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Students Invited to Participate in MLK Day of Service

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 13:04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 4, 2014) — Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January every year. It celebrates the life and achievements of the influential American civil rights leader. It is seen as a day to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background.

In celebration of King, people across the nation come together to participate in service activities that positively impact different aspects of their community — the Martin Luther King Day of Service. For the third year, the University of Kentucky is offering a service opportunity for students, hosted with the support of the Center for Community Outreach, as part of our MLK Day celebration.

"Our goal this year is to create more awareness about the event and get more students involved," Daisia Jackson, one of the MLK Day of Service coordinators, said.

The Center for Community Outreach will be volunteering with organizations around Lexington such as the Hope Lodge, St. Agnes House and Habitat for Humanity.

"Through our event, we hope to encourage service throughout the year," Jackson said.

MLK Day of Service will take place on Saturday, Jan. 17. Students should sign up through Volunteer Match to get involved with event. The official starting point for the day of service is the Lyric Theatre. Transportation will be provided for those who do not have a way to get there on their own. Shuttle pickups will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 10:40 a.m. at the Student Center parking lot and the Young Library parking lot facing Columbia Ave. T-shirts and food will be provided for participants.

MEDIA CONTACT: Katy Bennett,, 859-257-1909

UK Student, Grad Selected as Rhodes Finalists

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:46

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 3, 2014) — Two University of Kentucky students were recently named finalists for the Rhodes Scholarship. Luke Glaser, a 2013 English and Hispanic studies graduate from Louisville, Kentucky, and Grace Trimble, a political science senior and UK Women's Tennis Team member from Winchester, Kentucky, interviewed for the prestigious scholarship that funds graduate study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead.

Glaser, the son of Jennifer and Lawrence Glaser, of Louisville, is currently teaching at Hazard High School with Teach for America (TFA), where he teaches calculus and precalculus, coaches the academic team, and continues to develop the theater program as its director.

A summa cum laude graduate of UK, Glaser was one of the university's two commencement speakers in May 2013. Prior to his graduation, he was extremely active at the university as a Gaines Fellow, member of the Honors Program, a Student Government senator and a College of Arts and Sciences ambassador. Glaser also served as an editor at the Kentucky Kernel from March 2011-May 2012.

Prior to taking a teaching placement with TFA, he served as UK's TFA campus community coordinator, where he helped recruit students for the Teach For America Program and managed a student assistant group “Cats for the Corps,” to facilitate students from application to interview.

Trimble, the daughter of Morton and Robin Trimble, of Winchester, has advanced her studies in politics, nonprofits and public service as an undergraduate researcher at UK. As part of her research at the university, the Chellgren Fellow had the opportunity to design and implement a survey to gauge the effectiveness of her nonprofit organization, Lexington Tennis Club Smart Shots. Through the surveying process, Trimble has been able to take steps toward improving the overall effectiveness of Smart Shots. As a junior, Grace was named one of the nation's Truman Scholars.

Trimble is not only a competitor in the classroom but also on the court playing for the UK Women's Tennis Team. In 2014, she was named to the Southeastern Conference Community Service Team. Trimble has been recognized by the U.S. Tennis Association with many national awards through the years including the National Arthur Ashe Essay contest award and a Dwight F. Davis Memorial Scholarship. 

Glaser and Trimble applied for the Rhodes Scholarship through the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, part of the Academy of Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Undergraduate Education. The office assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with Director Pat Whitlow well in advance of the scholarship deadline.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;

An Appalachian Literary Pioneer

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 11:04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 3, 2014) — Jim Wayne Miller (1936–1996) was a prolific writer, a revered teacher and scholar, and a pioneer in the field of Appalachian studies. A new book co-edited by alumnus and University of Kentucky Graduate School Assistant Dean Morris Allen Grubbs, and Miller's wife, Mary Ellen Miller, seeks to honor and revive the legacy of this influential member of the Appalachian writing community.

During his 33-year tenure at Western Kentucky University (WKU), Miller helped build programs in the discipline in Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, and worked tirelessly to promote regional voices by presenting the work of others as often as he did his own. An innovative poet, essayist and short story writer, he was one of the founding fathers and animating spirits of the Appalachian renaissance. “Jim was the first person I ever heard talk about such a thing as Appalachian writing,” said novelist Robert Morgan.

Published by University Press of Kentucky (UPK), with commentary by Miller’s widow and frequent editor, Mary Ellen, in "Every Leaf a Mirror: A Jim Wayne Miller Reader," includes work from his books of poetry "Miracle and Mystery," "Slow Darkness" and "Family—Love, Marriage, Children," among others. The book also features an extensive collection of Miller’s fiction and nonfiction, including excerpts from his novels "Newfound" and "His First, Best Country," both of which explore the vastness of Appalachian culture and history.

Born in 1936 and raised in rural North Carolina, Miller charted his course to Kentucky through Berea College, where he earned a degree in English before moving to Vanderbilt University as part of a German studies program. A roving ambassador for the literature and culture of the Appalachian region, Miller also served as a professor of German at WKU. Many never understood the strange division between his careers as an Appalachian writer and German scholar, but for Miller, German culture and poetry shared a sense of connection to a specific place and people like that of Appalachia.

Miller was a friend and mentor whose work was in constant dialogue with the passage of time and Appalachian history. In the poem “Every Leaf a Mirror” (which lends its name to this collection), Miller strikes an elegiac tone as he imagines his reflection on the leaves of the mountain’s trees — his image, once set against a simpler time, now placed against a changing, modern landscape. Documenting these rapid and drastic disruptions to life in the region became one of Miller’s recurring themes. In the time since his passing, few writers or personalities have been able to better describe and enact the sense of loss and the paradoxes of identity in the mountains.

Perhaps fittingly, one story appearing in print for the first time in "Every Leaf a Mirror" is Miller’s fictional account of his fellow Kentucky writer and friend, James Still. Truth and Fiction,” was a draft which Miller planned to publish following Still’s death. The older Still outlived him by almost five years. The story attempts to provide an explanation of why Still — renamed “McLean” — never returned to his pre-World War II levels of productivity, a mystery that has puzzled many. Miller’s own output of writing never waned, though he died shy of his 60th birthday, cutting short a dynamic career. "Every Leaf a Mirror" is a rejuvenating selection of Miller’s influential work that firmly re-establishes his voice in the Appalachian community.

Grubbs is assistant dean of the Office of Graduate Student Development in the UK Graduate School. He is editor of "Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories" and "Conversations with Wendell Berry."

Mary Ellen Miller is a professor of English at WKU. She is the author of "The Poet’s Wife Speaks."

Readers interested in learning more about Jim Wayne Miller and "Every Leaf a Mirror" can meet Grubbs at an upcoming book signing featuring four UPK authors with UK ties. Joining Grubbs for the event will be:

· Alan Sullivan, author of "Voice of the Wildcats: Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting";

· retired UK anthropology professor John van Willigen, author of "Kentucky’s Cookbook Heritage: Two Hundred Years of Southern Cuisine and Culture"; and

· alumna and part-time history instructor Maryjean Wall, author of "Madam Belle: Sex, Money, and Influence in a Southern Brothel."

The signing will begin 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, located in The Mall At Lexington Green.

UPK is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, representing a consortium that now includes all of the state universities, five private colleges and two historical societies. Led by Director Stephen Wrinn, its editorial program focuses on the humanities and the social sciences. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production and marketing departments of the press are found at UK, which provides financial support toward the operating expenses of the publishing operation.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;

UK Economist to Louisville: 'No' on Minimum Wage Hike

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 10:06

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 3, 2014) — A University of Kentucky economist has told the Louisville Metro Government that a proposed citywide minimum wage actually could  have a negative impact on employment.

Aaron Yelowitz, associate professor and director of graduate studies in economics in UK's Gatton College of Business and Economics, citing economic research he has done on citywide minimum wages in  Santa Fe, New Mexico and San Francisco, California, said, "There is consistent and compelling evidence that raising the citywide minimum wage increases unemployment and harms the labor market."

Yelowitz, testifying recently before a Louisville Metro Council committee studying the issue, added, "The concerns about businesses relocating and unemployment rising are amplified in Louisville. And if your goal is to improve the lives of working families, a citywide minimum wage doesn't solve that problem."

The committee is scheduled to meet Thursday, Dec. 4, to decide whether to recommend bringing the proposed ordinance before the full council on Dec. 11 for a vote.

Citywide minimum wage ordinances are uncommon across the U.S., and Yelowitz said there is a good reason for that.

"The answer is that some businesses can escape the minimum wage by moving outside of city lines," said Yelowitz. "Even if businesses don't relocate, customers do, by shopping elsewhere. If people can do their shopping outside of city lines, it restricts the ability of businesses to pass along the higher labor costs of the minimum wage through higher consumer prices. In turn, that means businesses adjust in other ways -- such as cutting hours, laying off workers, or not hiring when someone leaves -- in order to maintain their bottom line."

According to Yelowitz, if Louisville raised its minimum wage from the current $7.25 to ultimately $10.10 per hour, a 39 percent increase, the main avenue of adjustment by businesses would be through the labor market rather than through consumer prices.

Another factor is the relatively low cost of living in Louisville as compared with many other cities. Hiking the minimum wage in San Francisco to $10.74 per hour is not that dramatic because the cost of living is so high. Raising it to $10.10 per hour in Louisville has a real effect on a businesses' operating costs. In addition, areas surrounding Louisville, including southern Indiana and the rest of Kentucky, have the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

"The final issue to consider is whether minimum wages improve the lives of working families," said Yelowitz.  "The answer is 'no.' In an analysis of Kentucky, I found two important things that relate to the discussion in Louisville. First, just 12 percent of low earners are single earners with children. The largest group, 28 percent, lives with parents or relatives. Poverty among the working poor is about hours of work, not wages.

"Full-time, full-year work leads to greater reductions in poverty than raising the minimum wage, said Yelowitz. "It is about hours, not about wages."

Yelowitz concluded his testimony on the Louisville minimum wage issue by saying, "Based on all of the evidence, enacting a minimum wage in Louisville would do more harm than good."

A video of Yelowitz' testimony before the Louisville Metro Council can be accessed here

More on Yelowitz' analysis can be found here

Congressman John Yarmuth (D-Louisville) disagrees with Yelowitz on the issue as evidenced by this recent Louisville Courier-Journal article

MEDIA CONTACT: Carl Nathe, 859-257-3200;

Since its founding in 1865, the University of Kentucky has been dedicated to improving people's lives through excellence in education, research and creative work, service, and health care as Kentucky's flagship institution and one of the nation's top land grant universities. Please join us in celebrating the university's 150 year storied history and help us build on that tradition of success as part of UK's sesquicentennial celebration through 2015. Visit to access UK sesquicentennial news, in addition to archived news stories and announcements. Keep up with UK sesquicentennial activities on social media by looking for #UK150.

PTS and SGA Offer Free Holiday Shopping Shuttle

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 08:13

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014) — University of Kentucky Parking and Transportation Services (PTS), in conjunction with Student Government Association, is providing a transportation option to simplify holiday shopping for students. The groups will provide free shuttle service between campus and Fayette Mall Sunday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 14.

The shuttle will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each Sunday, with daily campus pick-up times of 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Passengers will be picked up at the north side of the mall, near the entrance to Macy’s, at 12 noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. and returned to campus.

Although the shuttle is free, reservations are required. To schedule a pick-up, students should submit a ride request through the form found here: Ride requests must be submitted no later than noon Friday, Dec. 5 or Friday, Dec. 12, respectively.

A PTS representative will follow up via email to confirm a pick-up time and convenient location.

Green Dot Training Offered

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 16:42

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014) — The University of Kentucky Violence, Intervention and Prevention Center (VIP Center) offers the campus community — faculty, staff and students — the opportunity for a free introductory class in Green Dot training, a comprehensive approach to the prevention of violence.

The training will introduce the basic elements of Green Dot, while using persuasive and inspirational language to engage participants in immediate action.

The training is slated 9-11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, in Room 206, Student Center.

This training may be particularly useful for employees who interact with students who might need someone to initiate conversations with those who may be experiencing interpersonal violence. Pre-register here.

UK Joins Universities Worldwide to Fight Hunger

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 16:03

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014) — The University of Kentucky is one of nearly 50 universities worldwide that have banded together to address the global issue of hunger. On Dec. 9, UK President Eli Capilouto and leaders from the other universities will sign the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutritional Security at the United Nations in New York City.

PUSH – Presidents United to Solve Hunger – was created by Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, as the result of a first-time gathering between leaders of more than 30 universities in the U.S., Canada and Central America at Auburn in February.

The Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security – a declaration acknowledging their commitment to make food insecurity a priority – is another direct result of the meeting.

“What makes this event especially significant is the recognition that universities have a tremendous role to play in addressing global grand challenges,” said Auburn University President Jay Gogue. “Our institutions have a deep faculty talent pool, an energetic, innovative population of students, an unprecedented commitment from top leadership, and a staying power from generation to generation that lends itself to tackling long-term issues like hunger.”

The Hunger Forum and Public Signing Ceremony Dec. 9 marks the first time universities around the world will share a collective focus on ending food insecurity. It is also the first time students and university leaders will be united in the effort with international organizations, NGOs and student groups joining Auburn in this initiative.

Affiliates of Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH), a worldwide coalition of more than 300 colleges and universities, have met annually since 2006 to share ideas and best practices related to local and global hunger. To take the movement to the next level, leaders from more than 30 universities in the U.S., Canada and Central America gathered in February 2014 to discuss taking collective action against food insecurity and malnutrition. The pre-summit was organized by Auburn’s Hunger Solutions Institute (HSI) and co-sponsored by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. PUSH and the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security are both direct results of the February meeting.

PUSH member institutions include land-grants, liberal arts, faith-based, historically black, and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities from five continents. Auburn is joined by fellow SEC members Mississippi State, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama. 

Participation in PUSH enables members to share their collective knowledge in areas where hunger is historically addressed at academic institutions: teaching, research, outreach and student engagement. One of the first action items in the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security is an inventory and mapping exercise so all schools can register their food and nutrition security work in these four major areas.

“Most universities are already contributing to food security across their programmatic agendas,” said Hunger Solutions Executive Director Dean June Henton, founder of UFWH and HSI. “But PUSH will accelerate individual university achievements in two distinct ways. First, additional strength will come through the power of collective action and commitment to share best practices. Second, it will give universities a strong and unified voice at the multi-sector table as the world defines sustainable food security initiatives going forward.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Carl Nathe, 859-257-3200;

Since its founding in 1865, the University of Kentucky has been dedicated to improving people's lives through excellence in education, research and creative work, service, and health care as Kentucky's flagship institution and one of the nation's top land grant universities. Please join us in celebrating the university's 150 year storied history and help us build on that tradition of success as part of UK's sesquicentennial celebration through 2015. Visit to access UK sesquicentennial news, in addition to archived news stories and announcements. Keep up with UK sesquicentennial activities on social media by looking for #UK150.

Winter Clothing Donations Requested for UK Students in Need

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 15:19

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014) — The "International Experience in Agriculture: Service Learning in Mexico" class is collecting cold weather clothing items to benefit University of Kentucky students and others in the Lexington community.

Volunteers from the class are accepting clothing donations through Friday, Dec. 5, in Room N8 of the Agricultural Science Center North.  They suggest new or gently used and clean coats, hats, gloves and scarves in all sizes, including children's sizes.

For those who would like to donate but cannot go to the Agricultural Science Center North, please email Amanda Saha, director of the Office of Career Development and Enrichment in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, at or call 859-257-3468 to arrange a pick up. A student will come to a campus location to take the donation.

The donated clothing is being made available to UK students this week in Room N8 of the Agricultural Science Center North. UK faculty and staff who work with any student, including international students, who might be unprepared for the severe cold weather this season may bring, are asked to encourage students to pick up clothing for themselves and their family members. Clothing distribution hours are 5-7 p.m. today through Thursday, Dec. 4, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5.  A valid UK ID will be needed, or a faculty sponsor to a graduate student may also pick up items.

This process will be supervised by Saha and Jamie Dunn, student affairs officer in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, in collaboration with members of the class.

After Dec. 5, any remaining items will be donated to the Salvation Army. 

UK Fine Arts Rings in the Holiday Season

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 14:30

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014) – From the university's art studios to the stages of Singletary Center for the Arts and Lyric Theatre, students in the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts are ringing in the holiday season with everything from classic annual offerings to a new production of a beloved Christmas opera. With Open Studio, "Collage," “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and "Celebration of Song," as well as the visiting production of “Tomáseen Foley’s A Celtic Christmas” at the Singletary Center, there is something sure to warm hearts and bring holiday cheer to the Bluegrass community Dec. 5-21.

Open Studio Decks Walls with UK Artwork

This Friday, UK School of Art and Visual Studies throws open its doors to the public for the last time at the Reynolds Building, before its move to the Bolivar Art Center next summer. The popular annual event gives the community an opportunity to discover and celebrate UK's talented young visual artists.

Lots of artwork from undergraduates, graduate students and even faculty will be on display including metalwork, fiber, paintings, photographs, drawings, ceramics, plaster casts, printmaking and woodwork. In addition, much of the student and faculty artists' work can be purchased in time for the gift-giving season.

Open Studio also includes the Carey Ellis Juried Student Show, featuring UK students' best work over the last year. To round out the festivities there will be arts and crafts for children, live music, food and drinks.

Check out Open Studio from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, at Reynolds Building #1. The event is free and open to the public, but a $5 donation is suggested.

Hark! ‘Collage’ Concerts Expanding

UK Choirs, UK Steel Band and Lexington Singers Children's Choir perform the Nigerian carol "Betelehemu," a favorite carol sung annually at "Collage." To view a transcript of the video, click here.

UK Choirs' most popular concert of the year, "Collage," will bring holiday merriment to a larger audience and bring to the Singletary Center for the Arts stage approximately 500 vocalists and instrumentalists from UK and the community as it adds a third performance and an appearance by the Lafayette High School Madrigals.  

A local holiday tradition, the "Collage" concerts feature some of the season's most treasured carols from around the world. Under the direction of Jefferson Johnson, director of UK Choral Activities, and Lori Hetzel, associate director of UK Choral Activities, "Collage" showcases the UK School of Music's critically acclaimed UK ChoraleUK ChoristersUK Women's Choir and UK Men's Chorus, as well as the UK Choir's a cappella groups, the acoUstiKats and Paws and Listen.

In addition to the choral talents filling the stage, "Collage" also features some of the school's most celebrated musicians and Lexington's best musical talents.

The curtain rises on "Collage" 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at the Singletary Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $26 for general admission, $13 for children and UK students with a valid student ID, and $20 each for groups of more than 10. Tickets can be purchased at the Singletary Center ticket office by calling 859-257-4929, visiting, or in person.

UK Opera Theatre Does Holiday Double Duty with 'Amahl,' 'Celebration of Song'

The talents of UK Opera Theatre give local audiences two classic ways to celebrate the holiday season with a presentation of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and their annual sing-along concert with Alltech, "Celebration of Song."

UK Opera Theatre Undergraduate Studio will team up with the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras to present Gian Carlo Menotti's one-act opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Amahl is the story of a young, crippled boy and the miracle that cures him while the three kings are searching for the newborn king. This poignant story has become a holiday classic for the whole family.

"Amahl and the Night Visitors" will grace the stage beginning 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Lyric Theatre. Tickets for the opera are $12.50 to $22.50 and are available through the Lyric box office 859-280-2218 or by visiting

The following day, UK Opera Theatre and Alltech invite the community to lend their voices in the spirit of the season at an old fashioned holiday sing-along concert "Celebration of Song." The free public concert, led by Professor of Voice and Director of UK Opera Theatre Everett McCorvey, will begin 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, at The Square (previously known as Victorian Square).

Singletary Center's Dreaming of ‘A Celtic Christmas’

A preview of Tomaseen Foley's "A Celtic Christmas." A transcript of this video can be found here.

Closing out the holiday season on campus, Singletary Center for the Arts will bring “Tomáseen Foley’s A Celtic Christmas” to Lexington. The holiday production, now in its 17th year, makes its first appearance on a Bluegrass stage 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21.

"A Celtic Christmas" recreates the joy and innocence of a night before Christmas in a remote farmhouse in the parish of Teampall an Ghleanntáin in the west of Ireland – when the neighboring families gather around the fire to grace the wintry night with the haunting melodies of traditional Irish Christmas carols, to raise the rafters with the joy of music, to knock sparks off the flagstone floor with traditional dances, and to fill the night with the laughter of their stories.

Tickets for “Tomáseen Foley’s A Celtic Christmas” range from $30 to $20 (plus fees) based on location. To purchase tickets, contact the Singletary Center box office by phone at 859-257-4929, online at, or in person. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;

Success in Tennessee for UK Forensics

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 14:12

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014) – The University of Kentucky forensic team had a strong showing in Nashville this past weekend. The team travelled to Belmont University to take part in their annual Porch Swing tournament they cohost with Carson-Newman University. This event frequently attracts some of the most competitive teams in forensics including Western Kentucky University and the University of Alabama.

UK Forensics placed fifth out of the 18 teams present for this swing tournament. This was made possible by strong showings in each day of individual events and debate. The following successes helped make this result possible:

Belmont University Tournament

Individual Sweepstakes

2nd Place – Abel Rodriguez III

After Dinner Speaking

6th Place – Abel Rodriguez III

Impromptu Speaking

1st Place – Abel Rodriguez III

Improvisational Duo

3rd Place – Dianté Elcock & Abel Rodriguez III

7th Place – Rachel Brase and Brynne Reilly

Open Parliamentary Debate

1st Place Speaker – Abel Rodriguez III

6th Place Speaker – Logan Hurley

Novice Parliamentary Debate

Quarterfinalists – Léna Touchard & Megan Wagner

Poetry Interpretation

6th Place – Abel Rodriguez III

Carson-Newman University Tournament

Individual Sweepstakes

3rd Place – Abel Rodriguez III

4th Place – Rachel Brase

Impromptu Speaking

6th Place – Rachel Brase

Improvisational Duo

2nd Place – Dianté Elcock and Abel Rodriguez III

3rd Place – Rachel Brase and Brynne Reilly

4th Place – Kaylon Kennedy and Megan Wagner

Informative Speaking

5th Place – Logan Hurley

Program Oral Interpretation

5th Place – Dianté Elcock

UK Forensics is a student organization within the College of Communication and Information. The team’s next tournament will be the WYRD Invitational Tournament hosted by Transylvania University in Lexington on Dec. 5-6. To find out more, please contact Director of Forensics Timothy Bill at

Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or 

UK Orchestra Celebrates 175th Birthday of Tchaikovsky

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 13:26

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014)The University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra (UKSO), under the direction of John Nardolillo, continues its 96th season this Thursday with "Ballet Music of Tchaikovsky." The free public concert, celebrating Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 175th birthday, begins 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, at the Singletary Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

"Ballet Music of Tchaikovsky" will feature works from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Nutcracker.” The performance of these iconic classical ballet scores will be conducted by Maestro Nardolillo.

From a wide-ranging catalogue of memorable works, Tchaikovsky’s ballets are some of the composer’s most beloved music. These scores are in full effect as an accompaniment to the stories and choreography, but they are also vibrant orchestral works in their own right.

Based on Russian folk tales of sorcery and redemption, "Swan Lake" was a collaboration between Tchaikovsky and Julius Reisinger, a choreographer for the Bolshoi Theatre. "Swan Lake" premiered in 1875, but the iconic staging of the work was produced 20 years later by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov at the Moscow Theatre.

For his second ballet, "Sleeping Beauty," Tchaikovsky went directly to Petipa, who served as the original choreographer for its premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in January 1890. The result of Tchaikovsky’s focus on this composition was a new mature style that would define the last years of his life. More successful at its premiere than "Swan Lake," "Sleeping Beauty" remains a popular choice on ballet stages throughout the world.

Tchaikovsky’s final ballet, "The Nutcracker," has become a holiday masterpiece throughout the western world. Another collaboration with Petipa and Ivanov produced at the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg—and based on the writings of German author E.T.A Hoffmann —"The Nutcracker" presents Tchaikovsky at his most masterful. This fantastical story of a young girl and a world of toys coming to life was served by Tchaikovsky’s colorful orchestrations, specifically featuring the mystical sounds of the celeste and harp. A writer for the stage as much as for the concert hall, Tchaikovsky displays his penchant for the dramatic and programmatic in this collection of ballets, which constitute lasting contribution to the repertory.

Since Nardolillo took the conductor's podium of the UKSO, it has enjoyed great success accumulating recording credits and sharing the stage with such acclaimed international artists as Itzhak Perlman, Lynn Harrell, Marvin Hamlisch, as well the Boston Pops. In addition to its own concerts, UKSO provides accompaniment for much of the UK Opera Theatre season. UK's orchestra is one of a very select group of university orchestras under contract with Naxos, the world's largest classical recording label. To see the UKSO season brochure, visit

The UK School of Music at 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;

Music Sets Holiday Mood at Multiple UK HealthCare Locations

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 12:41

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014) — Bright decorations, family gatherings and busy shopping malls are all familiar sights during the holidays. But it's the sounds of the season that stir holiday sentiment at any time or place.

Throughout this holiday season, employees, patients and hospital visitors at UK HealthCare are invited to enjoy several live musical performances at various UK HealthCare locations. Daily musical performances will be held at one or more of UK HealthCare facilities through Dec. 23. Performances will be held in the Pavilion A lobby of the UK Chandler Hospital, in the Pavilion H lobby of the UK Chandler Hospital, in the Pavilion A Auditorium of the UK Chandler Hospital, at the Good Samaritan Hospital in the cafeteria and at the Kentucky Clinic ground floor lobby.

Performances will represent a variety of musical arrangements, including a steel band, a string trio and a company of carolers from the UK Opera Theatre programs, as well as diverse musical styles, from contemporary music to traditional holiday carols. The current full schedule of events follows (schedule subject to change).

Dec. 2

  • 12 p.m. Warren Byrom at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 1 p.m. Santa with a Cause, Tom Yancey at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A

Dec. 3

  • 12 p.m. Seth Murphy cello solo at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 12 p.m. UK Opera at Kentucky Clinic

Dec. 4

  • 1 p.m. UK Opera at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A

Dec. 5

  • 11 a.m. Elaine Cook on harp at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 12 p.m. Wind trio at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 1:30 p.m. The Transfers at Chandler Hospital Pavilion H

Dec. 8

  • 12 p.m. STEAM Academy Steel Band at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A

Dec. 9

  • 12 p.m. Warren Byrom at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A

Dec. 10

  • 12 p.m. Seth Murphy cello solo at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 12 p.m. UK Opera at Good Samaritan
  • 1 p.m. Kelsey Lownds and Sara Finnie at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A

Dec. 11

  • 11 a.m. Shannon Voogt and Daniel Porter at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 11:30 a.m. Elaine Cook on harp at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 12 p.m. Warren Byrom on guitar and vocals at Good Samaritan Hospital
  • 1 p.m. UK Opera at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A

Dec. 12

  • 11 a.m. UK School of Music saxaphone at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A Auditorium

Dec. 15

  • 12 p.m. Seth Murphy string trio at the Good Samaritan Hospital

Dec. 16

  • 11 a.m. Shannon Voogt and Daniel Porter at Chandler Hospital
  • 12 p.m. Catsclectic at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A

Dec. 17

  • 12 p.m. Seth Murphy cello solo at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 12 p.m. UK Opera at the Kentucky Clinic

Dec. 18

  • 11 a.m. Julie Gutana and Joe Adam piano and woodwind at the UK Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 12 p.m. Deep Springs Elementary Choir at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 12 p.m. Warren Byrom at Good Samaritan Hospital
  • 1 p.m. UK Opera at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A
  • 2 p.m. Seth Murphy cello solo at Chandler Hospital (Kentucky wall)

Dec. 19

  • 11:30 a.m. Elaine Cook on harp at Chandler Hospital Pavilion H

Dec. 21

  • 12 p.m. Seth Murphy string trio at the Chandler Hospital
  • 1 p.m. Luke and Audrey Darville cello and piano at the Chandler Hospital Pavilion H (chapel)

Dec. 22

  • 12 p.m. Seth Murphy string trio at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A

Dec. 23

  • 12 p.m. Kelly Sieberts violin at Chandler Hospital Pavilion A

All musical performances are free and open to the public. Performances are scheduled by the UK Arts in HealthCare program.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,  

Bishop Awarded Grant To Research MS Patients' Health Care Needs

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 12:08

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014)Dr. Malachy Bishop, professor and doctoral program coordinator in the University of Kentucky College of Education's   Rehabilitation Counseling Program, has received a $329,000 research grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The grant will be used to increase understanding of what people with multiple sclerosis (MS) want from their health care.

Previous studies have shown health care works best when patients participate in its design and delivery. However, the health care priorities and preferences of people with MS are not well understood. Bishop and his team are conducting research to explore what types of health care people with MS want, how well these expectations are being met, and ways to provide better health care for all people with MS.

The research team is conducting a series of projects, including a nationwide survey of 3,000 people with MS and National MS Society members, to determine how well different health care settings and health care professionals are meeting their needs and expectations. They are also exploring whether people have different health care priorities and needs based on such characteristics as their age, general health, ethnicity, educational level, where they live and type of MS.

The team includes collaborators from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Florida Atlantic University-Boca Raton. The team will provide the National MS Society with an action plan and recommendations for optimizing MS health care through increased understanding of and attention to the priorities and preferences of people with MS.

Bishop earned his doctorate in rehabilitation psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bishop conducts research primarily in the areas of quality of life, adaptation to disability, and the psychosocial aspects of living with MS and other chronic neurological conditions. Bishop has served as an appointed member of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on the Public Health Dimensions of the Epilepsies, and is past recipient of the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association’s Research Award and the National Council on Rehabilitation Education’s New Career Award.

Bishop has authored more than 90 professional journal articles and book chapters in rehabilitation and health care, edited three books, and made over 60 research and training presentations throughout the U.S. and internationally. He is also an editorial consultant for several professional journals including the Journal of Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation Research, Policy, and Education.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, 

UK HealthCare to Open New Inpatient Cardiovascular Unit

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 08:29

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — Today marks the unveiling of UK HealthCare's new Cardiovascular Inpatient Unit.  The 64-bed inpatient unit, on the 8th floor of the Albert B. Chandler Hospital's new Pavilion A, is one of the largest cardiovascular intensive care units in the country. Patients will transition to the new unit on Dec. 7.

"Heart disease and the conditions that cause it, such as diabetes and obesity, are American epidemics, but there are very few states suffering more than Kentucky," said Dr. Eli Capilouto, president of the University of Kentucky.  "This new unit doubles our capacity to treat Kentucky's sickest heart patients and brings the best technology medicine has to offer right to a Kentucky heart patient's backyard."

Capilouto emphasized that, as Kentucky's flagship university, UK had a dual responsibility to its citizenry.

"On one part of campus, scientists are hard at work researching the latest treatments for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.  But right here in this unit, our highly trained physicians, nurses, and other staff are putting those efforts into practice," he said.

According to Dr. Susan Smyth, medical director of the Gill Heart Institute, the new unit, which has 32 intensive care beds and 32 progressive care beds, represents an unequalled opportunity to help staff provide patients with the highest standard of care in a technologically advanced healing environment.

"Having a completely blank slate to work with was exciting," Smyth said.  "Doctors, nurses, staff all helped define the best ways to serve our patients on every level."

Unlike other units in Pavilion A, the CV Unit will have its own Central Monitoring Service station embedded on the floor. "Even though the nursing staff is situated immediately outside a patient's room, they are often away from one patient while helping ambulate another," Smyth said. "Having trained staff monitoring patients in such close proximity provides an extra layer of care."

Also embedded on the floor is an imaging suite for echocardiography, which minimizes patient transfers for testing. Existing imaging areas will be reassigned for outpatient use. Since the Gill Heart Institute performs approximately 25,000 imaging studies each year, this new capacity will reduce wait times for both inpatients and outpatients. In addition, the floor will be the first in Pavilion A to use new barcode technology for patient medication administration. Staff will use handheld devices such as iPhones to streamline delivery of prescribed medications to patients and minimize medication errors.

The Gill Heart Institute's Surgical Director Dr. Michael Sekela emphasized that while the new unit reflected the latest thinking in the inpatient treatment of heart disease, they were also focused on the need to emphasize heart health to patients and the people who visit them.

"We will be installing interactive TVs in every room, with programming tailored to each patient and their cardiac health needs," Sekela said. "Patients will be able to access videos describing their condition, their treatment, and education about self-care and healthy lifestyles. Once they are home, they will be able to access the same information from their home computer, which should help minimize post-discharge confusion and the readmissions that often result from that."

Patients will be aided in cardiac rehabilitation by a group of physical therapy students and volunteers called CATWalkers. Overseen by a physical therapist, CATwalkers will continue the unit's longtime policy to ambulate every cardiac patient at least once a day, regardless of their diagnosis or treatment.  In fact, UK HealthCare is one of just a handful U.S. hospitals that helps its ECMO patients walk daily.

"If they've had a heart transplant, we get them out of bed to walk.  If they're on ECMO waiting for a heart transplant, we get them out of bed to walk," said Sekela, who performed Kentucky's first heart transplant at UK 23 years ago. "It's part of the culture of activity that we embrace for our patients."

According to Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs, "It has long been our goal to be Kentucky's resource for highly complex quaternary care so that patients don't have to go out of state for the best treatments available. This new unit brings the highest level of cardiac care available anywhere on one floor, in an environment that's efficient for our staff and conducive to healing for our patients."

"Combined with the Gill Affiliate Network partnerships, this means patients get the level of care they need as close to home as possible." 

MEDIA CONTACT:  Laura Dawahare,

UK150 Pays $1,000 for Best Student Idea

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 08:14

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — Student entrepreneurs can win $1,000 for the best idea by competing in UK150, the University of Kentucky’s first online-only student pitch competition. All students have to do is record a 150-second pitch, upload it to YouTube and share it on the UK150 website by Dec. 12.

“One goal of UK150 is to tap into the incredible creativity and innovation of all UK students for at least 150 ideas,” said Dan O’Hair, dean of the College of Communication and Information and founder of iNET, the Innovation Network for Entrepreneurial Thinking, hosted by his college. “We’re also hoping to start some buzz about the fourth annual UK Venture Challenge on March 7.”

Students are responsible for marketing UK150 to other students. iNET’s UK150 partner, Awesome Inc, is organizing the students, who include members of the iNET Entrepreneurial Studies Living Learning Program.

“We all have ideas for how to make our campus, our job, this world a better place!” said Brian Raney, the iNET Entrepreneur in Residence and founder of Awesome Inc. “Participating in UK150 is ridiculously easy and is an opportunity for students’ ideas to be heard. In just five minutes or less a student can pitch their idea for a chance to win $1,000.”

UK150 is based on 1000 Pitches at the University of Michigan. The iNET Advisory Board heard about the U-M student event last fall from speaker Thomas H. Zurbuchen, U-M senior counselor for entrepreneurship education and space science and aerospace engineering professor, who started the event several years ago. Last year, 5,000 plus U-M students submitted video business idea pitches.

Following UK150, registration opens Jan. 20 for the UK Venture Challenge, to be held on March 7. For Venture Challenge, undergraduate and graduate teams develop their ideas into potential startup ventures, prepare a written proposal, and present their venture to judges from the local entrepreneurial community. The top winning teams — two undergraduate teams and two graduate teams — receive $3,000 in scholarship prizes, and advance to the state competition, Idea State U. UK Venture Challenge is organized by iNET with the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or 

Kentucky Awarded Grant for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 19:16

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to develop data-driven, multidisciplinary approaches to reduce prescription drug abuse and overdoses in Kentucky. KIPRC is a bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health and is housed within the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

Kentucky had the second highest drug overdose death rate in the U.S. in 2012, with 25 deaths per 100,000 individuals, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Despite the rise of heroin contribution, prescription opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, or fentanyl, are still the leading cause for drug overdose deaths in the state.

According to Svetla Slavova, the project’s principal investigator and an assistant professor of biostatistics, the award is a collaborative effort between criminal justice and public health agencies to enhance the state’s analytical capacity to identify existing and emerging prescription drug abuse trends and individuals and communiteis at risk of prescription drug overdose. The project will also address sources of diversion and determine best practices for sharing prescription drug overdose-related data.

“This grant will give us an opportunity for the first time to review multiple data sources related to overdose deaths,” said Van Ingram, executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. “We believe the information we will have as a result of this grant will help shape policy and ultimately assist in reducing accidental overdose deaths.”

The program will have far-reaching effects in agencies across the state.  

“I am excited to have the opportunity to participate in this important program,” shared Dr. Tracey Corey, chief medical examiner for the state of Kentucky. “The Kentucky Medical Examiner's Office deals with the tragic aftermath of drug-related deaths on a daily basis. Participation in this program will allow us to help the living, and prevent deaths in the future.”

The Office of Inspector General in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is a primary partner on the project. The grant award involves development of targeted search algorithms and analytical capabilities to enhance proactive use of Kentucky All Scheduled Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER) data to identify possibly harmful prescribing practices and to inform prescribers' continuing education and policy development.  

With support from this grant, Kentucky will establish an Action Team to examine data and analytic reports from various sources (including KASPER, medical examiners, coroners, hospitals, and emergency departments) to identify areas at greatest risk for prescription drug abuse.  The Action Team will also propose risk mitigation activities including education, outreach, treatment and enforcement. Action Team representation will include the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, Kentucky Board of Pharmacy, Kentucky Board of Nursing, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, Kentucky Department for Public Health, Office of Inspector General, Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (KY-ASAP), Office of Drug Control Policy, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Operation UNITE, the Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center. An invitation for participation in the Action Team is also extended to other agencies and organizations committed to the mission to reduce drug abuse and misuse in the Commonwealth.

“Kentucky is a national leader in prescription drug overdose prevention through its seminal prescription drug monitoring program, KASPER, and through its community grass roots efforts such as Operation UNITE,” said Terry Bunn, KIPRC director and project co-investigator. “Approaches that involve careful data analysis with participation of law enforcement, health care providers, and local community partners are critical for targeted prescription drug overdose prevention interventions and developing effective policies.”  

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,

2014 World AIDS Day Marks Hope for an AIDS-free Generation

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 19:04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, an observance of the continued effort to address HIV/AIDS and a commemoration of those who have died. The 2014 theme for World AIDS Day is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation." HIV/AIDS currently affects approximately 35 million people worldwide, including more than 1.2 million Americans living with HIV. According to the World AIDS Campaign, between 1981 and 2007 more than 25 million have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

In the United States, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) created historic opportunities for improved health care for people living with HIV (PLWH). For individuals with the disease, comprehensive health care is critical because of the complexity of the chronic illness. For communities, improving and maintaining the health of PWLH is important because it reduces the chance of spread of the disease.

The ACA increased health care access for many people living with HIV through private market reforms, an expansion of Medicaid eligibility, and the establishment of health insurance marketplaces. Several key reforms of the ACA also benefit PLWH, including a prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions and discriminatory rates, prohibitions against imposing annual dollar limits on essential health benefits, dependent coverage extension to age 26, and coverage of specified preventive health services without cost-sharing.

This video from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program highlights a Kentucky story about how the ACA has helped PLWH, including the role of the University of Kentucky Bluegrass Care Clinic.  

The White House will hold a World AIDS Day event Monday, Dec. 1, available via webcast from noon- 2 p.m. (EST) at

To find free, fast, and confidential HIV testing site near you, visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Mallory Powell,

UK Chemistry Professor, Students' Research Published in National Journal

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 10:24

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — Environmental Science and Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society, recently published research by University of Kentucky chemistry Assistant Professor Marcelo Guzman, graduate student Elizabeth Pillar and senior Robert Camm.

Environmental Science and Technology publishes papers that are particularly significant and original in the fields of environmental science, technology and policy.

The article, " Catechol Oxidation by Ozone and Hydroxyl Radicals at the Air-Water Interface," features the team's findings from work funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Chemistry and NASA Kentucky Space Grant Consortium and EPSCoR Programs.

Their research opens new doors to understanding how the complexity of interfacial chemistry translates into reactions that cause significant changes in the atmosphere.

Aerosols particles suspended in the lower atmosphere have a direct effect on climate by absorbing or reflecting sunlight, depending on their chemical composition, and indirectly by seeding clouds. Aerosols are commonly created from the condensation of gaseous pollutants emitted into the atmosphere from human made processes, such as car engines' internal combustion, or naturally occurring phenomena like forest fires.

Scientists have found it difficult to study the fate of these combustion pollutants under humid conditions, as well as identifying reactions that produce molecules capable of generating aerosols in atmospheric waters, according to Guzman.

However, the research by Guzman, Pillar and Camm reveals the complex reactions that pollutants can undergo on the surface of liquid particles under atmospheric conditions.

Looking at the degradation pathways of aromatic materials on the surface of microdroplets, the team found that when the particles react with gaseous ozone and hydroxyl radicals, as they would in the atmosphere, reactive low molecular weight carboxylic acids, polyphenols and quinone molecules are quickly produced.

The new products contribute precursors to cycle the formation of aerosols, and can change the absorption properties of atmospheric particles by imprinting a brownish color to them. Brown carbon aerosols normally contain low volatile organic compounds of similar complexity to humic substances.

"By characterizing the short-lived contaminants that are present in brown haze, this work will guide the development of new technologies targeted to solve pollution problems — with direct benefits for public health and climate," said Guzman.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396,

Win Prizes While Preparing for Finals at the 12 Days of Presentation U!

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 13:46

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — Presentation U! invites the campus community to get help with final projects and win a free gift in the process.

The "12 Days of Presentation U!" will take place Dec. 1-12 on the first level of Champions Court I (Presentation U's new north location).  Any student coming in for tutoring at this location may spin a wheel for a chance to win a prize, such as candy, UK branded items, and gift cards. While there, students can receive free tutoring assistance for final speeches, papers, and digital presentations.

"We are trying to infuse a little fun into the end-of-semester activities for students," said Deanna Sellnow, assistant provost for transformative learning and faculty director of Presentation U! "We know students can feel a bit stressed about getting all their class projects done during this crunch time."

While Presentation U! is also located @the Hub in B-24 of the William T. Young Library, the 12 Days of Presentation U! will only take place at the north location in Champions Court I. 

Presentation U! sponsors student tutoring as well as faculty development opportunities in multimodal communication skills. For students, peer tutors offer free assistance for any form of oral, written, and visual/digital communication. This could include improving a final paper, practicing a final presentation, getting help with APA or MLA style, or working on the content and organization of a digital or visual project like PowerPoint, Prezi, websites, and videos.

Students can make an appointment through the website, but walk-ins are also welcome. Presentation U! North will be open from 3-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at the Champions Court I location. A full list of hours for both locations can be found here.

The Presentation U! tutoring center was born out of the Quality Enhancement Plan proposed for re-accreditation for the university through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Presentation U! also offers a Faculty Fellows program for instructors seeking to infuse multimodal communication instruction and assignments into their courses, as well as the Certified Nonprofit Professional co-curricular program for students interested in gaining leadership experience in the nonprofit sector.

UK Professor Receives Prestigious Collaborative Research Grant from China

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 10:49

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2014) Xuguo “Joe” Zhou’s entomology research has pushed University of Kentucky onto the international stage after he and his collaborator, Yongjun Zhang, received a prestigious research grant from China.

Zhou, an associate professor of insect integrative genomics in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is one of only 20 international researchers in the world to receive the Major International (Regional) Joint Research Award from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, which awarded three million Chinese Yuan, or about $500,000, to further his research goals.

“I don’t know why, but this year has been really good for entomology,” Zhou said, as four of the 20 Chinese grants were awarded to insect researchers like himself.

In collaboration with Zhang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhou and a team of Chinese researchers are working to rid Chinese and American crops from the insidious whitefly.

“I’ve always wanted to do something with an agricultural pest that both the U.S. and China have problems with, but not an ‘established’ pest that has already been highly researched,” Zhou said. He chose to study the whitefly, an invasive species that originated from the Mediterranean region and is emerging as a global pest.

The whitefly attacks more than 600 plant species by using its sucker-mouth to extract the nutrients from the crops. In the U.S., this pest is still confined to greenhouses, but whiteflies have transitioned toward destroying open fields in China.

“If we don’t control the whiteflies, they’re going to have a devastating impact on crops,” Zhou said, because whiteflies also transmit over 200 different plant viruses.

The research team uses a technique called RNA interference (RNAi), in which certain whitefly genes will be “turned off” to inhibit gene expression. This impacts biological processes, physiological characteristics and even the fly’s behavior.

Before focusing on the whitefly, Zhou spent years using RNAi on termites in an agricultural setting. He found that by interfering with just one gene—the gene that allows termites to digest wood—the entire colony collapsed.

“If you want to kill a superorganism like termites, you have to disrupt the overall equilibrium in a colony instead of killing individuals,” Zhou said. “We want to manipulate their behavior at the genetic level to make them unable to maintain their social homeostasis. Disruption of homeostasis will cause colony collapse.”

Zhou said that this technique becomes even more complicated with the whitefly, because they have 24 different biotypes within one species. When one whitefly biotype becomes resistant to insecticides, a new biotype emerges and wipes out the previous one.

“It’s astonishing. I just don’t understand how,” Zhou said, but he hopes to use RNAi to discover why these different biotypes keep emerging and replacing one another.

The research will be done primarily in China, but Chinese researchers will be brought to the U.S. and funded by the grant money to complete research here.

Outside of the lab, Zhou also serves as a co-advisor for Chinese doctoral students from various institutions by assisting them with their research projects and advising them on how to get their research published in the U.S., despite the 12-hour time difference. He advises his Chinese students via Skype and also visits China several times throughout the year.

Zhou keeps himself busy with his collaborative research with China, but he hopes this effort will help establish UK as a top research facility in order to compete for federal research dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Receiving research grants from the USDA is extremely difficult, Zhou said. The award rate for non-honeybee research proposals is at only 6%.

“That’s why we’re trying to build on this American-Chinese relationship and to do this important research so that ultimately, we can bring our knowledge back from the research in China to benefit UK,” Zhou said. “We hope this will help UK compete nationally for those very few USDA research dollars.”

China’s International (Regional) Joint Research Program aims to enhance China’s international competitiveness and to achieve breakthroughs in the frontier research areas. By collaborating with foreign partners like the U.S., this program establishes mutual benefits and equal sharing of research results.

UK is hoping to promote more of this collaborative research through the Office of China Initiatives, whose goal is to assist UK faculty find research funding opportunities in China. Zhou established this connection through his research, making UK one-step closer toward its goal of international success.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Geegan, (859) 257-5365;


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