KGS Seminar Gives Geoscience Perspective on Climate Change in Kentucky

2022 KGS Director Award winners (from left) Jason Backus, Matt Crawford, Steve Webb, Andrea Conner and Sarah Arpin. Not pictured: Nolan Whitt, Sydney Gutierrez-Gomez and Emily Morris.
Poster presentations at the 61st Annual KGS Seminar held May 12, 2022.
KGS Director Bill Haneberg presenting at the KGS Annual Seminar.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 23, 2022) — The Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) at the University of Kentucky hosted its first-ever seminar focusing on the intersection between geoscience research and climate change on May 12. The 61st Annual KGS Seminar highlighted how interdisciplinary research is vital to shaping Kentucky’s future when it comes to climate change.

“Climate change is here, and the impacts reach far beyond geology. It’s an economic, human health, and policy issue. Our job at KGS is to provide unbiased data and information to help mitigate potential impacts to Kentucky and support science-based decision making,” said State Geologist and KGS Director Bill Haneberg, Ph.D.

KGS experts presented on climate-related research topics relevant to Kentucky including geologic hazards, remote sensing for environmental mapping, methane emissions from orphaned oil and gas wells, carbon storage, and critical minerals.

The day also included poster sessions highlighting KGS research, and presentations from Morehead State University Assistant Professor David Long, Ph.D., and UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Associate Professor Wei Ren, Ph.D.

UK College of Arts and Sciences Assistant Professor Lauren Cagle, Ph.D., gave an update on the Kentucky Climate Consortium, a statewide, interdisciplinary research and teaching collaboration for academics. Cagle focused on the need for narratives of climate change that resonate with Kentuckians.

“Here, we don’t have polar bears or beachfront property, but as today’s talks have shown, climate change touches on every part of academia and research in the state,” Cagle said.

Haneberg also presented the 2022 KGS Director’s Awards to a group of KGS scientists involved in the Radon on the RADAR research project — an NIEHS-funded citizen science project through the UK College of Nursing that involved 16 weeks of time-sensitive fieldwork to measure soil radon levels at more than 60 homes in four rural Kentucky counties.

Sarah Arpin, Jason Backus, Andrea Conner, Matt Crawford, Sydney Gutierrez-Gomez, Emily Morris, Steve Webb and Nolan Whitt received the annual award, which recognizes KGS employees who go above and beyond.

The radon data collected by the KGS team will inform public health efforts to decrease radon exposure, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer and significantly increases the likelihood of lung cancer in those exposed to tobacco smoke.


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.