Brad's Blurb

Dear Staff,

I want to thank you for spending a large portion of last Thursday at the staff retreat.   I appreciated having the opportunity to bring everyone together as we get ready to start another school year.  I hope that you found it to be a good use of your time.  Special thanks to all of you who helped with the coordination and conduct of the retreat:  Staff Council, Project Management, Culture Committee, break out group facilitators, HIVE, and Dr. Charley Carlson. 

There was a lot of really good feedback received from everybody on the topics of Collegiality, Professional Development, and Work Life Balance.  As I mentioned at the retreat, I will be working up a plan to discuss, prioritize, and address your group recommendations for the upcoming year.  I will use the newsletter in the weeks ahead to keep you abreast of ongoing actions. 

If you have feedback on the staff mission/vision/values please send them my way.   

If you took a photo at the retreat, they are available by contacting Dana Rogers at: after August 22. 



This unusual bedform was created by the self-organizing dynamics of ocean waves, wind, sand, and shells a couple of days ago.

OK, it wasn’t. It is the work of a vacationer at Myrtle Beach. But it got me to thinking, not only about what an awesome sand sculpture it is, but about uniqueness and probabilities in Earth surface systems.

In theoretical physics, the “many worlds in one” (MWO) concept holds that, with unlimited space and time, any outcome not forbidden by the first and second laws of thermodynamics (laws of conservation of mass and energy) will eventually occur (Vilenkin, 2007 is the standard source for MWO; I encountered it via Koonin, 2012). Thus, on some beach, somewhere, some time, waves and wind have independently sculpted a sand alligator.

Brad's Blurb

Dear A&S Staff,

It’s time to announce the July Sparcet winners.  Jennifer Vanderlugt topped the list of staff who gave out the most Sparcets with five.  Lisa Sibley and Kelly Muschong ran a perfect photo finish for most Sparcets received and tied each other with three.  July’s Platinum winner and recipient of a free lunch is, (drum roll), Josh Duruttya who received a Sparcet from Linda Elmore for doing “an awesome job with packing up old documentation to send to Kentucky Underground Storage.  It was the first we had done it as an IBU.  He helped figure it all out and he did all the work”.  Congrats Josh on winning one free lunch along with 3 other staff members of your choosing. 

There is a monthly UK HR newsletter for staff and faculty called “Thrive”. To be added to the UK HR newsletter distribution list you can email a request to:  The latest newsletter includes information on upcoming health screening opportunities, class offerings, career development coaching sessions, and campus construction updates, and a variety of other HR topics.  It is a great resource for information on campus. 



A sandy beach is actually sometimes a pretty good place to think about fluvial forms and processes. The small streams, swashes, outfalls, and ebb-tide channels can be examined up-close, and they change several times each day, with the tidal cycle (here where I am at the moment in South Carolina, two high and two low tides each day). Thus Buck Swamp Creek, which discharges on the beach near where I’m staying, goes through four cycles of change a day.

A lot of work in recent years suggests that unless the material is pretty cohesive (which of course beach sand is not), without vegetation stream channels tend to be braided, and single-channel meandering forms are rare. You can see that here, where the marsh creeks—with plants and mud—are meandering, but develop nice braided patterns where they cross the sand. But along a mud coast near Cairns, Australia, where I spent some time last (N. hemisphere) summer, the same kinds of channels across the tide flats were meandering.

Braided channel crossing the beach at low tide, Myrtle Beach, SC. 

Five Things About Me

I grew up on a farm in Morehead, KY. I came to UK as a student in 1998. By 1999, I began working as a Resident Advisor, one of my earliest jobs at UK.  I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Education in 2003 and worked for Morehead State University before returning to UK to finish my Master of Science in Education in 2009. I spent 14 years working in student services in housing and residence life, eventually serving as an Area Coordinator, working with roughly 1100 students and serving the Global Village and Global Scholar living learning programs. In 2010, I began working on my PhD in Education and, barring any setbacks, hope to have completed the disseration no later than May 2015. I joined the College of Arts and Sciences in June of 2013 following 14 years in Student Affairs. Somewhere amongst work and education, I was lucky in 2005 to marry my wife, Dana, whom I not only met as a fellow UK student, but also works for the medical side of campus and is a JD, MHA, etc..



A blessing (in my view) or a curse of being a geomorphologist is that you are never completely “off the clock,” because there are landforms and landscapes everywhere, and in all but the most heavily urbanized and industrialized areas, you can almost always see something interesting.

So here I am on vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC, a destination and timing selected because my son and daughter-in-law live here, and my grand-daughter is due within the next 10 days or so. I went out for a run on the beach this morning (one of the few surfaces my bad knees tolerate any more), and could not help but think that it would be a great day for a class field trip. Not a classic summer beach day by any stretch—cloudy, rainy, lightning out over the ocean, and a strong wind from the east, not typical at this time of year. But a lot to see along the shore.



Topophilia is the affective bond between people and places, and also the title of an influential 1990 book by human geographer Yi Fu Tuan. I was thinking about this yesterday as my wife and I drove across the North Carolina coastal plain to visit relatives. Highway 70 from Raleigh east toward the coast is not a scenic drive by any objective standard. The topography is flat and monotonous, and the road corridor is infested with strip malls, billboards, convenience stores, and tourist traps.

Yet, as it does every year when I make the trek east from Kentucky, this crappy stretch of highway triggered fond associations with eastern North Carolina—topophilia, I reckon. I am a native of the region, taught for nine years at East Carolina University, and my wife’s family lives there. My post-dissertation field research sites were there, and there are some sites I still monitor during my family visits.


Staff Retreat Breakout Sessions

Dear Staff,

During the Staff Retreat on August 13 there will be breakout sessions to discuss the following topics: Collegiality,Professional Development, and Work Life Balance.  Below is a list of read ahead articles on each topic.  I encourage you to check out a few in advance of the retreat.  Thanks.  

Work Life Balance:



A big problem with predicting responses to global climate change (or other environmental changes) is that they are nonlinear and thus disproportionate. Sometimes large changes can have relatively small responses, while in other cases small changes can have disproportionately large impacts.

Responses to environmental change are sometimes characterized by amplifiers—phenomena that reinforce or exaggerate the effects of the change. For example, if coastal land is subsiding, this amplifies the effects of sea level rise. Or, when warming results in permafrost thawing, this releases methane, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, this leads to further warming. However, there are also filters—phenomena that resist, offset, or diminish the effects of the change. For instance, if coastal land is tectonically or isostatically uplifting, this can offset or even eliminate effects of sea level rise with respect to coastal submergence. Or, if warming results in increased cloud cover, which reflects more radiation, this counteracts the warming.

Brad's Blurb

Time Management:  A Different Take

Have you ever felt there just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish what you need to accomplish?   It has long been thought that the key to workplace success was managing time more efficiently.  Since time is limited during a week it seems to make sense.  However, maybe it isn’t entirely about managing time, but also about managing energy.   Energy is a component of good performance since all hours are not created equal in the workplace.  It is a qualitative way to look at it versus a quantitative one. 

Do you accomplish more in three hours when you are sleep-deprived or in one hour when you feel energetic, optimistic, and engaged?   Eight hours of work when you're exhausted and distracted might be far less productive than three hours when you are "in the zone."  So how can we focus less on the number of hours we work, and more on doing what it takes to make sure we are at our best when working?  


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