Kentucky One of Six Jurisdictions to Receive $20 Million EPSCoR Grant

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 16:08

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 6, 2014) — Six jurisdictions have received Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 awards from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

The $20 million awards will bolster science and engineering academic research infrastructure in the U.S. Virgin Islands and five states: Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. Each five-year award will support fundamental research; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development in areas relevant to the jurisdictions' economic and other vital interests.

"These projects exemplify the national imperative to engage in cutting edge research, provide educational opportunities for future generations of scientists, stimulate the economy and create jobs," said Denise Barnes, head of NSF's EPSCoR program. "Additionally, these projects are impressive in their complexity, state-wide scope and integration of individual researchers, institutions and organizations as well as in their role in developing the diverse, well-prepared, STEM-enabled workforce necessary to sustain research competitiveness and economic growth."

Each award targets technologically relevant strategic themes. The research, education and outreach activities also consider economic and environmental factors related to the consequences of climate disruption. Several jurisdictions are tackling the scientific underpinnings of sustaining crop yields for agricultural production (Missouri, South Dakota and North Dakota); two jurisdictions are focusing on coastal ecological challenges (Maine and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Energy and sustainable materials with a focus on economic drivers and end-users are central themes for two jurisdictions (Kentucky and North Dakota).

A summary of each award is provided below in alphabetical order by jurisdiction.

Kentucky — University of Kentucky Research Foundation, PI: Rodney Andrews
Kentucky faces significant challenges as the energy economy transitions from traditional coal mining to renewable resources. Kentucky's RII award, "Powering the Kentucky Bioeconomy for a Sustainable Future," will focus on bio-inspired nanocomposite membranes, biomass feedstocks and electrochemical energy storage. The project will drive and accelerate the growth of the emerging bioeconomy within Kentucky through statewide multi-institutional interdisciplinary collaborations that incorporate elements of chemistry, biology, physics and engineering. Strong ties between academic research and industry will confront the Green Grand Challenge, help train students and create jobs for an increasingly larger and diverse science, technology, engineering and mathematics educated workforce. The project provides a STEM-based educational framework that will encourage meaningful participation of under-represented and minority student populations in the emerging knowledge-based economy.


Maine — University of Maine, PI: Michael Eckardt

Maine's coastal communities and ecosystems face increasing pressure due to climate disruption, sea-level variability, declining fish stocks, erosion of long standing traditions and shifts in socio-economic conditions. These concerns are shared by coastal communities throughout the world. Maine's RII award will explore critical benefits of coastal resources through establishing the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET). SEANET focuses on the interdependencies and sustainability of coastal ecosystem services, urbanization, commercial fisheries, aquaculture developments and coastal recreation in the context of social-economic demographics. This award is a multi-institutional, public-private partnership that uses Maine's 8,000 kilometer (4,971 mile) coastline as a living laboratory to study physical oceanography, biophysical, biogeochemical, socio-economic and policy interactions that have local, bioregional, national and global implications. Educational and outreach activities will focus on providing research and field-based experiences that engage underrepresented groups in SEANET. Workforce development activities will be integrated with the research, education and outreach components of the award to promote interest in sustainable marine resource careers. 


Missouri — University of Missouri-Columbia, PI: John C. Walker 

The increasing incidence and severity of drought has serious consequences for agricultural sustainability. Missouri's RII award, "The Missouri Transect: Climate, Plants and Community," focuses on improving the capacity of plants and crops to adapt to climate variability. The award integrates high-resolution climate data, high-throughput genomics and phenomics with stakeholder engagement. Studies of plant responses to drought will be coupled with seasonal-range climate forecasts, computational analysis and modeling of metascale environmental sensing data to improve agricultural resilience to the weather and climate-induced stressors that affect water availability, soil moisture and crop yields. The multi-institutional award includes researchers and students from universities across the state of Missouri. The new knowledge about adaptation and resilience will be translated into learning tools and opportunities that inform Missouri citizens about climate variability and its predicted impact on agriculture and natural resources.


North Dakota — North Dakota State University, PI: Philip Boudjouk 

Agriculture, energy and advanced manufacturing economies in North Dakota will be strengthened through research lead by "INnovative and Strategic Program Initiatives for Research and Education-North Dakota" (INSPIRE-ND). The award will focus on the effects of climate change on the nation's food and biofeedstocks and develop sustainable and economically viable materials. INSPIRE-ND participants will conduct fundamental and applied research on regional climate and sustainable materials sciences. Research activities are integrated with workforce development and STEM education. The award will enhance the scientific computing infrastructure in North Dakota. The multi-institutional award includes North Dakota's comprehensive research universities and undergraduate institutions, community colleges, tribal colleges and private industry partnerships. 


South Dakota — South Dakota State University, PI: James Rice 

The emerging knowledge economy in biosciences is the impetus for South Dakota's award, "Biochemical Spatiotemporal NeTwork Resource" (BioSNTR). BioSNTR will apply imaging and molecular biology to predict cell functions, signaling processes and growth-factors. BioSNTR's capacity to map biochemical molecular circuitry will advance the science and technology of high-yield crop production and cellular mechanisms that affect human and animal health. BioSNTR involves research universities, undergraduate institutions, tribal colleges and universities, independent research laboratories and businesses. This award will provide opportunities for students at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels to engage in research, workforce development and scientific innovation. BioSNTR's transdisciplinary, multi-institutional bioscience research and education activities will promote collaborations among South Dakota's universities, undergraduate institutions, tribal colleges and private research organizations. Training of students at all levels (K-12, undergraduate, graduate and postdocs) will create a strong and diversified STEM workforce to advance innovation in the state.

U.S. Virgin Islands — University of the Virgin Islands, PI: Henry Smith 

The U.S. Virgin Islands (VI) encompasses a group of small tropical islands located in the Caribbean Ocean, over 1,100 miles from the southeastern U.S. coastline. The Virgin Islands support an array of biodiverse ecosystems that are vulnerable to impacts from multiple environmental, weather, climate, social and economic perturbations. A key concern is the capacity for coral reefs to adapt to changing water quality. This award will develop, test and evaluate climate change mitigation strategies with a focus on coral reef ecosystems and the stewardship of natural resources. The VI Institute for STEM Education Research and Practice will develop best practices to meet formal and informal education needs relevant for developing workforce capacity in the territory and beyond.

About EPSCoR
EPSCoR is a program designed to fulfill NSF's mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide. Twenty-eight states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam are currently eligible to participate in elements of the program. Through this program, NSF establishes regional partnerships with government, higher education and industry that effect lasting improvements in a state's or territory's research infrastructure and research and development capacity, and hence, its academic competitiveness.

UPK Book Named Best Civil War-Era Re-issue

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 14:41

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 6, 2014) — The Military Order of the Star and Bars recently announced the winners of their annual literary awards. Among the recipients was University Press of Kentucky’s new book “Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War,” by Judith Brockenbrough McGuire, edited by James I. Robertson Jr. The publication was named the winner of the General Basil W. Duke Literary Award, which is given “to encourage the re-issuance of out-of-print books that accurately present history of the War for Southern Independence.”


Initially appearing in 1867, “Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War” was among the first of such works published after the Civil War. Although it is one of the most-quoted memoirs by a Confederate woman, Robertson’s edition is the first to present vital details not given in the original text. His meticulous annotations furnish references for poems and quotations, supply the names of individuals whom McGuire identifies by their initials alone, and provide an in-depth account of McGuire’s extraordinary life.


Throughout the war years, McGuire made poignant entries in her diary. She wrote incisive commentaries on society, ruminated on past glories, and detailed her hardships. Her entries are a highly personal and revealing mixture of family activities, military reports and rumors, conditions behind the battle lines, and her observations on life, faith and the future. In providing illuminating background and references that significantly enhance the text, Robertson’s edition adds considerably to our understanding of this important work and, by extension, the war itself.


This announcement marks the fourth time UPK has won the Duke Literary Award. UPK’s other titles to win the award are “Johnny Green of the Orphan Brigade: The Journal of a Confederate Soldier,” edited by Kent Masterson Brown, in 2002; “Josie Underwood’s Civil War Diary,” edited by Nancy Disher Baird, in 2009; and “One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry,” edited by Kent Masterson Brown in 2010.


James I. Robertson Jr., Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Virginia Tech, is the author or editor of numerous books, including "Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend."


The Military Order of the Stars and Bars is a patriotic fraternal society, founded by Confederate veterans to “perpetuate the idealism that animated the Confederate Cause and to honor the courage, devotion and endurance of those who dedicated their lives and services during four years of devastating war.”


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



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

College of Education Professor Lives NASCAR Dream

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 13:43

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2014) — Last January, a sports writer contacted Molly Fisher, assistant professor of mathematics education in the University of Kentucky College of Education's Department of STEM Education, with questions about a NASCAR piece he was writing. That conversation resulted in the opportunity of a lifetime for Fisher.


Fisher has taught workshops for teachers in North Carolina and Kentucky that share strategies for bringing the NASCAR sport into middle and secondary mathematics classes. Matt Crossman, writing for the sports news website Sports on Earth, wanted to get Fisher's thoughts on a "flawed" NASCAR point system, as he was interested in writing an article with alternate point systems.


"He was consulting with four math-minded professionals who had an interest in the sport," Fisher said. "So, I helped out with my thoughts and the article went out on Although he incorrectly stated the Fibonacci Sequence in my section, I still thought it was very impressive that I was able to get Fibonacci discussed in an article about NASCAR!"


The article can be read at!ba9fw4.  


Carl Edwards, one of the most popular drivers in the sport, read the article and liked Fisher's thoughts.


"He personally called me to chat with me about my comments and invited me to come out and join him for a race this season," Fisher said. "He ended up giving me two of his personal pit passes that he only uses for friends and family so I could attend the Quaker State 400 race in Sparta, Kentucky on June 28.  I was able to meet him and watch a NASCAR race from a perspective that many fans only dream of!"

Updates Made to UK Libraries Website Reflect Users Needs

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 13:35

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2014) — The University of Kentucky Libraries recently updated its website. Utilizing research gathered from patrons on wants and needs, UK Libraries developed an updated version of the site to answers user concerns.


“The research process has been challenging but it has definitely inspired us to dig deeper into some of the important concerns, which we have had,” said Edward Brown, director of web development.


The surveys UK Libraries conducted in the fall of 2013 gave them a lot of important feedback from patrons in both ratings and long-form comments. UK Libraries learned that some patrons found the website to be “cluttered” and “busy” and that it was hard to navigate. They also learned that some critical information, such as library hours, was hard to find for some patrons. Using the feedback in the fall 2013 surveys, a study was planned and carried out in the spring semester of 2014.


The user study in spring 2014 concentrated on learning more about how UK Libraries patrons organize information, as well as the patrons’ wants and needs from the website. Participants completed a card-sorting task, which let UK Libraries know what things are most important to them on the site and how they group that information. Users also drew their ideal UK Libraries webpage, while also giving feedback on the old site and some proposed mock-ups that UK Libraries created based on preliminary findings.


“We are still processing all of the data that we gathered but our preliminary findings have given us the directions for the changes which we have recently released. Using their feedback, and the feedback of UK Libraries personnel, we made tweaks and then tested the designs again to make sure we were going in the right direction,” Brown said.


UK Libraries worked hard to make the site less cluttered and removed some of the elements that were problematic for patrons, while placing other important elements in more visible places. Improvements to the site include the most needed information available in the header of the page, including hours of service and the "My Library Account login," and an organized footer with contact information and other resources for patrons.


In addition, the site includes the selected databases drop down menu in a more prominent spot, a bigger search box with better placement, a contact page of the needed information for all UK Libraries departments, a revised “Get Help” page, and the addition of hours of service for the William T. Young Library to the UK Libraries homepage. UK Libraries plans to list hours for all of the campus libraries available on the homepage as well.


The UK Libraries continually works to improve the website and is always looking for feedback and research volunteers. To give feedback or volunteer, contact Edward Brown by using this page:




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

White Coats Represent New Beginning for UK College of Medicine Class of 2018

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 17:46

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2014)  – Prior to medical school, members of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Class of 2018 were chemists, Americorp volunteers, engineers, waiters, musicians, class leaders and archeologists. But the moment they were coated at the Singletary Center of the Arts on Aug. 1, the 136 students were all dedicated to becoming doctors.


Members of a diverse and highly accomplished incoming class of medical students were presented with their white coat, a universal symbol of compassion and humanism in medicine, during the White Coat Ceremony. Dr. Frederick C. de Beer, dean and vice president for clinical academic affairs, delivered a keynote address about the current challenges in the medical profession. After being "coated" by a UK faculty member, the group recited the Pledge of Professionalism with Dr. Chipper Griffith, senior associate dean for medical education.


The incoming class represents 22 states and 15 countries, with 92 students hailing from Kentucky and 43 students holding degrees from the University of Kentucky. The students' cumulative GPA was 3.70 and most had received an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. Ten students in the class are participating in the Rural Physician Leadership Program. The students were selected from 2,347 applicants and more than 400 interviewees vying for seats in the Class of 2018.


The White Coat Ceremony is supported by the UK Medical Alumni Association.


MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,; (859) 940-8104


OPSVAW Supports Five Students

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 17:39

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2014) — The Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women (OPSVAW) in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences recently announced that it will support the largest number of graduate and professional students within its relatively short history.  One of the top priorities of the OPSVAW is the support of students, and the 2014-2015 academic year will see the program support five individuals through graduate fellowships and research assistantships.


“It is an extraordinary opportunity to advance the careers of these young scholars while also teaching them that there are real women behind the work that they do,” said Carol Jordan executive director of OPSVAW. “I believe we help give real purpose and inspiration to their academic careers while they also contribute to the field with their energy and maturing expertise.”


Among the students being supported during the 2014/2015 academic year are two doctoral students in the Department of Psychology, one doctoral student in the Department of Political Science, and two professional students from the College of Law.  Specifically:


  • Kathleen (Katie) Clark from the College of Law is receiving an OPSVAW Graduate Fellowship to support her work focusing on the negative effects of violence against women and the influences of effective policy adoption on an international scale. Some of her most recent work examines how sexual violence during armed conflict/war contributes to negative political outcomes on post-civil conflict society.
  • Molly Coffey, also from the College of Law, is serving as a research assistant to the executive director of the Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women. She will be working with Jordan to conduct legal research to advance the office's legislative reform projects related to civil protective orders for domestic violence, rape and stalking victims.
  • Dakota Thomas from the Department of Political Science will receive an OPSVAW Research Assistantship to support his work on a project led by two department faculty, Assistant Professor Tiffany Barnes and Assistant Professor Abby Córdova. The project, which will be based in El Salvador, is titled “Dangerous Place and State Action: Does Violence Against Women Legislation Motivate Women to Participate in Civic and Political Activities?”  


It was reported earlier that two additional students Jennifer (Jenna) Jewell and Kellie Lynch, both from the Department of Psychology, will receive Mary Byron Fellowships. Jewell for dissertation research on the victimization experiences of adolescents who are gender atypical. Lynch for research in understanding perceptions of rape and victim blaming.




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

Acoustikats to Perform at Graceland’s 'Elvis Week'

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 17:06

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2014) — The University of Kentucky's all male a cappella group, the Acoustikats, are hoping audiences will be "All Shook Up" as they rock Graceland’s annual “Elvis Week” held Aug. 9-17, in Memphis, Tennessee.


The group will perform two different 60-minute shows of tunes by "The King" along with four more of America’s top scholastic a cappella groups: University of Florida’s All-Night Yahtzee, The James Madison University Bluestones, the Vanderbilt Melodores and Briarcrest OneVoice. A total of four performances (two performances of each show) are scheduled between Aug. 14-16.


The Acoustikats perform "Timber" (by Pitbull and Ke$ha) with Emoni Wilkins and UK Dance Team. A transcript of this video can be found here.


Taking the stage during "Elvis Week" are esteemed members of the ensemble, including several who appeared on NBC's "The Sing-Off" last December. Current UK students and alumni set to perform are: Patrick Banks, Peter Gibbons, Nick Johnson, Jordan Lindsey, Banks Mattingly, Charlie McManus, Andrew Miller, Mike Owens, Jacob Powell, Evan Jennings Pulliam and Ron Wilbur.


The acoUstiKats were founded in 1993 during Director of UK Choral Activities Jefferson Johnson's first semester at UK School of Music in the UK College of Fine Arts. As a subsection of the nationally renowned UK Men’s Chorus, this 12-member group serves to promote and encourage male singing of all ages.


For tickets to concerts featuring the Acoustikats at "Elvis Week," visit Graceland’s website at For more information on the Kats, music lovers can find the group online on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.  




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

UK Faculty Members Conduct College Teaching Workshops in Qingdao Technological University

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 14:20

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2014) — Assistant Professor Brandi Frisbi and Associate Professor Kevin Real, from the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information, and Katherine Rogers-Carpenter, lecturer in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digitial Studies at the UK College of Arts and Sciences,  led a series of college teacher training workshops at Qingdao Technological University in China from July 14 through Aug. 1, 2014.


The three-week workshops were collaboratively designed to improve English and teaching skills for campus-wide faculty members at Qingdao Tech and attracted the participation of more than 25 faculty members representing several disciplines (e.g., architecture, landscape design, pollution control, energy, literature, civil engineering). Real taught a course on the college curriculum; Carpenter-Rogers focused on writing and reading in her class; and Frisby offered her course on speaking and listening.


During the three week courses, Qingdao Tech faculty members and the three UK professors participated in cultural exchange discussions and lessons, which culminated in teaching simulations, research presentations, and disciplinary writing opportunities. All workshop participants took part in weekly roundtable discussions on how to apply these integrated approaches in Chinese college classrooms.


Additionally, the hosting university took Real, Rogers-Carpenter, and Frisby on tours of the city including the world’s longest bridge over water, Lao Shan, Tai Shan, numerous historical temples and churches, and the birthplace of Confucius.


The workshops were organized and coordinated by Sunny Yujie Sun, the Dean of the International College of Qingdao Tech, and Zixue Tai, a professor at UK’s College of Communication and Information.




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

Gatton Offering Business Administration Certificates

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 11:06

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2014) — If you're looking for a way to acquire the basics of a business degree without the time commitment a degree requires, or if you're interested in exploring whether an advanced MBA degree is right for you before committing to it, the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics may have just the answer for you. Sign up for the Certificate in Business Administration (CBA) Series 1 & 2, offered through the college's Don and Cathy Jacobs Executive Education Center (EEC).


Distinguished faculty and guest speakers from the Gatton College lead the program, with 10 weekly sessions this fall and another 10 sessions in the spring of 2015. The lively instructional environment will be complemented by opportunities for hands-on experience with each three-hour class focusing on a different vital topic.


Series 1 will be held Thursdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. from Sept. 11 through Nov. 13 at the Boone Center, located in the heart of the UK campus in Lexington. Series 2 runs from March 19 through May 21, also on Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Lighted, free parking is provided on site for program registrants. The cost is $1,020 for each series, or $1,800 for individuals registering for both Series 1 and 2. Groups of three or more people from an organization are eligible for a special discounted rate.


The fee also will be discounted for UK faculty, staff, and students. Interested UK personnel must contact the EEC to receive a special promo code for the UK discount before registering online.


Fees include instruction, all materials, and refreshments at each session, in addition to parking. Individuals who attend all of the sessions will earn 27.5 course hours of continuing education credit and a certificate of completion.


"The Certificate in Business Adminstration Series 1 & 2 is designed to provide an understanding of business terms, practices, and tools to enable people to make better informed business decisions," said Joe Labianca, Gatton Endowed Chair in Management and director of the Don and Cathy Jacobs Executive Education Center and the Executive MBA Program. "The CBA program is open to all interested persons who want to energize their careers and broaden their horizons."


Topics in Series 1 include:

·         Organizational Design and Environment

·         Individual Behavior in Organizations

·         Essentials of HR Management

·         Economics in the Workplace

·         Strategic Management

·         Accounting Measurement and Reporting

·         Business Law

·         Lean Supply Chain Management

·         Financial Decision Making

·         Essentials of Marketing


Topics in Series 2 include:

·         Teams & Creativity

·         Power, Conflict and Negotiation in Organizations

·         Emotion & Emotional Intelligence

·         Learning to Lead

·         Risk Management and Organizational Control

·         Decision Making

·         Leading Group Negotiations

·         The Service Focused Business

·         Strategic Talent Management

·         Entrepreneurship & Writing a Business Plan


To register or for more information, go to, call 1-800-284-6407, or email Connie Blakemore at




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



UK Student Organizations Announce Statewide Media Partnership to Produce Proposed Senatorial Debate

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 10:28

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 1, 2014) — Four University of Kentucky student organizations announced a statewide media partnership with Lexington, Kentucky, television station WKYT-TV and seven of their sister stations in efforts to host a debate with Kentucky’s candidates for U.S. Senate. The partnership will allow a debate hosted in the heart of the Commonwealth to air in nearly 100 percent of the state via eight TV regional stations.


The partnership complements a joint proposal submitted by Student Activities Board and UK Student Government to host a student-produced debate in September that would be hosted by the Federalist Society, the American Constitution Society, SAB and SGA. Proposals were submitted to incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell and Kentucky’s current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes May 9.


"The UK College of Law American Constitution Society Student Chapter would be honored to co-sponsor a debate between Senator McConnell and Secretary Grimes," Chris K. Stewart, ACS co-president, said. "Facilitating this important conversation only furthers our mission to promote the vitality of our nation's Constitution and the fundamental values it expresses. As Kentucky's flagship university, UK is the ideal setting for one of the biggest moments of this critically important Senate race."


"A college campus is an incubator for informed discourse on countless topics," UK President Eli Capilouto said. "We are a place where the free exchange of ideas should flourish. A shared dialogue where students, faculty and staff can discuss the questions of our day. I am proud of what these UK student leaders are doing to foster this quality learning environment, and I'm proud to support them in their endeavor to bring a senatorial debate to the UK campus."


The event, which would be held at the University of Kentucky, would educate Kentuckians on contemporary issues and each candidate’s platform while engaging young people in the election, which has earned considerable national attention.


“We are eager to hear Sen. McConnell and Secretary Grimes engage in an informative and constructive dialogue at the University of Kentucky,” said Jacob Ewing, SAB president. “Our university is representative of all 120 counties in our Commonwealth, and our partnership with WKYT will bring this debate to an even more diverse population of Kentuckians.”


In addition to WKYT-TV, the following stations would air the debate: WLKY-TV in Louisville; WLWT-TV in northern Kentucky; WYMT-TV in Hazard; WSAZ-TV in Charleston-Huntington, W. Va., covering eastern and northeastern Kentucky, including the city of Ashland; WBKO-TV in Bowling Green; WPSD-TV in Paducah; and WFIE-TV in Evansville, Ill., covering midwestern Kentucky, including the city of Owensboro.


"We’re pleased that television stations throughout the state are banding together to offer to air what we believe would be a debate of enormous importance to all citizens of the Commonwealth," Chris Mossman, general manager of WKYT, said. "We have eastern Kentucky covered with WYMT and WSAZ. Hearst’s WLWT, based in Cincinnati, is a market leader in northern Kentucky. CBS affiliates WLKY and WKYT are the most viewed stations in Louisville and Lexington respectively. Western Kentucky will be well served with WPSD in Paducah, WFIE in Evansville and Bowling Green’s WBKO ready to provide coverage."


The event would follow the Lincoln-Douglas debate style and would be held in UK’s Singletary Center for the Arts.


“We are excited for the possibility of hosting such an important civic engagement opportunity on campus,” said Jake Ingram, SGA president. “It is my hope that the candidates recognize what a unique opportunity it is for them to engage young voters from across the Commonwealth here at Kentucky's flagship, land-grant university."


"The Federalist Society is committed to fostering debate among competing legal philosophies in universities and the legal profession," Aubrey Vaughan, president of UK College of Law's Federalist Society, said. "Hosting Sen. McConnell and Secretary Grimes, both attorneys themselves, would highlight two contrasting legal views of how the government should best function to uphold the Constitution. This debate would be of great interest to all Kentuckians."


The official hashtag of the debate efforts at the University of Kentucky is #UKYSenDebate.




The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities.



The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy promotes the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values it expresses: individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, access to justice, democracy and the rule of law. These abiding principles are reflected in the vision of the Constitution’s framers and the wisdom of forward-looking leaders who have shaped our law throughout American history. As a result of their efforts, the Constitution has retained its authority and relevance for each new generation.



The Student Activities Board and Student Government Association are two of the university’s largest student organizations. Both organizations are committed to enriching students’ lives through advocacy, education and enriching experiences. SAB regularly produces large-scale events, including recent lectures from journalist Anderson Cooper and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


SAB brings more than 100 entertaining, educational and enriching programs that are reflective of contemporary issues and trends to the University of Kentucky annually. These programs are designed to enhance the college experience for students, faculty, staff and the greater Lexington community.


Connect with SAB at, follow them on Twitter at or like them on Facebook at For more information about SAB and events, email


SGA is the official student government of the University of Kentucky and represents all undergraduate, graduate and professional students. SGA serves to increase student influence over academic policy; provide necessary student services; to protect and expand student substantive and procedural rights; and better represent the student body in relations with the faculty, administration, Board of Trustees and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


Connect with SGA at, follow them on Twitter at or like them on Facebook at For more information about SGA, email


Small Gifts from the Cathy Coop Fund are Big Blessings for Women Battling Ovarian Cancer

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 10:24

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2014) — Seated behind curtains at a chemotherapy chair, Nellie Smith cross-stitches a pattern to pass the hours at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. She reads the numbers from a platelet count report as a nurse checks her blood pressure. Known as a "talker" by the clinic's staff, Smith chuckles as she admits to confusing the names of her dogs and her children.


Chemotherapy treatments have fought back Smith's peritoneal cancer for three years, but the 51-year-old thinks laughter is the better medicine. She prays that this session will be the one that takes her into remission.


"I told the doctor, I'm not a jug of milk," Smith said. "I don't expire and I don't have a shelf life."


Smith's cancer diagnosis was an added hardship for an Ashland, Kentucky, family already overburdened with health and financial troubles. Smith is the caretaker for her husband Patrick, who suffers from complications caused by diabetes. With fatigue from chemotherapy and aching legs, Smith has struggled for two years getting her husband in and out of their home.


After receiving a chemotherapy treatment this summer, clinical technician Kayla Conley at the UK Gynecological (GYN) Oncology Clinic handed Smith an envelope and told her about a woman named Cathy Coop. Coop, who passed away in January, was diagnosed with the same rare form of peritoneal ovarian cancer as Smith. When Smith opened the envelope on her way home, she found $1,000 inside.


"I was in shock for a little bit," Smith said of receiving the gift from the Cathy Wolterman Coop Patient and Family Support Fund.


Smith used the money to build a ramp for her house. She also bought groceries and replaced a section of her floors that were damaged by a water leak. 


"It's taken a lot of the load off of us," Smith said of the gift. "It came right in time — it was a true blessing for us."


During her four-year battle with cancer, Cathy Wolterman Coop was concerned for other women in the GYN Oncology Clinic who didn't have financial security or insurance benefits during cancer treatment. The Cathy Wolterman Coop Patient and Family Support Fund helps patients pay for transportation, groceries, bills and other necessities while receiving treatment for ovarian cancer. Gifts are given at the discretion of staff members at the GYN Oncology Clinic in set amounts for a specific, expressed need.


Coop, an active baseball and Pep Club mom and former respiratory therapist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital who lived in Lexington, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2010. Coop's family said she showed incredible determination during her fight with late-stage peritoneal cancer. As she was receiving chemotherapy treatments, Coop thought many of her fellow patients, who were financially stressed and traveling long distances for treatment, had it worse than she did. Her husband Brent Coop said his late wife, who grew up in a family full of medical professionals, was the first person on her feet to respond to the needs of others.


"Cathy was all about helping out other people," Brent Coop said. "She ran into some people at the hospital. She always thought that it was tougher on other people's families, and she could see it first-hand."


In December 2013, as Coop was nearing the end of her life, the family coordinated a memorial fund, which was presented as a surprise to Coop on her birthday. Coop's sister Karen Van Zile said Coop insisted that 100 percent of the funds go directly to cancer patients in the GYN Oncology Clinic. Funds were raised before and after Coop's death in lieu of flowers for the family. She passed away at the age of 54 in early January.


"She had a spirit — she was strong-willed with a generous heart," Van Zile said.


Ovarian cancer patient Delora Wolf drives 100 miles from her home in Girdler, Kentucky, for chemo treatments at UK. Initially diagnosed 13 years ago, Wolf said her relapse with cancer has impacted her family's financial situation. She recently drove to a chemotherapy appointment with wires poking through her tires because she couldn't afford to have them replaced. She received $300 from the Cathy Coop fund to purchase a set of tires that would allow her to safely drive to treatments.  


"I just feel like God has a way of working things out for people," Wolf said. "And I feel like God sent a blessing to me from an angel, and that angel was Cathy."   


Wolf also received a wig from the clinic that belonged to Coop. She was feeling uncomfortable wearing wigs until the clinic staff presented her with Coop's former wig. Even though she never knew Coop, Wolf senses a connection to her by wearing it.


"Now that I know she had it too, it makes it special," Wolf said. "It's kind of like a bond."


Brent Coop hopes the memorial fund will continue to grow and provide small gestures of kindness to more women at the clinic. He said his wife would be pleased and humbled to know how her fund is making a difference in the lives of patients.


"It's exactly what she would have wanted," Brent Coop said. "She is going to be around a long time. She was a person you always knew was in the room — she laughed a lot at other people's jokes; she was larger than life when she was around. Now that she's gone, it's pretty fitting that she's still around."


Contributions can be made to the Cathy Wolterman Coop Patient and Family Support Fund by mail to The Markey Cancer Center, 800 Rose Street, CC160, 40536-0093. Donations are also accepted online at Click on "donate now" and indicate the contribution is a gift to the Cathy Coop Fund in the comments section. 

Harwood is First Editor of New Academic Journal

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 08:14

LEXNGTON, Ky. (Aug. 1, 2014) — An entomologist at the University of Kentucky has been named the editor-in-chief of a new academic publication that focuses on species interactions in nature and the structure of ecosystems.


James Harwood, associate professor of entomology, will be the first editor of the peer-reviewed journal Food Webs, published by Elsevier.


“In the past 40 years, there has been a rapid proliferation in the number of articles published across many different academic journals focusing on various aspects of food web biology, but no publication has solely focused on this discipline,” said Harwood, of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “This publication will create a forum for researchers working in food web biology to publish their work in one place instead of their articles being dispersed in several different journals.”


At the request of the publisher, Harwood established an editorial board made up of leading food web biologists from around the world.


“It’s important that we better understand food web structure in biological systems and  assess the influence that organisms have on one another,” he said. “This type of research spans all fields of organismal biology and includes everything from agriculture to fisheries, from organisms in the Arctic tundra to the Amazon River rainforest.”


The first issue of the journal is scheduled to come out later this year and will be published at least six times per year. Food Webs will be available at


Elsevier is a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. It publishes nearly 2,200 journals including Cell and The Lancet.

WUKY’s ‘UK Perspectives’ Previews UK Opera Theatre Season

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 15:17

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 1, 2014) — WUKY's "UK Perspectives" focuses on the people and programs of the University of Kentucky and is hosted by WUKY General Manager Tom Godell. Today's show offers a preview of the 2014-15 UK Opera Theatre season with Director Everett McCorvey.and musicologist Diana Hallman.


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


"UK Perspectives" airs at 8:35 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. each Friday on WUKY 91.3, UK's NPR station.


Exhibit Opens New Chapter on Art of Bookmaking at UK

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 14:01

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 1, 2014) — A current exhibition at University of Kentucky Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center couldn't be a more natural fit for a library dedicated to the arts as it showcases the art of bookmaking through the talents of seven UK visual artists. "Pages: An Exhibition of Artist Books," featuring work developed as part of a four-week class as well as recent library acquisitions, is on display through August. The show is free and open to the public during library operating hours.


After a break of approximately seven years, bookmaking returned to the course schedule this summer at UK School of Art and Visual Studies. Led by Robert Dickes, an art studio lecturer and local photographer, students learned the elements needed to construct an artist book including various techniques of bookbinding.


"My hope for this class was that students learned about the artist book and how they can creatively make art work in book form," Dickes said.


As part of the Dickes' class, students got the opportunity to view and handle Little Library's Artists’ Books Collection as a resource for their own creations. The collection includes more than 100 books.


In addition to working with the collection, Meg Shaw, head of Little Library, participated in a final critique of the student work.


After reviewing the work firsthand, Shaw invited the class to exhibit this summer at the library. "I was impressed with the level of skill that students attained, and with how much they absorbed from viewing the collection at the Little Library.”


Artist books featured in "Pages" were created as part of several class assignments over the first summer session. Student artists with work featured in the show are:

· post-baccalaureate student and local multi-media artist Lucinda Chapman, of Lexington;

· psychology and theatre senior Julie Edwards, of Lexington;

· art studio junior Mackenzie Haag, of Lexington;

· Donovan Scholar and local printmaker Cristina Igelmo, from Lexington;

· art studio senior Olivia Lasheen, of Lexington; and

· Donovan Scholar and local photographer Marshall Smith, of Stamping Ground, Kentucky.


The exhibit also features work by Dickes and recent acquisitions purchased with funds from the Donovan Trust, a trust set up in the will of former UK President Herman Lee Donovan used to "promote an atmosphere of culture, refinement and gentility" and to enrich educational opportunities "with an appreciation of the qualities of beauty and loveliness."


With the success of the course and student work, Dickes believes this likely will not be the last chapter in bookmaking at UK. "Students really enjoyed the class," he said. "They have asked the School of Art and Visual Studies to start teaching the class on a regular basis during the regular school year."


The UK School of Art and Visual Studies, at the UK College of Fine Arts, 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.


The Little Fine Arts Library, part of UK Libraries, houses collections and services for art, arts administration, music and theatre and is the home of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music.



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

Keeping UK Affordable is First Priority

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 22:05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 31, 2014) — In University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto's blog, he explains how UK works hard to remain an affordable higher education choice for Kentuckians and why this is an important priority to him:


An issue in the news of late — both nationally and in our Commonwealth — has been the understandable concerns of parents and students across the country about the cost of higher education.


It’s a critically important issue. A college degree remains the single best indicator of future economic success as someone with a bachelor’s degree will, on average, earn close to a million dollars more over the course of a lifetime than someone without that credential. If that degree is out of reach economically for more and more families, it means that we are leaving behind too many children who can do the work and contribute greatly to our campuses and our world.


We all lose when that happens. At the same time, UK and public universities throughout the country have faced significant reductions in state funding resulting from the national recession. Many states, fortunately, are beginning to reverse that trend. But for our university, state appropriations have been cut by some $55 million on a recurring basis since 2008.


At the University of Kentucky, we have a few simple principles that inform how we address this complex issue:


First, Kentuckians come first. If a Kentuckian meets our academic standards and criteria, we want them at the University of Kentucky. The vast majority of our enrollment time, energy and resources go toward recruiting Kentuckians.


We also believe that a more diverse student body — diverse in all its forms, including recruiting students from outside our state — helps create a more comprehensive and deep educational experience. So, we’re growing our enrollment — both as an educational and financial imperative — to achieve the right balance of students, one that honors our commitment to Kentucky and to creating a diverse student body.


Second, we are devoting more resources toward scholarships and financial aid to help students — particularly Kentucky students — attend college without huge debt burdens. Consider the fact that last fall, more than 85 percent of UK undergraduates from Kentucky received scholarships or financial aid they did not have to repay. On average, the out-of-pocket expense for tuition in Fall 2012 for resident students was about $1,200.


About half of UK students graduate with debt; about half do not. Of those who do, the average debt is less than $25,000 — below the national average.


Third, we’re working hard to lower the rate of tuition increases to moderate levels to keep higher education affordable. In 2006, the four-year average increase for tuition was 13 percent. As of next year, the four-year average will be less than 5 percent.


Moreover, we are looking at the full range of student costs to try to ensure access and affordability. This fall, because of a new dining partnership with Aramark, we will lower the cost of every dining plan, while at the same time providing more options, more convenience and healthier food choices. We also will begin investing some $70 million — through our partnership — in new facilities that will create more options and also provide more support for student services and learning.


All of that is part of a comprehensive approach to creating sophisticated, but welcoming, living and learning communities that provide the best possible educational experience for our students. Again, utilizing a partnership with a national leader, we’re investing up to $500 million in private equity to building thousands of new residence hall rooms and learning spaces throughout the campus. With EdR's investment, we are able to create modern living-learning communities without expending state funds or tuition dollars. 


In short, our most important principle is to place students first in everything that we do. That includes working to keep costs down, while providing a robust and high-quality educational experience for all of our students — particularly those from our Commonwealth who represent our state’s best hope for a bright future.


That’s a job without end — one that is our first and most important priority. 


But I’m proud of what we are doing at UK to transform our campus to make it even better and more affordable to more students across our state and region.


See blue.


Eli Capilouto

UK and Lexington Communities Invited to New Residence Hall Open House

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 17:56

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 31, 2014) — The campus community — and broader Lexington community — are invited on Thursday, Aug. 14, to tour one of the newest additions to the University of Kentucky's continued campus transformation.


From 3 to 6 p.m. Aug. 14, the community can tour Champions Court I residence hall on Avenue of Champions, next to Memorial Coliseum. Champions Court I  — includes 740 beds, along with a high-tech classroom and community space. Champions Court II includes 427 beds. The new complex will officially open for the fall semester along with the new Haggin Hall and Woodland Glen I and II. 


The Champions Court complex also will be home to Common Grounds Coffee Shop; Haggin Hall will be home to the new K-Lair dining facility, long a popular destination for students.


The housing revitalization plan, conducted with private partner EdR, is the largest such effort in all of public higher education. The initiative may ultimately include up to a $500 million investment by EdR to build up to 9,000 new residence hall beds on the UK campus. UK currently is underway with, or about to begin, some $1 billion in infrastructure investment throughout the campus. All but $35 million of that is self-financed by the university.


The timeline for the public-private housing partnership thus far includes: 


  • Phase 1: 601 beds in Central Halls I and II, a $25.2 million investment, opened in fall 2013
  • Phase 2-A: 2,381 beds in the new Haggin Hall, Woodland Glen I and II, Champions Court I and II, a $138 million investment opens fall 2014
  • Phase 2-B: 1,610 beds in Woodland Glen III, IV, and V a $101.2 million investment, will open fall 2015


With this latest investment by UK partner EdR, the university will have constructed 5,733 new modern residence hall beds since 2013 ― a private equity investment on the campus and in the community of $348.3 million.


UK Alum’s Book to be Developed Into a Movie

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 16:57

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 31, 2014) — “The Queen of Kentucky” by University of Kentucky alumna Alecia Whitaker has received a development deal to be made into a movie by David Permut’s Permut Presentations and Unbridled Films. The deal was made public by Variety.


Book trailer video of "The Queen of Kentucky."


Inspired by Whitaker’s own experiences growing up in Kentucky, “The Queen of Kentucky” follows the life of 14-year-old Kentucky girl Ricki Jo Winstead, who decides to reinvent herself as Ericka as she enters public high school. The farmer’s daughter sets out to shed her roots and join the popular crowd. Caught between being a country girl and a wannabe country club girl, Ricki Jo begins to forget who she truly is, and it takes a serious incident involving an old friend to snap her back to reality.


“The Queen of Kentucky” was first published in 2012 by Poppy, which is known for paperback original series for teens including the national bestselling series “Gossip Girl.”


Adapting the novel is Katie Ford, writer of Sandra Bullock’s “Miss Congeniality” and co-creator of NBC’s new sitcom “Working the Engles.”


Whitaker, a native of Cynthiana, Kentucky, is a 2002 UK graduate who holds a bachelor's degree in theatre and integrated strategic communication. An actress, as well as a writer, she has performed in the New York City Fringe Festival and several commercials. Whitaker currently resides in New York City with her husband, Jerrod Lee Pace, a fellow UK graduate from Corbin, Kentucky, who holds a bachelor's degree in kinesiology, and their two sons.


In early July, Whitaker's second book, “Wildflower,” was released. The book is the first novel in a three book series about a young girl’s rise to country music stardom.


For information about Whitaker or ways to purchase her novels visit




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

Journalism's Buck Ryan Publishes in Jilin Research Journal on Chinese Culture

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 11:05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 31, 2014) — University of Kentucky Associate Professor Buck Ryan, who was honored a second time for his teaching at Shanghai University, is publishing an article on journalism education in a prestigious research journal on Chinese culture published by Jilin University.


Ryan, the eighth director in the 100-year history of the School of Journalism and Telecommunications, was recognized at Shanghai University in June for the second consecutive year for his course, "Storytelling: Exploring China's Art and Culture." 


Last year Ryan and his son, Austin, won a teaching award as part of the International Short Term in conjunction with the 1st International Education Forum of Shanghai University organized with UK's Confucius Institute. 


This year at the June 20 opening ceremony of UK Week at SHU, featuring UK Provost Christine Riordan, Ryan's top student, Zhang Mengni, a freshman education major, delivered a speech in English about the course as a highlight of the International Short Term. 


Ryan also mentored the first two "2+2" journalism majors from SHU, Tina John and Jada Wong, who will begin their studies at UK this fall. The "2+2" program offers students the opportunity to graduate with degrees from both UK and SHU if they successfully complete their first two years at SHU and their final two years at UK. 


Ryan,  director of the Citizen Kentucky Project of UK's Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, visited Jilin University in Changchun, China, from June 24 to 27. He was a guest lecturer in a commentary writing class, and he delivered a research presentation on his KET documentary, "Citizen Kentucky/Citizen China: Hope for a New Century," which aired as a lead-in to the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.


After his research presentation, Ryan was approached by international journalism lecturer Zhang Siqi, associate editor of the Jilin University research journal Huaxia Cultural Forum. "Huaxia" is a term representing the nation of China and its civilization. 


Zhang worked with Ryan on a Chinese translation of an article he originally published titled "Journalism Education: A New Deal for Russia and China, too," which appeared in a special section on education for ROOSTERGNN, a bilingual global news site, based in Madrid, Spain.


The abstract for Ryan's article in the Jilin research journal reads: 

"Journalism schools in China, Russia, and America face similar challenges on finances, curriculum, and credibility, mirroring the struggles faced by the profession of journalism in those countries. In America, journalism is suffering a 'Great Depression,' so the author offers a 'New Deal' solution that may have value in China and Russia, too."


On July 25, in the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame room in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications, Ryan met with Zhang's dean, Xu Zhengkao, who visited UK as part of a Jilin University delegation.


Xu, the first dean of a new College of Journalism and Communication at Jilin University, praised Ryan and Zhang for their collaboration and invited Ryan to return to Jilin in September to continue work on his plans to update his "Citizen Kentucky/Citizen China" documentary for KET. 


The Jilin University delegation visiting UK was hosted by Huajing Maske, director of UK's Confucius Institute, which has supported Ryan's work at Shanghai University and Jilin. 


The delegation explored possible "2+2" undergraduate programs and "1+1" graduate-level programs, as well possible faculty research collaborations, in the Gatton College of Business and Economics, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the College of Communication and Information.




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

Three South Campus Parking Lots to Change Designations in August

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 23:24

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 30, 2014) — As the start of the 2014-2015 academic year approaches, University of Kentucky Parking and Transportation Services will be changing the designations of some parking areas to best meet the needs of campus. 


The Prall Street Lot, located at the corner of Prall Street and South Limestone, is no longer managed by Central Parking as a visitor pay lot. This lot is now a University of Kentucky employee (E) parking lot, and has 10 three-hour parking meters to accommodate short-term visitor parking needs.


Starting in fall 2014, the Sports Center Garage (PS #7) and the large Sports Center Drive lot will change permit designations. The Sports Center Garage will continue to accommodate hourly pay visitor parking, but will otherwise transition to residential (R7) parking. The Sports Center Drive lot adjacent to Cliff Hagan Stadium will change from residential (R3) parking to employee (E) parking.


On Friday, August 15, the parking lot immediately adjacent to the Oswald Building – the Green Lot – will transition from a commuter (C6) parking lot to a mixed-use employee (E) and commuter (C6) parking lot. The lot will no longer have separately designated E spots as it has in the past. The metered spaces will remain in the lot. 


The Commonwealth Stadium E-Red lot located on the corner of Cooper and University Drives will transition to K parking.  As of July 1, 2014, employee (E) permits, in addition to K permits, and any valid student commuter (C) and resident (R) permit, are now authorized to park in any Commonwealth Stadium K Lots, allowing the user more flexibility if their desired parking area is at capacity. This will include the Greg Page Overflow Lot and the Soccer/Softball Complex Lots.


Visit to view the campus parking map.

Regeneration Bonus: Ann Morris

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 17:20

Video by UK Research Media. 


LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 30, 2014) — University of Kentucky biologist Ann Morris is studying retinal regeneration in zebrafish to find ways to combat human eye diseases.


The small, minnow-like fish have eyes that develop in a way very similar to humans. Unlike humans, however, zebrafish have the ability to regenerate retinal cells following an injury. Diseases of the retina are a leading cause of blindness in older adults. 


“With zebrafish the embryos develop outside the mother, and they are completely transparent. And development occurs very rapidly," Morris said. "So we can study the process of the development of eye under the light microscope in a dish, and it only takes a couple days to happen."

How is it that zebrafish can regenerate retinal cells and we can't? Morris says the answer is suspended between two distinct possibilities.


“One is that everybody had the ability to regenerate, and that ability in certain lineages was eventually lost," she said. "So as mammals evolved, somehow they lost the ability to regenerate neurons, but perhaps all the mechanism is still there, in their genome, so we need to find those switches and turn it back on.


“The other possibility though is that certain vertebrates evolved that ability whereas others didn’t. And so it’s possible that mammals can’t regenerate neurons because they just don’t have that mechanism. I happen to believe it’s probably more of the former, that some of those abilities are there and they’re latent and we have to discover how to reactivate them.

Learn more about UK's "regeneration cluster" at