News

10/1/2014

by Keith Hautala

(Oct. 1, 2014) — Helen Blau, director of Stanford University's Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology, will deliver the sixth annual Thomas Hunt Morgan Lecture, presented by the University of Kentucky Department of Biology

Blau's lecture, titled "Reprogramming Stem Cell Fate and Function," will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2, in Room 116 of the Thomas Hunt Morgan Building. Blau will give a second talk, "Extended Healthspan Through Regenerative Medicine," at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, in the William T. Young Library Auditorium.  

Blau’s research is focused on the regulation of cell fate. In the 1980s her lab challenged and changed the dogma that the mammalian differentiated state was "terminal

8/26/2014
Paul Chellgren, left, talks with the 2014-15 class of Chellgren Fellows.

by Jenny Wells

(Aug. 26, 2014) — The University of Kentucky Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence honored its newest class of Chellgren Fellows this past weekend.  Benefactor Paul Chellgren, along with Chellgren Endowed Chair Philipp Kraemer, recognized and congratulated the students on being named Fellows.

The Chellgren Fellows Program is for students with exceptional academic potential and aspirations, who are eager to participate in a special learning community designed to cultivate extraordinary achievement. Outstanding faculty members from across campus serve as individual mentors for the Fellows.

The students selected as 2014-15 Chellgren Fellows include:

Shiza Arshad, an international studies
8/13/2014
Jeramiah Smith works with students in his lab. (Photo by Dana Rogers)

by Keith Hautala

(Aug. 13, 2014) — University of Kentucky biologist Jeramiah Smith studies salamanders and sea lamprey to find genetic clues to regeneration. Smith works closely with colleague Randal Voss on sequencing the salamander genome. Both are in the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"It’s 10 times bigger than the human genome, even though it probably contains essentially the same genes as the human genome," he said. "So there are lessons that can be learned about how organisms deal with all the DNA they have by looking at sort of this extreme example in salamanders. It can provide an important perspective on what the ancestral genome looked like."

Like salamanders, sea lamprey can regenerate

7/23/2014
Ashley Seifert

Video by UK Research Media

by Keith Hautala

(July 23, 2014) University of Kentucky Biology Professor Ashley Seifert, whose research is focused on skin regeneration, is studying the African spiny mouse, a tiny mammal with some amazing regenerative abilities.     

"What’s phenomenal is that they’re able to regenerate complex tissue structures," Seifert said. "They can regenerate all of the components of their skin including hair follicles, sebaceous glands and the underlying dermis, the structural component which gives the skin strength. And then, in the ears, amazingly, they can regenerate cartilage. Any orthopedic surgeon will tell you what a huge advance it would be if we could figure out how to regenerate cartilage in a mammal." 

7/14/2014
Randal Voss

Video produced by Alicia P. Gregory, videography/direction by Chad Rumford.

by Keith Hautala

(July 14, 2014) — Regeneration is one of the most tantalizing areas of biological research. How are some animals able to regrow body parts following injury? Why can't humans do the same thing? Can scientists learn the secrets that imbue certain animals with this amazing ability? Could that knowledge someday be used to develop new therapies to help people heal? 

Four professors in the University of Kentucky Department of Biology — Randal Voss, Jeramiah Smith, Ann Morris, and Ashley Seifert — are undertaking the basic scientific research needed to begin to answer these and other questions. Each of them approaches the problem from a different angle, focusing on different aspects of regeneration,

7/10/2014

By Mary Venuto

The Ecological Research and Education Center (EREC) has reached an important milestone in becoming a recognized field station.

For eighteen years the Ecological Research Facility (ERF), located on the north side of town, was used as a site for controlled experiments. Four years ago the University of Kentucky bought a former library building that was adjacent to ERF. With financial assistance from LexMark, ERF was able to become a field station.  

University of Kentucky biology faculty and undergraduate students have since used the Ecological Research and Education Center for a broad range of ecological environmental and genomic research. In addition to research, EREC is also involved in furthering the education of undergraduate

6/3/2014

by Keith Hautala

(June 3, 2014) The University of Kentucky has been awarded a $1.9 million grant to improve retention of students in the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, through a collection of initiatives dubbed "STEMCats."

UK is one of 37 research institutions selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to receive an award, from among 170 institutions competing for a share of $60 million in total funding. The five-year awards, ranging from $1.2 to $2.4 million, are intended to enable schools to focus on "significant and sustained improvement in retaining students" in the STEM disciplines.

Although the need for STEM graduates is growing nationally, fewer than half of all students who enter college with the intention of majoring in

6/2/2014

This story originally ran in the Herald-Leader on Saturday, May 31, and appears courtesy of Linda Blackford and the Lexington Herald-Leader.

by Linda Blackford

In 1976, Geoffrey Manley dropped out of Lafayette High School. He was only a sophomore, but money was tight and he felt like he needed to help support his mom and brother. He'd always enjoyed working with his hands, so he got a job as an auto mechanic at a Texaco station in Gardenside.

"No one in my family had gone to college, so growing up in Lexington, I don't think there was an expectation for me to go to college," Manley, now 53, said recently. "My mom was a single mom and there was a lot of financial burden on our family. I felt a need to go out there and make some money."

He began to specialize

4/14/2014
Sullivan Award

by Buck Ryan

(April 14, 2014) ― A local business owner with 30 years of public service focusing on social justice issues and homelessness, the founder of a service-dog training program to assist people with disabilities, and a student leader who expanded alternative spring break service trips globally are the recipients of the University of Kentucky's 2014 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallions for outstanding humanitarian service.

They will receive their medallions this evening at UK's annual Honors and Recognition  Awards Program in the Student Center Grand Ballroom. A 6 p.m. reception will be followed by the formal program beginning at 7 p.m.

The citizen recipient of the Sullivan Award this year is Debra Hensley, owner of the Hensley Agency of State Farm Insurance Companies in Lexington. She has worked in insurance and financial services since 1974.

2/21/2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 21, 2014) — The axolotl may look like a creature from a science fiction movie, but researchers at the University of Kentucky say these strange little salamanders have a lot to teach us.

On Monday, Feb. 24, the university will host a daylong symposium, titled "How Mexican Axolotls Promote Science, Conservation, and Creativity," sponsored by the UK College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology, and Department of Hispanic Studies.

The axolotl (rhymes with "tax a bottle") is unusual in that it does not undergo a metamorphosis between its juvenile form and adulthood, as do most salamanders, a trait known as paedomorphism, the retention of juvenile traits by adults.

"Axolotls are the most famous paedomorphic

2/18/2014
"Our Roots Run Deep As Ironweed" Book Cover

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 18, 2014) — Three University of Kentucky authors will present recent books about mountaintop removal mining, and the treasured landscapes and Appalachian communities that lie in its midst, at a book talk and signing Thursday, Feb. 27.  

Erik Reece, of the Department of English, and Jim Krupa, of the Department of Biology, will discuss their book, "The Embattled Wilderness: The Natural and Human History of Robinson Forest and the Fight for its Future" (University of Georgia Press, 2013). Shannon Elizabeth Bell, of the Department of Sociology, will discuss her book, "

2/17/2014
Zoology Classroom, 1900

by Whitney Hale

(Feb. 14, 2014) — In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 71st of 150 weekly installments explores the university's connection to the adoption of evolutionary theory.

Kentucky students were introduced to evolutionary theory as early as 1900. A photograph from campus of an early zoology class has written on the chalkboard, "The Evolution of Evolution Theories." This was long before the controversy regarding teaching evolutionary theory in the 1920s would erupt.

William Jennings Bryan, who had visited with campus leaders in 1912, would become the leading antievolutionist of the time.  In 1922, Bryan returned to Kentucky to further his beliefs speaking to large audiences in Lexington, Paris, Danville, as well as the legislature in Frankfort in favor of the antievolution bill.

An

2/10/2014
Andrew H. Knoll

by Keith Hautala

(Feb. 10, 2014) — A Harvard professor will deliver a special lecture at the University of Kentucky about the earliest forms of life on Earth.  

"The Deep History of Life: What Kinds of Life Characterized Earth During the Precambrian?" will be presented by Andrew H. Knoll, of the Harvard University Departments of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Earth and Planetary Sciences. Knoll's talk is free and open to the public and will take place starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at Memorial Hall. Free parking will be available at Parking Structure No. 2, on Hilltop Avenue. 

The Precambrian period refers to the time when only primitive life forms existed on Earth, before about 545 million years ago.

"Fossils of shells, bones, tracks, and trails record a history of animal evolution more than 600 million years in duration," Knoll

12/24/2013

by Jake Most

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 24, 2013) — Seven Kentucky Wildcats – Khristina Blajkevitch, Caitlin Ciokajlo, Ashley Frazier, Jonathan Keltner, Shelby Kennard, Megan Moir and Chelsea Oswald – have been recognized with the 1A Faculty Athletics Representatives organization’s Academic Excellence Awards.

Individuals had to maintain a minimum 3.8 cumulative GPA and have competed for at least two years of intercollegiate athletics in a sport sponsored by a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division 1A) conference to qualify for the awards.

Joe Fink, UK’s Faculty Athletics Representative and Professor of Pharmacy, noted that this national recognition is significant for several reasons.

“In addition to recognizing academic excellence as indicated by achieving an outstanding GPA, the award emphasizes the skill these outstanding individuals

12/16/2013
UK undergraduates

by Jenny Wells

(Dec. 16, 2013) — The University of Kentucky Office of Undergraduate Research has honored 18 students with the Oswald Research and Creativity Program awards.  Representatives from the Office of Undergraduate Research, along with director  Diane Snow, presented the winners with certificates at a reception on campus Dec. 5.

Established in 1964 by then-UK President John Oswald, the Oswald Research and Creativity Program encourages research and creative activities by undergraduate students at UK. The objectives of the program are to stimulate creative work by undergraduate students and to recognize individuals who demonstrate outstanding achievement.

Categories include Biological Sciences; Design, including

12/2/2013
Dr. David Westneat

by Allison Elliott-Shannon

(Nov. 26, 2013) — From humans to sparrows, individuals within a species display distinct "personalities" when it comes to their behaviors. Taking an innovative approach to understanding how various factors impact behavioral patterns, David Westneat is working with a local population of house sparrows to understand how variables including local ecology, stress and hormones come together to affect the parenting behaviors of birds and other creatures.

Westneat, professor in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology, has been awarded a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation for $670,000. As a behavioral ecologist with expertise on reproductive and social behavior, Westneat will use the grant to study variation in parenting patterns.

11/7/2013

 


video courtesy of UK Public Relations & Marketing

article by Jenny Wells

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 7, 2013) — In addition to research presentations, the 2014 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) will offer numerous volunteer opportunities for the entire campus community when the University of Kentucky hosts the conference April 3-5, 2014. From helping direct traffic, to managing technology, to just helping students find where they need to go, there will be a variety of positions available to students, faculty and staff.

Students will have even more flexibility to get involved, as the University Senate has given permission for faculty to redirect their classes April 3 and 4 so students can attend conference events and presentations. 

"This is a bit unusual; it's a new

10/21/2013
John Avise

by Allison Elliot-Shannon

(Oct. 21, 2013) — Prominent evolutionary biologist John Avise will deliver two lectures at the University of Kentucky this week, as the featured speaker for the fifth annual installment of the prestigious Thomas Hunt Morgan Speaker Series sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology.

Avise will offer two talks, the first a technical and scientific talk titled "Clones, Hermaphrodites, and Pregnancies." This talk will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in Room 116 of the Thomas Hunt Morgan building on Rose Street. The second talk, titled "Genetics in the Wild," will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25, in the auditorium of William T. Young Library. The second talk will be appropriate for a general audience. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

10/15/2013
Pharmacy student Christopher Terry (left), health sciences student John Wright Polk IV and pharmacy student Brette Hogan posed with a Tsáchilas community member in Ecuador.

                                   

by Claudia Hopenhayn

(Oct. 15, 2013) — Shoulder to Shoulder Global recently led 49 University of Kentucky students, faculty, staff and community members in a multidisciplinary health brigade experience to Santo Domingo, Ecuador.

STSG is a UK-based organization that strives to improve the health and well-being of impoverished communities while offering learners the opportunity to work in a multicultural and interdisciplinary setting.

The brigade, which took place Aug. 2-11, was the culmination of months of preparation that included the credit-bearing course, "Interprofessional Teamwork in Global Health." Throughout the course, students learned about Ecuador, how to work in an interprofessional environment and how to apply basic

10/11/2013

By Guy Spriggs

Every year talented and driven students are drawn to the University of Kentucky for its emphasis on research. This summer, biology students Taylor Shackleford and Sarah Whelan – who came to UK to pursue research – were given a unique opportunity to continue their lab work after spring classes came to a close.

Shackleford and Whelan are the first awardees of the Ribble Undergraduate Summer Research Internship, a new program for outstanding biology majors supported by the Gertrude F Ribble Fund. Both are not only excellent students, but also invaluable contributors to exciting biological research taking place here at UK.

“Taylor is intelligent and curious, which has enabled him to engage with the scientific

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