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A&S Students Receive Award for Undergraduate Research Ambassadors

By Elizabeth Chapin

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 6, 2022) — Each year, the University of Kentucky’s Office of Undergraduate Research selects a cohort of Undergraduate Research Ambassadors, a diverse group of outstanding students who serve as advocates for undergraduate research and creative scholarship at UK.

This year, the office launched the Excellent Undergraduate Research Ambassador award to honor outtanding ambassadors for their dedication to and promotion of undergraduate research and creative opportunities.

The six winners were announced at the 16th annual Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars. They are: 

  • Bridget Bolt; College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
  • Emily Keaton; College of Arts and Sciences and Lewis Honors College.
  • Caleb Kennedy; College of Engineering and Lewis Honors College.
  • Courtney Martin; College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Shelby McCubbin; College of Arts and Sciences and Lewis Honors College.
  • Gretchen Ruschman; College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and Lewis Honors College.

As Research Ambassadors, the award winners spent the academic year promoting undergraduate research involvement and opportunities through student outreach and program events.

“Having the opportunity to work with students on a daily basis, whether in tabling to get out the word, advising in sessions to provide tailored support, or leading workshops to build skills, was hugely important to me, and I constantly worked to be the resource and supporter that I would have wanted when I was in their place,” said awardee Emily Keaton. “Serving as an ambassador has given me the chance to be an active voice in encouraging and mentoring student researchers and to build on our success by developing even more efficient systems and exciting chances for students to engage and present their work.”

The redesigned ambassador program’s mission is to increase awareness and create opportunities for students to actively engage in research and creative scholarship. Ambassadors must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership and be involved in mentored research or creative work.

The Excellent Undergraduate Research Ambassador honor includes a custom plaque and $250 cash award.

Of the 551 cumulative service hours completed by the 2021-22 Research Ambassador team, these six ambassadors served a total of 317 hours.

“Serving as a Research Ambassador has been something I have deeply enjoyed and I am thankful for the opportunity to be recognized for this award alongside five other incredible ambassadors,” said awardee Courtney Martin. “Research has become a passion of mine and I will forever be grateful that I have had the opportunity to share my love for research with other students. It is so rewarding to watch other students step into their own research journeys.”

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.