Campus News

KY-WV LSAMP scholars celebrated at UK symposium


LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 2, 2023) The Kentucky-West Virginia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (KY-WV LSAMP) consortium, spearheaded by the University of Kentucky, brought dozens of scholars together for its 2023 symposium. The annual event was held March 31 and April 1.

“The symposium is about sharing scholars’ advances, learning about new opportunities and celebrating their scholarly achievements. It is a showcase of what we can accomplish when we are united in common purpose, with uncommon resolve,” said UK President Eli Capilouto, who serves as principal investigator on the grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

UK has led the KY-WV LSAMP program since it was created in 2006. The alliance is made up of 10 institutions of higher learning from across the two states.

The consortium’s goal is to increase the number of underrepresented students completing degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It reflects the ideals of the late Ohio congressman, Louis Stokes, who pushed for the sponsorship of programs for minority professionals in health and science and engineering at the National Institutes of Health and the NSF, respectively.

“Thanks to programs like LSAMP, 3,407 students from historically marginalized communities graduated with STEM degrees across our alliance during this NSF award cycle,” said Capilouto.

UK freshman Devin Bester is majoring in mechanical engineering and is an LSAMP scholar. He shared his excitement for the opportunities the program gives students to succeed.

“To me, LSAMP provides a shining example of how minorities can get involved in a field that is typically plagued by little diversity. It empowers me to know there is a myriad of groups that have both succeeded and are working toward giving students the tools for success in what can be an intimidating area of study,” said Bester.

As part of the symposium, scholars had opportunities in breakout sessions at the Gatton Student Center to learn more about navigating graduate school, turning work into conference presentations or publications, time management and professional development. LSAMP leadership was also involved in breakout sessions.

“My biggest takeaway from the symposium is definitely the amount of opportunity available within LSAMP and STEM in general. It was really great hearing from keynote speakers, like Dr. Carlotta Berry, who was able to really convey the spirit of the program and get me even more invested in STEM,” said Bester.

Berry is the Lawrence J. Giacoletto Endowed Chair and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Her areas of expertise include educational mobile robotics and enhanced human-robot interface.

Invited presenter, Denise Y. Yates, a senior research scientist at the University of Texas at El Paso who was recently honored for her extensive contributions to the LSAMP program, and Saturday’s keynote speaker, Emmanuella Bassey, a senior majoring in neuroscience and minoring in French at the University of Texas at Austin, presented on international research opportunities for LSAMP Scholars.

“Underrepresented students have the opportunity through LSAMP to connect to undergraduate research opportunities that expose them to new skills in exciting and emerging areas, along with professional development and mentoring,” said Johné Parker, Ph.D., acting associate dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and associate professor in the UK College of Engineering, who serves as a co-principal investigator (co-PI) on the grant. A major part of her role with LSAMP is connecting students to research opportunities.

Eleven LSAMP scholars presented posters on their research ranging from finding ways to use fungi as an eco-friendly building material alternative to plastic, to creating engaging STEM-related learning modules to get more students interested in the fields.

The symposium also featured an academic fair with representatives from a variety of universities and programs including UK’s STEM Through Authentic Research and Training (S.T.A.R.T.), the UKNeu-PREP Graduate Bridge Program for those interested in neuroscience, the UK Department of Civil Engineering Graduate Program, and the UK College of Pharmacy.

“I think it’s important to meet with other scholars at different universities because it gives you a perspective on the kind of impact you can have,” said Bester. “Before the symposium, I thought LSAMP extended only to UK. Afterward, I realized how large the program is and how significant of a role it has in many universities in Kentucky and beyond.”

“A program like this takes the efforts of many people. The symposium is a critical opportunity to recognize the accomplishments and hard work of our student scholars and partners,” Kelly Bradley, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation in the College of Education. Bradley also serves as a co-PI on the grant.

In addition to UK, the alliance includes the Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Centre College, Jefferson Community and Technical College, Kentucky State University, Marshall University, the University of Louisville, West Virginia State University, West Virginia University, and Western Kentucky University.

UK students can learn more about the program online here or contact Julie Bradley, acting director of KY-WV LSAMP, at

The NSF LSAMP program began in 1991 with six alliances, and now includes more than 40 alliances and six regional centers. The program provides funding to alliances that implement comprehensive, evidence-based, innovative and sustained strategies that result in the graduation of well-prepared, highly qualified students from underrepresented groups pursuing graduate studies or STEM careers. The program defines underrepresented groups as Black, Hispanic, Native American, Native Alaskan and Pacific Islander.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.