Five Things About Me

Will BickersI’m originally from Havelock, North Carolina. However, I now call the beautiful city of Lexington my home. I’m a proud graduate from the University of Kentucky in May 2011. I received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and completed three minors in Communication, History, and Geography. During my time as an undergrad I established myself as a UK Tour Guide and a Summer Advising Wildcat Assistant. These positions helped me realize my passion for this amazing “See Blue” community eventually guiding me toward being a UK Recruiter for the Chicagoland area. After working as a UK Recruiter for two and half years I transitioned into my current role as A&S Recruiter and Retention Coordinator.

Five Things About Me

camille harmonI was born and raised in Lexington, KY.  I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2012 where I earned my BS in Community Communications and Leadership Development (Agriculture Communications). I began working at UK in 2010 as a student worker in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.  I moved to STEPS in 2012 before becoming an employee in the College of Arts and Sciences this past June.  I will be married a year in August to my husband Matt and we live here in Lexington.  We have a 7 year-old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie named Oliver. 


Brad's Blurb

Dear Staff,

Please mark your calendars for the next A&S staff retreat scheduled on August 13 (Wednesday) in the UK Student Center Ballroom from 10:00 am-3:00 pm.  Lunch will be provided.  During the retreat you will hear from Dean Kornbluh about the future goals and objectives of the College, meet new staff members, have the opportunity to join break out discussion groups on Work Life Balance, Professional Development, and Collegiality/Workplace Professionalism,  hear from the Culture Committee about actions taken this past year as a result of the feedback from the fall semester culture survey and information on the completion of the next survey, and hear from the Staff Council on their goals for the upcoming year.   Keep an eye out for more information in upcoming A&S Newsletters as well as an email invitation. 



I recently stumbled upon the OCBIL theory. In the words of Hopper (2009): “OCBIL theory aims to develop an integrated series of hypotheses explaining the evolution and ecology of, and best conservation practices for, biota on very old, climatically buffered, infertile landscapes (OCBILs). Conventional theory for ecology and evolu- tionary and conservation biology has developed primarily from data on species and communities from young, often disturbed, fertile landscapes (YODFELs), mainly in the Northern Hemisphere.” As a geomorphologist, and in particular a biogeomorphologist interested in coevolution of landscapes, biota, and soils, the OCBIL-YODFEL contrast is extremely interesting—mainly because it implies a key role for landscape age, stability, and geomorphic disturbance regimes in the development of ecosystems and evolution of biodiversity patterns.



One of my major research interests is the coevolution of soils, landforms, and biota. I’ve been working in this area pretty steadily since about 2000, but until 2013 I was completely unaware of some work being done along the same lines, over about the same time period. This is the work of W.H. Verboom and J.S. Pate from Western Australia, who among other things developed the “phytotarium concept.” Phytotarium defines the specific plants and microbial associates driving specific pedological changes during niche construction. This concept, and a wealth of work on biogenic origins of pedological and geomorphological features such as clay pavements, texture-contrast (duplex, as they call them in Australia) soils, and laterites, was highly relevant to my own thinking (e.g., Phillips, 2009a; 2009b), but though I consider myself familiar with the biogeomorphology and pedogenesis literature, then and now, I had somehow missed it.

Deep sandy duplex (vertical texture contrast) soils, Western Australia. Photo credit: Dept. of Agriculture & Food, Western Australia.

UK's Legal 101 Class

 Last week, I attended Legal 101: An Introduction to the University of Kentucky’s Office of Legal Counsel.  It was an interesting course, and I would recommend that, if you work here, you take it.

 The course matter covers everything from how Governance works at the University to how we are affected by State funding and laws.  Some more specific topics covered include: UK contracts and signature authorizations, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, ethics, copyrights, privacy, open records (FERPA and HIPAA), use of technology (including social media), and more.

 I was surprised at how much I learned and the amount of subject matter that touches areas we deal with on a daily basis—from making purchases, to using your UK email, to protecting our students’ information. 

 For instance, did you know that, due to UK policy and the Open Records law, information sent or received through your computer is subject to be reviewed or subpoenaed?  Or, how about the fact that including a favorite comic strip in presentation or handout could be a copyright violation (unless it falls under the doctrine of fair use—which it might for educational purposes)?  Ok, one more.  Did you know that the use of any UK logos (including trademarks and images) is prohibited on personal social media profiles?

Brad's Blurb

Dear Staff,

It was encouraging seeing everybody who could make it to the A&S Staff Awards Recognition Luncheon.  It was a great opportunity for the College to recognize the entire staff for your hard work and exemplary efforts over the last year.   Congratulations to everyone that received service awards and to the Staff Excellence Award nominees and recipients.   Here is a recap of the awardees:

5 Year Service Awards:  Nijad Zakharia, Sarah Condley, Daniel Whittaker, Jennifer Ellis, Kari Burchfield, Peter Idstein, Mohammed Shammisaldeen, Samir Gunjan, Emily Denehy, Seth Taylor, Sara Perkins, Joe Wiley, Hayward Wilkirson.

10 Year Service Awards:  Jaime Brown, Melissa Cowan, and Marc Heft

15 Year Service Awards:  Mike Adams, Lynn Webb, Michael Stottman, Brian Doyle, and Lori Eckdahl

20 Year Service Awards:  Kim Reeder and Pam Webb

25 Year Service Awards:  Christine Levitt and Stacey Wilks

30 Year Service Award:  Arthur Sebasta

40 Year Service Award:  Adrienne McMahan

Bi-Weekly Outstanding Staff Award:  Diane Riddell

The Monthly Outstanding Staff Award:  James Morris

Four Elements for a More Fulfilling Workplace

I recently read a provocatively-titled article in the New York Times’ Sunday Review called "Why You Hate Work." Though the title is rather strong, the findings were pretty interesting. Not one to pass up commentary on work culture (and how to make it better), I read the piece, written by Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project, whose blog is full of great work-related research, and Christine Porath from Georgetown University, based on a study they conducted. They found that there are four major factors that influence how we feel about our jobs.

Sycamores and Hillslopes

Below are some recent photographs of sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) in limestone bedrock at Herrington Lake, Kentucky (about37.78o N, 84.71o W). As you can see, the tree roots and trunks exploit joints in the rock, and accelerate weathering both by physically displacing limestone slabs and widening joints by root growth, and by facilitating biochemical weathering along both live and dead roots.

Sycamores rock

These are some nice examples of root/bedrock interaction, and the general phenomena are not uncommon, though usually much more difficult to see. The Herrington Lake shores also appear to illustrate a process by which the sycamores accelerate weathering and mass movements (other trees are also involved, but Platanus occidentalis seems to be the most common and effective):

1. Plants colonize the exposed bedrock, with roots exploiting bedrock joints.

2. Tree roots accelerate weathering and loosen joint blocks.

3. While the tree is still alive, root growth envelopes rock fragments and the trees provide a physical barrier to downslope transport.


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