2019-2020 University Research Professors

The University Research Professorship Awards honor 16 faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in scholarship and creative work that addresses scientific, social, cultural and economic challenges in our region and around the world. 

Jason Unrine, Ph.D.
Plant & Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food & Environment

Unrine's research focuses on investigating the environmental fate, transport and ecotoxicology of trace-elements and engineered nanomaterials, with attention to transformations and impact of trace-elements and nanomaterials in terrestrial and wetland environments. His work has resulted in 109 articles with 5,339 citations to-date, and has been funded by NIH, NSF, USDA, EPA, as well as state and regional sources.

Mark Peffley, Ph.D.
Political Science, College of Arts & Sciences

Peffley is among the top 400 most highly-cited scholars in his profession, with nearly 40 articles cited 5988 times. His research on mass political behavior, focused on racial and ethnic politics and political tolerance in the U.S. and abroad, has had a major influence on the field of political science worldwide. Motivated by the desire to improve our understanding of the sources, content and consequence of racial bias and political intolerance, he investigates public opinion, attitude formation and political psychology.

Susan Gardner, Ph.D. 
Physics & Astronomy, College of Arts & Sciences

Gardner is a leader in the fields of nuclear, particle and astrophysics. Her contributions to theoretical physics have shaped the path of experimental work worldwide. She's deeply interested in matter versus antimatter and dark matter, and is pushing beyond the Standard Model of particle interactions. She recently proposed a novel mechanism for the stimulated conversion of neutrons in antineutrons. She has produced over 60 publications and given 183 invited seminars or conference talks, and has served on the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee and is an active member of the American Physical Society. 

Craig Miller, D.M.D., M.S.
Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology, College of Dentistry

Miller is one of the most successful research investigators in the College of Dentistry since its inception. Specializing in all phases of oral medicine and oral diagnosis, his extramural support totals 40 grant awards and more than $20 million over his 27 consecutive years of funding from the NIH. He has authored 27 books and monographs, 14 book chapters, and 260 peer-reviewed publications, abstracts, commentaries and editorials, which have been cited in more than 8,000 scientific publications. 

Anne Filson, M.A., MIA
Architecture, College of Design

Filson's multidisciplinary design research draws upon maker culture, business and technology to propose objects and buildings that demonstrate local, networked manufacturing. Her research and projects have consistently achieved international recognition across a wide range of settings, including academic and professional to private companies and international cultural institutions. Her work on the furniture series, AtFAB, has been published in design journals, The Guardian, The Economist, NPR and PBS News Hour. 

Beth Rous, Ph.D.
Educational Leadership, College of Education

As either principal investigator or co-investigator, Rous has garnered nearly $87 million in state and university funding and more than $10 million in federal and foundation support, including the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, and state Departments of Education in Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. She is working to improve leadership and practices that support the design and large-scale implementation of programs  that support vulnerable populations of children. 

J. Zach Hilt, Ph.D.
Chemical & Materials Engineering, College of Engineering

As an investigator of polymers, nanoparticles and nanocomposites, Hilt's research pursues the rational design and development of innovative materials with applications in controlled drug delivery, environmental treatment and beyond. Since joining UK in 2004, he has been awarded the College's Dean's Award for Excellence in Research (2013) and Service (2016), and was named a 2013 Faculty Mentor of the Year by the Office of Undergraduate Research. His lab program has yielded more than 95 papers, and his published work has been cited more than 5,000 times, including more than 2,000 citations for a 2006 Advanced Materials paper.

W. Hunter Stamps, M.F.A.
Art & Visual Studies, College of Fine Arts

Stamps teaches ceramic sculpture and exhibits his own work, which he describes as "abstract visualizations." His sculptures have appeared in 105 juried exhibitions, 52 invitational, and 14 solo and one four-person venues across the U.S., China, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Mexico and Spain, including permanent collections in Austria, Germany, and China. He was the recipient of the 2017 Merit Award from the South Ben Museum of Art. His work has been supported by 17 intermural and 10 extramural grant awards. 

James Ziliak, Ph.D.
Economics, Gatton College of Business & Economics

As the founding director of the Center for Poverty Research, Ziliak's research focuses on the causes and consequences of poverty, inequality and food insecurity in the United States. He is also the founding executive director of the Kentucky Federal Statistical Research Data Center. Since joining UK in 2002, he has been awarded $16 million in external funding, and has published more than 60 peer-reviewed publications and more than 40 technical reports. 

Phillip Gribble, Ph.D.
Athletic Training, College of Health Sciences

Gribble is the director of the CAATE-accredited post-professional master's program in athletic training. He is known internationally for his study of ankle instability, particularly for his development of injury prevention and rehabilitation strategies for lateral ankle sprains. His more than 110 peer-reviewed articles have been published in top-tier journals, and he has presented 230 abstracts at international, national and regional scientific meetings on applied and translational outcomes for improving function post lateral ankle injuries.

Philip Kern, M.D.
Internal Medicine & Endocrinology, College of Medicine

Kern's research and leadership impacts tranlational research efforts and health disparities research throughout Kentucky. He serves as Associate Provost for Clinical and Translational Sciences and principal investigator and director of the institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the NIH. Since coming to UK in 2009, he has been continuously funded by the NIH for his research on obesity and diabetes and is recognized among the most highly funded individuals at UK during this time. In addition to his research efforts, Kern maintains a clinical practice in Endocrinology, with active teaching and mentoring of fellows, residents, and students, and is on the Best Doctors in America list.  

Donna Wilcock, Ph.D.
Physiology & Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, College of Medicine

Wilcock has a joint appointment in Physiology and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. Her research focuses on inflammatory and vascular effects on Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of cognitive impairment. With 81 top-tier peer-reviewed articles, she is at the forefront of defining several important aspects of Alzheimer's Disease. She has developed novel approaches to understanding the mechanisms of the disease, with a focus on inflammation and using the brain's immune system in treatment. She is currently supported by more than $14 million in grants from the National Institute of Aging and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes at the NIH.

Misook Lee Chung, Ph.D.
College of Nursing

Chung is one of the top five leading researchers in the world of investigating patient-family dyads with chronic cardiac disease, and has successfully expanded her research into families living with other chronic illnesses. She is the first to use state-of-the-science statistical methods to analyze how cardiovascular patients and their caregivers influence each other's outcomes. Chung has served as PI or co-PI on nearly $15 million of extramurally-sponsored research including funding for two NIH R01 awards.

Patricia Rippetoe Freeman, Ph.D.
Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy

Freeman serves as director of the Center for Advancement of Pharmacy Practice (CAPP), whose mission is to transform the practice of pharmacy in Kentucky and the nation through education, research, and engagement. Her efforts have established her national reputation as an expert on prescription drug monitoring programs and on naloxone education and distribution programs. She is a faculty affiliate of the National Institute on Drug Abuse T32 Training Grant, Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, Center for Health Equity Transformation, Rural and Underserved Health Research Center, and the Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy. 

Svetla Slavova, Ph.D.
Biostatistics, College of Public Health

Slavova is a nationally recognized methodological scholar in injury prevention and surveillance, with a special focus on opioid overdose. Her research addresses the need for accurate and timely drug overdose surveillance data and enhanced analytical capacity to inform multisector responses to the opioid epidemic. Slavova has a strong record of extramural funding, and was recently awarded a total of $5.5 million as principal investigator on four significant grants. She will serve as co-director of the Data, Informatics, and Biostatistics Core for UK's recently awarded $87 million HEALing Communities grant from the NIH.

Julie Cerel, Ph.D.
College of Social Work

Cerel is the director of the Suicide Prevention and Exposure Lab and is an internationally recognized scholar in the area of suicidology. She has published 70 juried papers, and was recently awarded a $1.1 million grant from the DOD-funded Military Suicide Research Consortium to study exposure to suicide in military populations. She has served as a research consultant for the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, Suicide Prevention Action Network, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She is in demand  as a speaker and conducts frequent interviews with the media, including The New York Times, NPR, and O Magazine.