UK Research Names 4 Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Fellows for 2022-23
From left: Laura Waldman and Amber Plemons were named University Research Postdoctoral Fellows. Amy Jones Haug and Jenny Lutshumba were named Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellows.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 16, 2022) — The University of Kentucky Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has named four fellows to the Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellowship and the University Research Postdoctoral Fellowship. 

The Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellowship is named in honor of UK's first Black graduate student and prioritizes funding for candidates from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in the faculty ranks.

The University Research Postdoctoral Fellowship is for individuals training in disciplines with limited gender diversity.  

Since 1990, the OVPR has supported these two postdoctoral fellowship programs with the primary goal of diversifying the pipeline of candidates qualified to become academic leaders in their fields. These programs support a stipend, plus benefits, along with funds for their research career development.

“We are pleased to announce our new cohort of fellows, and we are excited to partner with them and their mentors to help shape their research careers,” said Lisa Cassis, UK vice president for research. 

“Fellows pursue an individualized research program under the mentorship of UK faculty and actively participate in a series of research career development activities designed to enhance their competitiveness for a future faculty position," said Nancy Schoenberg, associate vice president for research in research professional development and postdoctoral fellowship program director. "This program is designed to set them up for success.”

In addition to working closely with their mentors, the OVPR postdoctoral fellowship program involves the Inclusive Postdoctoral Enhancement Program, which includes individual navigation by UK faculty members, individualized sessions with the Proposal Development Office, and group and personalized enrichment programming. Schoenberg said, “One especially exciting component of the program is an in-depth conversation with Dr. Katrice Albert, the newly appointed vice president for institutional diversity.”

“Kentucky has ambitious and audacious diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Fostering diversity in meaningful ways, like these postdoctoral fellowships, will enhance UK’s culture of belonging and the impact we can have on the diverse communities we serve," said Albert. "I look forward to sharing my career journey with these fellows.”

Danelle Stevens-Watkins, associate vice president for research in diversity and inclusion and director of the UNited In True racial Equity (UNITE) Research Priority Area, said, “UNITE is excited to support Amy Jones Haug’s work in diversity policies through this fellowship. Continued investment in diverse research postdoctoral fellows will create the faculty leaders we need as we move toward equitable solutions.”

Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Jenny Lutshumba, Department of Neuroscience, Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center, College of Medicine Mentors: Barbara Nikolajczyk and Adam Bachstetter Lutshumba is a physiologist with a research interest in understanding sex differences in immune function amongst the elderly and how this contributes to cognitive decline. Her goal is to detect the early stages of dementia and develop a more personalized approach to treat and prevent cognitive decline.  
  • Amy Jones Haug, Department of Educational Policy Studies & Evaluation, College of Education  Mentors: Kayla Johnson and Kelly Bradley Jones Haug, a sociologist, is an ethnographer of race, law and public health who researches the effect of different racial incorporation practices (such as diversity in place of affirmative action) upheld by the Supreme Court on the health outcomes of Black Americans. Her current work challenges the notion that diversity policies bring about the social justice they claim; instead, advocates for more equitable racial incorporation practices.

University Research Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Amber Plemons, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences Mentors: Hugo Reyes-Centeno and James Hartsfield Plemons, a biological and forensic anthropologist, examines the evolutionary forces of human skeletal variation, specifically the interaction of climate and genetics in shaping human form. She is involved in research on juvenile dental age estimation methods, population affinity, and access and ethical considerations in digital pedagogy using human remains.  
  • Laura Waldman, Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering Mentors: Martha Grady and John Balk Waldman is a mechanical engineer who develops and characterizes composite materials with applications in multifunctional and self-healing materials, experimental solid mechanics, and mechanobiology.

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.