Research Challenge Trust Fund

Focus on Faculty

Ellen HahnEllen J. Hahn
Marcia A. Dake Professor of Nursing

Ellen J. Hahn is a tobacco control researcher with expertise in environmental health and risk reduction. She earned her Ph.D. in health policy from the Indiana University School of Nursing. Hahn is a professor in the UK colleges of Nursing and Public Health and she directs the BREATHE research team and Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy. In 2000, she was invited to a meeting of “movers and shakers” to discuss tobacco use in Lexington. Hahn explains, “I had nothing to lose so I just said, ‘How about if we work together to try to make Lexington smoke free’ and, frankly, I thought they’d laugh me out of the room, but that’s not what happened.” Hahn worked with the health department to develop a plan, and Lexington went smoke free in 2004. “We saw a dramatic decline in adult smoking in Lexington compared to 30 other counties that looked like us, but who didn’t have smoke free laws. We saw a 32% decline in adult smoking, and that translated into 16,500 fewer smokers, and it meant that we were saving about $21 million dollars a year in healthcare costs, just in Lexington-Fayette County alone.” Currently, Hahn has multiple research studies under way. Three of these projects focus on radon, including “FRESH: Dual Home Screening for Lung Cancer Prevention,” a $2.1 million grant funded by National Institute of Environmental Health Science for which she is the principal investigator. She was also a co-investigator on a recently completed $1.4 million grant from the Army to study the impact of environmental carcinogens on lung cancer in Appalachian Kentucky. In fiscal year 2015 alone, Hahn had 21 peer-reviewed research papers published or in press. She says, “UK has been a great place to give me the community laboratory to do the work that I do, so that we can make a difference in the lives of the people who live in Kentucky.” See video on Reveal:

Dave MoecherDave Moecher
Earth and Environmental Sciences Alumni Professor

Dave Moecher is chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the UK College of Arts & Sciences. “I work on the history and evolution of the earth’s crust: where it came from, how it formed,” says Moecher, who studies the Appalachian mountain chain which extends across the Atlantic Ocean to Norway. “The irony is that my students and I work on mountain belts—we work on the scale of continents—but then we analyze tiny mineral grains that might be a hundred microns across. But each of those mineral grains has in it the history of that mountain belt.” Moecher has two active National Science Foundation grants totaling $410,000, and he is studying how unusually hot granites were formed 1 billion years ago. “First of all, we have to prove that there were very hot crustal conditions, but then we have to come up with a very large-scale model for why a certain part of the crust was exceptionally hot in earth’s history. From an earth history context, it’s interesting and compelling. But from a more practical aspect, these types of granites are granites in which ore deposits occur. We use ore deposits for all of the materials in our society.” Moecher earned his Ph.D. in geology at the University of Michigan, then spent one year as a National Research Council Fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey. He was a research associate at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, before coming to UK in 1991. He has authored 50 peer-reviewed papers and four field guides. “I feel I need to acknowledge the alumni who helped create this professorship back in the 1990s: Steve Sullivan, Will Foley, Jim Pear, and Ken Neavel. We thank them, and our many other alumni who support undergrad and graduate students in Earth and Environmental Sciences.” See video on Reveal:

Catherine MartinCatherine A. Martin
Dr. Laurie L. Humphries Chair in Child Psychiatry

Catherine A. Martin is a child and adolescent psychiatrist. She received her medical degree from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and completed a residency and child fellowship at the University of Kentucky. She became a faculty member in 1980. Martin has published 78 peer-reviewed articles and 17 book chapters. She is currently working on five research grants, including National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) projects to investigate individual differences related to drug effects in children, adolescents and adults. She is also involved in two K12 programs, which support research career development for young scientists in adolescent drug abuse and women’s health. Martin says, “I’ve been very fortunate in having generous, thoughtful, intelligent, and gifted colleagues to exchange ideas with, problem solve.” Based on what she has seen in her adolescent clients, Martin says e-cigarettes are concerning for several reasons. “One is if you ask a teenager, ‘Do you smoke?’ They say, ‘No.’ But then later you find out they’re using e-cigarettes. In addition, teenagers do not consider e-cigarettes unhealthy. If a teenager thinks a drug is safe, they are more likely to use it. Also, e-cigarettes may be the first way an adolescent is exposed to nicotine, and we know that early and even intermittent exposure to nicotine in adolescence is a harbinger of life-long dependence.” Martin is developing better screening techniques for e-cigarettes and other routes of tobacco use. “I think it is hard to imagine how you can see an adolescent who is using drugs and it’s completely derailing them—either their performance in school or with their family or with their friends, their safety as far as drinking and driving, or having unprotected sex, exposing themselves to very traumatic events—and not be motivated to want to help that teenager in a unique and different way.” See video on Reveal:

Stephen BorgattiStephen P. Borgatti
Chellgren Chair in Corporate Strategyhandler Medical Center Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutical Research and Innovation

Stephen P. Borgatti is a professor in the Gatton College of Business and Economics and his expertise is in social network analysis—the study of how people are connected to each other. “Networks, particularly in organizations, are how things get done,” says Borgatti, who has been at UK since 2007. He studies centrality, in particular the idea that some positions within a network are more advantageous than others. “One way in which you could be central is that you’re not far from everybody else in the network. People like that tend to hear things faster. So if information is flowing through the network, they hear it early when they can take advantage of it. At the same time, it depends on the context. If it’s a contagious disease, then the person that’s very central is going to get it early and maybe before there’s any kind of treatment available.” Borgatti earned his Ph.D. in mathematical social science at the University of California, Irvine and has authored more than 130 articles. His work has been cited 30,000 times by other scholars. Borgatti has been a senior editor at Organization Science, and is currently associate editor at the Journal of Supply Chain Management, as well as Computational and Mathematical Organizational Theory. At UK, he is a member of the LINKS Center for Social Network Analysis. The center conducts annual workshops on social network analysis. “We have trained now over a thousand people, which I think has a significant impact because most of them are management people. And we do that with a staff of 28 instructors and assistants, and the only way to field that many people is to have all of our graduate students and all of our faculty focused on the same thing. UK is an ideal place to do what I’m doing.” See video on Reveal: