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Doubling Up

By Mary Venuto
(April 15, 2014) - The University of Kentucky Chemistry department is excited to welcome two new faculty members, Professors Kenneth Graham and Peter Kekenes-Huskey, to the Bluegrass this summer. 
Graham specializes in carbon-based material analysis, and completed his Ph.D. under Professor John Reynolds at the University of Florida. At Florida he was part of one of the premier research groups that developed carbon-based materials for power generations and displays. He went on to Stanford University as a research fellow where he sharpened his expertise in the fields of organic light-emitting diodes and organic solar cells. 
“He will bring with him a very broad analytical/characterization skill-set and an interest in the study of interfaces that are present in devices, particularly those in photovoltaic devices,” said University of Kentucky Chemistry Department Chair, Mark Meier.
Graham was drawn to UK by the prospect of beginning a research group where ultra high vacuum based techniques will be utilized to study organic and hybrid organic-inorganic electronic materials. 
“My focus here has been on understanding the molecular factors influencing charge separation, energy level alignments, and the open circuit voltage,” said Graham. 
Graham will apply his expertise in material analysis to the vast array of carbon-based materials synthesized in chemistry and at the Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER)
“His main focus will be on improving the understanding of power generation in solar cells,” said UK chemistry professor and CAER collaborator John Anthony. “His area of research fits like a jigsaw puzzle piece into a vacant area we have always had in chemistry, and his hiring will allow us to pursue multi-investigator funding opportunities that before were not open to us.”
Kekenes-Huskey earned his Ph.D. at CalTech, and has been a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. His research focuses on using computational chemistry to understand heart function. 
“Professor Kekenes-Huskey will be developing computational methods that can span these very different realms, and his work will help to shed light on the fundamental molecular processes that underlie this important biological binding event,” said Meier. 
“Heart disease impacts millions of Americans, for which potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias are prevalent.” Kekenes-Huskey explained “While considerable progress has been made in understanding the cellular basis of arrhythmias accompanying heart disease, details of underlying molecular factors, and their influence on cellular function, have been elusive.”
Meier expressed his excitement for these two new hires and their ability to contribute and expand on the research happening at the University of Kentucky. 
Photo: Kenneth Graham (left) and Peter Kekenes-Huskey