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.

Brad's Blurb

Dear Staff,

This week brings us several key staff events with the College of Arts and Sciences Staff Appreciation Luncheon on Wednesday and the UK Staff Appreciation Luncheon on Thursday.  I hope everyone can find time to attend and enjoy some “downtime” with colleagues and friends. 

The Aspire Mentorship Program officially kicked off with the recent announcement of the initial mentee/mentor pairings listed below.  Congratulations to everyone that was nominated.  The program will continue to expand with another group selected later this summer. 

1. Erin Norton (Dept. Manager-Appalachian Studies) with Adrienne McMahan (Assistant Dean of Student Affairs)

2. Stacey Wilks (HR Payroll Specialist) with Aaron Vaught (Sr. Scheduler & Data Analyst-Recruitment & Enroll Planning)

3. Megan Koshurba (Staff Associate-A&S Front Office) with Melissa Cowan (Grants Analyst-IBU)

4. Andy Johnson (Scheduler and Data Analyst-Recruitment & Enroll Planning) with Peter Idstein (Academic Coordinator-Dept. of EES)

5. Jessica Pennington (Education Case Officer-Student Affairs) with Kim Reeder (Staff Associate Sr.-Psychology)

6. Lara Hillenberg (Academic Advisor) with Jenny Casey (Dept. Manager-Department of Psychology)

Five Things About Me

Mary BoultonOriginally from the Cincinnati area, I moved to Lexington where I completed a BA in Hispanic  Studies. After undergrad I returned to Cincinnati where I worked in global marketing for Procter & Gamble, but decided to complete my MA in Diplomacy and International Commerce. During my graduate program I worked in the research unit for sub-Saharan African Studies at the Foreign Service Institute in D.C. and after at the Center for Poverty Research at UK prior to my time at A&S. 
1. What do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I enjoy playing with my daughter and working on projects around the house with my husband. I also enjoy traveling.
2. What is your favorite movie or book? Besides traveling and spending time with my family, I enjoy reading, watching movies and trying out new restaurants. One of my favorite movies is “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” I love the combination of humor and story-telling the movie combines. 

Antarctic ice, sea-level, & rivers


The long-speculated collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is underway, and also appears to be on an unstoppable trajectory. According to the recently-published research documenting this (Joughin et al., 2014; McMillan et al., 2014; Rignot et al., 2014) it will likely take a couple of centuries for the ice sheets to transfer their water to the sea (in the case of land ice). Among other things, this means that already rising sea levels will accelerate (see this NASA summary discussion on past meltwater pulses and their effects on sea level:



Earth surface systems are characterized by components that are adjusted, and those that aren't. By "adjusted," I mean that they have had time to respond to the most recent change or disturbance, and reach relaxation time equilibrium (Phillips, 2009), are considered to be characteristic of their environment. Non-adjusted components are inherited from past environmental conditions, or are inherently dynamically unstable, nonequilibrium phenomena that basically don't reach a stable condition. You could also add a third category--phenomena that are in the process of adjustment, but haven't have time to complete the process (this corresponds roughly to Renwick's (1992) triad of equilibrium, nonequilibrium, and disequilibrium geomorphic systems). 

The attached describes a simple method for measuring and quantifying the degree of adjustedness in environmental systems--at least the quantification is simple; determining what constitutes adjusted, adjusting, and non-adjusted could get hairy. This was the seed of what was to be a research proposal, but I doubt that I will ever have time to pursue it. Maybe you will!



Science fiction and popular science writer Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Riffing on that theme, I once gave a talk in which I proclaimed that "any sufficiently improbable event is distinguishable from the miraculous." Some definitions of "miracle" invoke the divine or supernatural, but I have in mind the definition (in this case from the Merriam-Webster dictionary) as: "an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment." The point of the argument is that, due to the inescapable, irreducible role of geographical and historical contingency in Earth surface systems, all such systems (landscapes, ecosystems, soils, etc.) are unique in some respects (a formal argument along these lines is presented in this article: Phillips, J.D.  2007.  The perfect landscape.  Geomorphology 84: 159-169.). Thus the probability of existence of any given state of any given system at a given point in time is infinitesimally low. This exceedingly low probability makes nearly any environment in some senses extremely outstanding and unusual, and thus a miracle.


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