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Music Sets Holiday Mood at Multiple UK HealthCare Locations

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 12:41

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

 

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

 

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

 

Dec. 2

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

Dec. 3

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

Dec. 4

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

Dec. 5

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

Dec. 8

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

Dec. 9

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

Dec. 10

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

Dec. 11

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

Dec. 12

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

Dec. 15

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

Dec. 16

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

Dec. 17

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

Dec. 18

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

Dec. 19

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

Dec. 21

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

Dec. 22

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

Dec. 23

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

 

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

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, elizabethadams@uky.edu  

Bishop Awarded Grant To Research MS Patients' Health Care Needs

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 12:08

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, whitney.harder@uky.edu 

UK HealthCare to Open New Inpatient Cardiovascular Unit

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 08:29

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT:  Laura Dawahare, laura.dawahare.uky.edu

UK150 Pays $1,000 for Best Student Idea

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 08:14

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or  ann.blackford@uky.edu 

Kentucky Awarded Grant for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 19:16

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, elizabeth.adams@uky.edu

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

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 19:04

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

To find free, fast, and confidential HIV testing site near you, visit https://gettested.cdc.gov/.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

UK Chemistry Professor, Students' Research Published in National Journal

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 10:24

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, whitney.harder@uky.eu

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

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 13:46

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

UK Professor Receives Prestigious Collaborative Research Grant from China

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 10:49

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

Open Studio Art Event Makes Final Appearance at Reynolds Building

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 09:52

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — The University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies throws open the doors of the Reynolds Building to the public this holiday season for the last time before moving to a new facility next year. The Bluegrass community is invited to discover original new works by UK students and faculty at Open Studio. Experience and participate in art while shopping for one-of-a-kind gifts from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, at Reynolds Building Number 1, located at 349 Scott St.

 

This popular annual event gives individuals an opportunity to see artwork created by UK's undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty. A variety of artwork will be on display including metalwork, fiber, paintings, photographs, drawings, ceramics, plaster casts, printmaking and woodwork.

 

Festivities scheduled for Open Studio include:

· the Carey Ellis Juried Student Art Exhibition in the Barnhart Gallery featuring pieces by graduate and undergraduate art students (an awards ceremony will take place during Open Studio);

· an art sale, including the popular ceramic bowl sale;

· crafts and activities for children provided by the students of the Art Education program; and

· live music performances and refreshments.

 

As UK School of Art and Visual Studies celebrates its last Open Studio at the Reynolds Building, students, faculty, staff and visitors are encouraged to share memories of their experiences in the facility on social media using the hashtag #GoodbyeReynolds.

 

The school will move into the Bolivar Art Center, a newly renovated historic warehouse, in the summer of 2015. The building is a state-of-the-art research laboratory that will feature new media labs, a 3D fabrication lab, a photography suite and more.

 

A donation of $5 to the UK School of Art and Visual Studies is suggested for entry to Open Studio. Proceeds go to various programs provided by the school. Free parking for individuals attending Open Studio can be found nearby on both Broadway and Scott Street.

 

The UK School of Art and Visual Studies in 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.

 

To find out more about Open Studio, contact Rowe Moser, rjwmoser@gmail.com.

 

 

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

Diversity of Interests: Army ROTC, Psychology Guide Cadet's Career

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 08:20

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — Drew Myers is a University of Kentucky psychology major and award-winning Army ROTC cadet whose hobbies range from hunting and fishing to playing the ukulele. His primary academic and professional interest is in the field of human factors — a combination of human psychology and product design.

 

Myers clearly has no problem reconciling such differences; he doesn’t just want to learn to fly helicopters, he wants to design a better cockpit.

 

After graduating from Oldham County High School, Myers considered pursuing his interests through the Air Force Academy, but eventually decided to go the civilian route at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. While Myers says he loved his time at Riddle, he left after three semesters to find better — and perhaps more rewarding — ways of funding his education.

 

“I came back to Kentucky to get in-state tuition, and I looked at the military because my dad always said if I got a full scholarship, he’d buy me whatever car I wanted,” Myers said. “After a while I realized I was mature enough to realize how important it was to have my tuition paid for.”

 

Myers participated in junior ROTC at his high school, and while he excelled in and enjoyed the program, he didn’t consider joining ROTC at the college level until coming to UK. Nevertheless, in the summer of 2014 Myers participated in the Leader’s Training Course (LTC), a four-week accelerated training program at Fort Knox.

 

During the extensive training of the program, Myers was told in passing that he was a candidate for top cadet. Cadets were scored on training areas such as basic rifle marksmanship and land navigation, and the lieutenants assessed them with leadership scores based on interactions during exercises.

 

Although told he might be a long shot for the honor, Myers was awarded top cadet, meaning he got to lead all 246 cadets for the program’s graduation.

 

“I also got to salute a general, which was the best part. I was super excited about that. I was really lucky and privileged to get top cadet,” he said.

 

Myers went through similar changes in his academic pursuits, beginning in aerospace engineering at Riddle and switching to human factors before settling into psychology at UK. He still plans to pursue human factors through graduate study after earning his bachelor’s.

 

“[Human factors] deals with how people interact with products, how to do testing and improve design,” said Myers. “You can give people the first generation of a product, see what they like and don’t like, and change the product from there.”

 

According to Myers, human factors is a growing industry with application ranging from developing an ergonomic pencil that reduces hand strain to designing a NASA spaceship. His goal is to be involved in cockpit design.

 

“Human factors is concerned with where to put what button, how to help pilots pay attention and work effectively. I want to work in the aerospace industry and make things easier to use,” Myers explained.

 

His interest in playing the ukulele was also the result of experimentation, trying first to play the banjo and guitar but eventually embracing the ukulele. Myers says he’s always enjoyed spending time in the woods, and now he finds fulfillment in playing the ukulele for others.

 

“I really enjoy playing, but I enjoy performing in front of people as well. I do it whenever I can,” he said.

 

Now Myers is in a leadership role in Army ROTC at UK, teaching basic skills to freshmen cadets. He says he was overwhelmed at first by the prospect of teaching skills he had only recently learned himself, but now Myers appreciates the opportunities provided by his leadership position.

 

“This is stuff I learned over the summer, but I like that I’ve had to teach it. I’ve never had to teach anybody, and I learn more in teaching the class than I did during the summer. I learn a lot more about myself, my leadership style and my teaching style,” he explained.

 

If the past is any indicator, Myers will soon have more talents and interests to add to his diverse repertoire.

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, whitney.harder@uky.edu

UK Physiologist Leads Team that Identifies Receptors Activated by Odors

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 22:06

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 26, 2014) -- A group of physiologists led by University of Kentucky’s Tim McClintock have identified the receptors activated by two odors using a new method that tracks responses to smells in live mice.  

 

Their research was published in the latest edition of The Journal of Neuroscience.

 

Using a fluorescent protein to mark nerve cells activated by odors, McClintock and his colleagues identified receptors that allow mouse nerve cells to respond to two odors: eugenol, which is a component of several spices, most notably cloves, and muscone, known as musk.

 

"This new method could help us understand how these receptors allow mice, and eventually humans, to detect and discriminate odors, similar to the way in which the three receptors in the retinas of our eyes allow us to discriminate colors," McClintock said.  "But unlike vision and hearing, the details of how the odor receptors discriminate odors, much like color in vision or pitch in sound, are unknown."

 

"Before we have a medical application in mind, we must first create a roadmap for these receptors."

 

Scientists have been pursuing this "holy grail" of the sense of smell since Richard Axel and Linda Buck discovered these odorant receptors and their role in the organization of the olfactory system, winning them the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004.

 

The challenge has been scientists' ability to identify which receptors are activated by certain smells, particularly since humans have about 400 such receptors (mice have an astounding 1,100 receptors).

 

By using this new invention, called the Kentucky In Vivo Odorant-Ligand Receptor Assay, or in short, ‘the Kentucky Assay,’ scientists are now able to determine which receptors respond to certain odors in awake, freely behaving animals.

 

There are many practical applications for this knowledge, according to McClintock.

 

"Knowing which receptors respond to a chemical would help us devise better flavors and fragrances," he said.  "But perhaps more tantalizing is the idea that we could potentially design receptor blockers for offensive odors. 

 

Other lead co-authors on the study are Hiro Matsunami from Duke University, Durham, N.C.; and Peter Mombaerts, from the Max Planck Research Unit for Neurogenetics, Frankfurt, Germany. 

One-lane Traffic on Portion of Hilltop Avenue Dec. 1-5

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 19:35

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 26, 2014) — Traffic on a brief portion of Hilltop Avenue near Woodland Avenue will be reduced to one lane Dec. 1-5, while storm water lines for the new dining facility, The 90, are installed.  Please see map for specific area.

 

The work will be done from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in an effort to avoid major morning and afternoon drive-times.  Brief traffic stops can be expected in the area.  Traffic controls will be in place at the corner of Hilltop Avenue and University Drive and at the corner of Woodland Avenue and Hilltop Avenue.

 

The trenched area will be covered with metal plates allowing for a return to two-lane traffic each day after 4 p.m.

 

Traffic delays will be possible in this area, and motorists are asked to take that into consideration for their daily commute.

Kentucky Wood Bound for Plimoth Plantation and History

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 19:11

BEREA, Ky. (Nov. 25, 2014) — It was a fitting sight on a cold, snowy day close to Thanksgiving. A tractor-trailer laden with 30-foot planks of freshly sawn white oak began the final leg of a journey from the Bluegrass to Plymouth, Massachusetts, destined for the refitting of the Mayflower II.

 

The original Mayflower that carried a sea-weary group of Pilgrims to New England and into American folklore is long gone, but her historical reproduction, Mayflower II, carries her own historical significance. The United Kingdom presented the ship to the U.S. in 1957 commemorating America’s help during World War II. Since then, the ship has hosted millions of school children and tourists at its mooring at the Smithsonian-affiliated living history museum, Plimoth Plantation.

 

When the Mayflower II went into dry dock in 2012 for her annual Coast Guard inspection, the scuttlebutt around Plymouth, Massachusetts, was that the shipwrights would need some extraordinary white oak timber to repair about a dozen futtocks and 60 long planks in her hull.

 

What’s a futtock? University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment extension forestry professor Terry Conners knew — they’re curved timbers that make up the hull’s framework — and he also knew the wood needed isn’t available at lumberyards. The native New Englander thought, with his contacts in the wood industry, he could help locate the timber. He immediately offered his landlubber expertise.

 

Conners had quite a task ahead. The planks had to be 26- to 32-feet long and 3.5-inches thick, with a minimum of 10-inch wide heartwood along the length. This meant looking for some very big trees. To complicate matters, they had to be practically defect-free.

 

“It’s very hard to source white oak that we need in the lengths we need, the thicknesses we need and the high quality we need to be able to cut the sweep of the planks out,” said Whit Perry, associate director for maritime preservation and operations for the Mayflower II at Plimoth Plantation. Perry was on hand when the boards were loaded onto the flatbed truck. “It would be easy to go out and buy some other type of wood, tropical hardwood or something along those lines, but at the museum we’re of the mind that we want to restore Mayflower II in the same way it was built in 1957.”

 

Conners turned his sights on UK’s Robinson Forest, but Robinson was clear-cut in the 1920s.

 

“We don’t have the diameter or the quality timber that this particular project requires,” he said. He located a sawyer in Georgia who could supply some of the portside planking, but he really wanted some of the timber to be Kentucky-grown.

 

Conners turned toward the Berea College Forest, whose forester, Clint Patterson, is a UK forestry graduate student.

 

“There’s good synergy between UK and Berea,” Patterson said. “Berea College allows UK to utilize our forest for research purposes, field days and student training.”

 

It turned out Berea College had what Conners was looking for. Patterson tagged a few trees with potential.

 

When master logger Holger Grossler, from Louisville, heard Conners was looking for such long boards, he said his first reaction was it was impossible.

 

“I was trained that at 16 or 18 feet white oak usually stops being clean,” he said, meaning the wood would start showing defects at that point. “But Clint is a good forester with a good eye to spot those trees. When I saw the first one he spotted, I thought wow, that’s a really exceptional one, and it turned out to be good.”

 

A successful test cutting was done in March. When the lumber from that tree passed muster, 10 more trees were cut and sawn on site this past summer.

 

Almost twice the normal length of sawn lumber, trees that can provide 30-foot planks are difficult to move and saw. Grossler’s team cut down the oaks and arranged to have Ernie Tebeau from Toledo, Ohio, bring down his portable saw mill to saw the trees into suitable lengths and widths. Then the planks were hauled out to the nearest road to be loaded onto the flatbed.

 

As the four men stood in the blowing snow and watched the truck pull away with 30 planks destined to be part of American history, there was definitely a feeling of celebration in the air. It had been almost a yearlong journey to that point, but Conners felt it was just the beginning of what he hoped would be a bright future for the whole state.

 

“I’m trying to spread the word that we have reason to manage timber not just for the 100 or 200 years we normally do, but for 300 years,” he said. “This is good for the industry, as well as for Berea, as well as it is for Kentucky.”

'UK at the Half' Focuses on Art and Visual Studies

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 18:53

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 26, 2014) — Director of the University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies Rob Jensen was featured during the "UK at the Half" that aired during the UK vs. University of Texas-Arlington basketball game, broadcast on the radio Nov. 25.

 

Rob Jensen discussed the various artistic disciplines within the school and the way they are beginning to blend. Jensen also addressed the renovation of the University Lofts into the Bolivar Art Center. The school's new home is projected to be complete by summer 2015.

 

The public will be given the opportunity to see the work being done by students and faculty at UK School of Art and Visual Studies Dec. 5, at the annual Open Studio event. This year’s event will be the final one hosted in the Reynolds Building.

 

"UK at the Half" airs during the halftime of each UK football and basketball game broadcast and is hosted by Carl Nathe of UK Public Relations and Marketing.

 

To hear the "UK at the Half" interview click on the play button below. To view a transcript for the Nov. 25 "UK at the Half" interview, click here.

 

Statistics Professor Nominated for U.S. Professors of the Year Award

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 17:30

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014)William Rayens, University of Kentucky statistics professor, was recently honored for his work in undergraduate education with a nomination in the 2014 U.S. Professors of the Year awards program.

 

“Teaching may well be the most important enterprise we engage in as professors, and I was thrilled to be asked to compete for one of the 2014 awards," said Rayens.

 

Rayens, director of undergraduate education in the Department of Statistics, developed the general education course "STA 210: Intro to Statistical Reasoning," implemented in the fall of 2011. Serving as assistant provost for general education in the Division of Undergraduate Education for two years, Rayens also guided the implementation of the university's general education program, the UK Core.

 

“Dr. Rayens has been a national pioneer in creative pedagogy in statistics. The STA 210 course he designed so that students can meet the Statistical Inferential Reasoning requirement in UK Core is exceptionally innovative and defines the cutting edge of instruction in statistics nationally," said Ted Schatzki, senior associate dean of faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.

 

Schatzki, a professor of geography and philosophy, nominated Rayens for the U.S. Professors of the Year award.

 

According to Schatzki, the general education statistics course was one of the first "flipped" courses in the U.S., where students are first exposed to the content outside of class time, opening up time in the classroom for active learning with case studies, and student-led activities and demonstrations.

 

"Moreover, despite its size, it receives very high student evaluations in comparison to other large introductory courses," Schatzki said. "The demands on Bill to develop the (STA 210) course and keep it running were and remain immense, and if it were not for his dedication and grit, UK Core would not have been a success."

 

Sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the U.S. Professors of the Year awards program recognizes outstanding undergraduate instructors who excel in teaching and mentoring.

 

“It was an honor to be nominated and I appreciate all the coordination work by Senior Associate Dean Schatzki, as well as the time and effort taken by reviewers who wrote on my behalf,” said Rayens.

 

Cindy Tucker, associate professor of computer and information technologies at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, was named the 2014 Kentucky Professor of the Year. 

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, whitney.harder@uky.edu

UK College of Pharmacy's Global Classroom Connects Kentucky and China

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 09:30

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 26, 2014) — The University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy goes across borders for the second year with professor Melody Ryan's “Pharmacy Without Borders: A U.S.-China Global Classroom” course. Ryan, director of International Professional Student Health, formed a partnership with Peking University Third Hospital to provide students from both institutions with an opportunity to engage with fellow student pharmacists via this shared curriculum.

 

“We wanted to provide UK College of Pharmacy students with a chance to develop their global skillset as part of their everyday education,” Ryan said. “We know how important it is for students to learn about international issues and to get accustomed to working in diverse work groups. Thanks to today’s technology, providing that international experience is easier than ever before.”

 

The course is kept small to allow for more one-on-one interactions between students and faculty. Part of the course is recorded and watched asynchronously; the course also takes part in five live sessions.

 

Students form international teams to complete a paper and a presentation. Alice Pan, fourth-year student at the UK College of Pharmacy, has taken part in the course and benefited greatly.

 

“I expanded my cultural knowledge and strengthened important soft-skills that drive cultural competence," Pan said. "I learned to understand the differences in culture and pharmacy education between the two countries, how to communicate with Chinese students, and how to collaborate with students in a different country and time zone. All of these skills can be extrapolated to communicating with and helping patients here in the U.S.”

 

The class was a creation of Ryan and faculty colleagues Frank Romanelli and Jeff Cain. The course received a UK College of Pharmacy Transformative Grant from Dean Tim Tracy and the College of Pharmay's External Advisory Board. The college’s Transformative Grant program funds innovative and unique academic, research and outreach programs that will advance the college’s mission.

 

This global classroom course provides a cost-effective way to internationalize the college’s curriculum.

 

“Not every student can afford to go to school abroad nor has the time to do so,” Ryan said. “This class circumvents those barriers, allowing the college to provide an international experience right here in our facility.”

 

 

'UK at the Half' Talks Future of UK School of Music

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 19:12

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 25, 2014) — Director of the University of Kentucky's School of Music within the UK College of Fine Arts John Scheib was featured during the "UK at the Half" that aired during the University of Kentucky vs. Montana State University basketball game, broadcast on the radio Nov. 23.

 

John Scheib discussed the importance of providing a positive experience to UK students where they can have life-changing moments. Scheib sees enhancement and expansion of the UK School of Music facilities as a major goal. For more information about the School of Music's upcoming performances between now and the end of the year, go to www.finearts.uky.edu/music.

 

"UK at the Half" airs during the halftime of each UK football and basketball game broadcast and is hosted by Carl Nathe of UK Public Relations and Marketing.

 

To hear the "UK at the Half" interview click on the play button below. To view a transcript for the Nov. 23 "UK at the Half" interview, click here to download.

 

UK's Dahlia d'Arge Named Marshall Scholar

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 17:56

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 25, 2014) — The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards announced today that history senior and Army ROTC cadet Dahlia d'Arge, of Paris, Kentucky, has been named a 2015 Marshall Scholar. The scholarship will finance two years of graduate study for her at an institution of her choice in the United Kingdom. D'Arge is the third UK student to receive the honor from the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. 

 

"University of Kentucky students compete and succeed at a national level in academic competition, research and for national awards," said President Eli Capilouto. "The entire university family is deeply proud of Dahlia’s achievements as an ROTC cadet and UK’s third Marshall Scholar. We are excited to see her future success as a graduate student in the United Kingdom." 

 

Up to 40 scholars are selected each year to study at the graduate level at a U.K. institution in any field of study. The scholarship covers university fees, cost of living expenses, an annual book grant, thesis grant, research and daily travel grants, fares to and from the United States.

 

As future leaders, with a lasting understanding of British society, Marshall Scholars strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions. The objectives of the program are:

· to enable intellectually distinguished young Americans, their country's future leaders, to study in the U.K.;

· to help scholars gain an understanding and appreciation of contemporary Britain;

· to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in science, technology, the humanities and social sciences and the creative arts at Britain's centers of academic excellence;

· to motivate scholars to act as ambassadors from the U.S. to the U.K. and vice versa throughout their lives thus strengthening British American understanding; and

· to promote the personal and academic fulfilment of each scholar.

 

The last UK student selected as a Marshall Scholar was Jennifer Kasten, who received the scholarship in 2002.

 

D'Arge, the daughter of Ralph and Dani d'Arge, of Paris, will use her Marshall Scholarship to pursue two master's degrees in the U.K. She has applied to the University of Glasgow in Scotland to pursue a master's degree in war studies followed by a master's degree in intelligence and international security at King's College London.

 

At UK, d'Arge chose to study history because of a lifelong love of the topic and a belief that understanding the past is the key to making a better future. "As an ROTC cadet, my future career will be as an officer in our Army. Being able to learn the lessons of human history enables me to be a better officer through my ability to analyze information and to make comparisons to past events."

 

During her time in college, d'Arge has achieved great success in the classroom and in the field. The Honors Program student is the recipient of UK's Presidential Scholarship, the Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship and the Paris High School Alumni Scholarship. In addition, she has received the 2013 and 2014 Academic Excellence Award from UK German Studies.

 

As a cadet, d'Arge completed Basic Airborne School training, won a gold medal in the German Armed Forces Military Proficiency Badge Competition, acted as a leader in the Kentucky Ranger Organization, and published a paper regarding the issue of sexual harassment in the military. She is the recipient of a four-year U.S. Army ROTC scholarship and the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Army ROTC Platinum Physical Fitness Award. D'Arge has earned the Wildcat Battalion Coin for Leadership Excellence three times, a 2013 82nd Airborne Office of the Staff Judge Advocate Coin, and a 2013 U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command Coin. Her senior thesis for her major focused on the role of Special Forces soldiers in the Vietnam War Hamlet Project.

 

D'Arge credits several faculty members and ROTC leaders for helping her attain success, including Bruce Holle, senior lecturer of history; Kay Woods, of the UK Honors Program; Brenna Byrd, assistant professor of German studies; Jason Cummins, director of Impact Leadership Program at UK Athletics; Master Sergeant Gregory Lehman, military science instructor; and Lt. Col. Shawn Umbrell, professor of military science.

 

"Each has inspired and encouraged me to push past the expectations of most college students and to challenge myself in both academic and military settings."

 

After completing her two master's degrees, d'Arge plans to pursue further studies in history with a focus in military strategy and intelligence after she serves. "After a career in the Army, I aspire to earn a Ph.D. in modern Western military history and teach at a public university."

 

Founded by a 1953 Act of Parliament, and named in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, Marshall Scholarships commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan and express the continuing gratitude of the British people to their American counterparts. In the U.S. the selection process is managed by regional Consulates General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, and in Washington D.C. by the British Embassy.

 

D'Arge was one of 26 finalists who interviewed for the Marshall in the 13-state Chicago region.

 

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

 

 

 

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

Finding Faults: Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Studies Deformation of Tectonic Plates

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 17:51

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 25, 2014) — Sean Bemis put his hands together side by side to demonstrate two plates of the earth’s crust with a smooth boundary running between them. But that boundary is not always smooth and those plates do not always sit together neatly, which makes the earth’s crust a dynamic and complex surface. 

 

As a structural geologist and paleoseismologist, Bemis often uses visual and three dimensional (3-D) models to explain his studies of the earth’s crust; sometimes that entails sophisticated 3-D digital imagery, maps and diagrams of fault lines, the rocks he processes in his lab, or, as in this case, his own hands.

 

These techniques not only help Bemis demonstrate his research, they also represent the multidimensional nature of his work.

 

Bemis, an assistant professor in UK's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, studies the deformation of the tectonic plates that make up Earth’s crust. When these plates move, they slide past each other, with most of the motion occurring across relatively narrow zones.

 

Due to the large amount of crushing required for the Earth’s crust to move, the zones between plates, called plate boundaries, are sites of frequent, often damaging earthquakes and the formation of dramatic mountain ranges. Some of these plate boundaries are also very well-known faults, such as the San Andreas fault in California.

 

Bemis simplifies some key terminology when he says, “A fault is just a break in rock; an active fault is one that has moved recently and has the potential to move again in the near future.” In particular, he researches the San Andreas fault in California and the Denali fault in Alaska.

 

By excavating faults in California and Alaska, Bemis and his team identify plate deformation recorded as prehistoric earthquakes. With the rocks, soil and organic matter they examine, they can use radiocarbon dating to identify when an earthquake occurred.

 

With these findings, Bemis can determine the character of a fault, which helps scientists forecast the likelihood and size of possible future earthquakes. “Understanding how earthquakes recur through time,” Bemis explained, “can tell us how the surface of the Earth is evolving in terms of the deformation as well as community-related hazards and hazard mitigation needs.”

 

While in graduate school at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemis did field work in Denali. He even discovered and named several previously unknown active faults in the region. In 2002, there was a major earthquake on the Denali fault — the largest in the world that year. At the time it occurred, Bemis recalled, “I was a hundred miles away from the earthquake, but I could barely stand up, that’s how strong it was.”

 

Bemis likens the earthquake process (in its simplest form) to breaking a rubber band that you stretch, building up pressure until it snaps. But with an earthquake, the pressure builds in miles of crust moving at rates of kilometer per second. “That’s a lot of energy,” he remarked. “The spot where I’m standing could jump instantaneously to other side of the room.”

 

Later, Bemis went out to the fault and could see the effects of the earthquake on the earth’s surface. “The earthquake had sheared the ground surface for hundreds of kilometers and this shearing had opened up large fissures that rotated during the rapid deformation,” Bemis remembered.

 

These fissures, or openings in the earth’s surface, were so big, Bemis remembered, that he could stand in them and hold his arms up over head and still be below the ground surface. He also saw trees with huge chunks of roots torn off and slipped several meters away.

 

Over time, the fissures and shearing Bemis observed in Denali would fill in with soil, rocks and organic material, so the surface would eventually come to look like it had before the earthquake. “These observations of recent earthquakes,” like the 2002 Denali earthquake, “help us understand what we need to look for to find evidence for prehistoric earthquakes.” To see buried records of earthquakes, “we go play in the dirt,” Bemis said, laughing.

 

Even though Bemis has a renovated lab in the Slone Research Building, one might say that his primary lab is in the field, playing in the dirt, so to speak. He and his team excavate a fault, exposing a flat plane or wall in the earth. They can see evidence of earthquakes and deformation in the dirt wall where the color or layers of sediment are inconsistent.

 

Images of these excavations are helpful for showing what Bemis looks for in his analysis of the earth’s surface.

 

“You have to be able to visualize that what you’re seeing isn’t actually a 2-D plane, it’s actually something that extends back into space. It’s hard to teach this part,” said Bemis. It’s especially hard in a region like Kentucky where students can’t go out to a nearby active fault like Bemis did at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and at the University of Oregon.

 

Bemis’s undergraduate and graduate students at UK, however, sometimes have the opportunity to travel to California or Alaska with their professor to excavate a fault. He tries to help his graduate students develop projects out of facets of his research so they are working toward their own research while contributing to his. Therefore, his mentorship is embedded in his research.

 

For people who won’t get such a first-hand look at a fault excavation, Bemis makes use of digital, high-resolution 3-D imaging that lets a viewer appreciate the greater scope and depth of plate displacement. He especially likes his students to not only look at a 3-D model but to use the mouse to turn it and truly interact with it themselves.

 

Even in graduate school, Bemis was exploring new ways of demonstrating his study of plate deformation because “as we’re collecting more and more data about these prehistoric earthquakes, all of the simple models are falling apart—they don’t work because the earth is a complex place—there’s a lot of interacting parts.”

 

From playing in the dirt, to sample processing in the lab, to presenting his findings, Bemis’s research could also be said to have “a lot of interacting parts,” and he continues to explore the new effective means of representing it. Of course, he can always resort to his own hands.

 

View more photos of Bemis and his students working in the field in this photo gallery, and Bemis working in his office and lab this photo gallery.  here

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, whitney.harder@uky.edu 

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