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UK Chemistry’s Naff Symposium to Feature 4 Leading Scientists

By Kate Maddox

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 9, 2022) — The University of Kentucky’s 2022 Naff Symposium will host four experts in the area of molecular neuroscience from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, April 1, in the William T. Young Library Auditorium. A poster session will be held in conjunction with the symposium at the Jacobs Science Building.

The event is free and open to the UK community and the public.

Each year, the Department of Chemistry in the UK College of Arts and Sciences presents the symposium, which focuses on the utilization of chemistry for biological applications. Students and faculty from the UK research community including those from the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences regularly attend, in addition to researchers from colleges and universities in Kentucky and surrounding states.

The Naff Symposium brings leading scientists to campus to share their research and expertise. The topic of this year’s symposium is “Innovation in Molecular Neuroscience.”

"This year's symposium focuses on advancements in technology and chemical probes that have provided new capabilities to visualize and monitor biological processes within the brain,” said Chris Richards, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Naff Symposium committee. “The speakers will focus on the application of these new technologies to help understand neurodegenerative diseases and substance misuse, which are topics of interest to the research community at UK as well as to the broader public."

This year’s presenters are:

  • Erin Calipari. Calipari received her Ph.D. in neuroscience in 2013 from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She completed her postdoctoral training with Eric Nestler at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Currently, Calipari is an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Pharmacology. Her work focuses on the precise circuits in the brain that underlie adaptive and maladaptive processes in reward, motivation and associative learning.
  • Tim Harris. Harris received his undergraduate degree in chemistry at California Polytechnical State University and his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry at Purdue University. He is currently a research professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and leads the Applied Physics and Instrumentation Group at the HHMI Janelia Research Campus. Harris is currently working on projects centered on recording neurons in rodents and non-human primates, as well as stimulate with high resolution.
  • Elizabeth Hillman. Hillman received her undergraduate degree in physics and Ph.D. in medical physics and bioengineering at University College London. She completed her post-doctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. In 2006, she founded the Laboratory for Functional Optical Imaging at Columbia University. Currently, Hillman is a professor of biomedical engineering and radiology at Columbia University and a member of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia. Her research program explores the interrelation between neural activity and blood flow in the brain.
  • Baljit Khakh. Khakh completed his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. He completed his postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Bristol and California Institute of Technology. In 2001, he became group leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Khakh is currently a professor of physiology and neurobiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research is focused on astrocyte roles in neural circuits.  

A full schedule of events and the presenters’ abstracts and biographies are available at

For more information about the 2022 Naff Symposium, contact Chris Richards at

The Naff Symposium was established in honor of Anna S. Naff, a University of Kentucky graduate, through the generous support of Benton Naff of National Institutes of Health.

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.