UNITE Research Showcase Agenda Highlights Racial Equity

The inaugural UNITE Research Showcase takes place Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 3, 2022) — The University of Kentucky’s UNited In True racial Equity (UNITE) Research Priority Area will host its inaugural research showcase on Wednesday, May 4. The 2022 UNITE Research Showcase is centered around elevating and promoting the importance of racial equity research at UK, across the Commonwealth and beyond.

The event will take place 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, at the Gatton Student Center. While the event is free, registration is required for all attendees. The showcase is open to UK faculty, staff, students, affiliates and academic partners.

Throughout the showcase, UK researchers will feature their racial equity work during breakout sessions designed to illustrate the relevance and impact of their ongoing scholarship. Highlights include:

Achieving Equitable Education: Holistic Approaches to Academic Success

UK College of Education Professor and Associate Dean for Inclusion and Internationalization Kenneth Tyler, Ph.D., will moderate a student success panel including College of Education Assistant Professors Zitsi Mirakhur, Ph.D., and Isaac Woods, Ph.D., and College of Public Health Assistant Professor Sarah Cprek, Ph.D.

Mirakhur’s presentation, “Building Evidence to Advance Meaningful Integration in New York City,” will provide an overview of the conditions that prompted Community School District (CSD) 15 to implement its particular desegregation and integration plan, assess the extent of desegregation and integration in district middle schools, and outline key supports and barriers to this process.

Woods’ presentation, “Contributions of Professional Associations to Advancing Social Justice and Anti-racism,” will review how words like social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion are contextualized by professional associations of various school-based professionals in their professional ethics. 

Cprek will present, “Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) and Undergraduate Student Success,” an exploration of the relationship between ACEs and undergraduate degree completion among a random sample of students at a state-funded university in the U.S., as well as implications for the effectiveness of resiliency programming in supporting student success.

Sustainable Social Justice Advocacy

College of Social Work Assistant Professor Keith J. Watts, Ph.D., College of Education Assistant Professor Thais Council, Ph.D., and College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Professor Keiko Tanaka, Ph.D., will present on the social justice panel moderated by College of Arts and Sciences Professor Anastasia Curwood, Ph.D.

Watts’ presentation, “LGBTQ+ Mental Health & Well-Being: The Intersections of Identity and Outcomes,” will explore the relationships between identity-based community belongingness, coping, minority stress, mental health, and well-being for Black LGBTQ individuals in addition to implications for social work practice and education and future research.

Council’s presentation, “Community Work is Soul Work: Navigating Community-Engaged Participatory Research through a Social Justice Lens,” highlights community-engaged participatory research as a humanistic, collaborative, rigorous research approach to promote social and reparatory justice for equity in historically disenfranchised, long dispossessed communities.

Tanaka’s presentation, “Model Minority, Inconvenient Minority, Loneliest Minority, or Perpetual Foreigners? ‘Asian Americans’ as a category during the COVID pandemic,” will include a discussion of ongoing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Kentuckian scholarship launched by a community member and a group of UK faculty.

Structural Racism and Its Impact on Wealth Acquisition

William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law Melynda Price, J.D., Ph.D., will moderate a panel examining wealth inequities including Gatton College of Business and Economics Assistant Professors Lala Ma, Ph.D., and Benjamin Rosa, Ph.D., and the Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs Associate Professor in the College of Law Christopher G. Bradley, J.D., Ph.D.

Ma’s presentation, “Environmental Justice: Causes and Consequences of Inequitable Pollution Exposure,” discusses the research documenting correlations between pollution and demographics and the potential causes of these correlations from an economics perspective, including policies or regulations that may unintentionally exacerbate existing inequities.

Rosa will present “Subcontracting Requirements and the Cost of Government Procurement,” which will illustrate how subcontracting policies affect procurement auctions using data from New Mexico's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. 

Bradley will present “Remote Justice in the Bankruptcy Courts,” an analysis of survey and interview data gained from experienced parties in the consumer bankruptcy system to assess the costs and benefits of remote hearings both before and after the sudden shift brought on by COVID-19.

Advancing Health Equity with Evidence-Based Research

College of Communication and Information Assistant Professor Diane Francis, Ph.D., College of Arts and Sciences Assistant Professor Lauren Whitehurst, Ph.D., and current Lymon T. Johnson Postdoctoral Research Fellow Shemeka Thorpe, Ph.D., will present on a health inequities panel moderated by College of Medicine Professor and UK Associate Vice President for Research, Health Disparities, Nancy Schoenberg, Ph.D.

Francis will present “Communication Strategies to Encourage Healthy Behaviors and Advance Health Equity for Black Populations,” which focuses on culturally appropriate messages and communication strategies for the prevention of communicable and chronic diseases in minority and low-income populations.

Whitehurst will present “Sleep Is Not A Luxury: Leveraging Sleep As A Tool For Health Justice,” which will review the role sleep plays to maintain health and vitality across the lifespan and discuss the costs to health when we do not get adequate sleep.

Thorpe will present “Exploring Patient-Provider Communication Among Black Women Experiencing Sexual Pain,” which seeks to explain the patient-provider communication process and the pathway to treatment among premenopausal Black women in the southern U.S. through qualitative analysis and a conceptual framework of patient-provider communication about sexual pain.

For more information, including the full event agenda, visit:


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