By Lisa Lockman and Kristie Law

The UK Women's Forum, formally established during the 1991-1992 academic year,  is currently celebrating over 25 years of open discussion, creativity, and leadership development for all women employed at the University of Kentucky.  Women's Forum is also celebrating the 17 women who have been nominated for the 2017 Sarah Bennett Holmes Award — an award created by UK Women's Forum.

Established in 1994, the Sarah Bennett Holmes Award honors a distinguished former dean of women at the University of Kentucky. Sarah Bennett Holmes, who was widowed at a young age, raised four children while completing her own education. She went on to have a successful career at UK where she inspired young women to persevere in the face of


By Lori Minter

A record number of students made the University of Kentucky Dean's List for the fall 2016 semester. The 7,408 students were recognized for their outstanding academic performance.  That's an increase of more than 200 over the previous record reached in fall 2015 when the number of students on the UK Dean's List surpassed 7,000 for the first time.  Last semester's Dean's List includes over 700 more students than the spring 2016 semester's list.

To make a Dean’s List in one of the UK colleges, a student must earn a grade point average of 3.6 or higher and must have earned 12 credits or more in that semester, excluding credits earned in pass-fail classes.  Some UK colleges require a 3.5 GPA to make the Dean’s List.

The full Dean's List can be accessed by visiting


Prof. Gary Ferland has been awarded the 2016 Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize, the University’s highest honor for research. This award is given annually to one UK faculty member in recognition of outstanding contributions to original research or scholarship.

Ferland’s research focuses on astrophysical applications of atomic and molecular physics; specifically, how matter in space produces the light we see. “We take the light that we can receive here on Earth and figure out what’s happening out there,” Ferland said. “Our computers here on the Earth allow us to run simulations to see how matter in space emits light, and what that light tells us about the galaxy.”

Ferland developed a computer platform, Cloudy, to


Mukut Kalita,  Ph.D. ’15 Advisor: Korsch Field: Nuclear Experiment Thesis Title: Search for a Permanent Electric Dipole Moment of 225Ra Current employment: Post-doc, TRIUMF, precision atomic/nuclear physics

Mukut Kalita, working under Prof. Wolfgang Korsch’s supervision at Argonne National Lab, extracted, for the first time ever, an upper limit on the electric dipole moment (EDM) of radium-225. The basic concept of the experiment is shown in the figure below. Atoms of radium-225 are laser-cooled to a temperature of about 45 μK and captured in an optical trap. They precess in a magnetic field while a strong electric field is applied. Any change in polarization which is correlated with the E-field direction would indicate the existence of a non-zero EDM; however, no such correlation was found, and Dr. Kalita was able to extract a first upper limit on the EDM of 5.0 x 10-22 e


In recent years, a new approach to teaching introductory physics has been making news, showing promising results and earning rave reviews from students. For some time we have wanted to try out this new approach, known as Technology Enabled Active Learning, or TEAL. Last year, we got our chance, following the construction of a special-purpose classroom. This is our biggest new initiative in undergraduate education in many years, and the results so far have been spectacular.

TEAL is an approach to teaching based on the principle that students learn best from each other. TEAL employs a technologically enhanced classroom environment to facilitate interactions among students and between students and faculty. In a TEAL classroom, the instructor gives a short lecture to introduce concepts, which students immediately demonstrate and absorb through hands-on, interactive exercises and


By Jenny Wells

Michael Kovash, a professor of physics and astronomy in the University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences, has received a $341,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Physics to study internal structures of high energy gamma rays and protons and neutrons. 

Both protons and neutrons possess internal structures which determine the form and strength of their interactions with each other, and with external probes such as the electromagnetic field. By measuring the characteristics of the interaction between high energy gamma rays and protons and neutrons, scientists can infer detailed information about these internal structures. Kovash and his team will use the energetic gamma ray beams at the High Intensity Gamma-Ray Source at Duke University to study both proton and neutron




Prof. Yates elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. The criterion for election is exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise; e.g., outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers.  Prof. Yates was nominated by the Division of Nuclear Physics for his important advances in the study of collective nuclear excitations, and for the development of nuclear spectroscopic methods of use with fast neutron scattering reactions. 

By Whitney Harder   University of Kentucky Professor Madhu Menon, of the Center for Computational Sciences and Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded a $50,000 Short Term Innovative Research (STIR) grant from the U.S. Army Research Office.   The grant will fund Menon's work to synthesize the new 2D material he predicted using theoretical simulations. In February, he predicted that a new one atom-thick flat material — made up of silicon, boron and nitrogen — could upstage the wonder material graphene and advance digital technology.   Menon will collaborate with an experimental group at the University of Louisville, led by Professor Mahendra Sunkara.   The
By Whitney Harder   An international team of scientists, including the University of Kentucky's Renbin Yan, has uncovered a new class of galaxies, called "red geysers," with supermassive black hole winds so hot and energetic that stars can't form.      Over the last few billion years, a mysterious kind of “galactic warming" has caused many galaxies to change from a lively place where new stars formed every now and then to a quiet place devoid of fresh young stars. But the mechanism that produces this dramatic transformation and keeps galaxies quiet has been one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in galaxy evolution.   "These galaxies have the necessary ingredients for forming new stars but they are not doing it — why?" said Yan, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at UK.   Researchers compare it to having deserts in densely clouded regions; rain and

The Society of Postdoctoral Scholars at the University of Kentucky is hosting a symposium to feature the work of postdoctoral scholars in Kentucky and surrounding areas. The event will feature a keynote presentation by UK's Dr. Hollie Swanson, a professor in the College of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, oral presentations by Kentucky postdocs, a poster session and a panel discussion on interviewing techniques. 

The symposium will allow for the exchange of ideas across a broad range of fields and abstract submissions are welcome from any discipline. Postdocs from Kentucky and Ohio are especially encouraged to submit abstracts and graduate students are also welcome to participate. The objective of the symposium is to share research across many different fields and talks should be general and accessible to an audience outside of the speaker's area


Steve Yates, a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy and Director of the University of Kentucky Accelerator Laboratory (UKAL), recently received two grants.  One of these awards [1] is a renewal of funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which extends continuous NSF funding of work at UKAL to greater than fifty years.  This research is focused on advancing our fundamental understanding of the atomic nucleus.  The nucleus, composed of protons and neutrons, is billions of times smaller than is visible with the human eye. Some nuclei are spherical in shape, while others are deformed in oblate (like a Frisbee) or prolate (like a football) shapes; the shape of the nucleus is unique for each isotope of each element.  Because we cannot take an ordinary photograph of the nucleus to investigate its


By Blair Hoover

(April 27, 2016) — Provost Tim Tracy honored five faculty members and four teaching assistants with Provost's Outstanding Teaching Awards at the 2016 UK Faculty Awards Ceremony. The William B. Sturgill Award and the Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize were also awarded at the ceremony. The ceremony took place Thursday, April 21, in the Lexmark Public Room in the Main Building.

The William B. Sturgill Award was awarded to Carl Mattacola, a professor in the rehabilitation sciences program in the College of Health Sciences.

The Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize was awarded to Gary J. Ferland, a physics and astronomy professor in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Annual outstanding teaching


By Terrence Wade

(April 26, 2016) — The University of Kentucky Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Engineering are proud to have Nobel Prize Winner Frank Wilczek on campus this week as he delivers his lecture “Some Intersections of Art and Science.” The lecture will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at Memorial Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

The lecture will cover topics of profound reasons rooted in the nature of human cognition and perception and why art and science have a lot to offer one another. Wilczek will display some important historical examples of their synergy and point out some emerging opportunities. Several striking images will be an integral part of the presentation.

Wilczek is one of the world's


By Gail Hairston

(April 22, 2016) — Two University of Kentucky faculty members were honored yesterday at the 2016 Provost Outstanding Teaching Awards ceremony with awards recognizing their outstanding contributions to teaching and scholarship at UK.

Gary J. Ferland, professor of physics and astronomy in the UK College of Arts and Science, was awarded the 2016 Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize, given each year to a faculty member in recognition of outstanding contributions to original research or scholarship.

Carl G. Mattacola, professor of rehabilitation sciences and division director of the graduate athletic training program in the UK College of Health Sciences


By Whitney Hale

(April 21, 2016) – The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards has announced that 12 of the university's students and alumni have been selected to receive government-funded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships. The fellowships award more than $100,000 to use toward research-based master's or doctoral degrees. In addition, four other UK students and alumni received honorable mention recognition from the NSF.

This year's selection of a dozen UK students and alumni for NSF Graduate Research Fellowships is believed to be the largest in the school's history and is four times the number of selections for 2015. To put more of emphasis on the fellowship, 


By Ashley Cox

(April 11, 2016) — The University of Kentucky Department of Physics and Astronomy is hosting Kentucky native and NASA civil servant Pamela Marcum April 14-15 for a Sky Talk titled "NASA’s SOFIA Observatory: Exploring the Universe from 42,000 Feet” and a meet-and-greet.

Marcum’s Sky Talk is open to the public and will take place 8 p.m. Thursday, April 14, in the Chemistry-Physics Building room 155. Her meet-and-greet will take place from 12-1:30 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the UK Appalachian Center, located at 624 Maxwelton Ct. The meet-and-greet is open to university faculty, staff and


By Whitney Harder

(April 6, 2016) — Often containing more than a billion times the mass than our Sun, supermassive black holes have perplexed humans for decades. But new research by University of Kentucky astrophysicist Isaac Shlosman and collaborators will help to understand the physical processes at the edge of time and space, providing the details of how supermassive black holes formed 13 billion years ago.

Shlosman, as well as Jun-Hwan Choi at the University of Texas at Austin, Mitchell Begelman at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Kentaro Nagamine at Osaka University (Japan), ran simulations where supermassive black holes are seeded by clouds of gas falling into potential wells of dark matter — the invisible matter that astronomers believe makes up 85 percent of the mass in the universe.


By Whitney Harder

View the video above to hear more about the new material discovered by Menon that could upstage graphene. Video by REVEAL Research Media.

(Feb. 29, 2016) — A new one atom-thick flat material that could upstage the wonder material graphene and advance digital technology has been discovered by a physicist at the University of Kentucky working in collaboration with scientists from Daimler in Germany and the Institute for Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL) in Greece.

Reported in Physical Review B, Rapid Communications, the new material is made up of silicon, boron and nitrogen — all light, inexpensive and earth abundant elements — and is extremely stable, a property many other graphene alternatives lack.

"We used simulations to see if the


Lisa Lockman, Kristie Law

(Feb. 24, 2016) — Twenty-three women at the University of Kentucky have been nominated for the 2016 Sarah Bennett Holmes Award, and registration is underway now to attend the award ceremony and luncheon 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 10, at the Hilary J. Boone Center. Visit for more information. The registration deadline is Monday, Feb. 29. Due to the change of venue and the limited space, registrations will be taken on a first come, first served basis.

Coordinated by UK Women's Forum, the Sarah Bennett Holmes Award is granted annually to women working at UK who promote the growth and well-being of


By Whitney Harder

(Sept. 9, 2015) — Founding project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, Robert O'Dell, will speak on the University of Kentucky campus Sept. 10.  He is the guest for Sky Talk, a series of astronomy related presentations organized by the UK Department of Physics and Astronomy and the MacAdam Student Observatory.

The presentation, "Traveling Through the Orion Nebula," will take place at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in Room 139 of the Chemistry-Physics Building.  The program will include a Japanese National Television documentary of O'Dell and his studies of Orion Nebula, followed by a question and answer period with O'Dell.

He oversaw the


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