UK has, for the last several years, been ranked highly by Military Times magazine for our institution's support of and dedication to military veterans. The Veterans Resource Center was established, and recently significantly renovated, to provide veterans with assistance in transitioning to college life. These services focus on veterans across the span of experience, whether a veteran is entering college for the first time, transferring from another school, or returning after a deployment. Please join me in thanking each of these individuals for their commitment to our country and our UK community. They are reminders of our most fundamental purpose as an institution: to positively impact those we serve. We look forward to celebrating Veterans Day. Tim Tracy@UKYProvost#seeblue#seeservice
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
As a $3.5 billion academic, research and health enterprise, discovery lies at the core of our institution. We are called to answer still lingering questions that affect our communities and at the same time dare to pioneer the questions yet asked. Because of this commitment, our research and scholarly endeavors offer the brightest hope for transformation of our Commonwealth and the broader world we serve.
The past month has been a particularly exciting time for our research enterprise.
Nearly two weeks ago, Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis presented to our Board of Trustees our progress with respect to UK research, in alignment with our strategic plan. She told a compelling story of our impact on and our promise to Kentucky.
A week ago today, we celebrated the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) receiving a four-year, $19.8 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health—the second CTSA grant that the UK CCTS has competed for and received. These grants are extremely competitive and place UK in elite company. Other institutions funded in this round include Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Rockefeller University and UCLA.
Every day, I am inspired by the talent, passion and collaboration I see across our campus, particularly in the impactful research carried out by our faculty. Our research and scholarly endeavors address the compelling questions of our day and serve our communities in profound, tangible ways.
Take, for example, the work of Dr. Jennifer Havens, an epidemiologist in the University of Kentucky Center for Drug and Alcohol Research. Her work involves a particular focus on Appalachia and on a public health issue that’s afflicting our fellow Kentuckians.
About 15 years ago, a shift toward injection drug use behaviors occurred in rural Appalachia.
These changes in drug use patterns signaled the potential for infiltration of blood-borne pathogens transmitted through shared needles, initiating a spread of infectious disease. Increases in hepatitis C (HCV) infections have paralleled the increase in injection drug use behaviors among opioid users, with the rate of HCV infection in three Appalachian states tripling within six years.
Because of these staggering rates of injection drug use and HCV in Appalachia, the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) issued planning grants in 2016 to support researchers expediting and implementing solutions to the epidemic. Dr. Havens was recently awarded two of the competitive planning grants to launch projects that will inform interventions and policies directed at opioid abuse across Appalachia.
Dr. Havens has followed the simultaneous rise in injection drug use and HCV in Appalachia since 2004, accruing valuable data imperative for informing interventions and effective health policies. In 2008, she embarked on a longitudinal study funded by NIDA. The project involved working with a community-based research team to recruit more than 500 injection and non-injection opioid users and opening a storefront research site in Hazard, Kentucky.
The site enabled researchers to build rapport in the community and retain research participants through several years of observation and data collection.
For the past eight years, Dr. Havens has accumulated data from the cohort regarding infectious disease prevalence and incidence, HCV risk factors, social networks, transmission behaviors and availability of preventive health services. To identify factors contributing to disease transmission, Dr. Havens and the study team analyzed social networks in rural communities, which remain relatively stable over time and provide a firm basis for examining how disease transmits through communities. The researchers collected information about individual drug-use behavior, as well as the social linkages between members of drug-using networks.
This information allowed Havens, in collaboration with researchers in the UK College of Public Health, to visually map Appalachian drug-using networks and disease transmission with unprecedented specificity. She also assessed risk factors such as syringe sharing, years of injection drug use and history of incarceration as predictors of HCV infection.
Dr. Havens is just one example, among many, of a researcher who has applied her knowledge, passion and life’s work to tackling a stubborn health disparity that is a scourge impacting our entire Commonwealth.
Her work reminds us of why we are here.
As members of the University FOR Kentucky, we ask ourselves each day: how can we use our talent to serve our community—to make it better, healthier, safer, and a place where everyone belongs.
Timothy S. Tracy
Thursday, October 20, 2016
This week, I have the honor of congratulating nine faculty members who were selected to to participate in the 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program.
This national recognition is a true example of the academic excellence that exists across our campus.
More than 100 faculty members from all 14 Southeastern Conference (SEC) universities will take part in the 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program. The program, in its fifth year, provides support for selected individuals to collaborate with colleagues at other SEC member institutions.
The SEC Faculty Travel Program is part of SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC supports and promotes the endeavors and achievements of the students and faculty at its 14 member universities.
The SECU program believes collaboration is key to the success and advancement of research. Through the program, the SEC provides financial assistance for its faculty members to travel to other SEC universities to exchange ideas, develop grant proposals, conduct research and deliver lectures or performances.
The nine chosen from UK to participate in the SEC Faculty Travel Program are:
- Sunday "Tayo" Adedokun, an assistant professor of animal and food sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment;
- Melinda Ickes, associate professor of kinesiology and health promotion in the College of Education;
- Yang Jiang, an associate professor in behavioral science in the College of Medicine;
- Youngseek Kim, assistant professor of library and information science in the College of Communication and Information;
- Yoko Kusunose, assistant professor of agricultural economics in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment;
- Rebekah Radtke, assistant professor of interiors in the College of Design;
- Monica Visona, associate professor of art history in the College of Fine Arts;
- Irina Voro, professor of piano in the College of Fine Arts; and
- Jonathan Wenk, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering.
Once again, congratulations! We look forward to seeing the impressive work that is sure to come from this program.
Visit the SECU online at www.thesecu.com/programs/sec-faculty-travel-program/2016-2017-sec-facult... for a full list of 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program participants.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Homecoming is one of our institution’s richest traditions. It is a time for our campus community—our students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans—to come together and celebrate the University of Kentucky and what it means to us.
Homecoming also marks the time when the fall academic semester is in full swing; it’s nearly time for midterms, which begin on Oct. 17, a week from Monday.
In the midst of midterm preparation, I hope students take the time to enjoy all that this weekend has to offer, which includes supporting their classmates.
This year, our juniors and seniors who represent UK’s Homecoming Royalty are outstanding examples of both student success and academic excellence.
Evan Adams, a Lexington native and son to Doug and Stephanie Adams, is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky, majoring in Psychology. He is the current President of Sigma Chi Fraternity, where he has also served as Chaplain and Philanthropy and Service Chairman. Over his tenure at the University of Kentucky, he has served on the executive committees of DanceBlue, Wrap Up America, and GreekWide, and has been involved with other campus organizations such as FUSION Day of Service and Campus Student Fellowship. After graduation, Evan will pursue a Master’s in Education, with aspirations of teaching and preparing the next generation. Evan is sponsored by Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.
Tommy Daley is a senior from Springboro, Ohio. Majoring in Biology and Philosophy, he hopes to move on to medical school next year. In his time at UK, he has been a brother of Alpha Tau Omega, president and founder of MEDLIFE, president of the Student Wellness Ambassadors, a member of Phi Delta Epsilon, and an active member of the Christian Student Fellowship. He is currently a chair for DanceBlue, a senator-at-large for the Student Government Association, and works at Magee’s Bakery. He is the son of Lee and Megan Daley. Tommy is sponsored by Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.
Richie Simpson is a senior from Lexington, Kentucky. He has always dreamed of attending the University of Kentucky, and is a senior who is studying Economics. His parents are Carol and David Simpson, from Lebanon, Kentucky, and Lexington, Kentucky, respectively. In his time at the University of Kentucky, he has been involved in a variety of organizations engaged in helping new students’ transition to life in Lexington at UK. In his final year at UK, he is serving as the Overall Chair of DanceBlue, a student organization at UK that supports children in their battle against cancer. Richie is sponsored by Chi Omega Sorority.
Patrick Smith, Jr. is the son of Patrick Sr. and Crystal Smith. Patrick is currently a senior from Belleville, Illinois and double majors in Marketing and Business Management. He is involved in leadership with the National Panhellenic Council and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and has been earned many awards through regional, provincial, and national levels. In the past, he has also been involved with SGA, the Black Student Union, and the National Association of Black Accountants. After graduation, Patrick plans on attending law school in hopes of becoming an attorney. Patrick is sponsored by the National Panhellenic Council.
Zhizhi Wit Wang is currently a senior student majoring in Business Management in the Gatton College of Business and Economics. He is originally from China, and has been studying in the United States for a little over six years. At the age of sixteen, his father Qi Wang and mother Miao Li decided on sending him for a better education in the United States. He is well plugged-in in several organizations on campus and in the community. He is passionate about helping other people and promoting diversity and inclusion. He truly believes that everyone can change the world. A quote from his favorite TedTalk: “We have branded love about changing the world, but there is no world, just 7.4 billion understandings. If we can influence one person at a time, we are already making a positive change.” Wit is sponsored by Leadership Exchange.
DeAnna Duffy is the daughter of Brian and Carolyn Duffy. She is from Elk Grove Village, Illinois. She is a senior Psychology major with a History minor. She is on the Board of Directors with the Leadership Exchange, the Scholarship Chair for Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, and a Student Peer Coordinator with Transformative Learning. She also loves to volunteer with Wildcat Service Dogs, the Ronald McDonald House, and Wolf Run Wildlife Refuge. She is also a member of the Developmental Psychology Research Lab at the University, working under Dr. Christina Brown. DeAnna is currently applying to graduate school to become a high school teacher and hopes to someday teach abroad. DeAnna is sponsored by Leadership Exchange.
Elizabeth Foster is a junior from Owensboro, Kentucky studying Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Foster. Elizabeth is a Patterson Scholar and member of the Honors College. Currently, she serves as Chief of Staff for the Student Government Association and Membership Education Vice-President for Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. In addition, she serves on the Family Relations Committee for DanceBlue and is a member of the Society of Women Engineers. Elizabeth also works at both the University of Kentucky Visitor Center and Schneider Electric. Elizabeth is sponsored by Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.
Willow Kreutzer is a University of Kentucky senior studying Political Science with a double minor in International Relations and Gender and Women’s Studies with a certificate in Global Studies. She is from Lake Orion, Michigan, and the daughter of Gigi Kreutzer. Willow is the founding president of her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, and Vice President of her Political Science honors fraternity, Pi Sigma Alpha. She hopes to attend graduate school to continue her studies in International Relations, and pursue a career in government helping women in developing countries gain more rights. She is sponsored by Alpha Chi Omega Sorority.
Rowan Reid, a senior from Louisville, Kentucky, is a double degree candidate in Economics and Management. She is the daughter of Michael and Therese Reid, and has two other siblings attending UK, Halle and Nathaniel. She currently serves as the President of Student Government, and as the student trustee on UK’s Board of Trustees. She also is a member of the Student Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion and the Internal Recruitment chair for her sorority, Chi Omega. Rowan has dedicated her time at the University to bettering the student experience for her peers, and hopes to continue bettering the state of Kentucky in her professional career as a public attorney. Rowan is sponsored by Chi Omega Sorority.
Savanah Faith Sellars, from Lexington, Kentucky, is a senior Integrated Strategic Communications major and Philosophy minor. On campus, she is a member of Air Force ROTC Flying Wildcats, Student Government Association, Arnold Air Society, club swimming, and is a Pi Beta Phi Alumna. Savanah works as an intern speechwriter and communications strategist for the President, Provost and EVPFA of UK. Off campus, Savanah teaches Jobs for Life to women at the Fayette County Detention Center. After graduation, she will serve as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Her parents are Melinda and Thom Sellars of Lexington, Kentucky. Savanah is sponsored by Air Force ROTC Flying Wildcats.
Please join me in congratulating these students on their selection to UK Homecoming Royalty. Their commitments to academics, community service and to the University of Kentucky are outstanding.
Have a great weekend.
Timothy S. Tracy