On September 28, 2021, the University of Kentucky inducted 27 former students into the 2020 Hall of Distinguished Alumni. The alumni are being honored for their meaningful contributions to the Commonwealth, nation, and the world. The prestigious event, held every five years, was postponed last year due to pandemic restrictions.

The 2020 inductees include William E. Seale (’63), who earned a B.A. in Chemistry, as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. from the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. William Seale of Annapolis, Maryland, and Key Largo, Florida, is a partner in the ProFunds Group. As chief investment officer, he developed the financial models and investment techniques that direct the investments of the over 200 ProShares and ProFunds. Seale is a professor emeritus of finance at George Washington University, where he had been chairman of the


By Jesi Jones-Bowman

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Office of Undergraduate Research has announced the fourth annual 5-Minute Fast Track student research competition finalists. These undergraduates competed in the competition’s two preliminary rounds and were selected as Top 10 finalists to present their research during the final round on Thursday, Oct. 28, in the Gatton Student Center Worsham Cinema.

Finalists will present their research in five minutes in front of a panel of five judges and a live audience using only a single static slide. This challenges students to develop their academic, presentation and research communication skills while also allowing them to showcase their research in a captivating way.

The goal of this


Dr. Donald E. Sands, professor and administrator at the University of Kentucky for 37 years, died Sept. 22, 2021, at the age of 92. During his final months he amused himself, as he had all his life, by solving different types of difficult puzzles. Recently he had told people close to him that he had had a very good life.

Dr. Sands was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, in 1929 and did his undergraduate work at nearby Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He then went on to Cornell University, where he completed a Ph.D. in 1955 after having worked in chemical crystallography under the direction of J. Lynn Hoard. One of his papers with Hoard, “The Structure of Tetragonal Boron,” became a classic; a few months later, Linus Pauling wrote to Hoard saying:

I have just been reading, for the second time, your paper on tetragonal boron and I am writing


Biographical Sketch: 

Tanuja Koppal, Ph.D. is a freelance science writer, analyst and consultant serving a diverse group of publishers, conference production companies, data analysts, vendors and consulting companies. She is the Founder and President of Biomics Consulting. She specializes in researching scientific topics and trends, writing articles and reports, and organizing drug discovery conferences. She has authored several articles for business-to-business (supported by advertising) science publications and websites, and moderated online webinars targeting a global scientific community in academia and pharma/biotech industry. In the past 15 years, she has organized more than 125 conferences on behalf of her clients on cutting-edge research and technologies for early drug discovery and development. More recently she has organized events related to protein


By Jesi Jones-Bowman

UK undergraduate researchers Bridget Bolt and Gretchen Ruschman. Students are encouraged to explore undergraduate research opportunities at the Research + Creative Experience Expo.

At the University of Kentucky, undergraduates have access to outstanding research and creative work activities led by world-class faculty and staff that promote self-discovery, experiential learning and lifelong achievement.

Explore exciting undergraduate opportunities at the first annual UK Research + Creative Experience Expo 3-5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 13, around the Gatton Student Center’s Social Staircase.

“The goal of the Research + Creative Experience Expo is to introduce undergraduates to the diversity of research and creative work conducted at UK,” said Chad Risko, faculty director of the


By Jenny Wells-HosleySteve Shaffer and Kody Kiser

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 28, 2021) — Six of the University of Kentucky’s passionate and accomplished educators were surprised earlier this spring by student nominators and the UK Alumni Association as 2021 Great Teacher Award recipients.

One of those recipients is Chad Risko, associate professor of chemistry in the UK College of Arts and Sciences and faculty director of the office of undergraduate research. 

"Teaching for me is, in part, because I've been influenced by teachers. I'm here because I've had people that have taken time to share with me information,


Alysia Kohlbrand graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2019 with double majors in Chemistry and Neuroscience.

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.

Alysia, what are you up to these days after graduating with double Bachelor of Science majors in Chemistry and Neuroscience?

I am currently pursuing a doctorate degree in chemistry at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). I joined the lab of Dr. Seth Cohen, studying metal binding interactions of metalloenzymes implicated in disease, such as influenza endonuclease and HIV integrase.  

When I was at your stage, the future wasn't on my mind too much; I was lost in the study of science. Do you currently have a focused


LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Each year, the University of Kentucky Alumni Association recognizes six professors with the great Teacher Award and honors them with a plaque and a cash award at a recognition luncheon or dinner.. In 2021, the association recognized two College of Arts & Sciences professors. They are:

Christopher Crawford, professor and director of graduate studies, Physics & Astronomy.  Chad Risko, associate professor, Department of Chemistry. 

The six recipients of the award are announced at a luncheon or dinner, attended by students, other faculty and past recipients of the award.

Since 1961, when the program was started, 308 faculty members have been honored. Recipients are selected by a committee appointed by the UK Alumni Association's Board of Directors and representatives of the student


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 7, 2021) — The U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board have named Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) a recipient of the Fulbright Specialist Program award. As part of the program, Santillan-Jimenez will complete a project at the University of Burgundy Franche-Comté in France. The project aims to exchange knowledge and establish partnerships benefiting participants, institutions and communities both in the U.S. and overseas through a variety of educational and training activities within engineering education.

”While a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship has given UK the chance to develop novel interdisciplinary


By Danielle Donham

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 26, 2021) — Two University of Kentucky faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences are recipients of The Graduate School’s distinguished annual awards for exemplary research in the last four years and outstanding contributions to graduate student mentoring and graduate education.

Mark T. Fillmore, Director of Graduate Studies and professor of cognitive science in the Department of Psychology, is the 2021 recipient of the William B. Sturgill Award, an honor given each year to a graduate faculty member who has provided outstanding contributions to graduate education at UK.

In addition, 


Looking for a new way to motivate her students to prepare for the spring final exam in CHE 105, Dr. Erin Peters, an instructor in the Department of Chemistry, seized on the idea of an outdoor office hour. Being outside, with the usual masking required for everyone on-campus, would be consistent with University policies, and it would provide students with a chance to abandon their usual study areas and get some fresh air.  But paper and other writing materials are inconvenient or too small.  So, Erin solved the problem by providing sidewalk chalk (multi-colored, of course) and the sidewalk outside the Jacobs Academic Science Building proved to be an ideal chalkboard.  Yes, it could have been a little warmer, but that did not chill the spirits of the students who found it an ideal way to prepare for the final exam later in the day.  It was not only chemistry students who came for help


As a 6th grade student in his hometown of Greencastle, Indiana, Jack Steele realized that his life ambition was to be a chemist and, when time came to go to college, he pursued a BA in chemistry at DePauw University. Jack worked on electrochemistry with Prof. Eugene Schwartz at DePauw the summer of 1964 after getting his BA. Following his work at DePauw, Jack opted to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky. He had a great appreciation for Prof. Donald H. Williams who directed his graduate research at UK. While he considers himself a coordination chemist, his coursework and research reflected broad interests – from electrochemistry to biochemistry. Dr. Steele has said that Professors Don Sands and Joe Wilson of UK Chemistry were “without a doubt” the best teachers he ever had. 

After receiving his doctoral degree in 1968, Dr. Steele accepted a postdoctoral position at the



By Jenny Wells-Hosley and Brad Nally

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 7, 2021) — If you ask Matthew Farmer what inspired him to pursue a degree in chemistry, his answer is simple:

“My childhood.”

Farmer, from Harlan, Kentucky, would often play outside as a child, exploring his surroundings and observing how things worked in nature. For him, it wasn’t enough to be told that something “just happens” — he had to know the mechanisms behind why it happened.

“I became interested in chemistry because it deals with the minutia of how things interact with other things, and also themselves,” Farmer said. “Chemistry is the best way to explain how things happen at the ground level, and then work your way up.”

Farmer grew up


By Alicia Gregory

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 4, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees at a May 4 meeting announced that two College of Arts & Sciences faculty members have received University Research Professorship Awards.  These awards recognize excellence in research and creative work that addresses scientific, social, cultural, economic and health challenges in our region and around the world.

The faculty members are Anne-Frances Miller, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Carol Mason, professor of Gender and Women's Studies and English.

The University Research Professorships were established by the UK Board of Trustees in 1976 to recognize outstanding research achievements. The


By Interim Dean Christian Brady

A Brief, Brilliant Life
Susan Anne Odom, PhD November 16, 1980 - April 18, 2021

This week brought news of a tragic accident that took from the University of Kentucky family a brilliant young scholar. Dr. Susan Odom, Associate Professor of Chemistry, died April 18, 2021 in her home. A native of Paducah, Kentucky, Susan had a passion for science from an early age. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BS in Chemistry in 2003, earned her PhD from Georgia Tech, having been a visiting graduate student at the University of Oxford, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Susan joined our faculty in 2011, becoming an associate professor in 2017. She quickly became a favorite among students, winning the “Teacher Who Made a Difference” award in 2012, 2013, 2016, and 2017.


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


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


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


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