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Haralambos Symeonidis: 2024-25 University Research Professor Q&A

By Lindsay Travis 

UKNow is highlighting the University of Kentucky’s 2024-25 University Research Professors.Established by the Board of Trustees in 1976, the professorship program recognizes excellence across the full spectrum of research at UK and is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research.  

portrait of a professor
Haralambos Symeonidis

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 11, 2024) —  Haralambos Symeonidis, Ph.D., the John E. Keller Endowed Professor of Spanish Linguistics in the Department of Hispanic Studies in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, has been honored as a 2024-25 University Research Professor.

Symeonidis joined UK in 2007. His research focuses on the language of Guarani, an indigenous language spoken mainly in Paraguay, and its contact with Spanish and Portuguese. He is the co-director of Atlas Lingüístico Guaraní-Románico, his international research project that maps the use of the three languages in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.

He is also the executive director of the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, one of the country’s longest-running literary, linguistics, pedagogy and technology conferences.

Symeonidis spoke with UKNow about his latest honor as a University Research Professor in this Q&A.

UKNow: What does it mean to you to be recognized as a University Research Professor?

Symeonidis: Being recognized as a University Research Professor at the University of Kentucky is a significant honor and achievement that speaks volumes about my contributions to the academic community and my field of expertise. It signifies that my research endeavors have not only been recognized but also highly valued by my peers, administrators and the institution itself.

This recognition also comes with a sense of responsibility and leadership. As a University Research Professor, I serve as a role model and mentor for aspiring researchers, guiding them on their academic journey and fostering a culture of excellence and inquiry.

UKNow: How will the professorships program advance your research?

Symeonidis: The University Research Professorship program offers invaluable support, resources and recognition that propel my research to new heights. It enables me to pursue ambitious projects, collaborate with international scholars, mentor students and make meaningful contributions to my field and the broader academic community.

UKNow: How does your research address challenges facing Kentucky?

Symeonidis: My research on language contact in Paraguay offers valuable insights and benefits to the state. It also has the potential to make meaningful contributions to educational policy, community engagement, workforce development and cultural enrichment in Kentucky. By leveraging my expertise in linguistics and language contact, I can contribute to building a more inclusive, diverse and culturally vibrant Kentucky.

About the University Research Professors
Each year, the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approves a cohort of faculty as University Research Professors. The distinction recognizes excellence in work that addresses scientific, social, cultural and economic challenges in Kentucky and the world.

College leadership developed criteria for excellence within their area of expertise and then nominated faculty who excelled at these criteria. Each University Research Professor receives a one-year award of $10,000 and participates in other events planned around the program.

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.