News

07/07/2015

By Sarah Schuetze

“It’s too far away,” agree Madison Hood and Jim Hower when the question arises about Hood’s plans to pursue a Ph.D.. After all, Hood just graduated from high school.

And yet the question is not that abstract considering Hood is sometimes mistaken for a graduate student because of her contributions to the research directed by Professor Jim Hower of UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Hood has been working in Hower’s lab at UK for close to two years, studying samples of fly ash from coal power plants and coal fire

06/08/2015

By Mike Lynch

(June 8, 2015) — The Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) at the University of Kentucky is working to install two new networks across the state to gather important data on low-level seismicity and the state’s groundwater levels.

KGS Geologic Hazards Section staff have installed the first two of at least 15 highly sensitive seismic stations in eastern Kentucky. Both of these new stations, one in Boyd County and one in Lawrence County, were installed on private property in relatively remote and quiet locations. These new instruments, along with others in the network, will help monitor the background level of natural earthquakes too small for current instruments in the existing KGS seismic network to detect. Seismologist Seth Carpenter, who leads the project, says he hopes to determine if current oil and gas

05/29/2015

by Rebecca Freeman Director of Undergraduate Studies, EES

As competition for graduate school admission increases, we have come to realize that it is increasingly important for our top undergraduates in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences to have research experience before they graduate. With the generous (and we hope, ongoing) support of our alumni we have recently awarded the first round of the “Alumni Undergraduate Research Fellowships.” We hope to be able to award at least one or two every semester and summer session.

Even before the launch of this new internally-funded program, our undergraduates have been busy in the lab and in the field.

Sean Bemis’ NSF-funded research group has incorporated undergraduate researchers every

05/13/2015

By Sarah Schuetze

They conduct lab research and teach classes, but they are neither faculty nor graduate students. Postdoctoral scholars, or postdocs, serve an important role at UK, a research institution. However, they are scattered across various departments and have not always had an opportunity to meet and share their work.

Professor Susan Odom in Chemistry said, “Most postdocs don’t have any kind of formal gatherings that are specifically targeted toward them.“ In 2014, Odom collaborated with Matt Casselman, a postdoc in Chemistry, to organize UK’s Society of Postdoctoral Scholars (SOPS). SOPS offers weekly activities like professional development workshops or research presentations.  

On Friday, June

05/12/2015

By Whitney Harder

(May 11, 2015) — Dave Moecher, professor and chair of the University of Kentucky Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has been named the Earth and Environmental Sciences Endowed Alumni Professor.

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Endowed Alumni Professorship is awarded to a tenured full professor who has made outstanding contributions to research and education in the field of earth and environmental sciences. The establishment of the professorship was driven completely by alumni; namely Ken Neavel, William Foley, Steve Sullivan and Jim Pear.  

"It is a profound honor to be awarded the Earth and Environmental Sciences Alumni Professorship because I have a high regard for and appreciation of the geology alumni who

05/04/2015

By Whitney Harder

(May 4, 2015) — In the fall of 2014, a group of 235 incoming students became the first class of STEMCats at the University of Kentucky. This week, they are not only wrapping up their first year at UK, but also a semester of original research; an unusual experience for many college freshmen.

The STEMCats living learning program, sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and directed by UK Department of Biology Chair Vincent Cassone, was launched to increase retention of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors at UK.

A key component of the program is an authentic research experience for the freshmen, in addition to pre-fall "

03/19/2015

By Mike Lynch

(March 19, 2015) — As the anniversary of the most fatal landslide in the history of the continental United States approaches, we are reminded of the importance of evaluating geologic hazards and communicating that information to communities that may be at risk. The Oso landslide occurred March 22, 2014, wiping out a small community near Oso, Washington, and killing 43 people.

"This tragic event can be used to increase awareness, improve communication, and formulate better policy for people living in high hazard areas," said Matt Crawford of the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky

According to the U.S.

02/09/2015

By Whitney Harder 

(Feb. 9, 2015) — Since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, also referred to as the BP oil spill, occurred in 2010, scientists have been searching for millions of gallons of unaccounted oil — 11 to 30 percent of the oil estimated to have been spilled — in the Gulf of Mexico. Kevin Yeager, University of Kentucky professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, began his search that same year. After two major oceanographic cruises, and years of data collection and collaboration, Yeager and his research colleagues may have solved the mystery.

In a peer-reviewed manuscript co-authored by Yeager and others from the University of South Florida, Florida State University, University of Georgia and University of Southern

01/29/2015

By Whitney Harder   (Jan. 29, 2015) — Dave Moecher, University of Kentucky professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has been awarded a $155,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to understand how the Earth's crust produces magma, specifically, how unusually hot granites were formed 1 billion years ago.   The grant, a collaborative effort with Scott Samson and students at Syracuse University, will support two years of research from a UK graduate student, undergraduate student and at least one Lexington high school student, who will each work on a different component of the research. Undergraduate and high school students will not only work alongside the graduate student and Moecher

12/18/2014

by Whitney Harder

(Dec. 18, 2014) — Thirteen University of Kentucky students took home top honors at the Kentucky Academy of Science 100th Annual Meeting in November, where hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students from Kentucky colleges and universities participated in research competitions.

Winners included graduate and undergraduates from the College of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentCollege of Arts and SciencesGatton College of Business and EconomicsCollege of Health Sciences and College of Public Health.

Graduate oral presentations:

Congming Zou

11/23/2014

By Sarah Schuetze

Sean Bemis put his hands together side by side to demonstrate two plates of the earth’s crust with a smooth boundary running between them. But that boundary is not always smooth and those plates do not always sit together neatly, which makes the earth’s crust a dynamic and complex surface.  

As a structural geologist and paleoseismologist, Bemis often uses visual and three dimensional (3D) models to explain his studies of the earth’s crust; sometimes that entails sophisticated 3D digital imagery, maps and diagrams of fault lines, the rocks he processes in his lab, or, as in this case, his own hands.

These techniques not only help Bemis demonstrate his research, they also represent the multidimensional nature of his work.

Bemis, an assistant professor in

11/21/2014

STEMCats undergraduate instructional assistants.

(Nov. 20, 2014) — As University of Kentucky freshmen settle into life as college students, a new resource on campus has been helping them adjust to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs, known for difficult coursework. Undergraduate instructional assistants (UIAs) within one of the university's newest Living Learning ProgramsSTEMCats, use their past experiences to mentor incoming UK students.

The College of Arts and Sciences recently produced a podcast about the STEMCats community, featuring many STEMCats UIAs explaining what they enjoy about the program and their connections with younger STEM students.

"You get to help them succeed

10/27/2014

By Guy Spriggs

For many high school students, summer is little more than a break from school, offering the chance to relax, travel, or maybe even work at a summer job.

For the talented participants in the Whitney M. Young Scholars Program, the summer of 2014 offered the opportunity to spend two weeks gaining invaluable college experience on UK’s campus as part of a special collaboration between the UK’s Office of Institutional Diversity and the Lincoln Foundation, a Louisville-based institution dedicated to educational enrichment.

Started in 1990 – since becoming the hallmark of the Lincoln Foundation’s educational efforts – the Whitney M. Young Scholars

By Sarah Schuetze

In 2005, Edward Lo was living in Acworth, Ga., when he heard the news of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating effects in Louisiana. Five years later, as an undergraduate at Louisiana State University, Lo learned about the environmental impact Katrina had on the area’s wetlands and the ways it continues to affect people who live near them. In his geology classes, Lo was taught the science of the wetlands, but outside of class, he learned about the wetlands’ ethos.

Now as a graduate student in Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Lo brings the same spirit, call it compassionate science, to his current research. He studies the sediment patterns and hydrology of a region in Brazil called the Pantanal, which is the world’s largest freshwater wetlands

10/01/2014

By Mary Venuto   Big Blue Nation reaches far past Lexington’s city limits. Across the globe, faculty and students of the College of Arts & Sciences are always seeking out new endeavors and fortifying existing relationships overseas.   Alan Fryar in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Program scholarship by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Through its support of education and research, this program promotes collaboration between the U.S. and other countries to address common priorities and concerns. For his project, Fryar is working with professor Lahcen

09/30/2014

By Guy Spriggs

With sea levels rising, will coastal land along the northern Gulf of Mexico naturally build itself up enough to combat the loss of its coastline? As the coastline continues to disappear, where will the rate of loss be worst?

When did pollution in Maine’s Penobscot River begin? Is the polluted material being introduced into our food chain? Are new laws helping reduce the pollution level?

If we wanted to answer these important questions, where would we turn?

These questions – and many more – can be solved by the unique equipment and skilled researchers working in Kevin Yeager’s Sedimentary, Environmental and Radiochemical Research Laboratory (SER2L) at the University of Kentucky.

Photo c. 1915-20 of UK science lab.

by Gail Hairston 

(Sept. 30, 2014) — More than an “s” has been added since the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Science was created in 1908 with only seven faculty members. In fact there was a College of Arts and Science even before the institution was named the University of Kentucky; the institution was called the State University, Lexington, Kentucky (previously Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky and State College) until 1916.

In those 106 years, several of today’s largest colleges were birthed from the original College of Arts and Science’s former programs, including today’s College of Education, College of Communication and Information, College of Social Work and College of Fine Arts.

The college grew quickly under the inspiration and commitment of President James Patterson, whose statue now graces the plaza next to the Patterson

08/26/2014

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 and

07/15/2014

CAER's Kunlei Liu and Rodney Andrews attended a signing ceremony July 8 in Dongying, Shandong, China.

by Keith Hautala

(July 15. 2014) — The University of Kentucky has entered into an agreement with a major Chinese petrochemical conglomerate to develop technologies to capture, utilize and store 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year from a coal-fired power plant in Dongying, Shandong, China.

The agreement, between UK's Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) and the Sinopec Corporation's Shengli Oilfield Company and Petroleum Engineering Construction Corporation, is a project of the joint U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) as part of its Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage (CCUS) initiative. Preliminary work on the project began in 2012, and work is scheduled to continue through 2017.

The purpose of the project, with an estimated total investment of $320-400 million, is to develop a series of technologies to capture, transport, store and monitor

07/11/2014

By Guy Spriggs

In the field of geology, the University of Kentucky is not traditionally known as a petroleum school. But through participation in the Imperial Barrel Award (IBA), a team of graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) not only gained invaluable insight into the oil industry, but elevated UK’s standing as a geoscience program.

The IBA, organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, is an annual basin evaluation competition where participants analyze geological and geophysical data sets for oil-producing viability. Teams this year were challenged with determining hydrocarbon potential for an area in New Zealand’s Taranaki Basin and presenting their findings to a panel of industry experts.

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