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HHS grad in USA Today

A Hartselle High School graduate who brought video learning to a small island nation has earned a spot on USA Today’s list of the country’s top students.
Kalen Berry was named Honorable Mention on the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team. Berry is a recent graduate of The University of Alabama, which placed a record 10 students on the list. UA’s total was the most of any university in the country and the most ever any university has placed on a team in a single year.
Berry, a biology major, was recognized for this work on the Republic of Kiribati, a chain of islands in the Pacific formerly known as the Gilbert Islands. Along with graduate student and island native Bwarenaba Kautu, Berry brought a series of lectures to the country with a goal on inspiring its students to careers in medicine.
The first hurdle Berry had to overcome was language. Then, technology concerns entered the process. The initial plan was to offer streaming video to Kiribati students, however, internet blackouts and slow connection speeds made that impossible. He then turned to the website YouTube to upload the video lectures.
“These videos already have begun to help students in Kiribati,” says Berry, a biology major and recent UA graduate. “Bwarenaba has been receiving e-mails from several students discussing his lectures.”
Berry’s efforts to assist the students run parallel to his research in epilepsy in the Caldwell Lab at UA, where Berry worked with Kauta. According to Dr. Guy Caldwell, associate professor of biological sciences at UA, Berry has used his talents in computer science, bioinformatics and molecular biology to create and build a microscope-mounted biological assay system that helps to investigate seizures. He also co-authored an article for the Journal of Visualized Experimentation.
“Although Kalen has a calm, quiet demeanor, his enthusiasm is obvious when he has the opportunity to explain the details and value of his research to others,” says Dr. Shane Sharpe, dean of UA’s Honors College. “I have come to know Kalen as an inquisitive, socially responsible and well-rounded young man with a very strong work ethic.”
Berry has received a Goldwater Scholarship, the Jane Nix Outstanding Service Award, the Randall Outstanding Research Award and the H.H. Chapman Award for outstanding computer user at UA. He is part of the Computer Based Honors Program, the Lambda Sigma sophomore honor society and Alabama Action. His parents are Mark and Darnell Berry. He plans to be a research professor.

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