University Research Professors

2019-2020 University Research Professors

  • Jason Unrine, Plant & Soil Sciences
  • Susan Gardner, Physics & Astronomy
  • Mark Peffley, Political Science
  • Craig Miller, Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Anne Filson, Architecture
  • Beth Rous, Educational Leadership
  • J. Zach Hilt, Chemical & Materials Engineering
  • W. Hunter Stamps, Visual Arts
  • James Ziliak, Economics
  • Phillip Gribble, Athletic Training
  • Philip Kern, Endocrinology
  • Donna Wilcock, Physiology, Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
  • Misook Lee Chung, Nursing
  • Patricia Rippetoe Freeman, Pharmacy Practice & Science
  • Svetla Slavova, Biostatistics
  • Julie Cerel, Social Work

About the Program

The University Research Professorships were established by the UK Board of Trustees in 1976 to recognize outstanding research achievements. 

The University of Kentucky Strategic Plan (2015 – 2020) for Research has an overall objective to expand our scholarship, creative endeavors and research across the full range of disciplines to focus on the most important challenges of the Commonwealth.  Strategic Initiatives to achieve this overall objective include investing and recognizing areas of scholarly excellence, and recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, staff and students. 

The University Research Professors Program recognizes excellence across the full spectrum of research, scholarship and creative endeavors at the University of Kentucky.

  • Colleges with less than 275 tenure-track faculty may nominate one University Research Professor per year; colleges with more than 275 tenure-track faculty (currently Arts and Sciences and Medicine) may nominate two per year.
  • Each college will establish (1) a process for soliciting and choosing nominations, and (2) criteria for excellence in research, scholarship and creative endeavors.  College-specific criteria will be reviewed by and kept on file within the Offices of Research.  As a minimum criteria, the nominee must have at least 30% effort in Research activities on their DOE and be performing well above benchmarks in their research, scholarship and creative activities.
  • The award amount will be $10,000 for one year, to be used to further the research, scholarship and creative endeavors of the awardee.  A faculty member may only be recognized once; those who have been named a University Research Professor under the previous program are not eligible.  Faculty receiving this award may use the title “University Research Professor” for as long as they remain faculty at the University of Kentucky.
  • Nominee(s) packets submitted to the Office of Research should contain a full updated CV and a nomination letter from either the Associate Dean for Research or a Department Chair summarizing how the qualifications of the nominee meet the college-specific criteria for excellence.
  • The Office of Research reserves the right for final approval of nominees.  It is likely, depending on the number of faculty within a unit and other factors, that some Colleges may not have a nominee who meets the criteria for excellence within a given year. 

A reception honoring award recipients will take place annually.  In addition, awardees will be announced at an annual Board of Trustees meeting.  Finally, awardees may be given the opportunity to present a short description of their research, scholarship and creative endeavors to the BOT once over the course of the award year, as well as through other vehicles intended to highlight their research accomplishments.

Contact individual college dean's office for college-level-specific program details.

College nominations were due to the Office of the Vice President for Research ( by March 2, 2020.

Conditions of Appointment

  • The appointee must not be on leave status for the year of the award.
  • It is expected that the Research Professor will contribute to the research atmosphere on the University campus.
  • It is expected that part of the major research activity will be conducted at the University.
  • The awardee must agree to remain at the University for the year following the award.