Appalachian Center to host student, faculty research presentation series

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 10, 2023) — The University of Kentucky Appalachian Center is showcasing the work of student and faculty researchers through its Sharing Work on Appalachia in Progress (SWAP) series this spring.

The presenting researchers represent four colleges and seven departments from across UK’s campus, as well as a faculty guest presentation from Maynooth University in Ireland.

Many of the presenting students are supported through the center’s James S. Brown Graduate Student Awards for Research on Appalachia and the UK Appalachian Center Eller & Billings Student Research Awards.

"This spring semester we are excited to continue to highlight the pathbreaking work our students, faculty and colleagues are doing relating to Appalachia,” said UK Appalachian Center Director Kathryn Engle. “This series highlights the transdisciplinary work of Appalachian studies — from linguistics to botany to oral history to education — UK students and faculty are leading the way in research and collaboration in the region."

The presentations will take place at the Appalachian Center at 624 Maxwelton Court and will also be accessible online via Zoom.

The SWAP dates and presenters/topics are:

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21

  • Kathryn Engle (sociology), Kathryn Newfont (history), Zada Komara (Lewis Honors College) and Lindsay Shade (community and leadership development): “Reflections from the Teaching Mountains Conference: Forging International Connections in the French Alps”

Noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29

  • Sarah Tomke, forestry and natural resources: “Accessing Occupancy and the Current Distribution of Eastern Hellbenders in Kentucky Using Environmental DNA,” 2022 Eller and Billings Student Research Award recipient
  • Courtney Martin, kinesiology and health promotion (undergraduate): “Assessing Cancer Literacy and Risk Behaviors Among Appalachian Kentuckians through an Oral History Approach,” 2022 Eller and Billings Student Research Award recipient

Noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12

  • Bonnie Lewis, curriculum and instruction: "Doing the Work: Inquiry and Equity Based Social Studies in Charged Classrooms,” 2022 James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research recipient
  • Megan Buland, forestry and natural resources: “Exploration of the Plant-Fungal Symbiosis in White Fringeless Orchid — A Federally Threatened Species,” 2022 Eller and Billings Student Research Award recipient

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursday, April 13

  • Chandana Mathur (faculty guest presenter from Maynooth University): "Reflections on Transdisciplinary Research Collaboration on the Solar Disinfection of Water in the African and Indian Contexts”

The full schedule with links can be found on the Appalachian Center calendar at

Four previous 2022-23 SWAP presentations have already taken place and can be viewed online. They include:

  • Allen Fletcher, history: "Women and Progressive-Era Education Reform: 1900-1940," 2022 James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research recipient. View here.
  • Jed DeBruin, geography: "Sifting Through the Past: Black Farming Archives in Appalachian Kentucky," 2022 James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research recipient. View here.
  • Jennifer Cramer and Allison Burkette, linguistics: "The Social Life of Appalachian Englishes - A Book Project." View here
  • Mack Thompson, anthropology: "Disabled in Kentucky Oral History Project” View here.

Applications are currently open for the 2023 James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research on Appalachia and the 2023 UK Appalachian Center Eller & Billings Student Research Award. The deadline to apply is Feb. 17.  Learn more here.

For more information about the UK Appalachian Center and the Appalachian Studies program, visit

Download a poster of the full SWAP schedule here.

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