News & Recognition: Spring 2016


College Dedicates Asit K. Ray Student Commons


new student commons named after Asit K. Ray, longtime University of Kentucky chemical engineering professor who passed away in November 2014, opened January 15 in F. Paul Anderson Tower. A nearly 1,850-square-foot area was renovated into a new student study, teamwork and computer laboratory space primarily for chemical engineering and materials engineering undergraduates. With mobile workstations and comfortable seating, the space is especially fit for teamwork activities related to undergraduate engineering laboratories and teaching assistant office hours and tutoring.

Professor Ray, who dedicated his career to teaching and researching aerosols, received his doctoral degree from Clarkson University in 1980 and became assistant professor of chemical engineering at UK shortly afterward. From 2007-2012, he held the William T. Bryan Professorship in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. In 2003, he received the UK College of Engineering’s Henry Mason Lutes Award for Excellence in Engineering Education.

Funding for the Asit K. Ray Student Commons came from a former student of Ray’s, Michael Marberry, president and CEO of J.M. Huber Corporation. Marberry graduated from UK with his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1981 and his master’s degree in 1983. He was inducted into the UK Engineering Hall of Distinction in 2005.

“I can’t think of a better way to honor Dr. Ray’s memory than with the student commons,” Marberry said. “I feel undoubtedly that he would be pleased by it, not for the recognition itself, but for the fact that it’s associated with something so important, the life of the students here in the engineering college.”

Jacobs, Payne Receive NSF CAREER Awards


arlier this year, computer science professor Nathan Jacobs and chemical engineering professor Christina Payne each earned prestigious CAREER Awards from the National Science Foundation. The CAREER Award is one of the NSF’s highest awards and it supports junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

Nathan Jacobs, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Nathan Jacobs, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of
Computer Science


illions of geotagged and time-stamped images are publicly available via the Internet, providing a rich record of the appearance of materials, objects and scenes across the globe. These images are a largely untapped resource that could improve our understanding of how the world changes over time. Jacobs’ research seeks to extract useful information from this imagery and fuse it into high-resolution global models that capture geo-temporal trends. His proposal presents a unified research, education, outreach and collaboration plan that will fill many important gaps in this area.

Jacobs said, “I am excited about the proposed research and its potential impact on a broad range of applications, from environmental monitoring to education. This award will make it possible for me to make important advances in research and education for many years to come.”

Jacobs received his Ph.D. from Washington University in Saint Louis in 2010.

Christina Payne, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering

Christina Payne, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of
Chemical Engineering


lycoside hydrolases are enzymes responsible for breaking down crystalline biomass such as cellulose or chitin. The most efficient glycoside hydrolases are capable of processive hydrolysis (or processivity), where the enzyme repeatedly cleaves the covalent bonds that hold the biomass material together. Payne’s research will focus on developing a molecular-level understanding of the mechanisms governing glycoside hydrolase processivity through molecular modeling and thermodynamic calculations backed by experimental biochemical characterization.

Payne said, “I am thrilled to have this opportunity. Ultimately, this research will enable us to identify thoughtful strategies to improve enzyme efficiency, and accordingly, the economics of biofuels. I cannot imagine a more exciting way to contribute to the solution of a global problem.”

Payne received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2007.


UK, UofL Win Large Federal Grant, Join New National Nanotechnology Network


n September, the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville announced a $3.76 million grant to create a national center of excellence in micro/nanotechnology. The highly competitive grant from the National Science Foundation was one of just 16 awarded to universities across the country.

The two universities are joining a new national network which will make university facilities, tools and expertise in nanoscale science, engineering and technology available to outside users.

Eight key nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing facilities at UK and Louisville will provide a collaborative center for academia, small businesses and industry to “build miniature solutions for applications in healthcare, energy, security and beyond,” said Todd Hastings, director of the UK Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering and Reese S. Terry Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The five year grant will be used to:

  • Enhance and upgrade advanced manufacturing equipment at UK and UofL research facilities.
  • Add staff to help train and support up to 500 additional external users.
  • Provide seed money for research projects in key advanced manufacturing areas.
  • Engage more minorities and women in nanoscale science, engineering and technology.

Cutts Receives Honorary Doctorate of Engineering



att Cutts (left), pictured with Department of Computer Science chair W. Brent Seales, received an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering during the December commencement ceremonies.

Cutts, a Singletary Scholar from Morehead, Ky., graduated with bachelor’s degrees in 1995 in computer science and mathematics. He was one of Google’s first 100 employees and his leadership resulted in safer web searching for families and children, improved ranking schemes and “search encryption.”

In Other News…

  • James F. Hardymon Chair in Manufacturing Systems and Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing director I.S. Jawahir was announced as the winner of the William Johnson International Gold Medal. The selection made Jawahir the first researcher from the United States to receive the award.
  • Raymond-Blythe Professor in Civil Engineering and Director of the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute Lindell Ormsbee was the 2016 recipient of the Julian Hinds Award. The honor recognizes significant achievements that advance engineering in the field of planning, development and management of water resources.
  • Alumni Professor and North American Membrane Society president Dibakar Bhattacharyya was the focus of two honorary sessions that took place during the annual meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in Salt Lake City.
  • Computer science professor Judy Goldsmith received a 2016 Computer Research Association Committee on Education Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award. This national-level award recognizes individual faculty members who have provided exceptional mentorship and guidance in computing.
  • Chemical engineering assistant professor Brad Berron was elected to participate in the 2015-16 SEC Faculty Travel Program. The program provides support for faculty to collaborate with colleagues at other SEC member institutions.
  • Mechanical engineering assistant professor Alexandre Martin received a $500,000 Early Stage Innovations Award from NASA to improve the software and thermal property models of the Orion spacecraft’s heat shield.
  • Cato Laurencin, the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Connecticut, delivered the annual Dean’s Lecture Series talk, “Regenerative Engineering: Innovative Technologies to Answer Grand Challenges.”