UK Appalachian Center Awards 8 Student Researchers

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 27, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Appalachian Center has honored eight students with its annual research awards. Three graduate students received the James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research on Appalachia, and four graduate students and one undergraduate student received the center's Eller and Billings Student Research Award.

“The Appalachian Center is again excited to support a wide range of student research,” said Kathryn Engle, director of the Appalachian Center. “From history to social science to health to the natural sciences, our students are doing groundbreaking work in the region.”

The James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research on Appalachia is given to honor the memory of James S. Brown, a sociology professor at UK from 1946 to 1982, whose pioneering studies of society, demography and migration in Appalachia (including his ethnography of "Beech Creek") helped to establish the field of Appalachian studies at UK and beyond.

To be eligible, students must be enrolled actively in a master's or doctoral degree program at UK. The award must be used to meet the costs of doing research relevant to social life in Appalachia including travel, lodging, copying, interviewing, ethnography, data collection, archival research, transcribing and other legitimate research expenses. Up to $1,000 is awarded to each recipient.

The recipients will present their research at Sharing Work on Appalachia in Progress with Appalachian Studies Program faculty and students during the 2021-2022 academic year.

The 2021 James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research recipients are:

  • Madeline Dunfee, Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Pharmacy: "The Influence of Social Networks on Appalachian Adults’ Type Two Diabetes Self-Management."
  • Emma Kiser, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences: "Protecting Old-Growth Forests in the Mountain South.”
  • K.C. Vick, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences: "Demarginalizing Methods: Engaging Community-Based Participatory Methodology in a South Appalachian Cancer Cluster Study."

In the spirit of collaboration across units, colleges and academic/community boundaries, the Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program established the UK Appalachian Center Eller and Billings Student Research Award for research by UK students focused in and on the Appalachian region, especially toward furthering the conversation on sustainable futures in the region. Named after longtime UK historian Ronald D. Eller and longtime UK sociologist Dwight B. Billings, the award seeks to encourage and promote cutting-edge research across disciplines.

To be eligible for this award of up to $1,000, students must be actively enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate program at UK. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply. Recipients of this award will also present their findings during the 2021-22 academic year. 

The 2021 Eller and Billings Student Research Award recipients are:

  • Zachary Hackworth, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: "A Five-Year Evaluation of Mammalian Herbivory Impacts on Surface Mine Reforestation Plantings in Southeastern Kentucky."
  • Courtney Martin (undergraduate), Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences: "Investigating Cancer in Appalachian Kentucky through Content Analysis of Oral History Interviews."
  • Benjamin Rhodes, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: “An evaluation of red spruce reforestation on mined lands and old field sites in the West Virginia highlands.”
  • Briana Snyder, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: "Bat Foraging on West Virginia Mined Land Restored via the Forestry Reclamation Approach."
  • Sarah Tomke, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: “Determining the Distribution of Eastern Hellbenders in Kentucky using Environmental DNA (eDNA) Methods.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.