Great Expectations -- These Students Will Surely Shape The Future
By Randy Weckman
Remember these names: Conley Chaney, Angela Green, Craig Duvall.
The talents of these recent College of Agriculture grads are already recognized; their magnificence is likely to make them famous.
Chaney is nationally acclaimed as a Truman Scholar; Green and Duvall are both noted as being among a handful of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows.
Green and Duvall, in addition to being nationally recognized as National Science Foundation Research Scholars, are unusual in that they both attended the same rather small high school in Western Kentucky (Muhlenberg South High School) and because they both studied biosystems and agricultural engineering at UK, a pretty small major in the mix of the University's curriculum. The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship rewards the students with $27,500 each year for three years of graduate studies. Past recipients of the fellowships have made substantial contributions to science23 have won Nobel Prizes for their work.
Chaney, a native of McCreary County in southeastern Kentucky, graduated summa cum laude in May with a degree in Community and Leadership Development and accepted a one-year fellowship with the National Rural Development Partnership in Washington, D.C., part of USDA Rural Development. In this role, he serves as liaison to the National Rural Development Council as well as coordinator of the National Rural Development Partnerships honors fellows program. Among other duties, Chaney also is responsible for working with state rural development councils in their quest for improving rural economies and infrastructures.
And although Chaney finds his current position both stimulating and rewarding, he sees it only as a transition between undergraduate school and law school in the next couple of years.
Kentucky is my home, and the world is my oyster. I dont expect ever to enter into any 20-year professional position, Chaney said. Rather, I plan on an evolving career to make the most positive social differences where and when I canall the while holding just enough back to maintain a steady and necessary amount of leisure and simplicity.
The Truman Scholars program recognizes 60 students nationwide each year who plan careers in public service. It rewards them with a stipend of $30,000 to use toward their graduate education. Chaney plans to use his stipend for law school.
Conleys the type of student every professor dreams of having in class. Hes beyond bright; hes articulate with an expansive and curious mind, said sociologist Lori Garkovich, who serves as advisor to students in the Public Service and Leadership program. His concerns about social issues and social policies are genuine and well founded. I am proud to be able to say that I was his advisor, she said.
Green found the right program as an undergraduate when Tommy Harrison, Muhlenberg County 4-H agent, brought her to Lexington to look at the agricultural engineering program.
I liked math and science a lot in high school, and when I found that I could use those interests in the biosystems and agricultural engineering program at UK, I knew I had found my home, Green said.
Green currently is finishing up her masters degree at UK in biosystems and agricultural engineering. In December she defended her thesis, a groundbreaking study of the physiological response of horses to being transported. It will contribute to improving trailer design and thus the well-being of animals. She plans to spend a few months away from school working in engineering design before starting work on her doctorate next fall.
While writing her thesis, she interviewed several prestigious programs (thats right, she interviewed them) for a position to work on her doctorate in biosystems and agricultural engineering.
Green is confident about being accepted into a program of her choice because, as she says, When a graduate student brings funding, it changes everything. Doors open that you never knew existed; there is a great selection of doctoral programs from which to choose.
A graduate of UKs biosystems and agricultural engineering program in 2001, Craig Duvall used his undergraduate degree as a platform for a doctoral program in biomedical engineering, a joint program of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. He bypassed a traditional masters of science degree and went straight into the doctoral program, where his research involves developing techniques for measuring vascular growth in animalsthe development of new blood vessels.
He plans to use these new techniques to assess various growth factors that could be used in therapeutic strategies for stimulating the formation of new blood vessels that may replace non-functional clogged arteries, helping human patients avoid highly invasive procedures currently used to treat blockages.
Duvall expects to complete his dissertation in the next three years, before embarking on a career that likely will involve either teaching and research at the university level or practicing as a professional engineer in the medical technology industry.
It is a pleasure to see both Angela and Craig win these national awards, said Rich Gates, chairman of the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. I have had pleasure of interacting with both of them in the classroom, and they are very deserving of these awards. Their achievements reflect well on our faculty and programs. With these fellowships, Angela and Craig will go on to rewarding and fulfilling careers, he said.
These three College of Agriculture graduates, whose promise already is recognized, are potent indicators that the University of Kentuckys quest for Top 20 status, as mandated by the Kentucky Legislature, is well on its way to becoming a reality.