standards provided by the state.

Members not following the code of conduct would be subject to censure, sanction and removal from their position.

A similar measure, HB338 sponsored by Rep. Tracy Estes (R-Winfield), was considered in the lower chamber on Tuesday. It did not receive a vote after the sponsor asked for it to be carried over following a lengthy debate.

Both SB2 and SB170 were passed unanimously.

The Senate’s full activity from Thursday is accessible here.

Alabama House

After slogging through numerous sunset bills, the first major legislation passed by the House on Tuesday was HB220 from Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville).

The legislation would shift the authority to build and renovate on the grounds of certain educational institutions from the Department of Finance’s Division of Construction Management to the institutions themself. More simply, educational institutions with their own governing boards would have more authority to build or renovate on their respective grounds.

HB 220 passed with a vote of 96-1.

House members also passed an extension of the popular Alabama Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Sponsored by Rep. Victor Gaston (R-Mobile), HB281 would extend the tax credit through 2027 if the bill is enacted. It also passed 96-1.

In one of the chamber’s more genial efforts, a bill to allow pet dogs to accompany their owners at the outdoor dining sections of restaurants passed the House on Thursday.

HB235 from Rep. Steve McMillan (R-Gulf Shores) allows the owner of any restaurant to set the establishment’s policy on dogs, but it does overrule some county and city level statutes that prevented any non-service animal from joining their owner for a meal.

Only restaurants whose outdoor space is accessible without walking through the indoor dining area are eligible to allow pets under the proposed law.

A full record of the House’s activity on Thursday is available here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

19 hours ago

Recognizing our engineers: Engineering and manufacturing work together for economic prosperity and quality of life

MONTGOMERY – This is Engineers’ Week, a week during which we honor the profession of engineering and the contributions of engineers to public safety and quality of life.

Whether it’s clean water you drink; gas and electricity you use to keep warm in winter and cool in summer; medical advances that add to your quality of life; or fast, safe and efficient transportation, the contributions of engineers are literally everywhere and benefit everyone.

Engineers played a crucial role in developing and delivering the Covid vaccine in record pace, in converting CPAP machines to ventilators, in creating highly specialized glass vials to supply the vaccine. and in designing and delivering to market products that kept us safer and healthier than otherwise.

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Economic growth and productivity, public health and safety, energy independence, military security and freedom all have their foundations in the profession of engineering.

Alabama is blessed with eight colleges of engineering to train and prepare individuals from around the globe to contribute to the betterment of mankind through the profession of engineering. These universities and associated accrediting agencies equip our engineers to make sound and thoughtful decisions concerning product specifications – products that result in safe and secure systems and procedures.

While some would use a one-size-fits-all, lowest-initial-cost approach to product selection and purchase, experienced and knowledgeable local engineers are best qualified to make these judgments. Let’s leave it to the educated and experienced professionals to ensure product reliability, long-term value and safety of our infrastructure systems. These priorities must always outweigh expedient and short-sighted criteria such as initial cost.

Manufacturing in Alabama is strong, and we have engineering powerhouses in our iron and steel, aerospace, medical, automobile, agricultural, pulp and paper, timber and other industries. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, Alabama manufacturing employs 260,000 highly paid workers who represent 13% of Alabama’s workforce, more than one in eight of all our jobs. This is the fifth highest concentration of manufacturing jobs in all our 50 states.

This Engineers’ Week is a great opportunity to thank an engineer and a profession who down through the years has made our lives better, safer, more comfortable, and secure.

Maury D. Gaston is Chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council, a council of Manufacture Alabama, and a Director and past Chairman of the state of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas, and Southern Alloy Corporation. Gaston is a mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University and Manager of Marketing for American Cast Iron Pipe in Birmingham.