Campus News

Mind Matters Health Fair Will Focus on Brain Health

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 09:27

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 18, 2015) — We often hear about the things we need to do to maintain heart health.  But did you know you should also be thinking about brain health?


In addition to the human suffering caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related dementias, there is an enormous financial strain on the health care system and families, consuming about $20 billion in direct costs alone.  As the baby boomer generation continues to age, that figure is expected to rise exponentially.  Finding a cure for Alzheimer's is our ultimate goal, but finding ways to help people stave off dementia by just five years  — whether through medicines or lifestyle changes — would make an enormous impact on the cost of patient care and the emotional stress experienced by the families of a loved one stricken by dementia.


The UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA), one of the world's leading research centers on age-related diseases, is dedicated to finding ways to slow down and/or cure Alzheimer's disease.  We are always eager to share our knowledge with the world, but care especially for Kentuckians — the people in our own backyard.


To that end, we will be holding our seventh annual "Mind Matters" health fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, May 18, at the Fayette County Extension Office, 1140 Red Mile Place, Lexington. The event is free of charge and anyone who is interested in learning about aging brain health for themselves or a loved one is welcome.


The focus of this year's event is proper nutrition for a healthy brain, providing information on how diet can help promote healthy brain aging and prevent age-related brain disease. There will be free 'brain healthy' food provided by chef Ouita Michel as well as live cooking demonstrations.


The event will also feature interactive exhibits, health and memory screenings, and presentations about healthy brain aging, Alzheimer's and music therapy.


The best health outcomes happen when patients, families, and physicians work together.  The Mind Matters Health Fair is an opportunity for you to arm yourself with the latest information on brain health for your own benefit and for that of others.


Dr. Greg Jicha is an aging and Alzheimer's disease specialist at the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.


This column appeared in the May 17, 2015 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader

WUKY's 'UK Perspectives' Welcomes Provost Tim Tracy

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 15:28


LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 15, 2015) — WUKY's "UK Perspectives" focuses on the people and programs of the University of Kentucky and is hosted by WUKY General Manager Tom Godell.  Today, Godell talks to UK Provost Tim Tracy about the university's strategic planning process. 


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


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

May is for Membership at Spindletop Hall

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 14:49

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 15, 2015) — Kick off the summer with The Club at University of Kentucky’s Spindletop Hall May is for Membership! Spindletop is currently offering 50 percent off all initiation fees through the month of May.


Spindletop members enjoy four swimming pools, 10 tennis courts, two chipping & putting greens, Roxie’s upscale casual member dining with veranda, summer Tiki Bar and Grill, exclusive access to Lexington’s Legacy Trail, basketball and volleyball courts, expansive grounds, picnic areas, special club events and the spectacular Spindletop Hall mansion.


UK faculty, staff, and all members of the UK Alumni Association are eligible for club membership. Spindletop offers memberships for all stages of life ranging from family, single parent, couples, individuals, seniors and young alumni. Rates vary based upon membership type.


UK employees are able to deduct dues straight from their payroll.  


For more information on joining, check out Spindletop’s website here, call 859-255-2777 or email



MEDIA CONTACT: Blair Hoover and Rebecca Stratton;; (859) 323-2395

UK Plants Hemp Research Plots

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 11:53

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 15, 2015) — Agronomists with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment began planting their 2015 hemp research plots May 14 on the university’s Spindletop Research Farm.


This is the second year for UK to conduct industrial hemp research. 2014 was the first year that hemp was legally grown in the state in decades. UK conducted the 2014 pilot project under the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s guidance.


This year’s research projects are funded by several corporations, with administrative support from KDA. Similar to 2014, UK will work in collaboration with scientists from other Kentucky universities. UK agronomists David Williams and Rich Mundell are the lead researchers on the UK projects.


UK researchers will evaluate the yield and fiber quality differences among different harvest times and harvest methods as well as retting times and retting methods. Retting is the process of separating the fiber from the stem. UKAg agronomists will collaborate with researchers at Eastern Kentucky University on this project, which is funded by Sunstrand LLC.


In a second research project, Williams and Mundell will examine the best production method for cannabinoids. Cannabinoids, such as hemp-based cannabidiol, may be used in food and dietary supplements for consumer health and wellness benefits. The pharmaceutical industry is researching them for a variety of therapeutic purposes. CannaVest Corporation funded this project.


Another project, funded by Freedom Feed and Seed, will allow UK researchers to manipulate plant growth rates in the greenhouse and in the field of hemp used for grain and cannabinoid production. They will study specifically whether small plants make the harvest simpler and whether small plants have any yield difference compared to larger plants.


UK researchers will conduct additional projects with Murray State University and Western Kentucky University. In collaboration with Murray State University researchers, UK scientists also will conduct a small variety trial of hemp plants for grain production. UKAg researchers will work with researchers from Western Kentucky University on a project that looks at hemp’s tolerance to agricultural herbicides.


Kentucky Hemp Seed Research and Development Company, a subsidiary of Atalo Holdings, donated a significant amount of seed to the 2015 UK hemp research project.




MEDIA CONTACT: Katie Pratt, 859-257-8774.

First Generation International Graduate Engineers Success

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:48

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 15, 2015) — For one University of Kentucky student, last week’s commencement ceremonies fulfilled a dream generations in the making.


Tony Kao, a native of Cambodia, immigrated to the United States when he was 5 years old after his parents sought better opportunities for their son. They settled in Georgetown, Kentucky, where Kao’s natural curiosity led to a developed interest in cars at an early age.


“I liked to understand how some things worked and why some things didn’t,” Kao said. “I didn’t like to accept ‘just because’ as a valid reason for something.”


Kao’s interests led him to UK to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. The transition to college life was difficult, Kao says, but far from unmanageable.


“Coming in as a first-generation student taught me to be adaptive to my surroundings, whether it’s in the classroom or the workplace,” Kao said.


The workplace has been especially rewarding for Kao, who has interned with both Toyota and Marathon Petroleum. Kao also served as the president of the student section for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 


Kao enrolled at UK as a First Scholar, a scholarship program for first-generation college students. The program also provides academic support and services for students like Kao, who took away more than just academic guidance.


“I’ve made lifelong friends with faculty and other students in the First Scholars Program,” he said. “I can't imagine what my college experience would have been like without them.”


Though there were certain challenges along the way, Kao found encouragement in his UK community.


“I remember pushing myself really hard during my junior year and I struggled to keep up,” he said. “Luckily, with the support of family, friends and faculty, I made it out for the better.”


Kao hopes his accomplishments at UK will inspire future students in his family for generations to come.


“I hope I can pass on my experiences over the last few years to my younger cousins,” he said. “I want to help them come in more prepared than I was and be more successful as well.”


Following commencement, Kao will relocate to Texas, where he has accepted a full-time position with Marathon Petroleum. As he prepares to take the next step in his career, Kao passes on some advice to his fellow international students.


“Make a lot of friends and learn from all of them, inside and out of your major,” Kao said. “You can learn just as much about your areas of interest, yourself and your surroundings from someone who isn’t in your field as someone who is.”



MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Stratton and Blair Hoover, (859) 323-2395;,

Post Doctoral Students Can Share Research in June 12 Symposium

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 20:13

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015) — They conduct lab research and teach classes, but they are neither faculty nor graduate students. Postdoctoral scholars, or postdocs, serve an important role at the University of Kentucky, however, they are scattered across various departments and have not always had an opportunity to meet and share their work.


Professor Susan Odom in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, said, "Most postdocs don’t have any kind of formal gatherings that are specifically targeted toward them."


In 2014, Odom collaborated with Matt Casselman, a postdoc in chemistry, to organize UK’s Society of Postdoctoral Scholars (SOPS). SOPS offers weekly activities like professional development workshops or research presentations. 


On Friday, June 12, SOPS will host its first Postdoctoral Research Symposium at the William T. Young Library. The symposium will allow for the exchange of ideas across a broad range of fields, and abstract submissions are welcome from any discipline.


“It’s a great way to bring everyone together, to network, and further everybody’s goals,” Casselman said.


The symposium will feature the university’s Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis as the keynote speaker, as well as oral presentations given by postdoctoral scholars from numerous fields represented on UK’s campus and from other Kentucky universities including the University of Louisville.


By extending the invitation to other area universities, Casselman and co-organizers Caitlin ScottSarah Edwards, and Lindsay Boehme hope “to gather a critical mass of postdocs.” Casselman said. ”We want it to be open to everyone to talk about their research.”


In addition to the oral presentations, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students are invited to present posters. Prizes will be awarded to the two top postdoctoral and top two graduate student posters. The first place award winners will receive $150, and second place winners will receive $50.


To submit an abstract for an oral presentation or poster, visit The deadline to apply for oral presentations is May 20, and the deadline for posters is June 5. Use the same link to register to attend the symposium. There is no deadine to register to attend the symposium, although on-site registrants will not be provided with lunch.


There is no charge to present or attend the symposium. Lunch and coffee will be provided. Funding for the symposium is provided by an ESPCoR award from the National Science Foundation. Poster prizes are sponsored by the UK Office of Graduate Studies.


For more information, and if you wish to participate, please contact the symposium organizers at

Take Part in National Bike to Work Day May 15

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 18:48

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015) — May is National Bike Month. If you haven’t taken advantage yet of the many activities going on with Bike Lexington, University of Kentucky Parking and Transportation Services says now is the perfect time to get started; National Bike to Work Day is slated for Friday, May 15. According to the League of American Bicyclists, Lexington has more than doubled its bike commuter share since 2000.


Do you have hesitations about biking to work? Parking and Transportation Services has compiled a list of resources to help address common concerns.


I don’t know how to plan my route. Which roads have bike lanes?
Review the Lexington Bike Map and the UK Bike Facilities Map (PDF) in selecting your route. You may also consider using interactive online maps, such as Google Maps and


I don’t feel comfortable bike commuting because I feel that the roads are unsafe.
Cyclists and motorists have the same rights, rules and responsibilities on most Kentucky roads. Follow the guidelines from the state Share the Road campaign. Review the UK Bicycling Advisory Committee’s Bicycling Basics guide (PDF) for a how-to guide on navigating campus on bike. If you don’t feel confident in your abilities, consider taking a bicycle commuting class before embarking on a bike commute.


I don’t know where bike parking is located, or the existing bike parking is inconvenient.
Check out the UK Bike Facilities Map (PDF) to find the racks closest to your destination. If you see a need for more or upgraded bike parking, please submit a Bike Parking Request Form (PDF).


I’d like to bike to work, but I live too far away.
If it is not feasible for you to bike commute the entire way, consider combining mass transit and biking. All Lextran buses are equipped with a bike rack.


I have to dress up for work, so I don’t think bike commuting would work for me.
Bike commuting is generally at an easy pace, so you don’t need to worry about getting sweaty. However, you may consider packing your clothes with you or keeping multiple sets of work clothes at the office.

Medical Student Provides Critical Care Training to Nepali Doctors Before Earthquake Emergencies

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 16:58

LEXINGTON, KY. (May 15, 2015) — Not even sopping wet hiking gear could blemish Jennifer Cotton's memory of a pink- and orange-hued morning sun surfacing over the Himalayan mountain line.


In between medical training sessions at Tribhuvan University in Nepal, the fourth-year University of Kentucky medical student trekked across the Kathmandu Valley, stopping at small villages along the way, with a group of colleagues from around the world. On the first day of their adventure, a constant pouring of rain drenched their clothes, which they dried over a campfire that night. But Cotton dismissed the wet, rugged outdoor conditions when she woke at 4 a.m. to a magnificent illumination across the sky.


"It's something you just can't quite put into words," Cotton said.


Feeling a close connection to the culture, land and people of Nepal since her trip in February, Cotton was troubled to learn of the devastation caused by two recent earthquakes in the region. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake on April 25 caused the deaths of more than 8,000 people, and a magnitude 7.3 earthquake rattled the eastern part of Nepal near Mount Everest on May 12. Cotton, who graduates from the UK College of Medicine on May 16, is raising funds to help Nepali doctors replenish intensive care unit supply boxes, which cost as much as $4,000 and have been depleted since the first emergency response. 


"It's horrible, and it's hard to watch from here," Cotton said of the situation in Nepal. "We're trying to do the best we can from here. They don't need medical volunteers — they need supplies."


After traveling to Montreal to provide ultrasound training at a conference in 2014, Cotton was invited by the Nepal Critical Care Development Foundation to serve as a trainer during an ultrasound workshop held in the capital city of Kathmandu. During her two-week trip, Cotton and medical colleagues from around the world taught Nepali doctors the latest techniques in critical care ultrasound. The only American to participate as a trainer in the conference’s workshop, Cotton said she was humbled to have the opportunity to pass her skill set on to Nepali doctors.


Although she was younger and less experienced than the Nepali doctors, she had mastered critical care ultrasound skills through her involvement in the UK College of Medicine Ultrasound Interest Group and the mentorship of Dr. Matt Dawson, UK HealthCare director of point of care ultrasound.


The Nepal Critical Care Development Foundation is building a stronger critical care training program in Nepal by offering a fellowship in critical care and providing intensive care unit (ICU) medical supply boxes for the region. Until recently, the area provided few opportunities for advanced critical care training.


Cotton instructed many local doctors on how to hold an ultrasound probe for the first time. Because of Cotton's training, doctors from across the region were equipped with new skills in trauma and critical care ultrasound only months before two major disasters. Cotton said she will continue to participate in the annual ultrasound trainings in Nepal.


Cotton was a member of the team of University of Kentucky student sonographers who won the first World Cup of Ultrasound contest during the World Congress of Ultrasound in Medical Education last fall. She will complete her emergency medicine residency training at The Ohio State University. Ultrasound is listed by Stanford University as one of the most valuable skills for medical students entering the field.


Cotton is in the process of establishing a nonprofit foundation to support the Nepali doctors long-term. To support disaster relief kits for Nepal now, visit



MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,

Maserati Mingle in Downtown Lexington Previews Keeneland Concours d’Elegance

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 16:28

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015) — Keeneland Concours d’Elegance will host the Maserati Mingle Friday, May 15, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Court House Square in downtown Lexington.


Sponsored by Maserati of Cincinnati, event admission is free to the public and will feature a variety of exotic automobiles, including vintage models from Maserati, Ferrari and Porsche. Food and beverages will be available for purchase on site.


“This will be a fun, memorable event with a number of local classic cars on display at downtown Lexington’s Court House Square,” Connie Jones, Concours co-chair, said. “It serves as a warm-up for the upcoming Keeneland Concours d’Elegance on July 16-19, and all proceeds will benefit Kentucky Children’s Hospital."


Tickets and information for the Keeneland Concours will be available at the Maserati Mingle.


For the 2015 Keeneland Concours d'Elegance on Saturday, July 18, the featured marque is Maserati, in celebration of the company's 100th anniversary in 2014. Supporting sponsors for the Maserati Mingle event include the UK Federal Credit Union, WEKU and Harp Enterprises.


Since the first event in 2004, the Keeneland Concours d’Elegance has showcased the finest in automobiles and the attractions of central Kentucky on the lush grounds of the Keeneland Race Course. Activities include a Bourbon Tour, Hangar Bash and the Tour d’Elegance of scenic Kentucky back roads. Proceeds benefit Kentucky Children’s Hospital to help bring better health care to the children of Kentucky. For more information, visit


MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, 

Markey's Narrative Medicine Programs Helps Heal Mind and Body

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 16:09

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015) – Storytelling has always been an essential part of the human experience. From prehistoric tales of the hunt, to fairytales, and even modern blockbusters, stories have reflected the culture, values and experiences of not only the characters but the storyteller himself.


Though storytelling has always been a powerful force in society, only recently has its power been used to encourage healing. The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center is working to recognize the powerful patient stories that result from a cancer diagnosis and use these stories to help patients through a method known as narrative medicine.


During a narrative medicine session, patients sit one-on-one with a health professional to share their personal stories, whether it's as simple as their actual day-to-day experiences or their emotional journeys. As patients share their unique experiences, the narrative medicine facilitator will help to tease out important details and insights and help patients use their story as a way to cope and recover mentally.


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


Though talking points vary greatly from patient to patient, one thing that remains consistent in each session are a series of questions asked by Markey's Narrative Medicine Facilitator Robert Slocum.


"What is your source of hope?"

A cancer diagnosis changes a person's life overnight. For many people, fighting cancer can mean taxing treatments, unexpected financial burdens, time away from loved ones and time away from activities they enjoy. It can be easy to focus on treatment, and healing the body, and forget about the toll that the experience takes on the mind.


At Markey, staff is always concerned with finding ways to keep patients engaged and maintain their sense of hope throughout treatment.


Slocum believes that  one way to achieve this is through patients sharing their story and experiences.


"This is a person who happens to have cancer," Slocum said. "A person with a life, with dreams, hopes, responsibilities, and ways to share. Staying connected to that during the process of treatment can be very important."


Many patients are open to sharing their experiences but are unsure of how to do it. They feel holding these conversations might burden loved ones or health professionals. They might feel that their personal experience is not important.


Narrative medicine is a chance to express to them that their experiences do matter.


"It is important to hear again and again that we are here to listen," Slocum said. "We want to hear your experience. Your experience matters. That can be the opening that many people felt 'oh there was never a good time to talk,' well, this is a great time to talk."


This adjunct therapy becomes especially helpful for cancer patients in isolation, where they may be confined to a room with few approved visitors for a month or more. Lola  Thomason, the patient care manager for Markey's blood and marrow transplantation and medical oncology floor, notes that these patients are at a particularly high risk of developing psychosocial issues, simply due to lack of interaction and conversation.


"Narrative medicine gives patients an opportunity just to get their story out," Thomason said. "Just being able to get those feelings off their chest means so much to them."


Slocum is frequently referred to patients by Thomason and her team, a system that is working well so far.


"Lola has a sixth sense for who needs to be seen and when they need to be seen," Slocum said.


"Where do you get your strength?"

There is, without a doubt, strength that comes from being able to share your personal story.


When Slocum holds these important conversations with patients, he focuses on helping patients discover what their personal strength is and helps them find the strength to share their experience with others, if they choose.


"It is possible to draw out and draw on a patients sense of strength," Slocum said. "It is an opportunity for a patient to come to a clearer understanding of their life and what they are going through presently in the context of everything they have faced before."


Narrative medicine begins with a referral from a health professional and a simple conversation.


"It can be simply 'how are you feeling today', 'what brings you to the hospital' or 'how has treatment been going'," Slocum said. "That can be the start of a conversation that begins to go a little bit deeper."


Once patients choose to participate in narrative medicine, they can share their story in the way that they are comfortable. Patients are free to share as much or as little as they would like to. The purpose is for patients to begin to share their story and also provide an opportunity for them to process their experiences.


One of Slocum's patients at Markey, Dr. David Gagnon, has been very open to sharing his experiences dealing with a rare blood cancer and subsequent brain cancer diagnosis.


Gagnon has a unique story to tell as both a doctor and a cancer patient. Because he understands the doctor and patient viewpoint, he has gained an understanding of the importance of sharing experiences and emotions.


"Patients who don't talk don't seem to do well," Gagnon said. "I have found that talking and sharing with physicians and other patients who are going through this is helpful for me and helpful for them."


During his session with Slocum, Gagnon's topics run the gamut of his life experiences, including thoughts on his career as a physician, to his hobbies and fitness goals, to his spirituality. While Gagnon has an interesting perspective, every patient offers a unique viewpoint that Slocum hopes to help draw out and build upon as a source of strength for the patient.


"Patients come in all sizes, shapes, backgrounds and with different perspectives," Slocum said. "I try to work with whoever they are and whatever they bring."


"What gives you the courage to face the future?"

For some patients, narrative medicine has allowed them to find the courage to share their story with others. This might mean sharing what they are feeling with family members or even writing it down for other patients to read and hopefully relate to.


Many patients come out of a narrative medicine session with a fresh outlook on their treatment, and on life in general.


"I've had patients say wonderful things about how their perspectives have changed in cancer treatment," Slocum said. "They don't take things for granted anymore. Cancer is a terrible diagnosis, but it's also a second chance."




Narrative medicine is just one of the ways that Markey has worked to foster hope, strength and courage in their patients. Their integrative medicine program helps to find alternative medicine practices that complement a patient's existing treatment. Markey offers a wide range of integrative programs including narrative medicine, art therapy, music therapy and Jin Shin Jyutsu.


For more information on narrative medicine or for referrals, contact Robert Slocum at (859) 324-0955 or


MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, or (859) 323-2399

Cuban Artist's Imagined Mythological Figures Exhibited at UK Chandler Hospital

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 15:31

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015) — Without words to explain her process or motive, Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso started drawing and painting muscular male figures on construction paper. She then cut out the figures, which ranged from a few inches to 8 feet tall, and methodically installed them on the walls of her family's apartment using square pieces of brown packaging tape.


Deaf and unable to speak since birth, the 29-year-old artist lives a mostly isolated existence in a small town near Havana, Cuba. Her limited human interactions occur within the confines of her family's apartment. Because Pedroso can only communicate for basic needs through rudimentary signs, no one knows the artist's own interpretations of the mythological figures and body parts she creates.


A collection of her imagined figures are currently on display in the UK Chandler Hospital East Gallery in an exhibit titled, "Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso: Cut and Flex." The artwork depicts the full bodies of men with bulging muscles and brightly colored organs and ligaments, as well as paintings of stand-alone body parts, including hands, feet and heads. An integral element of Misleidys' work, the squares of brown packaging tape are maintained around the edges of each cutout.


Since she started creating the figures a few years ago, Pedroso's work has evolved with the addition of female figures in bikinis and groupings of heads joined together to depict human relationships, such as twins or families. Pedroso's mother has observed her standing in front of her drawings, looking at them and gesturing as if she were speaking to them. Misleidys looks at her paintings in the eyes, as though she recognizes them.


"Whatever the true nature of this work may be, Misleidys is clearly breathing life into her figures, creating beings that exist in the space between our world and her own," Phillip March Jones, curator for the UK Arts in HealthCare program, said.


Pedroso's work has recently appeared in Havana Biennial and Art Papers magazine. The exhibit, coordinated by the UK Arts in HealthCare program, will be on display throughout the summer.


MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,

UK Doctoral Student Earns International Award

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 14:45

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015) — University of Kentucky doctoral student Charlene Harris in the Department of Family Sciences has been selected as one of only three recipients of the American Society of Criminology's (ASC) 2015 Graduate Fellowship for Ethnic Minorities. 


Harris, a native of the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, is the first doctoral student at UK to receive this national award since it was started by the ASC in 1989.


"Charlene is highly deserving of this honor and recognition by the society," said Alexander Vazsonyi, a psychology professor and John I. and Patricia J. Buster Endowed Professor of Family Sciences in the School of Human Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. "It is a testament to her diligence and dedication to doing high-quality research focused on adolescent problem behaviors, deviance, and violence. She is in excellent company as recipients have historically mostly been selected from the top Ph.D. programs in criminology/criminal justice across the country, which makes this competitive award even more meaningful."


Harris will use the $6,000 fellowship award to help finance the completion of her studies at UK as she prepares to defend her dissertation this summer.


In a letter to Harris notifying her of her selection, ASC President Candace Kruttschnitt said, "This is a great honor and signifies that ASC considers you to be a rising star in our field."


Harris grew up in the warm climate of the southernmost part of the Caribbean, her homeland being just 5 miles from the coast of the South American nation of Venezuela. A high school classmate who had knowledge of Kentucky's Berea College urged Harris to look into the school because of its tradition of work-study and no tuition. Harris gathered more information and was accepted at Berea where she majored in sociology, earning her bachelor's degree in 2008.


Harris knew she wanted to pursue further study and applied to the graduate program in social work at UK, completing her master's degree in 2010. By this time, Harris' interest in how young people develop and why some adolescents fall into deviant behavior was piqued. She was accepted into the doctoral program in UK Department of Family Sciences.


Harris' research is centered on understanding the pathways to youth involvement in the juvenile justice system, in particular investigating what leads poor, inner-city, African-American adolescents to become entrapped in a cycle of despair that too often can seem intractable.


While serving as a graduate assistant at UK, Harris has benefited from mentoring by Vazsonyi, who has chaired numerous Ph.D. students during his career, many of which hold postdocs or tenure-track faculty positions at major universities. Vazsonyi also is the editor of the Journal of Early Adolescence.


Her upcoming doctoral defense is not the only big event on Harris' schedule. She is one of only 26 young scholars from around the world to be invited to participate in the 2015 Summer School which this year takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, an event jointly organized by the European Society for Research on Adolescence (EARA) and the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA), and sponsored by the Jacobs Foundation.


This fall, Harris, who enjoys the connectivity of her research to teaching, will begin a 1-year assignment as a visiting assistant professor at the Hamilton, Ohio, campus of Miami University. She will be teaching courses in child and adolescent development while there.




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

Gill Heart Institute Receives $2.85 Million Grant to Study How Diet, Family History Increase Heart Attack Risk

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 13:09

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015) -- Researchers at the University of Kentucky's Gill Heart Institute have been awarded a four year, $2.85 million grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to study the mechanisms by which diet and family history increase the risk of heart attacks. 


"Although the risk of heart attacks is clearly increased by lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity, family history is also an important factor, but we don't know exactly how the genes that associate with this risk alter the biological processes that give rise to heart disease" said Andrew Morris, Ph.D., with the Gill Heart Institute. "This new grant will support ongoing studies into the genetic cascade of events that gives rise to increased risk for cardiovascular disease."


A gene called PPAP2B is responsible for a process that confers substantial protection against the development of heart disease.


"Recent advances in analysis of the human genome have revealed a link between subtle variations that determine how the PPAP2B gene is turned on and increased cardiovascular disease risk," said Dr. Susan Smyth, director of the Gill Heart Institute and co-PI for the grant. "The question is, 'what is the process by which this gene either protects -- or fails to protect -- people from cardiovascular disease?'"


"The answer to this question might lead to the development of drugs to prevent cardiovascular disease."


Morris also noted that being overweight or obese increases cardiovascular disease risk and the PPAP2B gene may play a role in the process by which increased levels of certain lipids or fats in obese or overweight people promote heart disease. 


"One implication of this idea is that our studies of the PPAP2B might reveal a connection between diet and inheritable risk factors for heart disease," he said.






Two ISC Students Place in National Logo Design Competition

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 12:55

 LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015)  Two integrated strategic communication (ISC) students have placed in the top five of a national logo design competition.  Kelsey Brousseau’s entry was chosen as the runner-up and Allyson Lough’s design placed fifth.


The competition, held by the Visual Communication Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), was designed to encourage student submissions for the 2016 AEJMC Conference graphic that will be used in all promotional and marketing materials for the August 2016 conference to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The winner also earned $100.


Brousseau and Lough participated as part of their ISC 497, graphic design for ISC, class led by Adriane Grumbein, University of Kentucky assistant professor of integrated strategic communication in the College of Communication and Information.


“I am very excited for my students to have taken two of the top five places in a national, and, to some degree, international, competition,” Grumbein said.  “I think it reflects on the caliber of students we have here at UK, and particularly in ISC,” she added.


ISC sequence coordinator Alyssa Eckman said this recognition is, “a step forward for our ISC program. Visuals are key elements of branding, and it’s awesome that our ISC students have earned national recognition the first time Dr. Grumbein has taught this design course.”


The winning entry was designed by Ethan Irelander from Virginia Commonwealth University and will be featured in all of the 2016 AEJMC conference marketing and promotional materials. Additionally, Marissa Jones of Abilene Christian University placed third and Amber Nunn of Biola University placed fourth.


The AEJMC traces is organizational roots back to 1912 and continues to hold annual conferences, to promote the highest standards for journalism and mass communication education, and to showcase a wide range of communication research. The Visual Communication Division, VisCom, began in 1982 with the merger of the Graphic Arts and Photojournalism Division of the AEJMC.



MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Stratton and Blair Hoover, (859) 323-2395;,

Media Arts & Studies Professor Shares Research and Insight via Popular Global Venues

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 12:25

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015)  Zixue Tai, an associate professor in the Media Arts and Studies program at the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications, has been solicited to share his research and insight on social media and China with the global community of scholars and media practitioners by popular online publications.


In an article titled “Chinese Government Hops on the WeChat Bandwagon” (with contributions from Xiaolong Liu, a visiting scholar from China currently conducting research at UK), published May 6, 2015, by the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute blog, Tai discusses the changing landscape of government propaganda and the latest official efforts to sway public opinion through popular social media platforms.


In another piece titled “Social Media Activism: All the Rage in China,” published April 1, 2015, on the same blog site, Tai shares his perspectives on how social media has reshaped and reinvigorated grassroots collective actions and mass dissent in China. The Nottingham China Policy Institute is an impartial think tank promoting collaborative research and academic dialogues in the European Union (EU), and its blog provides a forum in sharing intellectual conversations among academic researchers, media and policy scholars interested in a broad range of issues in regard to the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.


In December 2014, Tai was interviewed and quoted extensively in a feature story (with a title that translates into “How Internet Memes Help Chinese Netizns Bypass State Censorship") published by the independent Russian media outlet Meduza, which discusses how smart wordplays and user collaboration make it possible for online discussions of sensitive topics and issues banned by state censors. Meduza is a Latvia-based publication run by a team of 20 reporters headed by Galina Timchenko. Timchenko founded Meduza after she was ousted in March 2014 from her post as editor-in-chief of Russia-based, one of the most popular news sites in Russia, by the site owner Alexander Mamut, a billionaire and strong ally of President Vladimir Putin.


Also in 2014, Tai’s research perspectives on social media and grassroots movements and mass contention were the focus of two articles published by the German and Italian editions of the European Journalism Observatory (EJO) respectively. EJO, the EU equivalent of the American Journalism Review in the U.S., is the premier venue to disseminate research on journalism and global media in the EU and publishes in 11 languages/countries.


Additionally, in November 2014, Tai was quoted in a news release by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general scientific society in the world and the publisher of Science, for his perspectives on the importance of promoting science reporting in China. In the same month, he also talked to China’s Xinhua News Agency in a story on the role of science reporting and the need for improving science reporting in China. 



MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Stratton and Blair Hoover, (859) 323-2395;,

Lexington Venture Club to Host 'Startup to Success'

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 16:26

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 13, 2015) — Innovation and entrepreneurship will be the primary topics of conversation at a special gathering in Lexington Wednesday, June 3, at The Livery in Lexington.


On that date, Commerce Lexington and the Lexington Office of the Kentucky Innovation Network (KIN), part of the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship in the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics, are hosting Startup to Success. The event, being organized in association with the Lexington Venture Club, begins with a reception at 5 p.m., followed by a panel discussion at 6:15.


"The idea is to provide a unique networking experience showcasing startups and established companies in the same room," said Warren Nash, director of the Lexington Office of KIN. "Attendees will have the chance to see the area's newest up-and-coming startups, and hear from some of Lexington's best success stories."


Nash said the number of companies registered to exhibit in the showcase is at 18 and growing.


Cost for admission is $10 per ticket which includes light hors d'oeurves. You can register at:


The Livery is located at 238 East Main Street in Lexington. 




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

Hilltop Avenue Reduced to One Lane May 13

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 16:07

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 12, 2015) — Wednesday, May 13, Hilltop Avenue near the intersection of Woodland Avenue on the University of Kentucky campus will be reduced to one lane of traffic. This lane closure is necessary for unanticipated utility work associated with “The 90” dining facility.  Work is expected to begin around 7 a.m. and end in early afternoon.


One lane of traffic will remain open at all times. Flagmen will assist with directing traffic during the impact.


Anyone who normally travels in the vicinity should allow extra travel time. The university is working to minimize the impact to rush hour traffic; however, some impact may be unavoidable.


For more information on the project, visit

Barnhart Chosen for Athletics Director of the Year Award

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 13, 2015) — University of Kentucky Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart was named a winner of the Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Award Tuesday, May 12, by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).


Barnhart was one of four selected in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, along with Chris Del Conte of TCU, Warde Manuel of Connecticut and Ian McCaw of Baylor. They will receive their honors June 17 at the annual NACDA awards luncheon in Orlando, Florida.


“Under the steady and successful leadership of Mitch Barnhart, the University of Kentucky athletics program is reaching extraordinary levels of success across its 22 varsity programs,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “For 13 years, his integrity and talent have empowered our staff, coaches and student-athletes to succeed on the field, in the classroom and across the communities they serve. Having recently reached his ambitious set of goals for the department, Mitch continues to inspire our program to reach even higher, while supporting in creative and impactful ways the academic mission of the university.”


The NACDA recognition comes the same year that UK Athletics completed the final goal set as part of Barnhart's ambitious 15 by 15 by 15 Plan.


·         The Southeastern Conference Tournament championship won by the men's basketball team gave UK its 15th conference or national title since the plan was announced in 2008.


·         In the 2013-14 school year, UK finished 11th in NACDA Directors' Cup standings, meeting Barnhart's aim to make Kentucky a top-15 athletics department nationally.


·         UK also has reached the academic prong of 15 by 15 by 15 in five consecutive semesters by achieving a department-wide grade-point average of 3.0 or better.


·         In addition, UK Athletics met the final component by expanding the department's community service in Lexington and beyond.


“I’m thankful for the presidents I’ve worked for, Dr. (Eli) Capilouto and Dr. (Lee) Todd at Kentucky and Dr. (Paul) Risser at Oregon State, and for Coach Dickey (former Tennessee athletics director Doug Dickey), who was an important mentor to me,” Barnhart said. “It is a great honor to be recognized by your peers. Success is driven by a wonderful staff, dynamic coaches and talented young people.”


UK Athletics has enjoyed comprehensive growth since Barnhart’s arrival in 2002. Eighteen of UK's 22 varsity teams contributed to the 2014 school-record Directors' Cup finish, with seven finishing in the top 10 of their respective sports.


Barnhart has helped pave the way for UK's ascendance as an athletics department by innovatively pursuing facility improvements. In September, UK will play the grand-opening game in the new Commonwealth Stadium following a $120 million project made possible by an unprecedented partnership with its university partner. The football program also will have a new $45 million practice facility in 2016, adding to a list of new facilities completed in the last two years that includes new softball and soccer stadiums, a new track and a new golf complex.


Barnhart is steadfast in his commitment to putting student-athletes first, evidenced by their strong academic performances. He is active in community service and encourages student-athletes to follow suit. Putting that into action, UK student-athletes combined to serve 4,319 hours in the community during the 2013-14 school year. Also, over the last four years, UK football players have made educational/service trips to Ethiopia, a program that has been expanded to include athletes from multiple sports.


Even with the department's growth and the increasingly competitive nature of college sports, UK Athletics has remained fully self-sufficient, operating with a balanced budget and with the help of no state or university funds under Barnhart's leadership. As further proof of UK Athletics' financial stewardship, Barnhart directs a $1.7 million annual contribution to the university's scholarship program and UK Athletics is funding nearly two-thirds of the $100 million Academic Science Building under construction on campus. All totaled, UK Athletics has directly and indirectly contributed nearly $200 million to the university's mission since 2002.


Barnhart is also a leader in shaping the future of college sports on a national level. He was appointed to serve on the NCAA Division I Council, a body charged with conducting the day-to-day business of Division I athletics, after becoming the chair of the NCAA Basketball Issues Committee in 2010.


Barnhart’s legacy includes helping develop administrators who have gone on to become athletics directors at nationally prominent universities, including Greg Byrne of Arizona, Mark Coyle at Boise State, Rob Mullens at Oregon and Scott Stricklin at Mississippi State.


Barnhart, Del Conte, Manuel and McCaw are among 28 athletics directors who will be honored at the NACDA event. Four winners in each category are chosen in the NCAA Football Subdivision; NCAA Division I-AAA, Division II and Division III; NAIA; and junior/community colleges.


“Since 1998, NACDA has been highlighting the notable contributions made by athletics directors across all divisions of our membership,” said Bob Vecchione, NACDA Executive Director. “These 28 winners have been recognized by their peers for their outstanding work on campus, in their community and supporting their student-athletes. We look forward to recognizing their significant achievements at our 50th Anniversary Convention this June.”


Among the criteria for selection were service as an AD for a minimum of five years; demonstration of commitment to higher education and student-athletes; continuous teamwork, loyalty and excellence; and the ability to inspire individuals or groups to high levels of accomplishments. Additionally, each AD’s institution must have passed a compliance check through its appropriate governing body. Selection committees composed of current and former directors of athletics, present and past NCAA and NAIA presidents, current and former commissioners and other key athletics administrators voted on nominees for the awards. 


Barnhart is the second Kentucky AD to be selected, as C.M. Newton was chosen in 1999, the inaugural year for the honor.



MEDIA CONTACT: Tony Neely, 859-257-3838;