Monday, August 27, 2018

End of 2018 Program-Poster Session

On August 10, our 2018 participants shared their work at our poster session and reception.  The work was outstanding, the audience was impressed and the session was lively.  It was hard to say goodbye after such an action-packed summer.  Thanks to all who participated in assisted in making this summer a success!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Alltech Tour

We had a terrific tour of Alltech based in Nicolassville, Kentucky.  We learned how the founder, Dr. Pearse Lyons started the company with an idea and $10, 000.  It is now an international company involved in addressing agricultural-related problems.  Alltech has a very active research program; their scientists often collaborate with universities and involve student interns.  In addition, Alltech is a strong supporter of the central Kentucky community.

The first week of August

      The first week of August found the SURF students meeting with Dr. Eric Blalock, an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences.  Dr. Blalock discussed his training and in pharmacology and the steps that he had taken to secure his faculty position.  He also told us about his experiences working with applicants for the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and gave us tips on how to write a good personal statement.   He also discussed his research interests that focuses on the influence of stress and sleep on aging brain function-  In his work, he utilizes a number of approaches that rely on rodent models, electrophysiology, molecular analyses and bioinformatics analyses of large data sets.
Image result for bioinformatics

         The SURF and SURES students then met with Dr. Brian Jackson, a Professor in the Department of Physiology and the Dean of the Graduate School (  Dr. Jackson described his training in the United Kingdom, the events that led to his decision to do research in the United States and the problems that he was addressing in his work on kidney function.  He also talked to us about graduate school and the changes that will be incorporated into graduate training in the future.

The last two weeks of July

     During our last two weeks of July, the SURF students met with Ms. Marion Coe, a senior graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences.  Ms. Coe discussed her research on drugs of abuse and the rewards and challenges associated with doing behavioral pharmacology and clinical trials.  She also discussed her experience as a fellow in the Office of Technology Commercialization ( and her career plans.

     The SURES students met with Dr. Erin Jackson, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences.  Ms. Jackson discussed her career journey (which included getting a teaching certificate) and the important role that mentors have played in her career success.  She also talked about  her research in drug metabolism and studying the impact of environmental contaminants in obesity and the next steps in her  career.

     The SURES students also met with Dr. Kevin Pearson.  Dr. Pearson described key steps in his career decisions and the important in work/life balance.  He also talked about how he found a research topic that he is passionate about—improving maternal health such that it improves the health of the offspring.  See the video describing “Why Kevin Loves Medical Research” here.

Image result for maternal health and kevin pearson

Monday, August 6, 2018

ImproviSCIation by Brittany Rice (Near-Peer Mentor)


Lights, camera, acting? Science - a production? Make way as the SURES participants prepare to take the center stage! When you mix science with theater, you get more than the series titled “The Big Bang Theory.” You actually get a BIG BANG of CREATIVITY. Who would have ever thought the quest of knowledge through experimentation and research was akin to the theater? Like theatrics, science thrives on creativity.

On July 26, 2018, SURES students stepped out of their lab coats and goggles, and stepped into the stage lights. Students performed a host of mirroring, charades, dialogue challenges, abstract human sculpture building, and de-stressing exercises. Imagine the difficulty of releasing your constraints and flowing freely in front of others… for some of the activity participants this was not an issue. However, for others it was challenging to enter the ‘stage’ and exude confidence. Remarkably, by the end of the workshop everyone’s inner thespian had been unleashed. SURES participants’ creativity and confidence overflowed and filled the room. We had an improvingly fun time! The quote by Joe Namath sums up our collective experience of the Improvisation Workshop and reads as follows, “When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.” I for one cannot wait to see the fun and amazing things the students will do with their research and while presenting it during the final research presentations on August 10, 2018! 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Week of July 19

This week, the SURF students met with Dr. Harry Levine who discussed his work in developing assays for the study of Alzheimer's Disease and the role of misfolded proteins in disease progression.  He also talked about how his career began as a scientist in industry and advised us to be open to different opportunities.

The SURES students met with Colleen Kaelin of the Bluegrass Sierra Club.  She talked about her career as an epidemiologist and developing a tracking network called EnviroHealthLink.  She also described her current work with the Sierra Club evaluating the impact of climate change on human health.

On Thursday, we watched the movie Erin Brockovich and discussed what the movie got right about environmental health concerns and other topics.
  The movie is based on an inspiring true story.  You can read more about Erin here.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Our week of July 9

      On Monday, we joined the  UK Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES)  COMPASS Science Communications Training. COMPASS is a pioneer in the practice of science communication, and their coaches help scientists build the knowledge, skills, and networks they need to effectively engage in public discourse about the environment.  We learned  about using a message box as a tool for finding the right words to say and honed our skills in giving a “3-minute elevator” talk.

     Then  on Tuesday, the SURES participants will met with Dr. Olga Tsyusko-Unrine.  She talked about her journey from being a student in Ukraine to a professor at the Univesity of Kentucky.  She also described her work using c.elegans to study the toxicity of nanoparticles-

For our Thursday activity, we joined Dr. Blake Newton who taught us about field work and showed us how to assess the health of a stream and assess the status of our ladybug population.  We rewarded our scientific efforts with ice cream at Crank and Boom.
One of our SURES participants, Stephanie, joined the UK Superfund trainees for a science and policy institute event in Washington, D.C.