LEXINGTON, Ky., (April 23, 2015) — The Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center and Kentucky Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will host the first GovPro Conference May 13 at The Campbell House in Lexington. Doors will open at 7:30 a.m. and the conference will run until 4:30 p.m. EDT.
“We are very excited to have Mildred Quinley from the Office of Small Business Utilization, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) as our luncheon speaker. The office of Small Business Utilization advocates for small businesses, and its mission is to promote increased access to GSA’s nationwide procurement opportunities,” said Dee Dee Harbut, Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center director.
Government procurement professionals from federal, state and local agencies will also be on hand at the trade show to talk about opportunities for small-business owners.
Spending more than $500 billion annually makes the U.S. government the largest consumer of products and services. From purchasing items as simple as soap to the construction of buildings to consulting services, the opportunities for businesses to expand their revenue through government contracts are vast. Networking and understanding the “how to” is the purpose of the GovPro conference.
“The Kentucky SBDC continues to strengthen the local economy by offering educational and networking opportunities such as the GovPro conference to small-business owners seeking to grow their revenues with government contracts,” said Shirie Hawkins, Bluegrass SBDC director.
Among the features of the conference will be the breakout sessions led by experienced professionals with solid working knowledge of the procurement process and regulations. Session topics will include: How to Market to the Federal Government, Construction and Architect-Engineer Contracts, An Insider’s Insight to the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Accounting Requirements for Federal Contractors.
Along with the workshops, continental breakfast, lunch, a trade show and networking breaks are included for each registered participant. For more information about the GovPro conference or to register, visit http://2015govproconference.eventbrite.com or contact Kristy Coates at 859-257-7668. The deadline for registration is May 6.
The Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center falls under the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. KSBDC’s network of 15 offices located throughout the state helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on KSBDC services is available online at http://www.ksbdc.org/.
MEDIA CONTACT: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-7668.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 23, 2015) — The University of Kentucky College of Education and College of Agriculture, Food and Environment will host a research symposium on diversity and inclusiveness from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, at the E.S. Good Barn.
Judy "J.J." Jackson, UK vice president for institutional diversity, will begin the symposium with opening remarks. Faculty-led roundtable discussions will follow, featuring their research related to diversity and inclusiveness.
Topics consist of access and equity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields; including individuals with disabilities in their places of worship; cross-cultural courses producing pluralistic students; and more.
Participants in the roundtable include:
College of Education
- Blanka Angyal, doctoral student in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology.
- Melinda Ault, assistant professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling.
- Lars Bjork, professor in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies.
- Susan Cantrell, associate professor in the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
- Ryan Crowley, assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
- Cindy Jong, assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
- Lee Ann Jung, associate professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling.
- Kristen Mark, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion.
- John Nash, associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies.
- Jonell Pedescleaux, lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion.
- Danelle Stevens-Watkins, assistant professor in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology.
College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
- Ingrid Adams, associate extension professor in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition.
- Erica Flores, academic coordinator in the Department of Agricultural Economics.
- Rosalind Harris, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Community and Leadership Development.
- Marcus Hollan, academic coordinator in the Department of Community and Leadership Development.
- Vanessa Jackson, chair of the Department of Retailing and Tourism Management.
- Lee Meyer, extension professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics.
- Kim Spillman, associate professor in the School of Human Environmental Sciences.
- Stacy Vincent, assistant professor of agriculture education and director of undergraduate studies in career and technical education in the Department of Community and Leadership Development.
Kentucky State University
- Javiette Samuel, associate extension administrator and associate professor in the College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems.
The symposium will also provide opportunities for cross-college conversations and for faculty members and graduate students with similar research interests to identify potential collaborations.
To attend the research symposium, please RSVP to College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Assistant Dean and Director for Diversity Quentin Tyler at Quentin.Tyler@uky.edu or 859-257-3482, or College of Education Professor Laurie Henry at LaurieHenry@uky.edu or 859-257-7399 by Monday, April 27.
MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2015) — In a grand collaboration with the University of Kentucky Choirs and the UK Symphony Orchestra, hundreds of performers from UK School of Music will take the Singletary Center for the Arts stage to perform works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 24. The concert is free and open to the public.
The concert program will feature Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor under the direction of conductor of the UK Symphony Orchestra John Nardolillo and conductor of the UK Choirs Jefferson Johnson. The ensembles will also perform the composer’s “Overture to Le nozze di Figaro” and Symphony No. 38 in D Major “Prague.”
Mozart was born into a musical family, educated by his father, Leopold, and paraded on tour throughout Europe as a musical prodigy on both the keyboard and violin. Ten years of travel fostered the growth of his compositional voice, which became one of the most influential in the history of western music.
The Requiem Mass was one of three major works that dominated the final months of Mozart’s life. The Mass was commissioned by Count Walsegg-Stuppach to honor his wife, who had died in February 1791. The story of the Requiem’s commissioning and conception were a point of intrigue from the moment of its first performance. The combination of Walsegg-Stuppach requesting the work in secret and Mozart’s death before its completion sowed the seeds of conjecture for years to come. At the time of Mozart’s death in December 1791, the manuscripts were handed over to a former student, Franz Xaver Sussmayr, who claimed to have composed the latter parts of the Requiem while completing the rest of Mozart’s sketches to create the Requiem we know today.
In addition to the gifted ensembles and conductors, the concert will showcase the vocal talents of UK Opera Theatre senior Jessica Bayne, of Christiansburg, Virginia; graduate student Holly Dodson, of Lexington; junior Matthew Pearce, of Union, Kentucky; and doctoral candidate André Campelo, of Goiânia, Brazil.
Founded in 1918, the UK Symphony Orchestra is regarded as one of the nation’s best college orchestras. The group is made up of undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States, Asia, South America and Europe. The orchestra regularly performs with world-renowned concert artists including Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Gil Shaham, Mark O’Connor, Lynn Harrell, Marvin Hamlisch, Lang Lang and Arlo Guthrie. The orchestra performs in the concert hall at the Singletary Center for the Arts, with UK Opera Theatre at the Lexington Opera House, and on tour, including concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2007 and 2010, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 2009. In addition to live performances, UK's orchestra is one of the only collegiate orchestra programs to record with Naxos, the world’s largest classical music label.
The ensembles of the UK Choirs constitute one of the most active and vibrant collegiate choral programs in the country. UK's choral ensembles are 220 students strong, presenting more than 60 performances annually. The choirs are regularly invited to perform at prestigious national conferences including the American Choral Directors Association. They have also toured Europe extensively, offering a rich international educational experience for our students.
The UK School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts has achieved awards and national and international recognition for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as for music education, composition, theory and music history.
MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716; firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 23, 2015) — The realm of science in the United States — education, research and career opportunities — is always a hot topic, but especially so in the last several years. Technology has transformed students' learning experiences and the National Science Board (NSB) called on education and policy to foster "the next generation of STEM innovators."
In 2010, the University of Kentucky Department of Biology responded with a curriculum reform, changing the way undergraduate biology is taught at UK, and perhaps leading to more UK students pursuing scientific careers.
The curriculum reform, led by Vincent Cassone, department chair and professor, implemented new laboratory experiences in genetics, evolution, cell biology, physiology and ecology. To do that, the department had to renovate classroom space in the Thomas Hunt Morgan Biological Sciences Building and the Multidisciplinary Science Building into laboratories. The undergraduate cell biology lab was one of these.
As Cassone says, "science is something you do, and biology is a physically active scientific exercise," and a high-tech lab was needed to put classroom concepts to practice, especially for cell biology, known to be an abstract discipline for students.
But the lab at UK took the undergraduate experience one step further than most by updating standard microscopes to fluorescence microscopy. Cells can only be seen through microscopes, and molecules carrying out their functions must be labeled with fluorescence in order to view them through the microscope, but it is unusual to perform that level of microscopy for undergraduates.
"Labs at almost all universities are equipped with standard light microscopes, but few are equipped with fluorescent microscopes. If they are, it is usually limited to a single shared instrument for the whole lab," said Kellum, who began teaching cell biology at UK in 1999.
The UK undergraduate cell biology lab instead features a fluorescent microscope for each pair of lab partners in course sections of 30 students.
"We have found that students are only interested in looking at specimens prepared by their own hands on their own microscopes," Kellum said.
Students produce their own images of nanoparticles normally out of sight to the human eye, such as those below featuring drosophila embryos with immunofluorescence of a neuronal protein (green) and DAPI (a fluorescent stain) (blue). That particular lab activity is typically not well suited for undergraduate labs because it requires overnight incubations and fine precision, Jones said. To ensure UK students could experience the activity, Kellum developed protocol to get the immunofluorescence technique working within a single three-hour lab period.
But learning microscopy methods and producing cellular images that could double as artwork isn't the entire scope of the lab course. It also includes engaging in actual research, and learning how science works in general — forming hypotheses, testing them, finding out if results support the hypotheses or not.
Following the lab, teaching assistants guide students in using their creativity to plan a set of hypothetical experiments using those techniques and other fluorescent labeling techniques.
"They get the flavor of real-world research, they get to do cellular and molecular biology related techniques here that they study in their lecture materials. And they need to do experiments to find out if things work the way they think they do, or not," said Swagata Ghosh, a cell biology lab teaching assistant and doctoral student in biology.
"When they see proteins glowing, when they see proteins on a gel or they look at DNA under UV light — maybe things they've just read about in their textbooks — that gives them more encouragement or interest in studying the subject," Ghosh said.
Another experiment performed by undergraduates in the lab is western blotting, a technique that separates and identifies proteins within a sample of tissue, and in their case, chicken breast muscle tissue. Students also use centrifugation to isolate mitochondria from chicken liver, from which they measure the rate of reaction of an enzyme involved in cellular respiration.
Jones says students also dissect and view the giant polytene chromosomes from the salivary glands of fruit fly larvae, re-enacting a technique that allowed UK alumnus Thomas Hunt Morgan to identify the chromosome as the location of genes.
"The experience that those students are getting in cell biology, now taught by Drs. Ed Rucker, Rebecca Kellum and Seth Jones, really is a top-notch experience," Cassone said.
And the results prove it — class performance on exams has improved by at least a letter grade, and the drop, fail and withdrawal rate has become virtually non-existent.
With the development of the neuroscience degree and plans for a new multidisciplinary research facility at UK, experiences in biology — and science education and research overall — at the university will continue to evolve, producing tomorrow's "STEM innovators" right on campus.
MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 23, 2015) — University of Kentucky's Department of Psychology is hosting the Fifth Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference for Research on Children at Risk 3:30-5 p.m. today, in Kastle Hall Room 213 and 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Friday, April 24, in the King Alumni House Ballroom. All members of the UK and Lexington community are encouraged to attend.
The theme of the conference is risk and resilience during adolescence and childhood. Research presented will address factors that shape current and future outcomes of youth, in order to better understand children at risk.
The event is designed to reach out to individuals from all areas of campus, both professionals and graduate students, to present research about children at risk, as well as undergraduate students and other members of the UK and Lexington communities to learn more about the topic. The concept of "risk" has a broad definition, and there are researchers on the subject in many UK departments who utilize different methodologies for their research.
"To get a grant these days you almost have to collaborate with people outside your area," said Richard Milich, one of the event's organizers and professor in the Department of Psychology in the UK College of Arts and Sciences. The event is designed to highlight different methodologies and promote collaboration, he said.
Today in Kastle Hall, professor Gustavo Carlo will give a keynote address discussing "Latino/a Parents' Socializing Their Youth: Practices, Values, and Prosocial Behaviors." Carlo is director for the Center for Family Policy and Research and professor of human development and family studies at the University of Missouri. His research examines youth development and the role of culture in shaping adjustment in children and families. He will speak at 3:30 p.m. today in 213 Kastle Hall on UK’s campus.
On Friday in the King Alumni House, 18 graduate student poster presentations are scheduled, with session one running from 9:30-10:15 a.m. and session two from 10:15-11:15 a.m. Seven graduate student research presentations will be split into two sessions. The first runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with lunch from 12:30-1 p.m. The second set of presentations will take place from 1-2 p.m. Concluding remarks and awards will be given from 2-2:30 p.m.
"Graduate students are the next wave of instructors," said Milich. "Several faculty have made really good connections at this conference."
Graduate student research presentations will be given in IGNITE format, with 20 PowerPoint slides each, timed to advance slides every 30 seconds. There will be five minutes after each presentation for questions.
MEDIA CONTACT: Gail Hairston, firstname.lastname@example.org, 859-257-3302
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 23, 3015) -- The University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy will host an open house for prospective students on Saturday, May 16. This event is geared toward students currently in high school or college.
This open house will feature a three-hour information session and will provide an opportunity for students and guests to learn more about the pharmacy profession, career opportunities in the field, and specific information about UK's Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) professional program.
An optional "Preparing and Strengthening Your Application" workshop will be held at the end of the open house. This session is designed for students who are beginning the application process to pharmacy school. A UK College of Pharmacy advisor will discuss the entire application process, including PharmCAS, UK supplemental application, essays, letters of reference, and interviews.
Check-in will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Biological Pharmaceutical Complex, located at 789 South Limestone, with the program beginning promptly at 10. The event will end by 1 p.m., followed by optional tours. Online registration is required.
To be notified of future open houses and other special opportunities via email, pre-pharmacy students may also sign up to receive updates here.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 23, 2015) — University of Kentucky doctoral student Nate Millington recently received the U.S. Department of Education's Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship and will travel to São Paulo, Brazil, this June to study flooding and its effects on the city's urban design and its people. Millington will study at the University of São Paulo (USP) and will return March 2016.
"USP is one of the biggest institutions in the country with around 80,000 students and is one of the best universities in Latin America. I'm especially excited to be working with people in the USP Department of Geography as well as in the school of architecture and urbanism," Millington said.
Originally from Vienna, Virginia, Millington has a long time interest in Portuguese, the language of Brazil, as well as a love for travel, cities and international research.
"Despite the problems that are visible in places like São Paulo, I think we in the U.S. have a lot to learn from Brazilian cities," Millington said. "For instance, one of my favorite places in the city is called the Minhocão. It is an elevated highway that cuts through the center of the city, but at night and on the weekends it is closed to automobile traffic and becomes a wildly popular public space."
Millington studies in the Department of Geography at UK College of Arts and Sciences, focusing on the ways nature and natural systems interact with man-made environments, specifically within cities. While in São Paulo, Millington will focus his research on riverside park projects designed to prevent flooding in working class neighborhoods located on the outskirts of the city.
On the other end of the hydrologic spectrum, Millington will also study how the recent severe drought in São Paulo is affecting citizens who are dealing with water shortages.
"As a result, my research is changing and expanding as the water crisis unfolds, and I'll be spending much of my time there analyzing what sorts of solutions are being talked about and implemented," Millington said. He plans to interview residents, state employees and activists involved in urban issues, water activism and public space in order to continue his previous research as well as begin new projects.
"I'm really humbled to have received both fellowships and owe a lot of that to the support I've received from my advisor, my committee and the geography department here at UK," said Millington.
The Fulbright-Hays program provides grants to colleges and universities to fund individual doctoral students who conduct research in other countries, in modern foreign languages and area studies for periods of six to 12 months.
Millington, who hopes to receive his doctorate in 2016, plans to teach at the university level and continue his writing and research.
Millington applied for the Fulbright-Hays through the UK Graduate School. The dissertation funding is one of several resources available through the U.S. Department of State's Fulbright programming for students. For more information on other Fulbright programming, UK students can contact the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards.
MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716; email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 23, 2015) — Interested in a job in intelligence? Curious if there are internships in national security? The University of Kentucky James W. Stuckert Center will host an information session on professional opportunities with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at 4 p.m. today, Thursday, April 23.
During the session, a CIA representative will present a general overview of career and internship opportunities and application requirements.
“Students will be surprised to learn that CIA employees come from a wide array of academic backgrounds,” said Seth Riker, assistant director for marketing at the UK Stuckert Career Center.
From accounting to cartography, engineering to communications, medical services to language opportunities, the CIA offers a wide variety of professional positions that spans all disciplines.
“Freshmen to seniors, this session has something to offer everyone,” Riker said. “It’s a unique opportunity to learn about working in U.S. national intelligence, and what credentials and experience are needed to get there.”
To learn more about working at the CIA, and to hear employee testimonials, visit www.cia.gov/careers/life-at-cia/top-10-reasons-for-working-at-the-cia.
Immediately following the information session, a mixer will be held for faculty and students at 5 p.m.
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 www.uky.edu/careercenter.
MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716; firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2015) — The University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences will honor its faculty at 4 p.m. today at the William T. Young Library Auditorium.
The recipients of this year's college faculty awards are:
Charles Carlson, psychology, 2015-16 Distinguished Professor. For more information, visit http://uknow.uky.edu/content/carlson-honored-teaching-research-and-service
Beth Guiton, assistant professor of chemistry ‒ Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award
Guiton leads a materials chemistry group in the Center for Advanced Materials, investigates chemistry at the nanometer length scale, working at the intersection between solid state chemistry and advanced characterization. The group's focus is to combine the synthesis and design of new nanostructured materials, with their characterization using advanced transmission electron microscopy techniques ranging from atomic resolution imaging, to more exotic techniques such as plasmon mapping on the nanometer length scale.
Shaunna Scott, associate professor of sociology ‒ Distinguished Service or Engagement Award
Scott is the past president of the Appalachian Studies Association. Her interests center upon social inequality, gender, the politics of identity and commemoration, theory, qualitative methods, participatory action research and social movements in Appalachia and Northern Ireland. She is an affiliate of the UK Appalachian Center, Center for Poverty Research, Social Theory Committee and Gender and Women Studies. Her research takes a feminist critical theoretical approach to understanding politics, commemoration, community and economic development and planning, identity construction and community dynamics. She is particularly interested in understanding and promoting democratic practices and social justice projects in conflictual, stratified, rural contexts.
Joseph Straley, professor of physics and astronomy ‒ Distinguished Service or Engagement Award
Straley’s research interests include the electrical behavior of extremely inhomogeneous systems (the percolation problem), the phase diagram and dynamical behavior of a Josephson array in a magnetic field, one-dimensional many-body quantum systems, and phase transitions of the Kosterlitz-Thouless class. In recent years he has been interested in the Casimir effect. Straley is also engaged in many outreach activities throughout the field of physics, including serving as a Physics Spectacular presenter, curator of the Physics Petting Zoo, co-director of the Hands-on Virtual Workshops in Physics for Elementary and Middle School Teachers, and instructor in online physics courses for middle school and high school teachers. Straley has also been involved in developing the Physics Question Board and science kits marketed by Lab-Aids, Inc.
Christia Brown, associate professor of psychology ‒ Outstanding Diversity and Inclusion Award
As part of the Children at Risk Research Cluster, Brown examines children who are at academic, psychological, and social risk because of social inequality. She focuses on children’s and adolescents’ perceptions of gender and racial/ethnic discrimination, perceptions of discrimination by teachers and coaches, sexual harassment experienced by girls and discrimination faced by immigrant children and their parents. In addition, the research cluster is examining the sexual harassment and the sexual objectification of middle school girls. She is also examining the development of gender and racial/ethnic identity, the development of gender and racial/ethnic stereotypes, and how children understand social inequality
Joseph Brill, professor of physics and astronomy – Outstanding Graduate Mentoring Award
Brill’s research group, part of the Condensed Matter Group, has developed probes to study the properties of very small crystals of interesting materials. Experiments include electro-optic measurements of organic semiconductors and charge-density-wave materials using infrared diode lasers, thermal measurements (specific heat and thermal conductivity) using ac-calorimetry, and electromechanical measurements of charge-density-wave materials using RF techniques. The Condensed Matter Group is currently collaborating with the lab of UK chemistry Professor John Anthony to research organic semiconductors.
Thomas Janoski, professor of sociology and director of the Quantitative Initiative in the Policy and Social Science – Outstanding Graduate Mentoring Award
Janoski's interests include political economy and unemployment, citizenship and civil society, lean production and the sociology of work, the welfare state, volunteering and social policy, immigration and naturalization, complex organizations and industrial relations, and comparative and historical methodology. His current research has focused on the intersection of global and American political economy. In “Dominant Divisions of Labor: Models of Production that have Transformed the World of Work,” Janoski and Darina Lepadatu from Kennesaw State University assessed eight different models of global production that have largely replaced Taylorism (scientific management) and Fordism (mass production). His research interests also focus on immigration and naturalization in advanced industrialized countries.
Linda Worley, associate professor of German studies and director of graduate studies in modern & classical languages, literatures & cultures, with an association with gender and women’s studies ‒ Outstanding Graduate Mentoring Award
Much of Worley’s research focuses on 19th and 20th century women, pedagogy and travel literature. Her writings have addressed maximizing the development of teaching assistants through teacher-scholar projects and mentoring, gothic horror literature and fairy tales, and German women’s writings of 18th and 19th centuries. She has led efforts to re-envision the division’s graduate program in response to the challenges of dwindling employment opportunities. Her vision and collaboration with colleagues across the UK campus resulted in many students finishing a concurrent degree with other departments in and outside her college. She has also helped graduate students across the disciplines sharpen their career readiness.
The College of Arts and Sciences has also announced the recipients of this year’s college teaching awards. They are Renee Fatemi, physics and astronomy (Outstanding Teaching Award); Moisés Castillo, Hispanic studies (Outstanding Teaching Award); Charley Carlson, psychology (Outstanding Teaching Award); Anna Voskresensky, MCLLC (Outstanding Teaching Award), Michelle Sizemore, English (Teaching in Large Classes), and Ruth Brown, Hispanic studies (Innovative Teaching). For more information, visit http://uknow.uky.edu/content/announces-winning-teachers
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2015) — Faculty wishing to register for the 2015 Southeastern Conference Symposium, titled "Creativity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Driving a 21st Century Economy," may do so now at www.SECSymposium.com.
The SEC Symposium aims to address a significant scholarly issue by utilizing the range of disciplinary strengths of all SEC universities in a manner that expands opportunities for collaboration among SEC faculty and administrators. This event is also intended to display the research and innovation of SEC institutions for an audience of academicians, government officials and other stakeholders. Other objectives include annually drawing national attention and participation to the Southeast region.
The website provides instructions for registering, as well as a draft program schedule. Additional details regarding this third SEC event will be posted as they are finalized, and all interested individuals should check the website regularly for updated information.
SECU is the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. Through SECU, the conference sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its 14 member universities.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Geegan, (859) 257-5365; email@example.com
“Extension agents look for ways to help producers stay profitable and literally deliver the information they need right to their fingertips,” said Curtis Dame, the county’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.
Dame has found mobile apps are a great way to enhance and improve on-farm operations and readily shares his tech savviness with producers.
The information offered on mobile devices, like the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s SoilWeb app, is not something that’s necessarily new information for agents or producers. Much of it was available in the past but in other formats that made it hard to get information to a farmer in a timely, acceptable manner.
A member of a family farming operation himself, Dame began offering technology classes to farmers after noticing the technology divide between his grandfather and great-grandfather with other members of the family operation.
“I wanted to teach the older side of the farming population that this technology is readily accessible to them, and help producers learn how to operate these devices in a way that will give them a return on their investment,” he said.
While there was some initial hesitancy from producers to use the apps due to concerns about others being able to access personal information, Dame has helped farmers overcome that hurdle by teaching them how to change their phones’ privacy settings and reminding them that much of the information shared through apps is public knowledge. Dame’s programs are so popular he’s been asked by other UK personnel to present across the state. Beyond the workshop, he does one-on-one consultations with farmers in his county.
One of the farmers he’s worked closely with is Lee Herring. Herring runs a small farming operation with his father and brother in Hopkins County and, like Dame, has been using apps since they became available. He and Dame regularly compare notes about the efficiency and usefulness of various ones.
“I used an app today called FARMserver, which allowed me to come out and find a problem and tag it so my dad, my brother and my chemical agent could see it in real time,” Herring said.
Apps have also helped his family take some of the guesswork out of farming by providing them with hard data about their farm and a way of recording field data to share with his family and bankers.
Herring has also noticed the change in the clients he works with as a district sales manager for Beck’s Hybrids.
“It’s changed our sales calls tremendously with farmers giving you hard data about their operation,” he said.
In addition to helping farmers become more comfortable with using mobile technology, Dame is in the process of developing apps that he can use to quickly disseminate timely information to his growers, such as pending legislation and potential field problems during the growing season. He is in the process of working with UK agricultural engineer Sam McNeill to develop one to help farmers determine the cost effectiveness of going from one elevator to another.
While cell phone reception remains a barrier in some rural areas, it’s a great tool for farmers, who don’t have that obstacle, to add to their toolbox, Dame said.
“I would never tell a producer to totally rely on apps to store all of their important information,” he said. “It’s always a good risk management policy to have that information backed up somewhere else.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Katie Pratt, 859-257-8774.
Researchers at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging have been attempting to understand the cascade of events following mild head injury that may lead to an increased risk for developing a progressive degenerative brain disease, and their new study, which was published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, shows initial promise for a treatment that might interrupt the process that links the two conditions.
“By defining the cascade of events that occurs after a mild brain injury, we ultimately hope to discover ways to disrupt that process,” said Adam Bachstetter, Ph.D., of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. “Our goal is to uncover the biology that underlies the link between head injury and dementia, and in our latest research, we think we have found evidence that an altered inflammatory response from cells in the brain called glia may be at least part of the link.”
To explore the chain of events that link traumatic brain injury to increased risk for dementia, Bachstetter and co-author Scott Webster, Ph.D., of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, used a mouse that has been genetically altered to make a human protein called amyloid beta, which is a key player in Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also developed a surgical procedure to mimic the most common form of traumatic brain injury.
“We wanted to know if we could accelerate the onset of memory problems in these mice, similar to what is believed to occur in humans,” said Webster. “It gave us a way to ask the important mechanistic questions that might one day lead to a better treatment for head injury patients.”
Bachstetter and Webster used a small molecule drug known as MW151 which blocks overproduction of the molecules that cause inflammation in the brain following TBI. MW151 was developed by Linda Van Eldik, Ph.D,. director of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, and D. Martin Watterson, Ph.D., of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. The drug was given to the mice starting a week after a traumatic brain injury. After three weeks of treatment, mice that received MW151 no longer showed learning and memory problems, while the mice that didn’t receive the drug showed profound learning and memory problems.
“MW151 was able to rescue the memory impairments in mice even when treatment was started a week after the injury," said Webster. "The potential implications are compounded when you factor in that many people who suffer a mild brain injury don’t seek treatment right away.”
In addition to the human suffering caused by Alzheimer’s disease, there is an enormous strain on the health care system and families, consuming about $20 billion in direct costs alone. As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, that figure is expected to rise exponentially.
“As the signature injury of the Iraq and Afganistan wars, and with approximately 1.5 million people in the United States each year seeking medical treatment for a traumatic brain injury, the impact of earlier onset of dementia in such a large number of people is simply unthinkable, Van Eldik said. "Adam and Scott's work could have a large impact both socially and economically.”
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2015) — Shawn Flarida, National Reining Horse Association’s leading rider, all-time money earner and member of the NRHA Hall of Fame, will speak at the University of Kentucky Ag Equine Programs’ next Distinguished Industry Lecture Series at 6 p.m. EDT Monday, April 27 in the Gluck Equine Research Center’s auditorium on the UK campus.
Sponsored by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, the event is free and open to the public.
“We are excited to offer this opportunity to our students. It’s a real privilege to be able to learn from one of the most decorated reiners ever and a top-notch horseman to boot,” said Jill Stowe, director of UK Ag Equine Programs, part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Plus, we are excited to expand the breadth of the lecture series by hosting our first guest representing western riding disciplines.”
Flarida is the first-ever Five Million Dollar Rider. He has five NRHA open futurity championships to his name and has won the All-American Quarter Horse Congress futurity 11 times.
Additionally, he was an individual and team gold medal winner at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, riding for Team USA. In 2010, he was the high scoring rider in the World Equestrian Games team competition and led team USA to the gold medal.
“How I feel about this opportunity to showcase the sport of reining to our students and my fellow western horse enthusiast is beyond words,” said Bob Coleman, director of undergraduate studies in equine science and management and current Kentucky Quarter Horse Association president. “If you want to feel the hair on your neck rise, come and see what this world-class athlete has done and learn more about those folks who ride and slide. It will be worth every minute."
Flarida knew from a very early age what he wanted to do when he grew up. In 1988, he graduated from high school and went to work for his brother, Mike Flarida, who had an established and successful business as a reining trainer. In 1989, Flarida branched out on his own.
Notoriously superstitious — always showing in a green shirt — Flarida’s stated focus is on working hard at home and being the best horseman he can be. His official website can be found at http://www.thegreenshirt.com/.
“On behalf of the college, we welcome Mr. Flarida to a line of superstars who have given time to our program through this special lecture series,” said Dean Nancy Cox. “UK Ag Equine Programs is lucky to be located in the horse capital of the world, where both equestrian and equine luminaries come to show and race. The college is dedicated to this industry and appreciates the sponsorship of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute for making this event possible.”
The Distinguished Lecture Series began in the fall of 2009 and has become a signature event of UK Ag Equine Programs. It is designed to showcase important figures from the equine industry in an informal setting.
Previous series speakers included Keeneland’s Nick Nicholson, accomplished equestrienne Nina Bonnie, Keeneland’s Ted Bassett, Zenyatta owners Jerry and Ann Moss, Olympian Reed Kessler and a double header featuring both Thoroughbred trainer Graham Motion and three-day eventer Buck Davidson.
MEDIA CONTACT: Holly Wiemers, 859-257-2226.
Promotional video for "Hair" by UK Department of Theatre and Dance.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2015) — Don't miss the last four performances of the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance closing production, the popular Broadway musical "Hair," running through April 26, at the Guignol Theatre.
A rock musical, "Hair" follows the lives of politically active young people living the bohemian lifestyle in New York's East Village during the 1960s. Its cast of characters fights against the draft and Vietnam War, questions authority and advocates for freedom of expression. "Hair," written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, originally premiered off Broadway in the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1967, found its way to Broadway in April 1968, and won a Tony and Drama Desk Award in 2009. Family of Ragni will be in attendance at the April 25th performance.
"Hair" takes the Guignol stage 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 23-25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26. Tickets to "Hair" are $20 for general admission and $15 for UK students with a valid ID through the Singletary Center box office. To purchase tickets, contact the box office at 859-257-4929, visit online at www.scfatickets.com or purchase in person during operating hours.
The UK Department of Theatre and Dance at UK College of Fine Arts has played an active role in the performance scene in Central Kentucky for more than 100 years. Students in the program get hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship from the renowned professional theatre faculty. The liberal arts focus of their bachelor's degree program is coupled with ongoing career counseling to ensure a successful transition from campus to professional life.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2015) -- To date, a cure for Parkinson's disease (PD) remains elusive for the more than 50,000 Americans diagnosed yearly, despite decades of intensive study. But a newly approved treatment that might help ease the symptoms of Parkinson's has shown remarkable promise.
Dr. John Slevin, professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and vice chair of research at the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute, worked with a team of international investigators to explore the efficacy of continuous levodopa dosing using a specially developed gel called CLES (Duopa) that is delivered directly into the small intestine by a portable infusion pump.
"We were extremely pleased with the results," Slevin said. “Patients with advanced PD treated via this new method demonstrated marked improvement in symptom fluctuations with reduced dyskinesia.“
According to Slevin, CLES's effectiveness is due in part to the fact that it results in more stable plasma concentrations of levodopa by delivering it directly to the small intestine, which bypasses issues of erratic gastric emptying and absorption caused by reduced muscular function inherent to PD.
"CLES has the potential to address a significant unmet need in this patient population with limited therapeutic options," Slevin added.
Marion Cox knows this all too well. This 70-year old Georgetown farmer and former real estate developer has suffered from Parkinson's for 16 years.
"I could tell I was going the wrong way," Cox says as he described his decline in spite of frequent medication adjustments. Even with his medications, he began to "stagger around" and struggled to speak and swallow. He was frustrated that he couldn't spend more quality time with his two daughters and two granddaughters. So when Dr. Slevin mentioned the Duopa clinical trial, Marion leapt at the chance.
"I felt different right away," he says of his experience in the three-year clinical drug trial. Cox shares that he can get around better, get dressed more easily, be gone all day farming his 800 acres.
"I'm getting more done. I'm not as good as I once was (before I had Parkinson's) but I'm pretty darn well off," he adds.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease caused by the death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. While most people recognize a Parkinson's patient by their motor skill difficulties such as tremor, slowness and stiffness, the disease also gives rise to several non-motor types of symptoms such as sensory deficits, cognitive difficulties or sleep problems.
While doctors have a number of treatments available to help manage the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, the motor deficits that are the hallmarks of PD are also the nemesis of effective treatment, since the muscles that control digestion are also affected, making dosing -- both in terms of amount and timing -- challenging.
Compounding this challenge is the fact that medications lose effectiveness over time as cell death progresses. Although levodopa remains the “gold standard” to control motor deficits in the treatment of early stage PD, after four to six years of treatment with oral medications for Parkinson’s disease, about 40 percent of patients find those medications less effective overall, inconsistent in controlling muscle function, and accompanied by a bothersome side-effect called dyskinesia, or involuntary muscle movement. By nine years of treatment, about 90 percent will suffer these effects.
The FDA approved CLES in January 2015. Because the safety and efficacy of levodopa is already established, this treatment has the potential to be fast-tracked for widespread use within the next 4-6 months.
Results from the study were published in the current issue of the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. The article is available at http://iospress.metapress.com/content/04427r3701341251/fulltext.pdf.
The archived press conference can be viewed at: Www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpPlrzcEyCo
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2015) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader and University of Kentucky College of Law alumnus Mitch McConnell has been named to Time's 100 Most Influential People list and will be featured in the annual Time 100 issue available on newsstands April 27.
The list, now in its 12th year, recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.
McConnell joins Pope Francis, Hillary Clinton and others on the list. The list includes five categories: titans, pioneers, artists, leaders and icons. McConnell is dubbed "Master of the Senate" in the leaders category.
"He is often praised for his mastery of Senate rules, his crafty procedural maneuvers and his knowledge of the Senators in his caucus," wrote Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, author of the Time 100 tribute on McConnell. "He loves America and our Constitution."
David A. Brennen, dean of the UK College of Law, notes that “Senator McConnell has long been a great friend to our law school.” Brennen adds that “given his long list of legislative accomplishments, McConnell’s selection for inclusion on this distinguished list of leaders is well deserved and no surprise at all.”
McConnell graduated from the UK College of Law in 1967, where he was elected president of the Student Bar Association.
To read the full section on Mitch McConnell, visit http://time.com/3822824/mitch-mcconnell-2015-time-100/. To view the entire list, visit http://time.com/collection/2015-time-100/.
MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2015) — The Zeta Rho Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity at the University of Kentucky is hosting its second annual "Shake the Stress Fest" to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) from 4-6 p.m. today, Wednesday, April 22, on the main lawn of the Student Center.
Shake the Stress Fest is designed to give students a couple hours of fun during the most stressful time of the semester, while also educating them on stress and mental illness among college students. Events include a petting zoo, inflatable jousting, Pie-a-Chi and a dunk tank featuring various Greek leaders and other special guests. All proceeds will go toward the Kentucky NAMI foundation.
“Shake the Stress Fest is a fun way to give the university community a couple hours away from the stress of the end of a semester, but it also serves as an avenue to educate the community about mental illness, a topic that is often uncomfortable for students to discuss at this stage of their lives,” Kyndl Woodlee, UK Theta Chi's vice president of health and safety, said.
The chapter first introduced the Shake the Stress philanthropy event in 2014 to serve as an extension of Theta Chi’s Sacred Purpose Movement, which was launched in 2013 by the fraternity’s governing body to focus on the mental well-being of all its members.
“Our goal is to educate the community on the dangers and warning signs of mental illness, so that students know the tools and resources to give people they care about the opportunity to live the best lives they can,” Woodlee said.
For more information on the event or for donation information, contact Kyndl Woodlee or visit the NAMI website.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest nonprofit grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness. For more information, please visit nami.org.
The Zeta Rho Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity arrived at the University of Kentucky in 2011 and comprises of a diverse group of men who embrace brotherhood, academics, and living out national values such as extending “an assisting hand” for all who need it. For more information, visit www.kentuckythetachi.com.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2015) -- Brittany Shaver says she’s always been a hard worker. However, when she began her undergraduate study at the University of Kentucky as a biology major and then switched to chemistry, Shaver didn’t find fulfillment or results that matched her effort.
So at the end of her freshman year, Shaver tried to figure out her ideal major – what course of study would be just right for her.
“I thought, ‘If there was a Brittany major out there in the world, what would it be?’ One of the answers was German,” Shaver explained. “I always wanted to study German, but I first started the language at the University of Kentucky my sophomore year.”
While she says her path to studying German wasn’t clear or easy, Shaver’s interest in German language and culture dates back to her participation in exchange programs in high school. On two different occasions she spent weeks in Germany and at home with an international partner. “I was paired with girls my age who were German. We are really good friends, and I still talk to them and visit them when I go to Germany,” she said.
After discovering her “Brittany” major, Shaver demonstrated her work ethic by jumping into UK’s German program with both feet: she was nominated for the German Book Award by her German 102 teaching assistant, spent a summer abroad in Germany after just two semesters of introductory German and was awarded the Heidelberg Scholarship through UK’s Education Abroad for her senior year.
Shaver looks back on her summer abroad as an overwhelming, but beneficial experience. “It was a combination of German 201 and 202, and all 11 of us were paired with a host family. My Gastmutter (host mom) didn’t speak any English, so it was terrifying,” she said. “But I also think it was the best thing for me because it pushed me to speak German and work hard – it would have been easier if I was with someone who knew English.”
The Heidelberg Scholarship awards its winners with a monetary stipend and funds a year studying abroad at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, one of Germany’s premier universities.
Throughout these experiences, Shaver has been inspired and supported by faculty and teaching assistants in German Studies. In reflecting on her years in the program, she makes it clear that this encouragement was essential to her growth and success.
“I had great teaching assistants who really inspired me to be a great teacher myself. My faculty mentor Brenna Byrd believes in me, and having someone like that who will oversee you as a TA and support you as you’re learning to teach…that is really special to me,” she said. “My time in Heidelberg was a wonderful experience, but being selected showed the department believed in me and my German abilities.”
Byrd, who led the summer abroad that Shaver experienced, is unflinchingly supportive of Shaver. “She is industrious and excels in her classes, and yet she is at the same time humble and always collegial, which has won her the respect and admiration of her peers,” said Byrd. “She asks me to push her, and she is always open for corrective feedback. She is a fantastic role model for all students and language learners.”
This encouragement was also a key factor in Shaver’s decision to stay at UK to pursue a master’s degree after earning her bachelor’s. “I was trying to decide between Ohio State and the University of Kentucky. Ohio State was more focused on a doctoral program, and I thought I just had more options at UK. There were more majors I could mix together. I met with the director of graduate studies in the department, Linda Worley, and she helped me by explaining the idea of concurrent degrees,” she explained.
Now a master’s student, Shaver’s new major is a mixture of concurrent degrees – just like what she had in mind during the application process. She is actually earning two master’s degrees: one in the MATWL – a Master’s in the Teaching of World Languages, focusing on German – and the other in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).
Shaver decided to pursue the MATWL program once she realized it would certify her to be a teacher at the K-12 level. “I love working with kids. There’s something about being able to have a huge impact in a child’s life and shape them into the kind of person they want to be,” she said.
Most recently, her love of German has been rewarded with the Future K-12 German Teacher Award from the American Association of Teachers of German. This national award recognizes outstanding students who are pursuing careers teaching German at the K-12 level. Shaver was thankful and surprised to learn she was being recognized.
“The award means a lot to me…not only because it’s a national award and it’s amazing for me personally, but because it really speaks volumes about what we do here at the University of Kentucky,” she explained. “It’s just as much my award as the German program’s here in Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures.”
Looking forward, Shaver has her sights set on teaching middle school. “I would love to be a German and English as a Second Language teacher at the middle school level. I love the German language, culture and people, and I would love continuing to help people with learning different languages. With teaching languages you can really change someone’s life – kind of like what German did for me. I want to be able to impact someone like that as well.”
Professor and mentor Byrd says that, “whichever school Shaver ends up working for will feel lucky to have her.” As true as this seems, for now Shaver seems to feel lucky and appreciates the opportunities she’s had at the University of Kentucky.
“It’s great I won this award because it looks so good on the whole department,” she said. “I didn’t take German until my sophomore year and look at me now. I’m a reflection of what the department does – and a living, breathing example that you can learn German and go far if you have the desire to do it.”
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April, 2015) — With the goal of establishing and enhancing education abroad programming and learning about international higher education opportunities in China, the University of Kentucky Confucius Institute (UKCI) and Education Abroad have collaborated to support UK faculty members’ travel to institutions of higher education in China in May.
Founded in 2010, UKCI has devoted itself to sending UK students, faculty, high school students and Kentucky educators to China, said Huajing Maske, director of UKCI.
“This should have started a long time ago,” Maske said. “The Confucius Institute has been working as a bridge between UK and institutions of higher education in China to forge new partnerships. It’s really our goal to support the pursuit of teaching, studying and doing research in China.”
Anthony Ogden, executive director of Education Abroad and Exchanges, said the partnership with UKCI is an effort in part to respond to the federal government’s “100,000 Strong” initiative, announced by President Barack Obama in 2009, with the goal of increasing the number of American students studying in China.
According to Ogden, too few UK students study abroad in China through UK Education Abroad programs. In 2014, only about 30 students studied aboard in China but Ogden says the potential is much greater.
“Most UK departments don’t specifically endorse programs in China via their Major Advising Pages,” Ogden said. “So, our curriculum integration efforts with regard to programming in China will benefit greatly through this site visit.”
Seventy-eight percent of students who studied abroad in China from 2008 to 2014 did so through UK sponsored, faculty-directed programs, none of which studied abroad through exchange programs. Ogden said the site visit would be a great opportunity to consider other programs, including establishing bilateral exchange programs with institutions in China and working through UK’s partner institutions in China to provide intensive language programming, internships, and so on.
Through this partnership, 20 UK faculty members, representing 17 colleges, will be traveling to China. While in China, representatives will attend educational lectures, visit a range of established education abroad programs and participate in cultural activities in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai.
Sue Roberts, professor in the Department of Geography and representative of the College of Arts and Sciences, said this site visit would help her to learn more about opportunities in China so that she can in turn provide students in the College of Arts and Sciences with more opportunities to learn about a country that has been playing a significant role worldwide.
“China is a hugely significant country in its own right, and there are many reasons why U.S. students are very intrigued by China and want to learn more about this amazing country,” Roberts said. “So we see it as part of our mission to offer as many opportunities as we can for our students, to help them prepare themselves for success in an increasingly integrated world, and one in which China is playing an expanding role.”
Maske said the site visit would help UK be more competitive and appealing when recruiting prospective international students.
“It brings UK’s name and reputation out there together with other benchmark universities that are reputable for producing international-minded students,” Maske said. “It really brings UK up among those peers and gives UK a great competing edge with other institutions. I think that’s going to be a huge draw for prospective students and their families.”
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 21, 2015) – When University of Kentucky College of Education alumna Dixie Miller met Olivia — a tiny baby with a big hole in her heart — doctors doubted Olivia would live to have surgery. Miller had recently become certified to accept foster children when a friend told her about Olivia, who at the time lived with a family equipped to care for medically fragile children. But Miller wasn’t looking to adopt, at least not yet.
Still, she would hear from her friend, “You need to go see her, she’s your baby.”
Reluctantly, she went. At the foster family’s home, Olivia lay on the living room floor and as soon as Miller looked into her deep blue eyes, she was completely taken. Ten days later, Olivia was deemed strong enough for a life-saving heart surgery. Suddenly, Miller was thrust into a gut-wrenching situation with a baby who wasn’t legally hers, but with whom her heart was already intertwined with maternal feelings of love and care.
Surgery was successful and Olivia was determined to live, but her tiny body kept giving out. Alarms would sound, alerting teams of doctors and nurses to rush to the room of the coding baby. Eventually, she grew stronger. Miller was able to visit her in the hospital after Olivia was moved out of intensive care, but couldn’t stay overnight without legal custody. She would leave Olivia’s room at 11 p.m., knowing she wouldn’t see her again until after work the next day. Olivia was in the hospital for more than a month.
“I had to completely let go of my baby and just wait,” Miller recalled.
During the day Miller found distraction by focusing on her clients at work as a developmental interventionalist. She was an independent contractor for First Steps at that time, working with children with developmental delays. Since 2007, she has been with Visually Impaired Preschool Services — a nonprofit organization that provides educational and therapeutic services to young children of the Commonwealth. She works with infants and preschoolers with visual impairments caused by issues such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorders and prematurity.
“We’re getting involved with the family fresh after the child has been diagnosed,” Miller said.
“The parent is grieving the loss of the ‘typical child’ while facing getting services started. They are bombarded with learning about developmental milestones and trying to navigate the system and some families feel completely overwhelmed.”
With the help of specialists like Miller, parents begin to understand that despite a disability diagnosis, it is going to be OK. A new mom may be in tears during the first meetings with Miller, but cheering her child’s progress a few months later. The grief comes and goes, Miller says. A parent will come to a stage of acceptance, but may walk into a preschool and see other kids talking, walking, running – things that don’t come easily to his or her own child. And all the emotions come rushing back.
Miller says as families begin to take steps to get services, they often come together stronger as a unit and advocate for the child. It’s her role to help them get prepared for when the child enters the school system for kindergarten.
“It’s definitely a world you don’t want to enter, but when you’re there you learn to love it and capture small moments of what your child does,” Miller said. “It’s kind of like you’re in a secret society when you’re a parent of a kid with special needs, and until you are in it you don’t understand it.”
Miller counts herself lucky to be part of that society. Olivia was eventually discharged from the hospital and after a process involving meetings with social workers and hearings with a judge, the 9-month-old came home to Miller on Jan. 13, 2005 – commonly celebrated as “gotcha day” (official adoption did not happen until 2006).
Olivia, who has Down syndrome, recovered from heart surgery and is now a spunky and energetic 10-year-old. She is athletic and uses a healthy dose of stubbornness and determination to keep up with her peers. Her latest mission has been learning to ride a scooter like her cousins. Not being able to master it was driving Olivia nuts, her mother says. This past spring she finally got it. Now, she’s doing tricks.
“I love watching every milestone she’s hit,” Miller said. “Watching life through her eyes, it’s so much fun.”
Turning passion into a career
Miller, who graduated from Lafayette High School and has a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy, did not find her calling until a friend told her about developmental intervention and Kentucky’s First Steps program. She researched available schools and chose the UK College of Education Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling, where she completed a master’s in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE). She also has a teaching certificate from the University of Louisville as a teacher of the visually impaired.
“I was finally in a field where I knew it was something I was interested in and would walk away from the program being able to enjoy my career,” Miller said. “The professors are a strength of the program. The education college at UK is top-notch in the nation, they are right on it with research. And, they’re a family.”
Miller worked as a graduate assistant and got a first-hand glimpse at what professors do in addition to teaching courses. Her faculty mentors in the program included Jennifer Grisham-Brown, Lee Ann Jung, Katherine McCormick, and Charlotte Manno.
“They want to see good teachers being produced so they put their hearts into it,” Miller says.
“They have a love for children with special needs just as much as I do and they want to see those children being served, and so they are going to educate these students coming through to the best of their ability.”
Miller’s time as a student in the College of Education included many hours doing observations and working in the Early Childhood Lab, operated by the IECE program. The lab not only provides care and education for young children, but also serves as a teaching facility to train the next generation of early childhood professionals. It has existed at UK for nearly 80 years.
“I sent Olivia to the lab school at the age of 2 ½ to get the experience and top-notch education I knew it would provide for her,” Miller said. “As a professional, I have encouraged many of my families to tour the lab as a possible place to send their child for preschool.”
The lab recently moved from the basement of UK’s Erikson Hall to a freshly renovated building designed specifically for the needs of the program. The new space is allowed the lab to double in size, serving more than 100 children using best early childhood practices. The 10,000-square-foot, freestanding building is part of the former Lexington Theological Seminary campus, recently acquired by UK.
Miller’s involvement in the lab is starting to come full circle. In addition to her time spent there as a student and sending her daughter there, her professional work will soon be based in the lab. Her employer, Visually Impaired Preschool Services, is partnering with UK and will share the new space.
“The new facility will not only be accessible, but geared toward children with visual impairments,” Miller said. “This will also allow us to partner with the vision program at UK and help them provide hands-on experience with visually-impaired children from birth to 5. It will create an opportunity to help better serve our children throughout the entire state of Kentucky.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, email@example.com