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Ambati Lab Receives $2.4 Million Grant to Study Newly Discovered Source of DNA

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 15:23

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 30, 2015) – The John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization devoted to rigorous scientific research and scholarship, has awarded a three-year, $2.4 million grant to Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati and his research team at the University of Kentucky Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences to study the genetics of a new source of DNA they discovered.

The human body is made up of trillions of cells, with their own complete set of genetic instructions. This set of instructions is known as our genome and is made up of DNA. Within this DNA is a unique chemical code that guides human growth, development and health.

The Ambati lab discovered a new ecosystem of genetic information that is separate from the traditional, well-known DNA in our genome. They plan to study the function and heritability of these newly discovered DNA molecules in this project.

"We are hopeful that these studies will shed new light both on organismal development and diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration," Ambati said.

Research in genetics was a long-standing interest of Sir John Templeton, the organization's founder. Templeton saw the extraordinary potential for explaining the deepest principles of life's evolution and for providing large-scale, transformative breakthroughs in fields like medicine and agriculture. He was particularly interested in how major advances in genetics might serve to empower individuals, leading to spiritually beneficial social and cultural changes.

Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442

UK School of Journalism and Telecommunications to Host 2015 James C. Bowling Lecture

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 15:13

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 2, 2015) — Deborah Radman, a 40-year veteran of the public relations business and Fellow of the Public Relations Society of America, will deliver the 2015 James C. Bowling Executive-in-Residence lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center Recital Hall. This is the 16th year for the program.

Radman will speak on “Aspire Higher,” offering her view on ethical leadership in public relations.  The program, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications Alumni Association.

Over the past 20 years, Radman has led award-winning PR programs and provided vital outsourced staff services to several organizations. Most recently, she ran Radman Communications, her consulting practice, which led to her full time employment at History Colorado after she returned to Denver from the East Coast. Before that, she worked in New York City as a special consultant to Ketchum PR leading the IBM Centennial Celebration which garnered six Silver Anvil Awards, the industry’s equivalent of an Oscar.

Prior to that Radman headed Chicago-based Cramer‐Krasselt Public Relations. CKPR’s professional practice spanned four offices and was part of the Cramer‐Krasselt ad agency, one of the largest, independent 360 marketing communications firms in the U.S. with nearly $1 billion in revenue. Prior to joining CKPR, Radman opened and built the New York office of Stanton Communications. Before that, she served as Managing Partner of Corporate and Marketing Communications at KCSA Public Relations Worldwide.

Radman has counseled clients primarily in the fields of corporate communications, crisis management, public affairs and both consumer and business‐to‐business marketing.

She became a public relations practitioner in Denver, where she grew up, attended college and worked for several firms before founding Brown Radman Wolper in 1992. With her partners she grew the business quickly, gaining many national accounts and opening local offices in New York City, Detroit and San Francisco.

Alyssa Eckman, chair of the Department of Integrated Strategic Communication, said Radman’s presentation is relevant to all aspects of the industry.

“Ethics is at the core of all that we do in ISC,” Eckman said. “These principles apply to public relations, advertising, direct marketing, persuasive communications and branding. With her breadth of experience, Deborah Radman will offer multiple perspectives on the importance of ethical practices.”

Marc C. Whitt, director of development communications in the UK Office of Development, is the 2015 Excellence in Public Relations award recipient from the UK Department of Integrated Strategic Communication. He will be honored at a reception Nov. 12 preceding the annual James C. Bowling Executive-in-Residence lecture.

Whitt has led a distinguished career of more than 30 years in higher education and nonprofit public relations and marketing, and has long been an active advocate for education, economic development and the performing arts.

Whitt was recognized as the 2015 Eastern Kentucky University Department of Communication Distinguished Alumnus. He served 12 years as EKU’s Associate Vice President of Public Relations and Chief Communications Officer, where he developed and led a nationally award-winning program. Throughout his tenure as EKU’s spokesperson, Whitt was instrumental in enhancing relations between the university and national, regional and local media; civic leaders from across EKU’s service region; and with several national and international higher education and economic development associations. For eight of his last 12 years at EKU, Whitt taught Public Relations and Communication Studies in the Department of Communication, which earned him student nominations for the 2015 EKU Golden Apple Award, an award that recognizes instructors for their “excellence in teaching and encouragement of student success,” and the 2011‐12 Critical Thinking Teacher of the Year Award.

On the national front, Whitt is the Public Relations and Marketing Columnist for University Business magazine, one of the most regularly read publications for higher education leaders in the United States. He is also a frequent presenter, having addressed organizations such as the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, International Town & Gown Association, Council for Advancement & Support of Education, and in 2010 led a workshop at the International Higher Education Marketing Institute in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.

Whitt's work has achieved measurable results garnering more than 40 national, regional and state honors, including the prestigious Beth K. Fields Service Award presented by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education-Kentucky for his lifetime service of excellence to the higher education advancement profession and the Kentucky Music Educators Association District 11 Friends of Music Award.  Recently, Onalytica, a London, England-based social media network analysis agency, named Whitt among the "Top 100 Public Relations Influencers on Twitter." He was ranked 21st.

In August 2015, Whitt joined the Office of Development at the University of Kentucky where he serves as the director of development communications. He is responsible for promotional messaging of UK's philanthropic programs, including campaign communications, strategic development messaging, publications, website, social media, and other external and internal communications and outreach.

A native of Paintsville, Kentucky, Whitt and his wife, Jennifer, make their home in Richmond and are the parents of three children: Emily (married to Mark Wayne Fields), Elizabeth and Jacob.

The Bowling Executive-in-Residence Program began in 2000 and brings to UK nationally known public relations practitioners to not only deliver an address, but also meet with students interested in public relations careers. The program includes the executive-in-residence visit, the excellence award and a scholarship for a senior integrated strategic communication major with an emphasis in public relations. The 2015 scholarship recipient will be announced at the lecture.

The series honors James C. Bowling, the late retired assistant chairman of Philip Morris Companies Inc. He attended UK and later served the university as a member of the UK Development Council. In addition to serving on several national boards, Bowling also worked with the UK College of Agriculture, UK Gatton College of Business and Economics, and the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

MEDIA CONTACT: Blair Hoover, (859) 257-6398;

'History of History' is Topic of WUKY's 'UK Perspectives'

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 13:36

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 30, 2015) — WUKY's "UK Perspectives" focuses on the people and programs of the University of Kentucky and is hosted by WUKY General Manager Tom Godell.  This week guest host, UK News Director Alan Lytle interviews doctoral students Dara Vance and Cody Foster about the UK Department of History's new podcast series, " Long Story Short - A Brief History of History .

To listen to the podcast interview from which "UK Perspectives" is produced, visit

"UK Perspectives" airs at 8:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. each Friday on WUKY 91.3, UK's NPR station.

UK Election Law Society, Expert to Live-Blog Election Issues

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 12:47

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 2, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Election Law Society and election law expert Josh Douglas will provide live analyses on legal issues surrounding the Kentucky general election Tuesday, Nov. 3, on their blog at

As results come in, Douglas, the Robert G. Lawson and William H. Fortune Associate Professor of Law, and the Election Law Society, a student organization at the UK College of Law, will provide easy-to-understand legal explanations and answer questions from the public and media on their blog from 5-10 p.m. Tuesday. 

The analyses will cover the Kentucky gubernatorial race as well as the secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, state treasurer and agriculture commissioner races.

"Any number of issues could arise on Election Day that will require attention from a legal perspective," Douglas said. "In particular we'll be watching to see if any of the races are close as the votes are tallied, and the potential for recounts or post-election contests increases."

Jack Conway, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has held a narrow lead over Republican Matt Bevin throughout the election. The latest Bluegrass Poll released Wednesday, Oct. 28, shows Conway with a 5 percentage point lead over Bevin. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and 10 percent of voters polled said they have yet to decide between the candidates.

Students and Douglas will also be covering issues in the voting process, such as polls opening late or absentee ballot problems. A post about Kentucky's voter ID law and what voters need to take to the polls is already on the blog at   

"The live blog is a great resource for the general public to understand the myriad election law issues that occur," Douglas said.

And it serves as an opportunity for UK law students to examine and write pieces on an important and quickly growing area of the law.

"For those students who have a strong interest in politics but cannot fit Professor Douglas' election law class into their schedules, the ELS (Election Law Society) and live blog provides another vehicle for students to explore this fascinating branch of the law," said Christopher Stewart, a third year law student and president of the UK Election Law Society.

Last year, the blog received traffic from 45 of the 50 states and visitors from at least four foreign countries including Japan and Australia. In a five-day period, more than 3,000 visitors landed on the blog.

Visit the blog at

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

Pixar Artist to Give UK Students Behind-the-Scenes Look at Animation

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 11:46

Trailer for Disney•Pixar's upcoming original feature film "The Good Dinosar," set to release Nov. 25

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 30, 2015) — From their origins in the creative minds of George Lucas and Steve Jobs to a glorious track record in cinema teaming up with Disney for features like "Toy Story," the Golden Globe Award-winning movie "Cars" and their newest film "The Good Dinosaur," Pixar Animation Studios is a powerhouse in the world of animation.

University of Kentucky students have a chance to see Pixar movie magic come to life as artist Matt Nolte gives a behind-the-scenes animation presentation noon Monday, Nov. 2, in the gallery of the Art and Visual Studies Building. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to arrive early as seating is limited.

Matt Nolte joined Pixar in July of 2004, starting as an animator on the award-winning feature "Cars." He went on to work on the Academy Award-winner "Ratatouille" as a character designer and continued as the character art director of the Academy Award-winning film "Brave."

As a character art director, Nolte helps design a film's characters and take them from an image on paper to a 3D model in the computer.

Nolte is currently serving as the character art director for Disney•Pixar's upcoming original feature film "The Good Dinosar," set to release Nov. 25. The movie asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? Pixar takes viewers on an epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.

A native of San Diego, California, Nolte attended Ricks Junior College in Rexburg, Idaho, and the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. He currently lives in the Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Located in Emeryville, California, Pixar Animation Studios has created acclaimed animated feature and short films for more than 25 years. Pixar is also home to the RenderMan line of software products.

Nolte's talk is presented by the UK School of Art and Visual Studies in the UK College of Fine Arts. The school is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of art studioart history and visual studies, and art education.  

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

Appalachian Translational Research Network Health Summit Highlights, Facilitates Regional Collaborations

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 17:01

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 30, 2015) — Chronic health challenges show no regard for state boundaries in central Appalachia. Some of the nation's highest rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and mental health problems can be found in the region stretching across Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee. Recognizing that these unrelenting regional health problems required a proportional regional response, researchers and clinicians across central Appalachian states created the Appalachian Translational Research Network (ATRN).

The ATRN aims to enhance research collaborations and speed the translation of scientific discoveries to improve health in the region. Members include the University of Kentucky, Marshall University, The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Ohio University, West Virginia University and East Tennessee State University.

This month, more than 130 clinicians, researchers, policymakers and community members gathered at the 5th Annual ATRN Health Summit to share expertise, resources and facilitate collaboration. The ATRN summit was held Oct. 14 - 16 in Charleston, West Virginia, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI). The summit included podium and poster presentations as well as regional and national expert speakers.

"The reality is that the very long term health disparities and health conditions within the central Appalachian region are so well-documented," said Patrick Kitzman, director of the ATRN and associate professor at UK.  "The problems are so large that no one institution can even begin to have a sustained impact on fixing them. The only way to have a sustained impact in the region is to work as a team. We need collaborative voices and knowledge, and we have to look at it at every level you can think of."

Patient-centered outcomes research was a particular focus of the ATRN summit. Greg Martin, deputy director of stakeholder engagement at the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), presented an overview of the institute, and three investigators who have received PCORI funding shared their research. Presenters included Debra Moser, PhD, RN, professor of nursing at UK; Kelly Nottingham, MPH, CHES, executive director of Primary Care Research Initiatives; and Nate Thompson, executive director of the Athens Photographic Project, who shared his using art as means to engage and support individuals living with mental illness.

"We've got to get out of the mindset that only doctors and nurses and clinicians can ask questions about health care. We've got to listen to communities," Kitzman said.

The summit also focused on identifying and learning from "bright spots" of positive health outcomes in Appalachia. Earlier this year, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky joined with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to launch a three year Bright Spots research project to examine factors that support a culture of health and hopefully translate these factors into actions that address health disparities in Appalachia.

Kitzman said that convening the ARC and RWJF with the ATRN partners helped everyone learn about each other's work and identify possible collaborations.

"Instead of always asking 'What's bad here?' we can also look at spots where things are working. What are they doing right? Can the region learn from its own groups?" he said.

Julie Lockman, director of scientific development and research pathfinder at the WVCTSI, emphasized the essential need for stakeholders throughout the region to combine efforts and share what's working, and what's not.

"The state boundaries are there, but the health issues surpass those boundaries. The research taking place in West Virginia is just as applicable to regions of Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee because the health disparities exist across borders. Whether it was bench science or community work or policy, we had all those pieces of the puzzles represented at the summit," she said.

Conference organizers reported robust dialogue between participants who were eager to learn about research and programs throughout the region.

"Bringing different people together is the best thing that comes out of these conferences," said Jay Mason, program coordinator for community engagement and outreach at the WVCTSI. "And then the question becomes how we can continue to build on these relationships after these meetings."

Next year's ATRN summit, which rotates between partnering institutions, will be held at Ohio University. 

Several poster and podium presentations received awards this year, including a new "viewer's choice" award.


Student/Resident Category

  • First Place: Danielle Shepherd, West Virginia University - "Mitochondrial Dysfunction: A New Clinical Predictor of Disease Development in the Type 2 Diabetic Patient”
  • Second Place: Amanda Stover, University of Cincinnati: “High Risk Drug-Related Behaviors Among People Residing in Appalachian Counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee”

Early State Investigators

  • First Place: Dr. Danielle Davidov, West Virginia University, "“Factors Influencing Adoption of a Primary Prevention Violence Program in Kentucky High Schools
  • Second Place: Dr. Audis Bethea, Charleston Area Medical Center - "Predictors of Contrast Induced Nephropathy in Trauma Patients”

Senior Investigator

  • First Place: Dr. David Siderovski, West Virginia University - “Genetic Variations in GPSM3 Associated with Protection from Rheumatoid Arthritis affect its Transcription Abundance”
  • Second Place: Dr. Beth Bailey, East Tennessee State University - “Barriers to Primary Care Smoking Cessation Efforts in Rural Appalachia: Mental Health Problems, Other Substance Use, Chronic Pain, and Disability”

Viewer's Choice

  • Dr. Fran Feltner, University of Kentucky - "Appalachian Research Day: Come Sit on the Porch"


Session A: Dr. Roberto Cardarelli, University of Kentucky - " Terminate Lung Cancer (TLC): Knowledge and attitudes of lung cancer screening in a high-risk, rural population”

Session B: Dr. Daniel McNeil, West Virginia University - “Oral Health among Pregnant Women in Northern Appalachia"

Media Contact: Mallory Powell,

Student Art Exhibit Critiques Christian Culture

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 16:14

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2015) — University of Kentucky art studio senior Tom Baker will present his B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Arts) solo exhibition "Imago Dei" that offers a critique of Christian culture, politics, theology and iconography. The show, which is free and open to the public, will be on display Nov. 2-6, in the Art and Visual Studies Building Art Gallery. An opening reception in honor of Baker's work will be presented 5-8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, at the gallery.

The intersection between religion, politics and culture is incredibly important to Baker's art. His art is both sacrilegious and yet deeply influenced by his own religious practice. Baker has a desire for his artwork to participate in the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament.

"Thematically the show offers a critique of Christian culture, politics, theology and iconography from my perspective as a practicing liberal Christian who has worked in ministry for the last 14 years," Baker said.

The solo show will include several mixed media prints as well as an installation and performance piece.

A nontraditional student, Baker is a father of four who has a communication background and previously worked as a musician, call center manager, in ministry and as a research assistant at UK. After being laid off from his regular job, he decided to follow his passion for art and return to school and pursue a degree in art studio specializing in print media. In addition, according to the artist, he suffers from bipolar disorder.

Despite adversity, Baker has managed to garner several awards, including a Summer Sustainability Research and Creativity Fellowship from UK, as well as the Ross Zirkle Memorial Award for printmaking and service to the campus and community. Baker recently exhibited work in Tokushima, Japan; Atlanta, Georgia; Jupiter, Florida; and at the Mid-America Print Council Members' Juried Exhibition in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Baker is active in the local and national printmaking community as a member of the Lexington Guild of Printmakers, the Southern Graphics Council International, the Mid-America Print Council, and as co-founder of Back Alley Press, a student printmaking organization at UK.

"Imago Dei" is presented by UK School of Art and Visual Studies in the UK College of Fine Arts. The school is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of art studio, art history and visual studies, and art education.  

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

UK Orchestra Brings Berlin Phil's Walter Seyfarth to Bluegrass for Breeders' Cup

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 15:54

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2015) — In celebration of the Breeders' Cup coming to Lexington, Berlin Philharmonic clarinetist Walter Seyfarth will join musicians from the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and UK School of Music for two concerts this week.

As part of his residency at the School of Music, Seyfarth will perform in a chamber music concert tonight. The concert program will include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet and Johannes Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet. The featured string quintet will include: Walter Seyfarth, on clarinet; UK Symphony Orchestra Conductor John Nardolillo, on violin; Margie Karp, violin and viola lecturer, on viola; Benjamin Karp, violoncello professor, on cello; and doctoral student Jessica Miskelly, of Baltimore, Maryland, on violin.

The chamber concert featuring Seyfarth begins 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday), Oct. 29, at First Presbyterian Church. The event is free and open to the public, but donations will be accepted at the concert with proceeds benefitting the Music for Mission program, which presents free concerts for the community given by outstanding musical artists while raising money and awareness for local and regional mission organizations.

The following evening UK's entire symphony will join Seyfarth center stage for the Breeders’ Cup Concert, which will feature Mozart’s Overture to "The Magic Flute," Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.

UK Symphony Orchestra's Breeders' Cup Concert will begin 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, at the Singletary Center for the Arts. The concert is free and open to the public.

Seyfarth is native of Düsseldorf, Germany. At the age of 16, he was a first prize winner in the Deutscher Tonkünstlerverband competition. Following studies at the University of Music in Freiburg under Peter Rieckhoff and with Karl Leister at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Academy, he was appointed to the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1975. In 1985, Seyfarth joined the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as solo E flat clarinetist.

Founder of the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet, Seyfarth is also a member of the larger ensemble, The Winds of the Berlin Philharmonic. Among his teaching and mentoring responsibilities are appointments with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Academy, the Jeunesse Musicales World Orchestra and the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela.

Seyfarth worked in the last 30 Years with the world's leading conductors, including Herbert von Karajan, Leonhard Bernstein, Lorin Maazel, Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado and Sir Simon Rattle. His chamber music partners behind the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet are Katja and Marielle Labeque, Daishin Kashimoto, and Stephen Hough, among others. Since 2012, he has performed as a soloist for the new Music Festival in Trancoso (Brazil).

Since Nardolillo took the conductor's podium of the UK Symphony Orchestra, 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, UK Symphony Orchestra 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.

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;

NPR Interviews Campbell About St. Louis Arch

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 14:31

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2015) — Tracy Campbell, professor of history and interim chair of the University of Kentucky Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences was interviewed by National Public Radio Wednesday morning about the African-American neighborhoods razed to build the museum and grounds surrounding St. Louis' Gateway Arch.

Campbell, an expert in 20th century American social and political history, wrote “The Gateway Arch: A Biography” (Yale, 2013), which was featured on NPR's "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon, XM Radio's "The Bob Edwards Show," and was selected by the History Book Club. The book was also chosen as one of the Best Books of 2013 by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and won the 2014 Missouri History Book Award. In July 2015, Campbell discussed the book on C-Span's "Book TV."

The NPR story can be accessed at

UK EMBRACE Provides Students With Necessary Support and Resources to be Successful

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 10:57

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2015) — In August 2015 the University of Kentucky Office of First Generation Initiatives created a new program dubbed UK EMBRACE.

EMBRACE is designed to connect students with campus support programs that provide an array of financial, academic, social and emotional support throughout the journey to graduation from UK. 

The program is available to students who are or have been displaced from their family of origin, former foster youth, orphans, previous wards of the state, adopted, homeless or an independent student.

EMBRACE is a holistic effort to provide students with a support system, resources and financial incentives necessary to pursue higher education and transition smoothly through college.

“Students who form a connection on campus are more likely to be retained. EMBRACE will provide that for students who have traditionally been marginalized as they transition to and proceed through college," said Matthew Deffendall, director of first generation initiatives. "Our goal is to be motivating and guiding for these students and provide a safe place for them.”

EMBRACE provides:

  • Secondary advising through the Office of First Generation Initiatives
  • Connections with the Office of Financial Aid
  • Opportunities for additional scholarships and financial resources
  • Workshops to connect students with campus partners to support the path to graduation
  • Break housing for students living on campus
  • An early move-in bridge program to provide an orientation to life at UK

As part of EMBRACE, students will:

  • Meet with an EMBRACE coach to develop a graduation plan
  • Attend a kickoff event at the beginning of each semester
  • Participate in one EMBRACE workshop each semester

To register for EMBRACE, students must simply complete the registration form found here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Blair Hoover, 859-257-6398;

'Ask a Diplomat' What it Takes to Join Foreign/Civil Service

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 10:04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2015) — The University of Kentucky James W. Stuckert Career Center will host an “Ask a Diplomat” session 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 30, in Room 202 of the Stuckert Building.

During the session, Diplomat in Residence Michelle Jones will answer questions about careers in foreign and civil service, the foreign service exam, choosing a career track, language points and other programs with the U.S. Department of State.

Michelle Jones joined the U.S. Department of State as a foreign service officer in July of 2000. She works in Public Diplomacy where she oversees cultural and educational programs, and has served in Poland, Bangladesh, Trinidad, Canada and Afghanistan. Currently she is the diplomat in residence covering Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.

Students unable to attend the session, should visit or connect with DOS Diplomat in Residence North Central on Facebook.

As part of the UK Division of Undergraduate Education, the James W. Stuckert Career Center mission is to prepare students to successfully connect with employers and post graduate educational opportunities. The Stuckert Career Center is here to help students explore their college major options and career goals, engage in the process of expanding their knowledge and experience of the work place, and to connect with those who can help students on their career path. For more information on the Stuckert Career Center and how the staff can provide assistance, visit

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

UK, UAB Partner on Clinical Trial of Metformin’s Muscle Effect

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 09:07

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2015)  The University of Kentucky and University of Alabama at Birmingham are partners on a $2.9 million, five-year National Institute on Aging clinical study to explore how Metformin may benefit older adults who do not respond well to exercise.

Video by UK REVEAL Research Media.

Metformin, a generic drug and the most widely prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes, may be a low-cost, personalized approach to prevent frailty in the elderly by improving their muscle growth response.

Principal investigators Charlotte Peterson and Philip Kern at UK are partnering with Marcas Bamman at UAB. Kern, director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, said,We have significant strength in clinical and translational research through our CTSA. We have strength in diabetes, in metabolism, and in muscle biology. So I think it really leverages these different strengths and puts them together in one grant.”

In previous studies Peterson, the Joseph Hamburg Endowed Professor and associate dean for research in the UK College of Health Sciences, and her lab team identified a key cellular feature of muscle that was associated with a better response to exercise. Research participants who gained more muscle mass and strength than other participants had this key feature in their muscle tissue.

“In an unrelated study, the drug Metformin seemed to increase these cells in muscles,” said Peterson “So we put things together, like A+B=C. Maybe by giving people this drug before they start to exercise, it would help their muscles adapt more readily. So the current clinical trial is combining very mechanistic studies of muscle tissue, with analysis of muscle mass and strength gains in response to exercise in individuals over 65 years of age.”

Trial participants take the drug or a placebo, undergo a three-month weight lifting training program, and then have their muscle morphology, mass and strength measured to quantify the impact of Metformin.

Scientists across the country are looking at Metformin as an anti-cancer and anti-aging treatment, and Peterson said her team is eager to contribute to this emerging research area. Peterson points to a recent article in Science on Nir Barzilai’s push for the first wide-scale, anti-aging trial of Metformin.

Peterson said, “We could be a part of this really large initiative to try to determine if Metformin may be one of the first drugs given to slow the aging process. There’s a lot just on the horizon in terms of trying to help older people maintain their quality of life and being part of that and trying to contribute to that knowledge base is very exciting.”

Media Contact:  Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442

Superfund Graduate Devoted to NIH Workforce Development through AAAS Fellowship

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 17:40

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2015)University of Kentucky Superfund Research Program alumnus Brad Newsome recently joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy fellow.

In his role at the NIH, Newsome is working with a team of scientists and communications experts in the Office of the Director’s Scientific Workforce Diversity team to build a representative network of biomedical scientists to drive data-driven health interventions.

With interdisciplinary training in biomedical sciences, materials engineering, environmental public health and stakeholder-driven research translation, Newsome brings a distinctive set of skills to the NIH. The AAAS fellowship program fosters collaboration and conversation between policy makers and scientific and engineering professionals, communicating essential information to federal legislators and the public. Each year, the NIH selects as many as 30 fellows for the competitive program, which places them in one of the NIH’s 27 institutes and centers for a one- to two-year term.

After spending a year advocating for global health issues, including clean water initiatives in Swaziland, Africa, Newsome completed his doctorate in chemistry at UK in 2014 and started a postdoctoral fellowship within the UK Superfund Research Program (UK SRP). Part of the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences national SRP network, the UK SRP facilitates important research on the relationship between chemical hazards in the environment and population health.

During his time in the laboratory of Bernhard Hennig, Newsome investigated remediation methodologies associated with chlorinated organics and molecular techniques to understand the effects of water containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) compounds. High levels of PCB in water are associated with immune system deficiencies, reproductive problems and risks of cancer.

“Brad is unique because he is not only a brilliant scientist, but also a person with outstanding people skills, allowing him to easily ‘translate’ basic science issues into practical applications,” Hennig said. “Brad also has a deep understanding of a broad range of disciplines, ranging from biology and chemistry to engineering to public health.”

Newsome said health policy change occurs at the interface of a wide range of disciplines in medicine, science, engineering, and communications. His work translating complex toxicology data to influence environmental health policies and collaborating with experts across disciplines prepared him for a future career translating scientific evidence to inform and influence federal policy decision making.

“The most relevant innovation happens with diversity of thought, especially when you are looking at health disparities,” Newsome said. “The Superfund program gave me a unique vantage point, linking me to a network of people interested in furthering complex, integrated goals.”

For more information about the research in the UK SRP, click here. To view a video of Newsome discussing his work with the Superfund Research Program, click here

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,

VIDEO: UK Alum Tom Hammond Proud to Share Beauty of the Bluegrass During Breeders' Cup

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 17:00

Video Produced by UK Public Relations and Marketing.  To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.  If using a mobile device, click the "thought bubble" icon in the same area. 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 29, 2015) — University of Kentucky alum Tom Hammond will feel right at home as he serves as the NBC Sports host for The Breeders' Cup this weekend, live from Keeneland.

“It’s special because, as a life-long Lexingtonian, and as one who’s loved the horses since I was a little kid, this is where it belongs,” Hammond said. 

Hammond still remembers when another Lexington resident, John Gaines, came up with the idea of the famous racing weekend back in the early 1980s. 

“The late John Gaines, who was a great benefactor of this university by the way, dreamt it up to be the World Series, the Super bowl, of racing,” Hammond said.  “There’s no question that it has done just that. It’s altered the landscape of Thoroughbred racing so that everybody points now for the Breeders’ Cup, and invariably it produces all the champions and the horse of the year.”

But the big event has special meaning to Hammond because of what that first race in 1984 meant for his career.  He was hired to work for NBC for what he thought was a one-time event.

“At the end of the day, when the telecast went off the air, two things happened,” said Hammond.  “John Gaines ran up and gave me a big bear hug because he knew that his idea had come to fruition big time, and the other thing that happened was that Michael Wiseman, who was then executive producer of NBC Sports said, ‘Well we didn’t realize till this week we had a broadcaster on our hands.’  That was in 1984 and I’ve been working for NBC ever since!”

Since that time, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment graduate has shared countless summer and winter Olympic events, football and basketball games, horse races and many other athletics events with the viewers across the country. 

The 2000 UK Alumni Hall of Distinguished Alumni inductee credits his successful career to the education he received at UK.

“I think UK prepared me for almost anything,” Hammond said.  “It turned out to be broadcasting, which I never would’ve expected, but it’s worked out well.”

For this year’s Breeders’ Cup, there won’t be a huge learning curve as he tries to bring the atmosphere of Keeneland to television viewers, since he still lives in the Bluegrass. 

“The pastoral landscape of Keeneland and horse country is a perfect backdrop for the Breeders’ Cup,” said Hammond.   “Hopefully I’ll be able to give them a flavor of what’s it’s like here, a real taste of what we experience all the time and maybe sometimes take for granted.”

Hammond thinks between the natural beauty of the Bluegrass and the horses participating, this years Breeders’ Cup could be one to remember for years to come.

“It’s amazing the phenomenon of American Pharaoh — how people have fallen in love with this horse because he has charisma as well as speed,” Hammond said.  “If all the pieces fall into place, it could be one of the most memorable Classics ever run!”

So as the big event draws near, this longtime horse lover is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to bring all of the action to fans that cannot make it to Keeneland. 

“It’s the best of the best,” Hammond said.  “How many times in your life do you get to go to the Super Bowl or the Final Four or the World Series?  Well this is horseracing’s equivalent!”

But beyond the competition, he knows he will finally have the opportunity to share the place he calls home with the rest of the world.

“This (Kentucky) is a beauty that’s tied into the love of a horse,” said Hammond. “To see the horses galloping across the field is a magical thing and it’s something that you can’t manufacture.  I think here they’ll see the horse in its element, the horse where he belongs, and the horse where he is revered.”

Complete television coverage of this year’s Breeder’s Cup can be found here:

***Special thanks to NBC Sports, The Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland and UK Special Collections for footage and photos used in this video and story.***

VIDEO CONTACTS:  Amy Jones-Timoney, 859-257-2940, or Kody Kiser, 859-257-5282,

Application Period for Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Now Open

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 16:33

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women (OPSVAW) in the College of Arts and Sciences announced today that the application window for its Women’s Empowerment Scholarship is now open.

“We are excited to open the application period for the 2016/2017 academic year,” said Carol Jordan, the executive director of the OPSVAW. “We know that education can set a woman who has suffered abuse during her lifetime on a path to nonviolence and recovery, and there is perhaps no institution better positioned to advancing that recovery than the University of Kentucky. The education that UK can offer fulfills dreams and puts a woman’s full potential within her reach.”

The OPSVAW created the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program to give women access to education as a means of escaping violence and abuse or diminishing the effects of child or adulthood victimization. The ultimate goal, said Jordan, is to fund a total of five such Empowerment Scholarships. Verizon Wireless became the first to support the scholarship program with a $100,000 donation from its HopeLine phone-recycling program.

The OPSVAW’s partners in the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program include the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs; on campus the OPSVAW coordinates with the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Undergraduate Education.

To be eligible for a Women’s Empowerment Scholarship, women must:

  • have been served through one of the domestic violence or rape crisis programs in Kentucky, and
  • apply and have been admitted to the University of Kentucky, with plans to secure a bachelor’s degree in a field of their choosing.

The core of the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Program is a stipend provided by the OPSVAW. The stipend may be up to $4,000 a semester, adjusted based on the level of other grant and scholarship funds available, the need presented by the applicant, and the number of credit hours being taken by the student. The scholarship is renewable.

The UK Office of the Registrar will coordinate access to state and federal financial aid to which the applicant may be eligible, including academic scholarships, Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships, other private scholarships and need-based financial aid programs.

“We have seen the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship dramatically improve a woman’s life. We are looking forward to giving that same opportunity to more abuse survivors,” Jordan said.

Applications may be accessed at  The final deadline for submitting a WES application is Feb. 15, 2016, but applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as close to Dec. 1, 2015, as possible. For additional information, contact Carol Jordan at

MEDIA CONTACT: Gail Hairston, 859-257-3302,

Deadline for December Commencement Student Speaker Applications is This Friday

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 15:55

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2015) — Each December, an undergraduate student is selected to speak at the University of Kentucky Commencement Ceremony, which will take place at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, at Rupp Arena. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30.

To be considered, applicants must be receiving an undergraduate degree from UK at the Dec. 18 ceremony. Additionally, the applicants must have contributed to UK through campus or community activities and through their fields of study. Applicants must also demonstrate strong public speaking skills.

Undergraduate students who wish to apply must submit a resume, information sheet and a copy of their proposed speech no longer than three typed, double-spaced pages. Incomplete applications will not be considered by the selection committee. The committee may contact any applicant for a 15 minute interview and speech demonstration.

Students interested in speaking at the December Commencement Ceremony must submit their applications by 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30.  Applications are available online at

All December graduates should register for Commencement at

For information regarding caps and gownsparking and travel,  college receptions or other questions, visit the Commencement website. Regalia will be available for purchase at the University of Kentucky Book Store.

For questions regarding Commencement, visit the Commencement FAQs page.

UK Alum Wins Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 15:17

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2015) — University of Kentucky theatre and advertising alumna Alecia Whitaker is the recipient of the ninth Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award for her book "Wildflower." The award, presented by Western Kentucky University (WKU) Libraries, recognizes excellence in young adult books that share a story based on a Kentucky related theme or those that are written or illustrated by a Kentucky author or illustrator.

The Thurman Young Readers Book Award is presented annually and was created to honor the memory of former WKU librarian Evelyn Thurman, who made significant contributions to children's librarianship and literacy throughout her 25 years of service to the university and community.

"Wildflower" is about a young 16-year-old girl who is discovered by a country music label while she's performing in her family's bluegrass band. Throughout the book she must learn to stay true to her roots while being a star on the rise living in the big city of Nashville, Tennessee. "Wildflower," the first book in a series of three, explores the importance of being yourself and following your dreams.

Alecia Whitaker grew up on a small farm in the state of Kentucky, but now resides in New York City with her husband and sons. "Wildflower" is Whitaker's second novel. She has also published various essays, the one-act play "Becoming Woman" funded by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and her first novel "The Queen of Kentucky."

Aside from her success as a writer, Whitaker has appeared on TV numerous times, including appearances on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "The Big Idea," as well as turns as a contestant on the game shows "Deal or No Deal" and "Let's Ask America." Whitaker is also the host of a twice weekly web show called "The Baby Book" that talks about her real life experiences of being a mom in New York City.

Whitaker will receive the Thurman Award at a luncheon in November, where she will receive a monetary award and commemorative plaque. During her stay in Kentucky, Whitaker will visit local schools as part of the Southern Kentucky Book Fest's "Fall into Books" program.

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

Hitnes Mural Showcases Beauty of Science Studied at UK EREC

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 11:53

Produced by the Hive in the UK College of Arts and Sciences.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2015) — Home to laboratories, aviaries, research fields and ponds, the University of Kentucky Ecological Research and Education Center (EREC) is also now home to larger than life-size art that illustrates the beauty of the science studied there.

Painted by Italian muralist Hitnes and a group of community members and UK students, the mural merges art and science to reflect birds Hitnes observed while he retraced the journey of John James Audubon.

"Like all of the best public art, the EREC mural has both beautiful and challenging elements, here in the engaging style of Hitnes and his master class," said Philip Crowley, director of the EREC. "Because we study physiology and behavior of birds at the field station, having an Audubon-inspired mural is a perfect fit and allows us to provide something special for our neighbors to enjoy as well."

Black-necked stilts, house sparrows, crows, purple branches and more colorful paintings now line the back exterior walls of the EREC, a special sight for researchers working in the aviaries across the field. The mural, as well as the downtown Lexington mural Hitnes painted during the same visit, is part of "The Image Hunter" project.

Hitnes said it is a work on obsession, and birds are an intriguing and beautiful symbol of obsession.

"Audubon is, as a matter of fact, a fantastic demonstration of it, since he dedicated his life to this obsession," Hitnes said.

Audubon (1785-1851), a naturalist and painter, is best known for his extraordinary four-volume "Birds of America," a collection of 435 life-size prints based on the birds he observed while traveling across the United States. Audubon lived and worked in Henderson, Kentucky, for some time before embarking on his quest.

"Most of that, while it's very beautiful, was designed to describe what these animals look like for people that might not have seen them. It was a scientific way of documenting them. So a lot of his (Hitnes) work is inspired by that," said Jacqueline Dillard, a doctoral student in the biology program who took part in Hitnes' mural class.

Dillard has been an artist since before her interest in science peaked. She also works in the EREC a few times a week and conducts experiments at the field station.

"This just seemed like a really good opportunity to sort of combine art with science," she said.

While Hitnes sketched an outline, mostly branches and trees, to get things started, he gave students the liberty to create any bird they wanted. Drawing inspiration from her lab's area of research, Dillard painted a house sparrow.

"I thought it would be cool to have some representation of our lab group here," she said.

"Hitnes' visit was especially exciting as a means of connecting UK students to his broader sustainability efforts and including Lexington among his mural locations," said Jerrod Penn of the UK Student Sustainability Council (SSC), which helped fund the events.

In addition to the SSC, Hitnes' visit was sponsored by the Central Kentucky Audubon Society, PRHBTN and the UK Department of Biology.

"Birds are everywhere," Hitnes said. "Birds are on the move. So you can follow them and they are adventurous as humans; they are explorers; they migrate."

But a vibrant mural of birds at the EREC is here to stay, reminding UK students, faculty, staff and the community that art and science often cross paths, and do so beautifully.

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

Serve Beyond the Borders of Lexington With UK Alternative Service Breaks

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 11:28

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2015)  University of Kentucky Alternative Service Breaks (ASB) is offering an information meeting Monday, Nov. 2, for those students interested in participating in Winter, Spring or Summer Break trips! The meeting will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. in The 90, Room 203. 

Founded in 2008, UK ASB provides quality and fulfilling alternative breaks that mutually benefit community partners and student participants through the education of social issues, service work requested by the host site, and student facilitated reflection.

Through the Center for Community Outreach and the national service organization Break Away, the UK ASB program connects students with service projects in communities beyond the borders of Lexington and Kentucky. They aim to provide service experiences that are educational and cultural and to promote active citizenship among UK students, faculty and staff. Ultimately, UK ASB's vision is to create a campus of socially aware student citizens seeking to make a positive impact in the global community.

UK ASB hosts two Weekend Service Trips each fall and spring semester.  They also offer two Winter Break service immersions in January, eight Spring Break service immersions and one two-week service immersion in May.

Although the deadline has passed to apply for Fall Weekend Service Trips, UK students can still apply for a Winter, Spring or Summer Break service immersion.  To apply to one of these, click here. The extended deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11.

For more inofrmation about the UK ASB program, "like" UK ASB on Facebook, follow UK ASB on Twitter and on Instagram or visit

UK ASB is a program housed in the UK Center for Community Outreach. The CCO seeks to serve, connect and unite the University of Kentucky with the surrounding community in collaborative efforts to promote life-long community service.

CCO CONTACT: Amani Jackson,

MEDIA CONTACT: Katy Bennett or Rebecca Stratton, or, (859) 257-1909/(859) 323-2395 

UK Economics Professor Interviewed by NPR

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 09:51

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 27, 2015)Tho mas Ahn, assistant professor in the Department of Economics in the Gatton College of Business and Economics was interviewed by National Public Radio this morning about the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also called No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Ahn co-authored a report in 2009 titled  "Does NCLB Have Teeth? Examining the Impact of Federal Accountability Sanctions in North Carolina.”

The NPR story can be accessed here:


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