By University Press of Kentucky and Danielle Donham

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 5, 2021) — Simon Girty was one of the most hated men in early America. The son of an Irish immigrant, he was raised on the western Pennsylvania frontier and captured by the Senecas as a teenager, living among them for several years.

Today, this frontiersman might be viewed today as a defender of Native Americans. But in his era, he was branded as a traitor for siding with First Nations and the British during the American Revolutionary War. He fought against Continental Army forces in the Ohio River Valley and won the bloody Battle of Blue Licks.

Written by University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences graduate


By Lindsey Piercy

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 6, 2021) — University Press of Kentucky author Crystal Wilkinson's novel, "The Birds of Opulence," has been selected by Kentucky Humanities for the 2021 Kentucky Reads.

The novel will be at the center of statewide conversations on the dynamics of family and community, the strength of women and stigmas surrounding mental illness. Kentucky Reads will offer 25 scholar-led discussions of “The Birds of Opulence” to community organizations throughout the Commonwealth.

“Mental illness continues to be one of our greatest societal ills and the stigma surrounding it is as concerning as the disease itself,” Wilkinson, an associate professor in the 


By Richard LeComte 

An overwhelming number of conflicts seem to be breaking out all over the world. They range from the Syrian civil war and the rekindled war between Armenia and Azerbaijan to protests over police actions in the United States. Enter Jesse C. Johnson, director of the Peace Studies Program in the University of Kentucky’s College of Arts & Sciences. The idea of bringing resolution – and peace -- to hostile environments spurs a host of topics for classes and research.  

“The purpose of the Peace Studies Program is to introduce


By Richard LeComte 

Hugo Reyes-Centeno has sunk his teeth into a fascinating, multidisciplinary approach to the study of human evolution at the University of Kentucky. That approach involves (yes) teeth. 

Reyes-Centeno joined the Anthropology Department faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences as an assistant professor in the fall. A paper he wrote with colleague Hannes Rathmann explores how anthropologists can trace the origins and diversity of humans  using specific characteristics of teeth. For example, the incisors of Native Americans today frequently have a “shoveled,” or


By University Press of Kentucky and Danielle Donham

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 17, 2020) — The University Press of Kentucky is launching a new series, “Race and Sports,” edited by University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences professors Gerald L. Smith and Derrick E. White

“By seeking books that explore the intersections of sports and racial and ethnic histories through the racial dynamics of gender, culture, masculinity, sexuality, and power through biography, community, film, literature, and oral history, the series opens a new analysis


By Jessica Bowman-Jones

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 16, 2020) — Ten University of Kentucky undergraduate student finalists recently competed in the final round of the third 5-Minute Fast Track Research Oral Competition.

The competition included two virtual preliminary rounds, with the top 10 students advancing to the final championship competition. This year’s final round was hosted in the UK's Worsham Cinema and livestreamed to a virtual audience.

Cultivating students’ presentation and research communication skills, competitors were challenged to present their research in five minutes, using only one static slide, in front of a panel of three judges and a virtual audience.

The top three winners are:

First place: Oscar

By Lindsey Piercy

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 16, 2020) — Tis the season to be merry and bright, but you may be feeling less than joyful during the "most wonderful time of the year."

Do you experience stress, anxiety or even depression during the winter months?

If so, you're not alone.

Each year, about 5% of adults in the United States experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But will symptoms worsen due to the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, flu season and darker, shorter days?

Matt Southward, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2020) — The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has funded a University of Kentucky open source software project aimed at advancing scientific and biomedical research.

Derek Young, associate professor in the Dr. Bing Zhang Department of Statistics in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of the award from CZI’s Essential Open Source Software for Science (EOSS) program. He will use the grant to significantly modernize and enhance his two R packages, titled “mixtools” and “tolerance.”

“R” refers to the programming language and free software environment for statistical computing, widely used by statisticians around the world.

“I maintain both packages regularly, however, I


By Richard LeComte

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The College of Arts & Sciences has grabbed an opportunity to bring a scholar of post-colonial literature onto the faculty to expand the range of offerings to University of Kentucky students who want to find new ways of looking at fiction. 

Jap-Nanak K. Makkar is pursuing a two-year American Council of Learned Societies post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of English. At the end of the fellowship, her position will be moved to a tenure-track assistant professorship. 

“It’s almost two years ago now that the ACLS announced this post-doctoral partnership initiative grant designed to diversify departments in the humanities in higher education,” said Peter Kalliney, professor of English. "Departments


This article previously appeared in Chemical and Engineering News on November 16.

Paul G. Sears, 96, died September 12 in Lexington, KY.

"Paul, a World War II veteran, served in the US Army Air Corps as a tail gunner on a B-17, which was shot down; he was a prisoner of war for 19 months. After the war, he completed his degrees and performed research for 2 years at Monsanto. He then joined the University of Kentucky faculty and became widely recognized for his research on nonaqueous solvents. He taught at all levels, influencing the lives of more than 7,000 students, and received several great-teacher awards. He was inducted into the College of Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2013 and was the faculty representative on the board of trustees for 9 years."

- Steven W. Yates, friend and colleague



By Richard LeComte 

Five recently hired faculty members associated with the African American and Africana Studies interdisciplinary program in the College of Arts & Sciences are broadening the range of diverse and inclusive course offerings to University of Kentucky students. The five new hires are JWells, Vieux Touré, Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, Brandon M. Erby and Aria S. Halliday. 

“It is important to hire Black faculty in these areas and all areas, because their individual and collective research expertise is essential to the mission of the University,” said Damaris B. Hill, interim director of the African American and Africana Program.  “This


Are you wondering what to get a 1-year-old this holiday season? Go with "big chunky blocks, like the kind featured in LEGO’s DUPLO sets," according to Christia Spears Brown, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky's College of Arts & Sciences. She recommended


By Whitney Hale


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 7, 2020) —  University of Kentucky graduate Chimene Ntakarutimana of Lexington has received a 2021 Marshall Scholarship to study at  University College London. Ntakarutimana is a  2020 graduate of psychology and sociology in UK's College of Arts & Sciences as wel as the Lewis Honors College.

The scholarship finances two years of graduate study in the United Kingdom. Ntakarutimana is the sixth UK student to receive the honor from the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission.

"Chimene continues a strong and proud tradition of UK


Yuanyuan Su joined the University of Kentucky as an assistant professor of astronomy in 2019 after being a postdoc at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. 

She is originally from Sichuan, China, the hometown of giant pandas. Su received her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama and went on to a postdoc in California before moving to Harvard.

Her primary research interest lies in clusters of galaxies. They are the largest gravitationally bound objects in the universe, containing thousands of galaxies that are held together by dark matter. The space between galaxies is filled with a very diffuse gas, the so-called “intracluster medium."

This gas is so hot that it radiates in X-rays but is undetectable at visual wavelengths. Su and her colleagues use space-based telescopes to observe galaxy clusters since the Earth's atmosphere absorbs X-rays.


By Lindsey Piercy

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 2, 2020) — How do you define success?

As 2020 comes to a close and we prepare to turn the page on the calendar, it’s inevitable to think about what you have accomplished.

Did you live up to your expectations? Or did you fall short?

Some of those answers may depend on how you define success. Benjamin Scales has been chasing his definition for nearly 30 years.

“Although I have attained ‘success,’ some small part of me always felt like a failure,” he said.

It was fall of 1984, and Scales was a freshman at the University of Kentucky extension campus in his hometown of Paducah. At the time, he was a model student — eager to learn and give back. “I was active in volunteer work. And in my sophomore year


By Richard LeComte

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Yuan Zhou, assistant professor of mathematics in the University of Kentucky’s College of Arts & Sciences, has received a $179,768 grant from the National Science Foundation through July 31, 2023.

The grant is titled Collaborative Research: Next-Generation Cutting Planes: Compression, Automation, Diversity, and Computer-Assisted Mathematics.” Zhou is researching  the interface of global optimization, computational semialgebraic geometry, computer-assisted theorem proving and software verification in ways that promise to improve “the training of undergraduate and graduate students in computational mathematics and research skills, as well as development of high-quality open-source research software.”

“Students will increase their proficiency with the real-world programming language Python and with software


By Kody Kiser and Carl Nathe

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 30, 2020) — Coming from a large family in Nebraska, Mark Prendergast grew up with a desire to help others.

Prendergast, the director of the Neuroscience Bachelor of Science degree program in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, has used that desire to find demonstrative ways to increase the number of students of color in the neuroscience field.

“We have a longstanding commitment to addressing issues of diversity, inclusivity and equity,” Prendergast said. “And one of our most important missions as faculty and scientists is to train the next generation of scientists and professors. And we have to, absolutely must do that, with diversity, inclusivity


By Richard LeComte

Although the FBI collects statistics on hate crime in the United States, what gets reported as a hate crime depends on several factors, including whether police, victims and witnesses regard the act as an actual hate crime.

Chenghui Zhang, a doctoral candidate in sociology in the University of Kentucky’s College of Arts & Sciences, is studying the factors that go into how people interpret hate crime. She received a $50,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice for her study, “Social Construction of Hate Crime in the U.S.: A Factorial Survey Experiment.”

“My research contributes to understanding how social structure influences crime and crime reporting behaviors, with a specific focus on how racial inequalities affect perceptions of and reactions to bias crimes,” Zhang


By Richard LeComte

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Francie Chassen-López, professor of history in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Kentucky, has been named the Otis A. Singletary Endowed Chair in Humanities.

The professorship is named after Otis A. Singletary, a historian and the eighth president of UK, serving from 1969 to 1987.

“Professor Chassen-López is an internationally renowned scholar whose research has had a profound impact on the understanding of Southern Mexican history all around the globe, but especially in the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking worlds,” said Christian Brady, interim dean of the College.

Chassen-López has produced three single-authored books, two co-authored books, two short books, three edited short anthologies, and 53 journal articles and books chapters, one of which won the Tibesar Prize in 2000 from the Council


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

The University of Kentucky Appalachian Center is currently offering awards and funding opportunities for students involved with work and research in the Appalachian region.

Applications for the 2021 James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research on Appalachia and applications for the 2021 UK Appalachian Center Eller & Billings Student Research Award are both due Feb. 15. 2021.

Graduate students are eligible to apply for the James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research on Appalachia and both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply for the Eller & Billings Student


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