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UK Participating in Multi-State Collaborative on How to Best Assess Student Learning

Thu, 07/03/2014 - 10:42

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 7, 2014) — The University of Kentucky is one of 68 institutions of higher learning in nine states to join the Multi-State Collaborative (MSC) to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment, an initiative to develop and test a new system-level approach to assessing student learning. 

Northern Kentucky University and Hazard Community and Technical College also are participating in the project.  All three institutions will work collaboratively with the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to meet the requirements of the MSC.

The schools will document how well students are achieving key learning outcomes, such asquantitative reasoning, written communication and critical thinking.

“The MSC is testing a different model for student learning outcomes assessment – a model that is very similar to what UK is already doing on campus,” said Tara Rose, director of university assessment.  “It’s critical that institutions actually look at what students can do with what they know by gathering actual student work.  Our assessment process within the UK Core curriculum is a premier example of advancing the assessment of student learning outcomes. I am passionate about assessment and thankful UK has the opportunity to be a part of this exciting project. It is reassuring to know that the assessment process we have been implementing here at UK for years is what the nation is moving toward.”

The Multi-State Collaborative is an initiative steered by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO)The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the first phase of the project. Other states participating include Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island and Utah.

The project will impact UK by affirming commitment to the improvement of student learning, providing faculty development opportunities in assessment, and measuring the growth in demonstration of learning by comparing results from learning assessment in the MSC to learning assessment in the UK Core general education program.

Rose Street Closure for Construction Delayed

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 23:31

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 3, 2014) —  As site preparation and utilities upgrades continue for construction of the new Academic Science Building at the University of Kentucky, the portion of Rose Street between Huguelet Drive and Funkhouser Drive will close July 14 rather than the originally scheduled date of July 7.

The portion of Washington Avenue that has been closed from Limestone to Gladstone is expected to reopen July 14, at which time Washington Avenue from Gladstone to Rose Street will close.

UK Vocalists, Army Band to Present Patriotic Concert as Salute to Heroes

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 14:47

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 3, 2014) — Patriotic music from a live military band and a University of Kentucky chorus will help ring in Independence Day festivities at Lexington’s Fourth of July Patriotic Music Concert scheduled to begin 8 p.m. Thursday, July 3, on the Old Morrison lawn of Transylvania University. "A Salute to Heroes" is free and open to the public.  

The 202nd Army Band of the Kentucky National Guard will play an all-patriotic music program joined by singers from the UK Opera Theatre’s production of "It’s A Grand Night for Singing!"

The 202nd Army Band will be under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Greg Stepp, while UK Opera Theatre Director Everett McCorvey will conduct the singers from UK.   

The evening will also feature a special appearance from a member of the U.S. Soldiers’ Chorus, the premier military chorus in the nation. Staff Sergeant Charis Strange, who is a native of Campbellsville, Kentucky, will travel to Lexington to sing with the band and the UK vocalists. Strange is one of five graduates of UK School of Music’s vocal performance program to serve with the Soldiers’ Chorus. UK has the highest number of singers in the Soldiers’ Chorus of any university conservatory in the country. 

The all-patriotic concert will also feature UK Opera Theatre Artist-in-Residence and Metropolitan Opera tenor Gregory Turay and such "Grand Night" favorites as Alicia Helm McCorvey and Darian Sanders, among other cast members.   

The concert will take place on the steps of Old Morrison, with seating on the lawn and in nearby Gratz Park. The public is invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets and stake out spots from which to enjoy the concert. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Heather French Henry, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, and Kevin Christopher, news anchor for WLEX-TV (Channel 18), will be co-hosts for the concert.

WLEX TV-Channel 18 and the Downtown Lexington Corporation are sponsoring the event this year, with assistance from Alltech and the Henderson Music Company.

The concert is a prelude to a full day of activities at the Fourth of July downtown celebration on Friday, July 4. The festivities kick off Friday morning with the Bluegrass 10,000 foot race, feature a large street festival and parade, and end with fireworks over downtown Lexington. Details on all these events can be found at: www.downtownlex.com/lexingtons-4th-of-july-festival/.

UK Opera Theatre is one of a select group of U.S. opera training programs recommended by the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. The Tucker Foundation is a nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to the support and advancement of the careers of talented American opera singers by bringing opera into the community and heightening appreciation for opera by supporting music education enrichment programs.

The UK School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, composition, and theory and music history.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716; whitney.hale@uky.edu

Old School Skills

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 14:28

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 7, 2014) — When University of Kentucky student Erica Mattingly enrolled in one of Andrew M. Byrd’s linguistics courses, she had no idea she would be rewriting history — or at least re-speaking it.

Byrd, assistant professor of linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and his students have drawn national attention for their groundbreaking work to reconstruct and understand prehistoric languages.

Byrd has devoted much of his research time translating the language known as Proto-Indo-European (PIE). The language is thought to have been first used over 7,000 years ago, with some suspecting it was spoken even earlier. Byrd’s work focuses on the sounds and structure of the PIE language, aiming to understand what it sounded like when spoken a millennia ago.

“To figure out what PIE sounded like, we must compare it to the most ancient Indo-European languages, like Latin, Ancient Greek and Sanskrit,” Byrd said.

While the nuts and bolts behind reconstructing stories in PIE is quite complicated, Byrd describes the translation process as fairly straightforward. The difficulty, he says, comes from knowing which words the PIE speakers used, which requires study and knowledge of the culture.

“For each sentence you want to write, you must consider the words the PIE speakers used to convey concepts as well as the word order. Once you have those, you’ve got yourself a reconstructed sentence,” said Byrd.

Mattingly, a linguistics and Spanish senior, took Byrd’s Indo-European course last year. She says her experience in the class played no small part in her decision to pursue a career in linguistics. After a study of the culture of the PIE speakers and the makeup of their language, Byrd issued a unique challenge to his class: To translate the third-ever fable into PIE.

When Byrd told his class that they would be reconstructing a fable into the PIE language, no one knew what an undertaking it would become. Mattingly recounts the pressure to reconstruct the language accurately.

“It was so, so difficult at first, because we wanted so badly to do it correctly,” she said. “These are words our linguistic ancestors spoke. So to bridge that gap in class was very meaningful to me.”

Byrd keeps his dynamic classroom environment full of challenge and opportunity, offering up research studies to his students interested in translating other works written in PIE and other ancient languages. These independent studies are flexible, chosen based on consideration of student interest and Byrd’s work.

“The work that comes out of these studies is stellar,” Byrd said.

Last year, Mattingly had the opportunity to complete an independent study with Byrd. Knowing her strengths after having her in class, Byrd pushed Mattingly to take a leap and work on something new. She chose to look at the adaptation of the Spanish language between the years 711 and 1400 and how it shifted as a result of an influence from Arabic.

“Dr. Byrd inspired me to work on something that incorporated both languages that I speak," she said. "Before working alongside him, I hadn’t thought about Islamic conquest in terms of how it affected the evolution of the Spanish language.” 

Byrd says he likes to make his classes stand out from other linguistics courses so that his students learn the material they need while having fun.

“While students are asked to undertake lots of linguistic analysis, I always like to bring a little bit of fun and silliness into it, whether it’s translating a fable into PIE or analyzing the made-up language of Ramma Lamma Ding Dongian,” he said.  

It’s that environment that encouraged Mattingly to further pursue her linguistics passion. She emphasizes the value of having Byrd as a mentor who can check in on her and she can approach with questions or concerns, as she recalls not always having the answers as a first-year student.

“Dr. Byrd knows his craft really well," she said. "If I have a question, he will either have a hard answer or he’ll know exactly where to send me. He’s a great asset as a resource.” 

For incoming linguistics students, Byrd recommends a strong desire to learn other languages and a willingness to look at things from other perspectives, which, he says, go hand in hand.

“My advice is to take courses in both ancient and modern languages from the wonderful faculty in the MCLLC department and Hispanic Studies Department here at UK,” he said.

After she graduates, Mattingly plans to pursue a master’s degree in linguistics and later start a career in translation and linguistics for the federal government. Byrd’s teaching style, in which he compares translation to solving a riddle, allowed her to see how much she enjoyed the process.

“It really opened me up to realizing how much I love linguistics,” she said. “I love finding the answer and doing research that has never been done before, whether it’s PIE, Bengali or Swahili. It gives us insights not only into those cultures but our own as well.”

To read the translated fables and other student work, visit the linguistics blog.

HDI Names Allie Rhodes as 2014 Burberry Award Winner

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 12:06

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 3, 2014) — The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) has named Allie Rhodes as the winner of the 2014 Paul Kevin Burberry Award. 

Rhodes is a a doctoral student in the Department of Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation in the UK College of Education and the HDI Evaluation Unit research assistant. Her doctoral work has focused on communication disorders.

The award is named in memory of the Berea native who pioneered a trail in the public school system as the first student with significant physical disabilities, due to cerebral palsy, to complete Berea Community High School. Burberry graduated with highest honors and went on to attend Berea College and the University of Kentucky, where he was majoring in philosophy. He was an exemplary student whose life was cut short prior to his anticipated graduation, with honors, in May 2004.

The award — the highest student honor awarded annually by HDI — is given to a student involved with HDI who has exemplified in his or her life the leadership, advocacy and commitment to persons with disabilities and their families that Burberry demonstrated in his own life.

“More than anything else, Allie shows us that every child can learn, that every life must be meaningful, that every person has something valuable to contribute," said Chithra Adams, HDI director of evaluation and Rhodes’ supervisor. "In other words, she is the very personification of HDI and what we stand for."

HDI Director Harold Kleinert commended Allie for her "passionate focus" on the application of assistive technology to improve the life of individuals with the most significant disabilities.  

"Allie is a tremendously positive person, who deftly handles the demands of wife and mother, doctoral student, and evaluation assistant, with a truly balanced and wise outlook on those parts of our lives that matter most deeply," he said. 

UK Researcher Uses New Technology to Preserve Ancient Artifact

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 11:02

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 3, 2014) — This July, a University of Kentucky professor is headed back to Lichfield Cathedral in England to continue a labor of love: digitizing the nearly 1,300-year-old St. Chad Gospels.

William Endres, an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, has already captured multispectral and historical images of the St. Chad Gospels and rendered the manuscript  in 3-D in 2010. However, he recently received a grant from the West Semitic Research Project to digitize the precious relic using a new technology called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI).

To learn more, visit a podcast by Endres and a video that explains the process of 3-D rendering.

Endres said RTI was a necessary step in helping to preserve the priceless artifact. The manuscript has a long and turbulent history. The jeweled binding was likely torn off by marauding Vikings, and the delicate vellum pages have become warped over the years from water damage and ambient moisture. "Vellum absorbs water much more quickly than pigments; so as vellum expands, it puts stress on the pigments. When stress is placed on pigments, they crack. Once they crack sufficiently, chips of pigment break free," said Endres.

The detailed, high-relief view that RTI affords will allow scholars to see where pigment on the pages is rising up and preparing to flake off. Through RTI, preservationists will be able to pinpoint and address trouble spots that may have arisen since the manuscript’s pages were flattened, treated with liquid nylon and rebound in 1962.

RTI will also allow scholars around the world to see an intriguing facet of the St. Chad Gospels: its dry-point glosses. By design, dry-point glosses are notoriously difficult to see and nearly impossible to capture with regular photography. They are etched into the vellum with a stylus but no ink. However, these glosses are highly important. In the St Chad Gospels, these glosses are likely the names of scribes, who added their names because they believed that a great gospel-book like the St Chad Gospels functioned as a book of the living, that St. Peter would look at their manuscripts on Judgment Day and give a free pass into heaven for anyone whose name appeared in the margins.

Another surprising fact about the glosses is that three of the names are female. In the margins of the Magnificat page, where the pregnant Virgin Mary sings a song of praise to God, three Anglo-Saxon women's names appear: Berhtfled, Elfled and Wulfild.

"So if we're correct about these names, it's likely--or at least possible--that these women worked in the scriptorium at Lichfield Cathedral, had access to the St. Chad Gospels, and inscribed their names," said Endres.

He believes the presence of these names secures the manuscript's place as an important piece of feminist history, especially since so little is known about the day-to-day life of women in early medieval England. "But this page also speaks to a reclaiming of women's contributions to culture in a much larger way than just within the St. Chad Gospels. I find it's emblematic for the power of the feminist movement and the richness that the movement adds to our lives and understanding of our history."

In appreciation to Lichfield Cathedral for allowing him access to the St. Chad Gospels, Endres said he plans to give a series of lectures about the manuscript while he's in Lichfield, and he will also hold a class to teach local children how to do their own calligraphy, illumination and interlace art.

Endres said it's important for scholars to contribute to the communities that preserve important artifacts at great expense. Lichfield Cathedral, for example, receives no State funding to help care for the St. Chad Gospels and the Cathedral, even though the costs are substantial.

"This manuscript is very precious to Lichfield," said Endres. "I try to do things that will honor the manuscript's position within the community. It is a touchstone for the community’s Christian origins in Lichfield. The St Chad Gospels might be a treasure of the world, but it is the Lichfield community that has protected and preserved it through the ages.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Gail Hairston, gail.hairston@uky.edu, 859-257-3302

No CATS Bus Service Friday, July 4

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 17:53

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 2, 2014) — University of Kentucky Parking and Transportation Services will not offer any bus service Friday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day. This includes the CATS Summer/Break Route, the Medical Center Route and the Kentucky Clinic Route. All bus service will resume normal operations Monday, July 7.

All CATS buses are on Cat Tracker, a real-time GPS-based bus locating system. Cat Tracker can be accessed at http://uky.transloc.com, via the free TransLoc Android, BlackBerry and iPhone apps and through QR and SMS codes located on each bus stop sign.

Members of the campus community are encouraged to tune into 1700 AM (WQKH 253) to hear campus parking and transportation information. The station broadcasts 24 hours, seven days a week.

PTS Hosts Annual Fourth of July Fireworks Viewing

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 17:46

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 2, 2014) — University of Kentucky Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) invites the campus community to watch Lexington’s Independence Day fireworks display from the top deck of the South Limestone Garage (PS #5). The proximity of the garage to the downtown area offers a close view of the fireworks display while avoiding the crowds and congestion of the downtown festivities.

Anyone possessing a valid UK parking permit may park in the facility free of charge to view the fireworks from the upper level.

Those planning to attend the fireworks viewing may enter from the South Limestone gates to the parking garage only. The gates will open at 8 p.m. Friday, July 4. The top deck lights will be turned off during the display to enhance the viewing experience.

Alcoholic beverages, grills, open fires, and all fireworks, including sparklers, are prohibited. No animals are allowed, with the exception of service animals. To promote a safe and positive viewing experience for everyone, the University of Kentucky Police Department will be present to enforce these restrictions. 

UK Named in CIO Magazine Top 100

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 16:25

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 3, 2014) — CIO magazine has named the University of Kentucky as a recipient of a 2014 CIO 100 Award. The awards program, which began in 1987, recognizes "the top 100 organizations around the world that exemplify the highest level of operational and strategic excellence in information technology."

"For 27 years now, the CIO 100 Awards have honored the innovative use of technology to deliver genuine business value," said Maryfran Johnson, the magazine's editor-in-chief. "Our 2014 winners are an outstanding example of the transformative power of IT to drive everything from revenue growth to competitive advantage."

Making the list allows information technology professionals across sectors to highlight their work and share best practices, says Vince Kellen, UK's chief information officer and senior vice provost for academic planning, analytics and technologies. 

“It is good for the CIO communities in higher education to get connected to industry, and industry back to higher education,” he said. “There are practices that flow back and forth, and we have always found that valuable.”

Recipients of this year's CIO 100 Award were selected through a three-step process. First, businesses filled out an online application form detailing their innovative IT and business initiatives. Next, a team of external judges (many of them former CIOs) reviewed the applications in depth, looking for leading-edge IT practices and measurable results. Finally, CIO editors reviewed the judges' recommendations and selected the final 100.

Executives from all of the winning organizations will be recognized at the CIO 100 Symposium and Awards Ceremony, to be held Aug. 19 at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

Coverage of the 2014 CIO 100 Awards will be available online at CIO.com on Aug. 1 and in that day's issue of CIO magazine.

UK Analytics and Technologies (UKAT) highlighted the university’s commitment to improving student success in the CIO 100 Award application. The application described how UK is able to better engage with students, quickly provide decision makers with the information they need and predict student behavior by leveraging its industry-leading use of in-memory analytics and mobile development.

UKAT's big-data analytics platform helps the university analyze student engagement, pinpoint segments of concern for advisor interaction and widely share analytics and visualizations regarding various aspects of student success. Their next-generation mobile strategy is to improve student success and retention by utilizing and integrating high-speed big data analytics directly into the use stream of the student experience. The UKMobile app provides an array of features that enable students to manage their academic and financial data while on the go.

CIO magazine is published by IDG Enterprise, a subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG).

MEDIA CONTACT:  Keith Hautala, keith.hautala@uky.edu

Parking and Transportation Services Now Accepting Student Permit Applications

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 10:26

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2014) – University of Kentucky Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) is now accepting student parking permit applications. UK students are encouraged to apply for their permits at www.uky.edu/pts. Students may also apply for parking permits via mail by using printable forms found at www.uky.edu/pts or in person at Parking and Transportation Services in the Press Avenue Garage (Parking Structure #6). Office hours for permit sales are 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Student C, R and K permits are $264 for the 2014-2015 academic year, while evening permits are $136. Students who require a motorcycle permit in addition to their vehicle permit should contact PTS directly after purchasing their permit.

Students who choose to purchase K or C6 permits will have the option of purchasing their parking permit by the semester, rather than for the entire year. The single semester permits are $132.

All outstanding parking citations must be paid before an application is accepted. Citations may be paid online at www.uky.edu/pts.

To complete an online application, applicants should have on hand their link blue ID and password, correct home address, a credit card, and their license plate number.

If the initial permit type requested is no longer available, eligible students may submit a lottery request online for C and R permits. Eligibility criteria must be met to purchase the desired permit. Lottery drawings are typically held two to three weeks after the beginning of the semester, based on the availability of R or C spaces, and notification is sent via electronic mail.

For more information on permits, parking on campus or to receive forms, visit www.uky.edu/pts, call (859) 257-5757 or visit Parking and Transportation Services in the Press Avenue Garage (PS #6). To stay up-to-date on campus parking and transit news, follow UK Parking on Twitter at http://twitter.com/UKParking, subscribe to the Parking e-News email newsletter at www.uky.edu/pts or tune into 1700 AM.

UK HealthCare Recognized for Safety Initiative by National Hospital Association

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 20:59

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2014) – UK Healthcare has been recognized by America’s Essential Hospitals for a patient safety initiative that has resulted in a significant decrease in mortality at the hospital compared with the general population.

America's Essential Hospitals, a national organization representing hospitals committed to high-quality care for all people, including the vulnerable, awarded UK Healthcare a 2014 Gage Award honorable mention for improving quality. The association made the award June 26, at its annual conference, in San Antonio.

“UK Healthcare’s patient safety initiative stands out among the innovative approaches our hospitals take to avoid harm and improve the quality of care,” said America’s Essential Hospitals President and CEO Dr. Bruce Siegel.

The Gage Awards, named after association founder Larry Gage, honor and share successful and creative programs that improve patient care and meet community needs. The Gage Award for improving quality recognizes activities that improve the quality of care delivered, or reduce or eliminate harmful events to individual patients or groups of patients.

"UK HealthCare is continuously working to improve, driven by our high standards and our commitment to serve the people of the Commonwealth and beyond and the Gage Award represents national recognition of this work," said UK HealthCare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bernard Boulanger. "It is recognition of our team’s relentless, rigorous approach to improving patient care, in a manner that directly benefits our patients"

UK Healthcare received the award for the development of an internal process called SWARMING to help the hospital improve overall patient safety. A SWARM is initiated shortly after the occurrence of an adverse incident or undesirable event, and the people directly involved are empowered to "stop the line" when they observe a problem. Since instituting SWARMs in 2009, the hospital has experienced an overall reduction in the observed to expected mortality ratio from 1.5 to 0.7, as reported in December 2013.

"The SWARM process has been a remarkable and successful team effort throughout the UK HealthCare enterprise and everyone should be commended for their role in what has become one of our best tools in improving patient safety," said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs.  "This award is another example of our commitment to excellence in patient care and patient safety and in keeping our promise to Kentuckians that they can get the very best care right here regardless of the complexity or care needed."

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Media Contact: Kristi Lopez, kristi.lopez@uky.edu, 859-806-0445 

Vouchers No Longer Needed for Catering Services on Campus

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 18:59

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2014) — As the University of Kentucky transitions to a new dining partner, Aramark, there already are developments occurring that will improve services and operation for this vital campus service.

Beginning today, July 1, university departments and others on campus will no longer use journal vouchers (JVs) for catering services. Going forward, departments will utilize a UK Procard to purchase all catering services provided by the new UK Dining as well as events at the Boone Center and the The Club at Spindletop Hall.

“This process will be a more efficient and effective system and, ultimately, will be easier for everyone involved as events are booked through UK Dining’s new online system – CaterTrax,” said Eric N. Monday, UK’s executive vice president for finance and administration.  "Changes such as this one will lead — and already are leading — to a more efficient, effective and responsive dining operation at UK. "

Charges will be billed and processed directly using the UK Procard directly to SAP.  Official events will be charged to cost centers in accordance with existing Discretionary Expenditure Policy. Details of that policy, which covers events where alcohol is served, can be found at: www.uky.edu/evpfa/controller/files/dispolicy.pdf.  Separate invoices will be produced for food and for alcoholic beverages.  Departments remain responsible to edit UK Procard charges to the appropriate cost center and to retain the invoice records.

Details of the transition include:

  • A UK Procard will be required to pay for official university functions for catering services, meals and activities provided by UK Dining.
  • A UK Procard will be required to pay for official university functions for catering services, meals and activities provided by the Boone Center and The Club at Spindletop Hall.
  • The use of a UK Procard for catering is specifically limited to UK Dining, the Boone Center, and The Club at Spindletop Hall.  The Procard may not be used with other off-campus vendors for catering.  Specifically, a PRD created in SAP is still a requirement for off-campus vendors. 
  • In the event some departments do not have a Procard, they can contact Laura Payton at Laura.Payton@uky.edu to start the process of obtaining a Procard for your department.  A new card is provided within approximately one week. In the interim, UK Dining will work with your department during this brief transition period — and will continue to process requests for catering.  Final billing will be processed when the Procard is available. 

More information about the transition and this process can be found at: http://www.uky.edu/EVPFA/Controller/files/pay/ProcardUseForCateringFAQs.pdf

UK Alum Back to Share Knowledge of Appalachia

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 16:37

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2014) — Former University of Kentucky student Amanda Fickey is back at her alma mater this summer, teaching Appalachian history and culture to 60 high school students from Eastern Kentucky who are part of UK’s Robinson Scholars Honors Program.

Fickey, a native of Letcher County, served as the arts and cultural outreach coordinator for The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Kentucky, prior to her time at UK. Fickey, who recently completed her doctoral degree in economic geography at UK, also holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Kentucky and a master’s degree in folk studies with a concentration in historic preservation from Western Kentucky University. At WKU, she received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award in the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology, as well as the Outstanding Student Award in the Potter College of Arts and Sciences.

“Currently, I serve as assistant professor of intercultural geography and coordinator of Appalachian Studies at Union College in Barbourville and am thoroughly enjoying it,” said Fickey.

Fickey is also responsible for facilitating academic components of the Union College Redbud Festival of Appalachian Culture and serves on a number of faculty committees. She has also given a number of public presentations this spring and recently served as a keynote speaker for the University of Kentucky Graduate Appalachian Research Symposium and Arts Showcase co-organized by graduate students with interests in Appalachian Studies at UK and the UK Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program.

Fickey’s research interests include economic geography, diverse economics, alternative economic and political spaces, neoliberalism, political economy, regional economic development and critical pedagogy. She has authored papers in these areas for the Journal of Appalachian Studies, Social and Cultural Geography, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, Geography Compass, The Geographical Bulletin, PRISM: A Journal of Regional Engagement, disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory and has had reviews published in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, the Journal of Economic Geography, and New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry.

A former student vice president of the UK Chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Fickey received a 2011 Certificate for Outstanding Teaching from the College of Arts and Sciences at UK, as well as the 2010 Women in Geography Education Award from the National Council for Geographic Education. In addition, Fickey was awarded a Dissertation Enhancement Award from UK, the 2009 Edith Schwab Memorial Scholarship, a James Brown Research Award for Graduate Research in Appalachia from UK, a UK Student Government Association scholarship, and two Kentucky Oral History Scholarship Commission Project Grants from the Kentucky Oral History Commission, administered by the Kentucky Historical Society.

“The University of Kentucky enabled me to take advantage of a number of opportunities to learn and grow,” Fickey said. “My undergraduate years helped broaden my outlook and perspective. And, the research I conducted as a doctoral student in UK’s Department of Geography helped me to gain a deeper understanding of what I wanted to do after graduate school.”

In 2012, Fickey was one of 40 international scholars selected to participate in the Sixth Annual Summer Institute in Economic Geography, held in Zurich, Switzerland.

Currently, Fickey is prepping for her fall semester teaching duties at Union College, creating a web presence for the Appalachian Studies program at the school, and is putting together social media sites for the Fourth Global Conference on Economic Geography to be held at the University of Oxford in August 2015. All of this while working on her forthcoming book chapter, “Developing Appalachia,” co-authored with her dissertation advisor, Michael Samers, professor of economic and urban geography in the UK Department of Geography.

For more information about Fickey, visit http://amandafickey.com.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rachel Knuth, rachel.knuth@cox.net, 757-971-1503

21st Century Crossroads for Science

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 15:34

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2014) — Excitement is building as construction begins for the University of Kentucky’s new Academic Science Building. Scheduled to open in about two years, the building is designed to make learning engaging for the many groups that will wander its halls, undergraduate and graduate students, researchers, teachers and visitors.

Earth-movers have only recently started to work, but the new structure is already touted as UK’s next iconic landmark building, rivaling Memorial Hall and the William T. Young Library.

In a recent podcast about the new science building, College of Arts and Sciences’ Dean Mark Kornbluh discussed the building’s interdisciplinary potential, as it will house different science disciplines with teaching and research across those disciplines.  He also talks about the “integrative” nature of the building.

“It will be integrative in that it’s designed purposefully to integrate from the most entry level science classes to the most advanced science classes and research in the university. It is also integrative in that it’s designed to integrate from basic to applied science...to integrate research and teaching,” said Kornbluh.

With plenty of space for both students — undergraduate and graduate — and faculty — researchers and teachers — to work and relax together, UK leaders are expecting a community of 21st century scientists to flourish and prosper.

“This truly is what makes science education different at the University of Kentucky from other universities and colleges in Kentucky,” Kornbluh said.

Different, indeed. For one thing, there will be NO traditional classrooms; glass walls throughout are designed to capture the imagination.

“I have no doubt this is going to make science fun,” Kornbluh said, “not only make it fun, but it's going to make it practical.  It's going to show students the wide variety of careers — the open doors for them in the future — having been a science major at the University of Kentucky.”

MEDIA CONTACT:  Gail Hairston, gail.hairston@uky.edu; 859-257-3302                                                                                           

Blue Abroad: UK Students Explore University of Cambridge

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:08

LONDON, ENGLAND (July 1, 2014) A group of 15 UK students is seeing blue across the pond this summer. In a course designed specifically for first-generation students, students who are the first in their families to attend college, the group is exploring global communication and business in London, England, led by Director of First Generation Initiatives Matthew Deffendall.

Throughout their journey, UKNow is highlighting some of their experiences by publishing their blogs.

The class spent an afternoon at the University of Cambridge, one of the world's oldest universities, founded in 1209. Located in the county of Cambridgeshire, England, Cambridge is a leading academic and research hub, consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world. Touring the town and campus, the students learned about the institution's 31 colleges, including Trinity College, founded by King Henry VIII and Peterhouse College, the oldest Cambridge college, which was founded in 1284.

Emily Griffin is a marketing and management major from Louisville, Kentucky. Her blog is below:

Whew! What a day!  I woke up and started my day off with a run. It is amazing to me that in 30 minutes I could run through 4 different parks and still be close to my flat. It is so nice to take in the amazing sights that are all around me. The dogs running free through the green grass, the people sitting on the benches reading the morning paper, or the people busily walking to work. I have never been in a more beautiful place. I try to take a couple minutes to just take everything in, and a feeling of calmness comes over me every time. London is truly the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

After my run and reflection, it was time to head out to Cambridge University.  We got on the National Rail service and headed toward Cambridge.  We were all sitting in the train when we suddenly go through a tunnel and everyone's ears start popping — it was hilarious to see everyone's face because no one was expecting that to happen!  The trained unfortunately arrived late, and we had to basically sprint to King's College for our tour.  However, we were too late and could not go inside because they decided to close the College early today. 

We found our tour guide who showed us around Cambridge.  The architecture is beautiful! We saw Clare College where Crick and Watson discovered DNA!  Our tour guide explained to us that as soon as they figured it out and knew they were going to "change the way we see life," they went right down the street to the pub called The Eagle.  It was really invigorating knowing we were standing in the exact same spot that all of this happened. 

After this, we walked around and looked at more of the 31 colleges that Cambridge has. It was amazing to take in the exciting, yet calming, environment.  There was an ice cream stand everywhere you looked, a candy shop, souvenirs, a shopping mall — YES a shopping mall, a mime, a man playing some very weird instrument, and much more.  It was a really cool place to be, and it definitely provided a much different vibe than what we are used to back in the United States.  Cambridge even had a market right in the middle of the University hall. 

After our tour, we had free time to roam around.  We saw some really cool places and got to shop in a few of the kiosks in the market. After our free time, we went on a punting tour!  When I first heard the word punting, I thought of kicking a ball.  But, boy was I wrong!  We got on boats with a guide who took us down the River Cam and showed us many of the colleges from a different perspective. It was so beautiful and relaxing on this ride, and it is something I will never forget.  After our tour on the river, we went into a local pub and watched the World Cup.  I had some Greek food from a small stand after we left the pub, and it was very good.  I had chicken and chips! 

Around 7:30, we headed back to take our train back in. We talked about scary movies for most of the way home. The speed that trains passed by us were somewhat frightening; however, we made it back safely. When we got to the train station, we found platform 9 and 3/4 and took a picture as if we were Harry Potter! I don't know how many people could say that they will get to do that in their lifetime!

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Geegan, (859) 257-5365; sarah.geegan@uky.edu

Guo Lab Reports Finding of Revolution Biomotors in Many Bacteria and Viruses

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 17:39

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2014) — Scientists at the University of Kentucky, led by nano-biotechnologist Peixuan Guo, have made some critical discoveries over the past year into the operation of biomotors, the molecular machines used by viruses and bacteria in the packaging of DNA.

Biomotors function similarly to mechanical motors but on a nano-scale. Last year, Guo's team reported the discovery of a new, third class of biomotor, unique in that it uses a "revolution without rotation" mechanism. Rotation is the turning of an object around its own axle, as the Earth does every 24 hours. Revolution is the turning of an object around a second object, as the Earth does around the sun.

Recently, Guo's team reported that these revolution biomotors are widespread among many bacteria and viruses.

Guo, director of the Nanobiotechnology Center and the William Farish Endowed Chair of Nanobiotechnology at the Markey Cancer Center and UK College of Pharmacy said these biomotors are of great interest to medical researchers.

"DNA-packaging technology has tremendous potential applications in the diagnosis and treatment of viral diseases and cancers, as well as in personalized medicine and high-throughput human genome sequencing," he said. "The DNA packaging motor itself can serve as a high efficient drug target for the development of anti-viral and anti-bacterial therapy."

Guo hopes the current findings will generate new momentum in the viral-assembly field among young scientists.

In his early career, as a graduate student in Dwight Aderson's lab, Guo constructed the first viral motor outside the cell, the DNA-packaging motor of bacteria virus phi29. He also discovered one of the vital components of the motor, the six-membered RNA ring that gears the phi29 DNA-packaging motor. His postdotoral experience at NIH with Bernard Moss, a renowned scientist in vaccinia virus studies and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, expanded his vision on the DNA packaging of animal and human viruses.     

Research on this motor led to dozens of papers published and debated in many prominent journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, PNAS, Molecular Cell, PLOS Biology, EMBO J, Virology, ACS Nano, RNA, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Protocol, Cell and Bioscience, Biotechnology Advances, Current Opinion of Biotechnology, Advanced Virus Research, Biophysical Journal and the Journal of Virology.

However, the main mechanism of motor action over many years of studies has not been elucidated until recently, Guo says.

In 1998, Guo and his lab began to test a new hypothesis. Guo's research has persisted, and it continues to strongly support the ATPase hexameric model in viral DNA packaging. Now, discovery of the revolution motor has solved many puzzles that have eluded researchers throughout the 35 years of investigations of the mechanism of dsDNA translocation motors.

Three recent publications coming out of the Guo lab provide new evidence and support for Guo's widespread revolution mechanism:

  • Guo P. Biophysical Studies Reveal New Evidence for One-Way Revolution Mechanism of Bacteriophage phi29 DNA Packaging Motor. Biophysical Journal 2014, May,106:1.
  • De-Donatis GM et al., and Guo P. Finding of widespread viral and bacterial revolution dsDNA translocation motors distinct from rotation motors by channel chirality and size. Cell & Bioscience 2014, June, 4:30.
  • Guo P. et al. Common mechanisms of DNA translocation motors in bacteria and viruses using one-way revolution mechanism without rotation. Biotechnology Advances. Biotechnology Advances 2014, July 32:853.

Co-authors from the Guo lab are Zhengyi Zhao, Gian Marco De-Donatis, Shaoying Wang and Chad Schwartz. The research was supported by National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Cancer Institute, and Common Fund from NIH director's office.

MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hautala, 859-323-2396; keith.hautala@uky.edu

Clinical and Engineering Expertise are Combined for Better Understanding and Treatment of Back Pain

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 15:15

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2014) – Nearly eight in 10 people experience back pain at some point in their lives. Daily life, job conditions, recreational activities, and simple aging have left most of us unfortunately acquainted with some sort of back pain, ranging anywhere from acute and temporary to chronic and disabling.

In other words, nearly everybody’s back hurts, and that’s a real problem: The latest Global Burden of Disease Study (2012) ranked low back pain as the leading cause of disability globally, ahead of more than 200 other conditions. Predictably, the related economic impact is immense. According to the National Institutes of Health, low back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work in the U.S., where Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain.

Despite the ubiquitous nature of back pain and increasingly advanced understanding of the structure of the back, the exact causes of back pain remain largely unclear, and it’s equally mysterious why some people respond favorably to certain treatments—like chiropractic manipulation, medicine, or exercise—while others do not.

The reality is that back pain is multifactorial, and only 5 percent of low back pain cases are diagnosed with significant findings of a surgical nature on imaging like x-rays or MRIs. This means that if you have ever sought treatment for back pain, you’ve likely experienced the four- to 16-week treatment timeline involving general practitioner visits, muscle relaxers and/or pain meds, maybe some physical therapy, perhaps a pain, rehabilitation, or spinal specialist. After all that, your back pain might or might not be resolved for the majority of patients, the pain improves with time — and in either case, the cause the pain is probably still unknown. 

“Standard practice just isn’t getting to the cause of it, and there’s an unnecessary protraction of getting the right care,” said Dr. Arthur Nitz, professor of physical therapy in the UK College of Health Sciences.

His 30 years of treating back pain in the clinic have lead Nitz to team up with Dr. Babak Bazrgari, a biomedical engineering professor at UK who specializes in the mechanics of the lower back. Together they are working towards a better understanding of the back’s mechanical environment in order to generate more accurate knowledge of the specific, biomechanical causes of back pain. They hope to translate this knowledge into improved diagnosis, classification, and treatment of back pain in order to minimize the impact of its often uncertain nature.

“We would see a lot of benefits if we could get a more accurate understanding of what's behind garden variety back pain,” said Nitz.

Over the past three years, Bazrgari and Nitz have combined their clinical and engineering expertise in several studies that seek to illuminate the mechanical properties of back pain and appropriate treatments.

“If you want to correct some biomechanical problem, you need a good picture of the mechanical environment and an understanding of the consequence of a biomechanical intervention, “said Bazrgari.

Using specially designed equipment, they measure a number of mechanical variables including force, motion, reaction times and muscle activity.  Computer modeling based on biomechanical calculations then reveals exactly what force is being experienced by any element in the lower back (including muscle, ligaments or discs) when a person is performing a given activity.

“As an engineer, I’m trying to provide tools and give information about the biomechanics of the lower back,” Bazrgari said. “Clinicians and ergonomists have to find out what to do with these differences.”

By determining the specifics parts of the lower back that have abnormal mechanical behavior and could potentially be causing the pain, clinicians will have a better decision-making platform to determine if a patient will respond to a certain treatment.

Nitz, a practicing clinician, hopes that the knowledge they gain about the biomechanical causes of back pack can be translated into simple applications for clinic settings that will more easily predict what treatments patients will respond to.

He and Bazrgari see their interdisciplinary collaboration as natural and necessary in the campaign to truly understand and address back pain.

“Biomedical engineering is something that physical therapists aren't really qualified to do,” said Nitz. “In trying to answer questions about back pain, Dr. Bazrgari needs some portal for seeing patients, and physical therapists need his expertise so we can understand the biomechanical properties of what’s actually occurring in our patients. It's a pretty natural symbiotic relationship.”

As is often the case, collaborating across disciplines has required both researchers to expand their professional vocabularies.

“It’s been a really great learning experience for me because it takes time to learn the way clinicians use terms and vice versa,” said Bazrgari.

The obvious potential for collaboration was something that attracted Bazrgari to join UK’s faculty three years ago.

“Coming here, I was excited about the collaboration possibilities. With the colleges like public health, medicine, nursing, and health sciences on a single campus, there are unique opportunities,” he said. “I’m very optimistic that through these collaborations we can do a lot related to addressing back pain.”

In addition to the hospitable climate for collaboration, their research has also been supported by the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), which has assisted with participant recruitment and identification of other collaborators. CCTS also awarded Bazrgari a small grant to purchase software for a research collaboration with Walter Reed Hospital to study back pain in military service members who have experienced a lower-extremity amputation.

Closer to home, the Commonwealth has many industries like mining, manufacturing and agriculture that are considered high risk for back pain, and Nitz and Bazrgari hope that their work can contribute to real improvements in the health of Kentuckians. 

“This problem won’t always be a black hole,” said Nitz. “We’re attempting to do something about it by getting involved in research at every level — baseline and clinical — to make a good faith effort to respond to the needs of the Commonwealth. And the needs of human life.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Mallory Powell, mallory.powell@uky.edu

UK Posts Record 11th-Place Finish in Directors' Cup

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 14:49

Lexington, Ky. (June 30, 2014) — Finishing in the top 15 of the national all-sports standings would not be easy, especially not so quickly.

By setting the goal to break into the upper echelon of college athletics departments in November 2008, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart wanted to challenge student-athletes, coaches and staff. They responded, and UK Athletics reached the top 15 a year early.

UK finished 11th in the final standings of the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup released on Friday, besting last year’s record No. 25 finish by a wide margin and ticking off one item on Barnhart’s 15 by 15 by 15 Plan.

“I want to congratulate and thank everyone who made this remarkable year possible,” Barnhart said. “Our student-athletes, coaches and staff have worked so hard to establish UK among the best athletics departments in the nation and the Big Blue Nation has been there every step of the way.”

Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart wrote a letter to fans celebrating the finish and looking to the future. Link: http://bit.ly/MBletter

Final standings were tabulated after the conclusion of the College World Series this week. Adding in baseball’s regional final appearance, UK moved up two spots from 13th and just 5.75 points outside the top 10. UK ranks third among Southeastern Conference schools, trailing only No. 2 Florida and No. 10 Texas A&M. Stanford came in first for the 20th time in the 21-year history of the Directors’ Cup.

Strong contributions across the board landed UK in the top 15. Eighteen of UK’s 22 sports scored points by advancing to NCAA championship play, led by men’s basketball (second for 90 points), rifle (third for 85) and softball (fifth for 78). All told, seven teams finished in the top 10 for their respective sports and 15 in the top 20. See the attached chart for complete finishes by sport.

“We set out to build a comprehensive athletics department and this year was a great step in that direction,” Barnhart said. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished, but our work is far from done. Our goal is to become the best program in America.”

UK has been trending upward in Directors’ Cup standings throughout Barnhart’s tenure, particularly over the last four years.

Prior to his arrival in 2002, UK’s average finish was 40.1 and its best finish of 26th came in 1996-97. After coming in 50th in Barnhart’s first season, UK has improved in the standings in all but one year, culminating in an average finish of 21.6 over the last three seasons. Only twice before Barnhart came to Lexington did UK finish in the top 30 of final Directors’ Cup standings. UK has now accomplished the feat four times in five seasons. See the attached chart for UK’s Directors’ Cup finishes dating back to 1993-94.

The surge in Directors’ Cup standings has coincided with unprecedented achievement in the classroom for UK student-athletes. Scholarship student-athletes have now reached Barnhart’s goal of a 3.0 department-wide grade-point average set as part of his 15 by 15 by 15 Plan in four consecutive semesters, most recently with a record 3.218 GPA this spring.

With the goals of a top-15 Directors’ Cup finish and a 3.0 GPA now met, that leaves only Barnhart’s mark of 15 conference or national championships. UK currently sits at 11 with a year to go.

MEDIA CONTACT: Guy Ramsey, (859) 257-6846.

4-H'ers Help Comfort the "Soles" of African Children

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 14:19

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2014) — For most Americans, a good pair of shoes is a given, but that’s not the case for individuals born into poverty in Africa.

4-H’ers attending Teen Conference on the University of Kentucky campus worked diligently to trace and cut pieces of denim, cotton and plastic to make African children’s feet and lives a little more comfortable.

The young leaders from across Kentucky were taking part in a shoe party organized by Danielle Hutchins, Nelson County 4-H youth development agent with the UK Cooperative Extension Service, for the organization Sole Hope.

“The purpose of the workshop at Teen Conference is to introduce 4-H’ers from all over the state to the Sole Hope project. Hopefully they’ll take it back to their districts and counties to replicate the project,” Hutchins said.

Sole Hope, a North Carolina-based nonprofit, uses the denim and plastic pieces to provide closed-toe shoes to children in Uganda and a living wage to Ugandan shoemakers, who complete the shoes. Closed-toe shoes prevent the children from getting jiggers, a common sand flea that burrows into the skin of mammals to lay their eggs. Once inside, the sand flea causes itching, irritation, inflammation and open sores, which are prone to infection. If left untreated, the infection can lead to tetanus, gangrene and potentially a loss of a toe.

Hutchins learned of the nonprofit through Paul Knuth, a 4-H volunteer at the Kentucky 4-H Volunteer Forum, who had seen the program at the 4-H Volunteer Conference of Southern States.

She secured donated denim from consignment stores, Extension Homemakers and the St. Vincent de Paul Society mission store in Nelson County and ordered a shoe party kit from the Sole Hope website. The kit included patterns to make the shoe body and heel supports to fit toddlers’ shoe size 9.

“What I like about this project as a 4-H agent is it gives me the opportunity to cover many different topics,” she said. “I can use it to teach recycling. With the 4-H sewing clubs, I can talk about patterns and finished and unfinished edges. I can talk about medical intervention, because medical personnel actually remove jiggers from children’s feet before they receive the shoes.”

Hutchins began the project with 20 Nelson County 4-H Teen Council members, many of whom were on hand to assist the Teen Conference participants.

Brandon Darby, a Nelson County 4-H Teen Council member and his mom Andrea Darby, a 4-H volunteer, made sure all the cut denim was uniform and put the shoe packets together to ship.

“This project is different from the other ones I’ve done, because it gives me a chance to make an impact at the global level, whereas my other community service projects have all focused on making a difference locally,” Brandon Darby said.

Around 100 young people participated in the two-day event during the conference. 4-H’ers attending Teen Conference and other events organized by Hutchins completed 120 packets to send to the organization.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Katie Pratt, 859-257-8774.

Employee Parking Permit Delay; 2013-2014 Permits Still Valid Next Week

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:43

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 27, 2014) — University of Kentucky Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) has announced that a portion of the 2014-2015 employee parking permits may be delayed in reaching permit holders. As a result, both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 permits will be valid in E lots through Thursday, July 3.

Parking and Transportation Services apologizes for any inconvenience.

Employees who still need to apply for a permit must do so in person at PTS in the Press Avenue Garage (PS #6), located at the corner of Press and Virginia Avenues. Office hours are 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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