By Meredith Weber

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 29, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Alumni Association Lyman T. Johnson African American Alumni Group, in partnership with the UK Office for Institutional Diversity, will host the 30th annual Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer and Torch of Excellence awards via Facebook Live at noon Monday, Feb. 1. The program honors and celebrates African American students and alumni from each college who epitomize the ideals of Lyman T. Johnson.

UK’s academic colleges select alumni whose faith, hard work and determination have positively affected the lives of people on the UK campus, the city, state or nation. These individuals receive the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence Award. These colleges also choose students within their respective college whose academic achievement and


By Lindsey Piercy 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 20, 2021) — Today, Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States, and Kamala Harris will become the first woman to serve as vice president.

At noon, a formal ceremony will mark the start of the new presidency. While key elements will remain steeped in tradition, many events won’t look like those of the past. Instead, they have been “reimagined” as the United States continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a tumultuous year in politics, how will this inauguration go down in the history books?

Tiffany Barnes, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts


By Carl Nathe and Kody Kiser

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 8, 2021) — What will the future of energy storage look like? Whether it be batteries for electronic devices like cell phones, laptops, tablets and smart watches, or for electric cars and hybrid vehicles, or for units that play an integral role in the operations of major power plants, researchers at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) are working to speed the development of the next generation of more efficient and safer battery technology.

The CAER investigates energy technologies to improve the environment. Researchers contribute to technically sound policies related to fossil and renewable energy.

Staffed by professional scientists and engineers, CAER


In light of the recent developments in Washington, D.C., a WKYT journalist interviewed Clatyon Thyne, chair of the Political Science Department; as well as Michael Zilis and Stephen Voss, associate professors of political science. Zilis and Thyne discuss the Electoral College vote in Congress and the invasion of the U.S. Capitol, and Voss looks at the Senate runoffs in Georgia. You can see all three interviews


Tiffany D. Barnes, associate professor of political science in the University of Kentucky's College of Arts & Sciences, has co-written an article for Ms. magazine on Janet Yellen the former chair of the Federal Reserve who is President-elect Joe Biden's choice for treasury secretary. Her co-author is Diana Z. O'Brien of Rice University.

"The selection of Janet Yellen as the first woman to serve at the helm of Treasury and oversee the biggest economy in the world is noteworthy," the article states. "But Yellen’s appointment is in keeping with research that shows women are especially likely to be selected for leadership in the middle of crises. Is she being set up to fail?"

You can read the article here


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


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