December 2023

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KAS has been standing up for Science in Kentucky since 1914! We encourage aspiring scientists, promote science literacy, give science a voice in policymaking, and recognize those who make the future brighter through scientific discovery.


Science Job Postings

We have some terrific opportunities this month that you can view at our jobs page. Please send any job announcements to and include contact information and closing date. 

Share your news with KAS members

If you have something to share in the monthly KAS newsletter, get in touch with our Newsletter editor, Mark dela Cerna.

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Publish in the KAS Journal

The Journal of the Kentucky Academy of Science publishes work in the Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences.
Digital issues are published as Issues-in-Progress which expedites publication for authors.


News from Partners

EPSCoR & IDeA News Established Program for Stimulating Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and Institutional Development Award (IDeA), including federal funding opportunities and more! EPSCoR is a program serving states such as Kentucky, to build capacity for federally funded scientific research.

Ky- INBRE Recent News  KY IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence supports biomedical researchers and educators within the Commonwealth. The purpose of the network is to develop infrastructure and capacity for biomedical research and training in the state. Their newsletter  has training events, funding leads, and job opportunities.  You can also subscribe at the above link.

How to Join the KAS Listserv

KAS has set up a listserv so our members can talk to each other, to share science-related news & announcements, offers, requests, questions and answers.

 Opt In to the listserv:
Log In at the KAS website (
In the Member Menu, go to Communication / Message Boards
Click to Opt In to the KAS Member Listserv (and choose the Daily Digest option if  you prefer)
To post to the listserv, send a message to

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Congratulations to Top Scoring Student presenters at KAS Annual Meeting

Several undergraduate and high school presenters earned 25 points or more for their research presentations during the KAS Annual Meeting. Good job and congratulations!

For a complete list of Top Scoring Students, click here. In addition, several other students have also earned Special RecognitionsAgain, congratulations to our young Kentuckian scientists! If you would like to revisit the program and read the abstracts, view the full KAS Annual Meeting Program.

Congratulations to new KAS Board members!

Welcome to new KAS Board members:
Vice President - Dr. Jessica Moon
Secretary - Dr. Laura Walther
Treasurer - Dr. Mark Wilson
At-Large Representative - Savannah Blair
Biological Division Representative - Jennifer (Grace) Clark

We would also like to recognize and thank outgoing board members:
Jennifer Birriel, At-Large Representative
Jon Dixon, Past-President
Elizabeth Thomas, Secretary
Kate He, Biological Division Representative

Congratulations to Kentucky Junior Academy Delegates

Congratulations to the following Junior Academy students, who are being invited to represent Kentucky at the American Junior Academy of Science in February. These students gave excellent oral presentations of their research at the KAS Annual Meeting last month. Students are coming from five out of six of Kentucky's congressional districts. Click here to see how we selected this year's delegates.

KY District 2
Carden, Mykah. Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. "Geological and hydrogeological 'red flags' that influence land-use hazards in karst: a case study in Warren County, KY"
Ashley, Asa. Bowling Green High School. "Novel Synthesis of Maghemite Nanospheres on Nickel Foam as a Bifunctional Electrocatalyst for Alkaline Water Splitting"

KY District 3
Li, Summer. duPont Manual High School. "Vital Signs Based User Authentication Using Radar Sensing"
Chadha, Annika. DuPont Manual. "Omni Wheel: An innovative wheel design for improved walker safety and stability and bi-mode fall notification system"

KY District 4
Nath, Sara. Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. "Classifying Alzheimer's Disease Outcome in Single-Cell RNA-Seq Datasets"
Sileo, Sofia. Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. "Characterization of a bacteriophage protein that is toxic to Mycobacterium smegmatis"
Black, Alexandria. Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics. "Can centicubes measure up? Comparing simulated exponential decay curves for teaching radioactivity and half-life"
Patterson, Laurel. Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. "Examining factors determining neurite outgrowth through computational modeling"

KY District 5
Nelson, Kaitlyn. Rowan County Senior High School. "Meteorology misconceptions held by college students in a general education earth science class"
Hamilton, Brittany Mae. Rowan County Senior High School. "Stability of circularized chromosomes lacking telomeres in Saccharomyces cerevisiae"

KY District 6
Kim, Jiwoo.  Model Laboratory School. "The Effects of Temperature Changes on Habituation of Crayfish Tail Response"
Weaver, Vivianna. Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science.  "Understanding the Impact of Environmental Pollution on Brain and Vascular Systems on the Zebrafish Model, Danio rerio"


KAS will again offer popular science advocacy workshops

Rob Weber

For the third straight year, KAS will offer a pair of online Science Advocacy Workshops for undergraduates and graduate students pursuing science degrees. The workshops aim to equip participants with advocacy skills to ensure that the voice of the science community is heard as public policy decisions are made. The workshops can be viewed online on Zoom from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 19 and Feb. 9. Register here. Though the workshops are geared toward students, they can be helpful to anyone who cares about science advocacy.

We’re glad to say that our partners from last year are returning. KAS is collaborating with UK’s Kentucky Advocates for Science Policy and Research (KASPR), UofL’s Science Policy and Outreach Group (SPOG), and the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition. Workshop leaders will provide students with an overview of science-related legislation expected to be considered during the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2024 legislative session. Students who have already engaged in successful advocacy efforts will share their experiences and offer tips. Policy experts and state lawmakers will also share their expertise with students.
Anyone who completes both workshops will be certified by KAS as a “Kentucky Science Advocate.”

Winning photo in KAS contest captures curiosity and smiles

Rob Weber

An image that captured the joy of viewing aquatic life was selected as the winner of the photo contest held during this year’s KAS Annual Meeting at Northern Kentucky University. Congratulations to Sydney Friedman of Western Kentucky University (WKU) for posting the winning photo on the WKU Earth, Atmospheric, and Environmental Sciences page on Facebook. Friedman will receive a $50 prize check.

“In this picture we were observing turtles in the Natural Science Center before going to the herbarium tour,” Friedman said. “There were lots of interesting specimens there!”
Thank you to everyone who took the time to share special moments from the Annual Meeting by posting photos on social media sites and tagging them #kasmeeting2023. We enjoyed seeing all the smiles on the faces of people sharing moments of scientific curiosity!

KAS Members in the News

Dr. Cheri Levinson, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Louisville, is awarded three NIH grants totaling $11.5M to study eating disorders. These grants look at (i) how eating disorders develop in childhood, (ii) patterns of anorexia nervosa that contribute to suicide risk, and (iii) creation and dissemination of a novel personalized treatment for eating disorders and the integration of social determinants of health. The third project is funded by an NIH Director's New Innovator Award, a "High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, the award supports exceptionally creative early career investigators." Dr. Levinson is also the director of the Eating Anxiety Treatment (EAT) Lab and Clinic. Read more about this exciting news here.

Dr. Bassil El-Masri, Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Murray State University, is awarded a Research Infrastructure Improvement Track-4 EPSCoR Research Fellows (RII Track-4) by the NSF. The fellowship will help to better understand the dynamics of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) in mineral wetland ecosystems that are not well studied. Goals of the project include (i) improving greenhouse gas emission detection from wetlands, (ii) reducing uncertainties in greenhouse gas fluxes in larger areas, and (iii) validation of satellite-based data. This project will be performed in collaboration with the NSF and NASA. Read more about Dr. El-Masri's award here.

Note: Images from Dr. Levinson's faculty page at UofL and Murray State's press release.

Thank you to our judges

Thank you to everyone who served as Sections Leaders and Judges for our student presentations during the Annual Meeting in November! KAS is very grateful for your service!


Click here for a complete list of section leaders and judges.

CASE workshop for students interested in Science Policy

The AAAS Office of Government Relations is excited to announce that the 2024 Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE) Workshop will take place in person on April 14-17, 2024, in Washington, D.C. The workshop is an opportunity for graduate and upper-level undergraduate STEMM students to learn about science policy, advocacy and the federal policy-making process, empowering participants to become a voice for research throughout their careers.

A US-based university or STEMM professional society may become a sponsoring institution for the CASE Workshop and select up to four students to send to the workshop. Institutions interested in sponsoring students for the 2024 CASE Workshop should reach out to AAAS will also sponsor four students to attend the workshop — the application will open in mid-December.

Cancer in Appalachia: A Collection of Youth-Told Stories, Volume One

Cancer in Appalachia: A Collection of Youth-Told Stories is an anthology of fictional stories —short stories and a few poems —about cancer in Appalachian Kentucky. The stories were written by a group of high school and undergraduate students from Appalachian Kentucky. The authors leveraged their own lived experiences and knowledge of cancer to convey fictional, yet highly realistic stories about the pain and disruption that cancer causes individuals, families, and entire communities in the Appalachian region. The stories are powerful, emotional, inspiring, and educational.

The authors are participants or alumni of the Youth Enjoy Science National Cancer Institute-funded Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program located at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. As participants or alumni of this program, students are preparing to pursue cancer-related careers and are working to reduce Kentucky’s cancer burden now and in the future.  KAS Member Dr. Nathan Vanderford runs the ACTION program and edited this volume.

Dec 18 Deadline- Virtual STEM opportunity for Ages 13-17

The Global STEM Alliance Junior Academy is a virtual community of international students ages 13-17 who are passionate about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and committed to making a difference in the world.

Within the Junior Academy community, STEM professionals are available to act as mentors, who guide teams throughout their challenge process.Junior Academy participants learn advanced research and innovation skills, then collaborate with a global team of peers and mentors to tackle real-world challenges. (Note: This Junior Academy is not affiliated with the Kentucky Junior Academy of Science)

Find out more about this program and the application process at The New York Academy of Sciences page. Click here to download the program flyer.

Call for 2024 REU Openings

Kentucky researchers, if your institution/department is hosting summer research positions, such as NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), please send them to us ( by January 1st.

The Kentucky Academy of Science will be updating our list of undergraduate research opportunities for 2024 and sharing these opportunities with our 2200+ student members. Thank you!

Study Abroad opportunity for geologists

KAS webinar for World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day was on November 14th. The Kentucky Academy of Science hosted a webinar to contribute to diabetes awareness  #NationalDiabetesMonth back in November. We are joined by Fernando Malerbi from Universidade Federal de São Paulo and Iuliana Popescu from the University of Kentucky.

If you missed it, you may watch the recording by clicking here. The passcode is "UYAQ0.7?" (quotes not included). 
KAS Newsletter - December 2023