Alyson Ackerman

Alyson Ackerman is a Lexington, Kentucky native. She attended the University of Kentucky and graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry in 2018. Alyson proceeded to work for just over four years in the pharmaceutical industry, testing both raw material and finished products as well as developing and validating methods for new drug products. She has now returned to the University of Kentucky to pursue a PhD in Chemistry to further her knowledge in this field of study. Alyson is highly interested in biochemistry and the analytical methods used to quantify results. She is most excited about the interdepartmental collaboration inherent in the NRT program and looks forward to working with students and researchers from other disciplines. In her free time, Alyson enjoys baking bread, reading in her hammock, and playing with her dogs.

Deborah Adeyemi

Deborah Adeyemi is from Nigeria, where she earned a Diploma degree at the Yaba College of Technology in 2011 and a BS in Industrial Chemistry at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, in 2016. Upon graduation, she worked at SGS Inspection Service for 2 years testing and certifiying petroleum products to ensure that they met industry standards. She also worked at Pacegate, an ISO 17025 laboratory where she was involved in the formulation and testing of additives & lubricants. She is currently pursuing her PhD in the UK Chemistry Department, where she works in Environmental Chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Marcelo Guzman.

Victoria Bajek

Victoria Bajek is from Erie, Pennsylvania. She completed her B.S. in Environmental Science with minors in Religious Studies and Biology at Allegheny College. She is currently pursuing her M.S. in Integrated Plant and Soil Sciences (IPSS) under the mentorship of Dr. Rudolph in the Department of Horticulture. Her research focuses on the effect plant-parasitic nematodes have on vegetable cropping systems across the state of Kentucky. The project specifically works with Kentucky high tunnel growers and their high tunnel systems to evaluate grafting and other non-chemical, sustainable methods for root knot nematode management. Though Victoria is based out of UK’s main campus in Lexington, she enjoys visiting and working with vegetable growers during on-farm trials as well as helping out at the UK Horticulture Research Farm. She looks forward to working with more growers to understand and tackle challenges and needs of Kentucky/Appalachian vegetable growers that extend into our food systems.

Seth Bradley

Seth Bradley is originally from the state of Georgia where he attended the University of West Georgia earning degrees in both Psychology and Chemistry.  After working in mental health for several years, Seth decided to shift to a focus on chemical research with a particular interest in environmental issues and energy production.  Seth is currently a PhD student in chemistry at the University of Kentucky.

Caleb Brown

Caleb Brown grew up in Haymarket, Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015, where he majored in Animal and Poultry Science and minored in Agricultural & Applied Economics. He previously worked in the beef cattle and crop production industries. He is currently pursuing a MS in Agricultural Economics at UK where he is focusing on the economics of using feeder cattle futures contracts as a cross-hedge for price risk mitigation with calf sales.

Hans Brown

Hans is from Independence, Oregon. He received his Bachelors in Bioengineering from Oregon State University. There he worked with Dr. Stacey Harper studying the effects of nanoplastics on aquatic ecosystems. They are currently a first year Ph.D. student in Integrated Plant and Soil Science (IPSS) at University of Kentucky, Department of Plant and Soil Science. He is working with Dr. Olga Tsyusko on assessing the ecotoxicity of emerging nano-based fertilizers. They are passionate about equitable and accessible science with a focus on environmental stability.

Megan Brown

Megan Brown is from Barbourville, Kentucky. She attended Centre College and graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry in 2022. She is now pursuing a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Kentucky under Dr. Chad Risko at CAER. Megan is particularly interested in computational chemistry and its applications as a tool to better understand materials. The opportunity to begin forming a network of individuals from multiple disciplines with a common goal motivated her to join the NRT program. In her free time, Megan enjoys crocheting, trying new foods, and spending time with her cat.

Megan Buland

Megan Buland is a PhD student in the Forestry and Natural Resources department at the University of Kentucky under the mentorship of Dr.Chris Barton and Dr. Ellen Crocker.  Her research focuses on restoration ecology of threatened orchids in Kentucky, with a particular interest in the symbiotic relationship between orchids and their mycorrhizal fungi associates.  Broadly, Megan is interested in restoration ecology, particularly the roles of fungi in ecological restoration.  She also has a strong interest in applied agroforestry practices, and hopes to explore these areas of interest in her current and future research.  Prior to her current studies, Megan worked as a staff member in Cooperative Extension here at UK, working with Dr. Ellen Crocker in research, outreach and education related to forest health.  Megan holds a MS in Forestry & Natural Resources from the University of Georgia, and a BS in Forestry from the University of Kentucky; she also has extensive experience as an ISA certified arborist focusing on plant health care and plant pathology.  In her free time, Megan enjoys hiking, gardening, aerial silks training and teaching others about fungi and mushroom cultivation.

April Collins

April Collins is from Winchester, Kentucky. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Kentucky in the Fall of 2021. As an undergraduate, she has worked as a lab assistant in the Kentucky Stable Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory (KSIGL) for three years under Dr. Andrea Erhardt. She has also done work as a Quality Control Intern for Summit Biosciences, a pharmaceutical company. Since then, she has decided to come back to UK for her Ph.D. in chemistry and has joined the UK NRT. She is currently interested in research involving environmental or green chemistry. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, trying new foods, and painting pottery. 

Lucca Madeo Cortarelli

Lucca Madeo Cortarelli is originally from Jaboticabal, São Paulo, Brazil. He moved to the U.S. when he was one, and grew up in California, Texas, Rhode Island, and Michigan. In 2023, Lucca graduated with honors from UK with a BS in Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology. He is now pursuing a PhD in UK’s Integrated Plant and Soil Sciences graduate program under the mentorship of Dr. Olga Tsyusko. Lucca is studying the toxicity of emerging 2D nanomaterials, free-standing or embedded onto nanocomposite membranes that can be used for degradation of the persistent organic contaminants, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. In his free time, Lucca enjoys music, hiking, photography, and watching movies.

Josiel Barrios Cossio

Josiel Barrios Cossio is originally from Cuba. He is a Radiochemist who graduated with honors (Award to the Scientific Merit, Best Graduate, and Best Thesis in Nuclear Sciences) at The Higher Institute of Technologies and Applied Sciences (InSTEC, Cuba) in 2016. Josiel had the opportunity to promote science as an undergraduate by leading the University Student Federation at Havana (2014-2015) and InSTEC (2012-2016). He was a trainee on Neutron Activation Analysis in Life Sciences at JINR, Dubna, 2016; and Electric Power Industry and Heat-Power Engineering at INPE MEPhI, 2017 in Russia. In 2020, Josiel earned his master’s degree in Advanced Technologies at CICATA-Legaria, IPN, Mexico, sponsored by the CONACYT. While in Mexico, he did an internship focused on studying conductive polymers and carbon nano-onions for electrochemical energy storage at UTEP (Texas, USA, 2020) under the supervision of Professor Luis Echegoyen. Now he is a Ph. D. student (Spring 2021) at the University of Kentucky with interests in Environmental Chemistry research under the supervision of Dr. Marcelo Guzman. In addition, he loves dancing, playing, and singing Latin music, exploring new cultures, literature, and visual arts.

Rebecca Davenport

Rebecca Davenport is originally from Caldwell, New Jersey. In 2021, she completed her undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. For her senior Honors thesis, she researched the spatiotemporal dynamics between urban coyotes and free-range cats using camera trap monitoring. Her overall research interests are broadly associated with the conservation of terrestrial vertebrates, but she is particularly fascinated by avian ecology, urban ecology, and island conservation. Currently, Rebecca is pursuing a M.S. in Forestry & Natural Resources at the University of Kentucky. Under the mentorship of Dr. Steven Price and Dr. John Cox, she will be researching the effects of reclaimed forests on Appalachian wildlife in Kentucky and West Virginia.

Kai Davis

Kai Davis is from Louisville, KY. He attended UK  for his undergraduate degree in Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology with a minor in Animal Science on a Pre-Veterinary track. In undergrad, he participated in and conducted a study looking at reducing and reversing the negative effects of aging in/on the equine immune system through Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Zinc. After graduation, Kai interned and eventually worked as a seasonal Zookeeper at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, interacting with many animals of mammalian, avian, amphibian, and reptilian species. Wanting to work on wildlife conservation and endangered animal species preservation, he decided to pursue a Master’s in Forest and Natural Resource Science at UK, specializing in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Biology. His current research project explores the avian presence and abundance in reforested plots. Personally, Kai enjoys exploring the world through travel, food, and people, and he plans on using his career not only to save and protect endangered species around the globe, but also see and experience the world while doing so. He also loves sports in general and basketball in particular, food, music, and board games. Kai has greatly enjoyed and appreciated each and all of the opportunities and experiences that UK has offered, including the NRT program!

Rebekah Duke

Rebekah Duke is originally from White Bluff TN. In the fall of 2020, she began UK’s doctoral program in chemistry as well as UK’s NSF Graduate Research Traineeship in INFEWS. Since 2020, she has been doing research under Dr. Chad Risko at CAER, focusing on dihedral bond energies in organic polymers. In her free time, Rebekah enjoys spending time with her husband, cooking and baking, and experiencing the outdoors.

Isfandiyar Eminli

Isfandiyar Eminli is from Azerbaijan – a beautiful  country in the Caucasus – where he completed his Bachelors and his Master’s in Chemical Engineering at Baku Higher Oil School and Baku Engineering University, respectively. He worked in a petrochemical plant of SOCAR (the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan) as a chemical engineer to produce ethylene from crude oil. He also worked on several projects in the Nanolab of Khazar University. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Kentucky. He enjoys chess and interacting with the people around him.

Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis grew up in Raeford, North Carolina, on his families’ row crop and livestock operation. He completed his B.S. in Agricultural Economics at Auburn University in 2016. He has previous experience working in the veterinary medicine industry until starting his M.S. degree. His prior research has focused on topics including cover crop economics, machinery economics, and land valuations. Robert is currently a Ph.D. research assistant working in production agriculture and farm management.

Kehinde Fagbohungbe

Kehinde Fagbohungbe is a PhD student in the UK Department of Chemistry performing computational materials chemistry research in the lab of Prof. Chad Risko at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER). He is originally from Nigeria, where he earned his BS in Chemistry from Adekunle Ajasin University and worked at the interface of quality control and drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry as Quality Assurance Chemist at SKG-Pharma Limited, Lagos.

Kehinde enjoys doing computational materials chemistry research. He is building expertise in atomistic molecular dynamics simulations within high performance computing (HPC) environments, by using programs and tools such as GROMACS, VMD, Gaussian, Materials Studio, Python, and Bash, to probe optoelectronic potentials of select conjugated polymer systems. In addition, he loves exploring artificial intelligence, and the subfield of machine learning. Although he was awarded a prestigious Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree (EMJMD) to Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France, to study Theoretical Chemistry and Computational Modeling (TCCM), he opted for a PhD at UK instead.

Kehinde is particularly involved in volunteering and outreach. He is currently a member of the International Students Concerns Committee (ISCC) and has enjoyed serving as a judge in the Fayette County High School Science Fair. Kehinde loves connecting with people, and one goal of his is to make ten new friends from UK and Lexington every school year!

Abelline Fionah

Abelline Katusiime Fionah is originally from Uganda. She got her B.S. and M.S. in chemistry from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. At Ball State University, Abelline worked under Dr. Elsayed Zahran. Her research focused on synthesizing metal oxide nano materials for environmental remediation. She joined UK’s NRT on INFEWS in the fall of 2020. Abelline is currently pursuing her PhD in chemistry at UK and conducting research under Dr. Isabel Escobar. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, dancing, and event planning.

Umenweke Great

Umenweke Great is originally from Nigeria, with an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO). Great worked as an undergraduate research intern at Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), where he learned about research on biomass utilization and biodiesel. As an undergraduate, he received an award of excellence by the Nigeria Society of Chemical Engineers (NSCHE) Students Body, for uplifting Chemical Engineering students in Nigeria. He also worked as a teaching and Laboratory assistant in the department of Chemical Engineering, University of Abuja.

Great is a PhD student in the department of Chemistry University of Kentucky, with Research interest in the application of Heterogeneous Catalysis in the conversion of Biomass to chemicals and fuels, under the mentorship of Dr. Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez. Great enjoys listening to music and reading in his spare time.

Youselie Joseph

Youselie Joseph is from Haiti. She came to the US in 2010 and has since completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in biochemistry at Anderson University in Indiana in 2022. She is currently in her first year as a Ph.D. student in the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky. She is interested in organic and inorganic chemistry with a special interest in synthesis reactions using metals as the catalyst, as well as in energy conversion and storage research. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and reading fiction stories.

Rachel Kaplan

Rachel Kaplan is a Lexington, Kentucky local. She attended the University of Kentucky where she earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering as well as a minor in Flute Performance. As an undergraduate, Rachel received a University of Kentucky Fine Arts Scholarship and became a Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK) Scholarship E. On Scholar where she earned a certificate in power and energy. She became involved in research in 2019 when she joined the Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) as an undergraduate research assistant. During her time at CAER, Rachel studied the use of bourbon stillage as both activated carbon and as a soil amendment under Dr. Ignacio Martin-Gullon. She then moved into research working under Dr. Matthew Weisenberger investigating coal-to-products with the goal product being high performance carbon fibers. Rachel is now a PhD student in Chemical Engineering working as a graduate research assistant under Dr. Isabel Escobar. Her research will focus on developing multifunctional membranes derived from green solvents for water purification. Outside of being creative in the lab, Rachel also enjoys other creative endeavors such as crochet, sewing, and baking. 

Victoria Klaus

Victoria Klaus is originally from Recife, Brazil. She moved to the U.S. when she was 10, and has lived here since in Frisco, TX. She got her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. During her undergraduate studies she participated in an NSF-REU program at the University of Kentucky where she developed nanofiltration membranes for water purification. She is now a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering where she works under the advisory of Dr. J. Zach Hilt and is continuing to pursue water purification through material development, but is now developing adsorbent materials to achieve that goal. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family outside of lab, as well as exploring new places and trying new foods.

Gary Lopez

Gary Lopez grew up in southern California and completed his undergraduate degree at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT). He majored in chemical engineering and minored in chemistry. He is currently a masters student in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering department at UK and is advised by Dr. Joshua Jackson and Dr. Sue Nokes. His main research interest lies with exploring the applications of industrial hemp. During his gap year between his time at NMT and UK he worked as an 8th grade science teacher which confirmed his passion for teaching while also revealing that teaching middle school isn’t right for him. A quirk about Gary is that he has a dislike of coffee tables (there is a whole theory behind it, but you’ll have to ask him on Twitter @GLopezChemE). He would like to have a career that both benefits his community and contributes to a sustainable future, which is why he coined his own motto of “Cultivate, Innovate, and Educate.”

David Lu

David Lu, who is originally from Murray, Kentucky, joined UK’s Chemical Engineering program in the fall of 2016. As an undergraduate student, he received the Otis A. Singletary Scholarship, obtained a Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK) Undergraduate Certificate, and was in the Lewis Honors College. In 2017, David helped evaluate the material properties of additive-manufactured ABS products as part of the UK Bucks for Brains Summer Research Program. In 2018, David conducted research under Dr. Fuqian Yang in developing a microbial fuel cell capable of filtering wastewater and generating an electric current. Currently, he is a graduate research assistant under Dr. Isabel Escobar with a research focus on developing polymeric membranes derived from green polymers and solvents. David has also been an active member of Alpha Phi Omega, the UK American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) chapter, and the Center for Community Outreach. Aside from academics, David enjoys volunteering, music, playing basketball, hiking, and travelling.

Eric Luteyn

Eric W. Luteyn is originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Plant and Soil Sciences with a minor in Animal Science from the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2019. Eric joined UK’s Integrated Plant and Soil sciences program in the spring of 2020. He is currently conducting trait evaluations on Eragrostis teff under the mentorship of Dr. Timothy Phillips. In addition, Eric served in the United States Army for over 10 years as a construction supervisor. During his time in service, Eric planned and executed numerous large-scale projects both in the continental United States and abroad. He volunteers as a soccer coach in Madison county and enjoys reading, gardening, and spending time with his wife and 3 children.

Alexis McFadden

Alexis McFadden is from Irmo, South Carolina. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biosystems Engineering with a minor in Sustainability from Clemson University. Through the SC Adopt-a-Stream program, she led water quality testing for pH, dissolved oxygen levels, conductivity, and other factors in cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control data collection efforts to assess and track the health of water systems throughout the state. Currently, Alexis is working toward her M.S. in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kentucky under the direction of Dr. Tiffany Messer. She seeks to expand her knowledge and best practices in clean water systems research and hopes to become an advocate for environmental justice, specifically for the improvement of water quality in underserved communities. In her spare time, Alexis enjoys reading, playing the viola, doing puzzles, and hiking.

Emily Nottingham

Emily Nottingham is from Ozawkie, Kansas. She attended Kansas State University for her undergraduate degree and graduated in 2019 with a B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering and a secondary major in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. She then continued on with her masters in Biological Systems Engineering at Kansas State University which focused on the characterization of soil moisture seasonality trends throughout the great plains region. Currently, Emily is a PhD student in the department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. She is conducting research under Tiffany Messer, focusing on wetland treatment systems for urban and agricultural runoff. In her free time, Emily enjoys running and yoga, playing with her dog Penny, and exploring all things Kentucky!

Oluwatosin Ayomide Obisesan

Oluwatosin Ayomide Obisesan, born in Lagos Nigeria, is pursuing her PhD at the UK Department of Chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Samuel Awuah. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Nigeria, where her work centered on molecular toxicology, she continued her work to understand biological systems at the molecular level for the development of improved therapeutics. She currently explores intrinsically disordered proteins that are implicated in various cancers and their regulation by novel drug molecules. Other than research, Oluwatosin enjoys teaching, exploring nature, volunteering, and experiencing different cultures. She is a peer educator who has led various groups in Nigeria, reaching out to communities with limited access to information and resources to lead a healthy lifestyle. She was also the Vice-President of the Nigerian Association of Science Student (NASS), OAU chapter, during her undergraduate studies. In her spare time, Oluwatosin enjoys acting, and sports.

Ugochukwu Odagwe

Ugochukwu Odagwe is a PhD student at UK’s Chemistry Department. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria, which conferred him the  Platform/Newcross Joint Ventures Scholarship that allowed him to graduate among the top students of his class. He also holds a master’s degree in Chemistry from the Rivers State University, Port-Harcourt, Nigeria, where his research was graded ‘Excellent’ by the board of the examiners at the postgraduate school so he finished his master’s program as the Best Graduating Student of his class with an overall distinction. Ugochukwu is the founder of the Find The Champions Initiative – a community-based organization that helps to train young people from underserved communities in Nigeria to develop basic skills needed to thrive academically and also raise funds to get young children from low-income households enrolled in school and stay in school. He was a state coordinator of The Orphan Empowerment Society – an NGO that helps to train orphans on crafts that will help them build technical skills in businesses, making them to become self-reliant. Ugochukwu also taught Chemistry and Mathematics for several years at various high schools and pre-degree programs in Nigeria.

Moses Ogbaje

Moses Ogbaje is originally from Nigeria, where he obtained an undergraduate degree in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Lagos (UNILAG). Moses counts with undergraduate research experience on the treatment of industrial effluent using activated carbon produced from agricultural wastes, the results of which he presented in national conferences in Nigeria and at the Royal Society of Chemistry 2020 Virtual Environmental Chemistry Conference. He also worked as an undergraduate Quality Control (QC) and Production Chemist intern at Eunisell Oil and Gas, where he was able to learn QC techniques using multiple instruments. Moses graduated as the best graduating student in Industrial Chemistry, gaining recognition from The Unilever Group and the Students Chemical Society of Nigeria. He was also the financial secretary of the Students Chemical Society of Nigeria (UNILAG chapter) and co-chair of the committee that organized the maiden edition of the Professor Alo Organic Chemistry Competition (PAOCC) aimed at promoting passion for organic chemistry amongst chemistry undergraduate students in Nigeria. He also carried out his compulsory National Youth Service (NYSC) as graduate teaching and research assistant in the Department of Chemistry, University of Lagos, Nigeria. When Moses gained admission to UK’s chemistry doctoral he was awarded the Paul Murrill Fellowship for academic excellence. He has taught organic chemistry lab courses and been appointed as a Lead TA. His research interest include air quality monitoring using small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAVs), which he investigates under the mentorship of Dr. Marcelo Guzman. His hobbies include listening to music and watching soccer.

Motunrayo Oladele

Motunrayo Oladele is originally from Nigeria, where she earned a bachelors of science degree in Chemistry at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun state as the best graduating student in her department and college. Her undergraduate thesis was on the extraction and characterization of essential oils from natural products. She interned at a research laboratory where she worked on AAS, IR and UV for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of compounds for environmental and quality control. She is pursuing a doctoral degree in chemistry at UK with a current interest in analytical and environmental chemistry. Joining the NRT, Motunrayo looks forward to professional development opportunities and carrying out interdisciplinary research. She likes baking, volunteering, and exploring.

Olajumoke Atinuke Oladele

Olajumoke Atinuke Oladele is originally from Nigeria, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Pure and Applied Chemistry from the University of Lagos. As an undergraduate, she worked as Quality Assurance Analyst for Seven-up bottling company, where she gained hands-on work experience, complied with the company’s policies, and acquired Quality Control (QC) skills. She was also the welfare secretary of the student’s chemical society of Nigeria (SCSN) and the co-chair of the committee that organized the 2nd edition of the Professor Alo Organic Chemistry Competition, which is aimed at promoting organic chemistry amongst chemistry undergraduate students in Nigeria. She also carried out her compulsory National Youth Service at a black soap-making company (Dudu Osun), where she worked as the QC analyst ensuring that company standards and quality were met. Her interest in organic synthesis and in ensuring environmental UK safety led her to join the Ladipo group in the Chemistry Department. She enjoys cooking, singing, and dancing.

Tosin Olanrewaju

Tosin Olanrewaju is from Nigeria. He graduated from the Department of Agricultural Engineering at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB). Tosin’s undergraduate research focused on evaluating the mechanical properties of moringa oleifera seeds’ under compression loading. He did his undergraduate research internship at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO). He was a member of the United Nations Association of Nigeria (Youth Wing), an NGO that promotes the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Tosin is pursuing his MSc degree at the University of Kentucky Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Akinbode Adedeji. His research focus on spent grain value addition through food operations optimization. He is passionate about agricultural waste utilization, and sustainable and circular bioeconomy for food systems. He enjoys reading and watching soccer.

Isaac Oluk

Isaac Oluk is originally from Uganda. He holds a BSc Degree in Agricultural Engineering from Makerere University, Uganda. At undergraduate, Isaac worked under Dr. Noble Banadda (Ph.D.) on a research project that focused on the development of a maize cob-based biochar filter for water purification. After graduating in 2019, Isaac assisted faculty members at the Department of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering of Makerere University with research, and also co-founded Badaye Technologies Ltd, a technological research and development company in Uganda that develops innovative and sustainable solutions that improve the quality of life in the disciplines of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH); Food Systems; Energy and Health.

Isaac joined UK’s NRT in the Spring of 2021 and he is currently a first year Master’s Student of Civil Engineering, working with Dr. Diana Byrne (Ph.D.). His research focuses on the development of QMRA, LCA and LCC models to quantify health, environment and cost impacts of stormwater based bioretention systems and inform household water reuse opportunities. Isaac is the current president of the UKY Water Professionals Student Chapter. At his extra time, Isaac enjoys sports, music, movies, exercise and outdoor events.

Chris Ortiz

Chris Ortiz is originally from Stillwater, Oklahoma. He is currently enrolled in the Agricultural Economics MS program. Before joining the program Chris completed his BS in Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky. His previous work experience includes co-founding A Cup of Common Wealth in Lexington, KY and has spent the last several years with West 6th Brewing. Chris enjoys running, hiking and petting other people’s dogs.

Julia Parker

Julia Parker, who is originally from Suwanee, Georgia, has been involved in research since 2018, when she started working at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) as an undergraduate majoring in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE). At CAER, Julia’s undergraduate research was supported by the Kentucky-West Virginia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and a Broadening Participation in Engineering grant of the National Science Foundation (NSF), which also allowed her to attend a summer school focused on the application of renewable energy at the Reiner Lemoine Institute in Berlin, Germany in the summer of 2019. Immediately following graduation, Julia started pursuing a Master’s in BAE under the mentorship of Drs. Czarena Crofcheck and Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, performing her research in the laboratories of UK CAER focused on the development of methods for the valorization of lignin as sustainable source of fuels and chemicals. Her graduate studies and research are currently supported by the NSF LSAMP Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship.

Reagan Patton

Reagan Patton is originally from Loveland, OH.  Reagan graduated with a B.S. in forensic chemistry from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. Her undergraduate research included an internship at the FDA, studying adulteration of maple syrup and research at EKU, studying the analysis of flavor and fragrances from pawpaw.  During most of her time at EKU, Reagan managed the Chemistry Tutoring Center as Lead Tutor. Reagan started at UK during spring of 2021, studying analytical chemistry.  Reagan continues to pursue research in the Guzman Research Group studying compounds within wastewater.  In her free time, Reagan enjoys reading, hiking, music, swimming for UK’s club team, and spending time with friends.

Damilola Christana Petinrin

Damilola Christana Petinrin started her PhD in the Chemistry Department at the University of Kentucky in August of 2021. She is from Nigeria and received a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Chemistry in 2018. Damilola is always fascinated by things in the environment and this has spurred her interest to carry out research in Environmental Chemistry. She is currently passionate about biomass conversion and research in that line.

Kent Pham

Kent Pham, who is originally from Buena Park, California, joined UK’s Integrated Plant and Soil Sciences program in the Fall of 2020. He has been doing research funded by the USDA under the mentorship of Dr. Luke Moe, where his work focuses on the impact of crop rotation on local microbial communities. His hobbies include rock climbing, snowboarding, and painting miniatures.

Kiley Power

Kiley Power is a Master’s student in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) at UK. Kiley is a Lexington native and attended UK for her undergrad where she received her bachelor’s degree in BAE as well as a Certificate in Environmental Engineering. Dr. Tiffany Messer is her advisor, and her research focuses on the effects of nanopesticides on wetland ecosystems. Outside of school Kiley enjoys spending time outdoors, whether she’s horse-back riding, hiking, kayaking, or running.

Sara Qian

Sara (Cheng) Qian is from Guilin, China originally and came to the US in 2014. She began her PhD studies in 2019 at the department of Plant and Soil Sciences of the University of Kentucky, under Drs. Jason Unrine and Travis Shaddox. Her current project is silicon uses in turfgrasses. She is currently serving as the GSC representative in the professional development and networking committee. Outside of work and study, she enjoys watching operas and musicals, travelling as well as hiking and weight training.

Jake Richardson

Jake Richardson is a M.S. student in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kentucky. Jake is originally from Omaha, Nebraska and lived there through High School. He moved to Lincoln, Nebraska for his undergraduate program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In Lincoln, he received a Bachelors degree in Biosystems Engineering with an emphasis in Environmental Engineering. He has experience working with irrigation machines and practices and nutrient uptake and volatilization. His current research focuses on assessment of floating treatment wetlands and nitrogen cycles when introduced to Nanopesticides. In his free time Jake likes to fish, collect records, and participate in resistance training.

Ariel Robinson

Ariel Robinson is from Chicago, Illinois, and earned her B.S and M.S in civil engineering from the University of Kentucky. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in civil engineering, her research focusing on the transport and fate of compounds that persist in the environment through water and wastewater systems. Specifically, she is interested in the potential pathways through which per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from industry can contaminate water and food. In her free time, you can find Ariel in the gym weightlifting, baking, or reading a good book.

Kyra Sigler

Kyra Sigler is from Annapolis, MD. She attended NC State University for her undergraduate degree in Biological Engineering. She is interested in the intersections of water quality, environmental justice, and public health and is currently working on her master’s thesis looking at emerging contaminants up and downstream of wastewater treatment plants in central Kentucky. In her free time, she enjoys reading and biking. She recently participated in a cross-country bike ride from Baltimore to San Francisco and is attempting to try every coffee shop in Lexington by the time she completes her master’s degree.

Briana Snyder

Briana Snyder is originally from eastern Pennsylvania. She went to Ohio Wesleyan University to earn her bachelor’s degree in Pre-Professional Zoology with a minor in Chemistry. After graduating in 2015, she spent two years as an AmeriCorps with the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area stationed at The Nature Conservancy of West Virginia (TNCWV), where she aided in the restoration efforts of the red spruce ecosystem. After finishing her service, she continued to work for TNCWV first as the leader for the invasive species management crew then as the leader for the ecological restoration team. In the spring and summer of 2020, she worked as a reforestation coordinator overseeing the mined land restoration in the Monongahela National Forest for Green Forests Work. She is a first year Masters student in the department of Forestry and Natural Resources and works as a research assistant to Dr. Barton. Her research will focus on the use of restored mined land by terrestrial wildlife. Briana highly enjoys the Appalachia region and takes advantage of its recreational opportunities whenever possible, particularly hiking, star gazing, mushroom hunting, and lazy river kayaking.

Caleb Stickney

Caleb Stickney is from Estill County, Kentucky where he grew up on his family’s tree, mushroom, and cattle farm on the banks of the Red River. He graduated from Harvard University in 2021 with a degree in Environmental Engineering. He worked for a time as a Water Engineer in Lexington and is currently pursuing a MS in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering under the direction of Dr. Tiffany Messer. His primary interests are in resource management, water quality, and rural development. In his free time Caleb enjoys spending time on the farm, caving, and playing the banjo.