LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 22, 2021) — What makes UK the university of, for and with Kentucky?
The answer is our people.
We are a community full of individuals who sacrifice for the greater good. During the past year, those sacrifices have been magnified as the University of Kentucky continued its missions of teaching, service, research and healing. There are so many people who worked behind the scenes to make the impossible, possible. In this UKNow series, we hope to honor some of those employees who had the “Heart to Step Up,” despite the many obstacles presented to them while working during a global pandemic.
This month we talk to Marietta Barton-Baxter, who works for UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS).
UKNow: What is your role here at UK?
Barton-Baxter: I am the regulatory program director and project manager for the CCTS Biospecimen Core. I help to facilitate complex regulatory issues so that researchers are able to complete quality research.
UKNow: What’s the best part about your job?
Barton-Baxter: The best part of my job is getting the opportunity to help people and solve challenges. I love doing both.
UKNow: How did your role change due to COVID-19?
Barton-Baxter: My position quickly shifted to focus on COVID-related research. In April 2020, I helped create a COVID-19 Biobank that provides specimens from COVID patients to researchers. I also took on the role of project manager for UK’s COVID vaccine research studies. This involved establishing a collaboration with UK, Norton Healthcare and Baptist Health-Lexington. For the initial study, we were not only the top enrolling site in the U.S., but we were the top enrolling site in the world. I’m so proud that I can be a part of this.
UKNow: If you could tell yourself one thing pre-COVID, what would it be?
Barton-Baxter: Be patient, kind and hang on tight — it’s going to be a wild ride.
UKNow: What inspired you during this past year?
Barton-Baxter: I was inspired by all of my friends and colleagues who were working on the front lines. I just wanted to do whatever I could to help.
UKNow: What did you learn about yourself and/or your community this past year?
Barton-Baxter: I learned to be more patient and understanding with people. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on everyone in different ways. You have to meet them where they are and help them. I always loved my friends and family, but I treasure them so much more now. You truly never know what the future holds.
We hope to highlight different employees from across campus in the “Heart to Step Up” series. If you know someone who went above and beyond during this past year, please email us.
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.