By Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Chad Risko has accepted our offer to be the new Faculty Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.  Dr. Risko is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky (UK).

He received his PhD at the Georgia Institute of Technology under the direction of Professor Jean-Luc Brédas, undertook postdoctoral research with Professors Mark Ratner and Tobin Marks at Northwestern University and has been at UK since 2014.

Dr. Risko’s research blends principles from organic and physical chemistry, condensed-matter physics, and materials science to develop theoretical materials chemistry approaches to better understand and design materials for advanced electronics and power


The Chemistry Department honors the amazing contributions of women to the field of Chemistry. For more information on Women in Chemistry, please visit the following links.

ACS Celebrates the Achievements of Women Scientists in American History (ACS)

Meet the Amazing Women of Chemistry (c&en)

These women scientists should have won the Nobel (c&en)


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

A research study led by the University of Kentucky Department of Chemistry has discovered a new way to dramatically boost the performance of electrically conductive polymers. The discovery is considered a significant step forward in the development of organic thermoelectric devices, which can convert waste heat into useful electric energy. 

Conductive polymers, which are electrically conductive plastics, have the potential to transform current electronic devices, such as smart watches, by powering the devices based on the user’s body heat. They are also attractive for converting waste heat from coal-fired power plants or heat from a car’s engine into electricity.

“One day, organic thermoelectrics may be used to power smart watches and other wearable electronics, eliminating the ever pressing need to


The Chemistry Department celebrates the contributions of Black Chemists during Black History Month. For more information on specific scientists, please visit the following links.

Trailblazer's 2021: We've been here all along

Appearing in Volume 99, Issue 6 of CE&N, by Paula Hammond. An issue that "celebrates the work and legacy of Black chemists and chemical engineers at all career stages, throughout the US, in their own voices." | February 22, 2021

Black chemists you should know about



Electrically conductive polymers have the potential to transform the form factor of current electronic devices and enable novel applications, such as mechanically flexible and stretchable wearable electronic devices. Conductive polymers could even be incorporated into flexible thermoelectric devices to power these wearable devices based on the user’s body heat. In the paper led by Zhiming Liang of the Graham group entitled “n-type charge transport in heavily p-doped polymers” (available here: the Graham, Risko, Strachan, Mei (Purdue), and Podzorov (Rutgers) groups uncover how the charge-carrier polarity can change in heavily doped π-conjugated polymers to enable both n-type and p-type thermoelectric materials to be made from the same polymer-dopant combination.

Electrical conductivity in conjugated polymers has been researched for decades, in part led


Alum Michael Goodman graduated with a PhD in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2018. Prior, he graduated from the University of Kentucky, College of Arts & Sciences with a Chemistry BS in 2011 and completed a post-doc at University of California, Davis.

This interview is part of a series conducted by the department called, “UK Chemistry Alumni: Where Are They Now?” This interview was coordinated by Dr. Arthur Cammers.

When did you Graduate with what degree?

I graduated from UK in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry.

What are you currently up to?

I have recently started a position as a Staff Scientist at Vanderbilt University, working in the lab of Dr. Chuck Sanders in the Department of Biochemistry. After doing a postdoc with Bruce Hammock at


By Angela Garner and Facundo Luque

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 5, 2021) — A partnership among The Graduate SchoolInternational Center, the Center for English as a Second Language, and the Graduate Student Congress at the University of Kentucky produced a robust seven-week virtual program during Fall 2020 for international graduate students planning to begin their studies on campus in Spring 2021. 

The program, called GradCATS (Graduate Community and Academic Transition Series), introduced new graduate students to UK and the Lexington area, built a sense of community among incoming


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


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 Morris Grubbs Thursday

LEXINGTON. Ky. (Nov. 19, 2020) — The University of Kentucky's GradResearch Live! hosted the 3-Minute Thesis competition online this year. The 24 research presentations by graduate students and postdocs garnered more than 9,500 total views on YouTube.  Among them were several graduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences. 

The competition challenges presenters to tell their research story in three minutes or less using one static slide to an imagined audience of nonspecialists. This is the eighth year the UK Graduate School has offered the competition, which has until now


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

When it comes to portable electronic devices, such as cell phones, laptops, tablets or smart watches, how often do we feel frustrated because the battery is about to die, or because it doesn’t last as long as it did a few months ago?

Chad Risko, an associate professor of chemistry and affiliated faculty researcher at the Center for Applied Energy Research at the University of Kentucky, says this simple context shows the value in creating better batteries. But it is not just small portable electronics that need more robust, and differentiated, energy storage.

“Electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming more omnipresent, and here we need batteries that are lighter in weight, safer and can store ever more energy,” Risko said. “Further, as our nation’s energy


Alum Kayvon Ghayoumi, JD, graduated with a law degree from George Washington University Law School in 2020. Kayvon is from Louisville, KY. He graduated from the University of Kentucky, College of Arts & Sciences with a Chemistry BA and a minor in Biological Sciences in 2017.

This interview is part of a series conducted by the department called, “UK Chemistry Alumni: Where Are They Now?” This interview was coordinated by Dr. Arthur Cammers.

What made you decide to apply to UK?

I came to UK for several reasons, including, scholarship opportunities UK offered, UK’s in-state tuition, and so that I could stay close to home without being too close to home.

You were originally a biology major... What made you want to study chemistry?

In high school I took


By Elizabeth Chapin

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 9, 2020) — Allan Butterfield, a professor of biological chemistry in the University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences, has been named among the world’s leading Alzheimer’s disease experts by Expertscape, an online base of biomedical expertise.

Butterfield is among the top 0.007% of scholars worldwide based on authorship of Alzheimer’s-related publications indexed in the PubMed database for the past 10 years. He ranks tenth out of nearly 150,000 scholars worldwide and sixth in the U.S.

The Expertscape rankings use an algorithm to identify the most knowledgeable and experienced physicians, clinicians and researchers across more than 29,000 specific topics. The ranking considers factors such


The UK Department of Chemistry and the UK Office for Institutional Diversity have arranged to make the film, Picture a Scientist, available for anyone in the University of Kentucky community to view.

“PICTURE A SCIENTIST chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks, and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, ranging from brutal harassment to years of subtle slights. Along the way, from cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, we encounter scientific luminaries - including social scientists, neuroscientists, and psychologists - who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all.”

Licensed viewers will be


By Richard LeComte

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 30, 2020) — Instructors in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky are combining technology, learning techniques honed by experience, and human interaction to provide multifaceted learning environments for their students.

The goal, as always, is to keep students engaged with hands-on instruction methods even if the current pandemic limits face-to-face class time.

“Students learn by working on problems, not just by listening,” said Alberto Corso, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Mathematics. “That’s what I tell all of my students. We all like to watch our favorite basketball teams play, but we can’t play with them unless we practice. We need to be on the court and practice


The National Science Foundation has awarded a new grant to Drs. David Heidary and Edith Glazer for the development of chemical tools to study RNA. The project, titled “Inorganic-aptamer hybrids for live cell imaging”, leverages the complementary expertise of the investigators in the development of optical cellular assays and the creation of photoactive inorganic molecules.

RNAs are functionally and structurally diverse molecules that play a role in the encoding, transmission, and regulation of genetic information, as well as catalysis. The ability to accurately track and quantify RNA levels or localization, either on the subcellular or tissue levels, is important to understanding the role of RNA in the regulation of biological processes. Given the dynamic nature of RNA, the information should be obtained in real time and in living cells. However, there are currently no


By Alicia Gregory

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 3, 2020) — The University of Kentucky recently was awarded a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant to study translational chemical biology from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health. The $11.2 million grant will fund UK's Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Pharmaceutical Research and Innovation (CPRI).

This COBRE Phase 1 funding will provide campuswide junior faculty research and career development support, core infrastructure and pilot grants in the translational chemical biology research space. Critical infrastructure, in the form of cores, will support advanced research across UK campus: Chang-Guo Zhan directs the computational core; Mark Leggas directs the translational core; Linda


By J. Susan Griffith, M.D.

My dad, Charles Herschel Holmes Griffith, was a devoted son, Marine, husband, father of two, grandfather of four, chemist and teacher. He gave his full devotion to the things he loved most – his family and education. Dad always said teaching Chemistry at UK was his “dream job” and from 1964-1991 he loved every minute of working with students and supervising TA’s in his General Chemistry labs. At his funeral in 2013, the Chair of the department told me that my dad undoubtedly had more direct contact with UK college students than anyone else in the history of UK’s Chemistry department.

As I was putting together Dad’s biography in 2011, I found this in a letter he wrote - “I was born in Huntington, IN into a family of educators.” Both of his parents were college graduates, each with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. His mom was an English teacher


The College of Arts and Sciences is committed to learning and working environments that are diverse, inclusive, and equitable for students, staff, and faculty.

We stand in solidarity with those working to confront systemic racial injustice in our communities and in the United States. We recognize the disproportionate burden of racism and other forms of violence on many within our A&S community during this time. We affirm our support of faculty, students, staff, and alumni in standing against all forms of racism, discrimination, and bias.

During this time of pandemic and continued racism and violence that especially impact marginalized communities of color, we recognize the disproportionate impact on Black and African-American people. In the context of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and here in Kentucky, Breonna Taylor and David McAtee, we affirm that


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 21, 2020) — Transportation is the world's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Automakers  are challenged to meet higher standards designed to reduce vehic,le pollution. This pollution contributes to climate change and can be detrimental to human health.

Adhering to the new standards requires removing pollutants, specifically poisonous and highly reactive nitrogen oxides (NOx) from exhaust gas when a vehicle is started and the gas is still cold. The device that does this removal  — a catalytic converter — needs to be warm to efficiently remove NOx, however.

Mark Crocker, professor of chemistry in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences and assistant


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