LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 12, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK-CARES), in partnership with the Center of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH), recently announced the nominees and the winner of the 2021 Community Engagement Award in Environmental Health.
Beverly May, Dr.P.H., won this year’s award for her contributions to health care as a family nurse practitioner in Appalachian Kentucky. May recently completed her doctoral degree in public health at UK and is now focused on community engagement in environmental health sciences. As a member of the Mountain Air Project research team, May’s air quality research led to the implementation of a healthy homes intervention for rural Appalachians with asthma. She took the lead in protecting the waterways and public health of residents threatened by mountain top removal and addressed the health impacts of this type of coal extraction and transport.
“It has been really gratifying to see community members successfully tackle the challenge of improving respiratory health in the mountains by collaborating with UK faculty and graduate students,” May said.
The annual award recognizes individuals or community-academic teams who demonstrate effective research or project evaluation to improve environmental health in Appalachia. Nominees must demonstrate outstanding community-engaged science, be involved in community-academic partnerships, be a community-engaged environmental health scientist, or be a community member engaged in issues to keep the air or water healthy.
“We are thrilled and proud to recognize Dr. May for her outstanding community engagement in advancing environmental health science and improving the quality of air and water in Appalachia,” said Stacy Stanifer, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UK College of Nursing and co-leader of the UK-CARES Community Engagement Core. “Dr. May exemplifies what it means to be a community-engaged environmental health scientist by listening to the concerns of the community, developing novel research approaches with the community, and actively working with community partners to develop solutions.”
In addition to May, nominees included the East Kentucky Water Network for their work to create a shared understanding of the region’s systemic drinking water issues, USA Drone Port for their innovative use of aerial drone technology to deliver personal protective equipment to high-risk patients during the pandemic, and Watershed Watch in Kentucky for their citizen action program that trains volunteers to collect, analyze, and advocate for clean water in the region.
Craig Wilmhoff and his biology students at Perry County Central High School won the award in 2020 for their citizen science project to promote in-home radon testing.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.