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UK Appalachian Center to Showcase Student Research on Appalachia

By Jenny Wells-Hosley

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 22, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Appalachian Center will showcase the work of student researchers through its Sharing Work on Appalachia in Progress series this semester.

This series will feature presentations from graduate and undergraduate students covering topics ranging from poetry to cancer research to education to local foods. 

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.

“We are excited to be able to help fund important interdisciplinary research conducted by students across the university,” said Kathryn Engle, associate director of the center. “These presentations will provide a platform for students to share their work with the UK Appalachian Studies community, as well as the general public." 

SWAP presentations are accessible online via Zoom. The full schedule with links can be found on the Appalachian Center calendar at

The spring 2021 dates and student presenters/topics are:

Tuesday, Feb. 23

  • Dane Ritter, English: “Maybe Mountain: The Devastating Poetry of Mountaintop Removal” (James Brown award recipient).  
  • Rachael Blandau, political science: “Substantive Political Representation in Rural Kentucky” (James Brown award recipient).

Tuesday, March 2

  • Courtney Walker, epidemiology: “Environmental Risk Factors for Gestational Hypertension in Kentucky” (Eller/Billings award recipient).  
  • Kathleen Williams, forestry and natural resources: “Survival and Cause-Specific Mortality of Elk Calves in Kentucky” (Eller/Billings award recipient).

Tuesday, March 30

  • Sia Beasley, anthropology; “Reproducing Marginalization: Cultural Politics of Obstetric Service Closures in the Rural United States” (James Brown award recipient).  
  • Alisha Mays, anthropology; “An Appalachian Narrative of Food Justice: What Happens to Locally Produced Foodstuffs in Appalachian Eastern Kentucky” (James Brown award recipient).

Tuesday, April 13

  • Jade Hollan, educational, school, and counseling psychology: “Kentucky Appalachians’ Intentions to Use Telemental Health” (James Brown award recipient) . 
  • Madeline Dunfee, epidemiology-biostatistics: “Conducting Social Network Analysis Among Adults with Cardiometabolic Disease in Appalachia” (James Brown award recipient).

Tuesday, April 28

  • Carson Benn, history: “Broadcasting Region: The Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction and the Case for an Appalachian Network” (James Brown award recipient).  
  • Lauren Hudson, neuroscience and biology (undergraduate): “Enhancing Cancer Literacy Among Appalachian Kentucky Middle and High School Students” (Eller/Billings award  recipient).

Two James Brown award recipients, Annie Koempel (anthropology) and Rebecca Ellen Tucker (education policy studies and evaluation), presented their research last semester. Koempel's presentation was titled “Embodied Insecurities: Socio-Economic Status, Eating Patterns, and Metabolic Health." Tucker's presentation was titled “Berea College's Commitment to Appalachia Kentucky.”

In addition to SWAP, the Appalachian Center also invites UK students, faculty and staff to join its virtual “coffee hours” which take place 10-11 a.m. every other Thursday this semester. Coffee hour offers a space to exchange ideas for programs, initiatives and events; discuss regional issues; and share research in a casual, collegial atmosphere. More information including Zoom links are available at

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

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