Spotlight Archives

Jason Unrine

Faculty members from the University of Kentucky, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences have recently  received renewal of funding to participate in the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT).  Jason Unrine, Paul Bertsch and Olga Tsyusko have participated in this center for nanoscale science and engineering funded by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since it was established in 2008.  The original funding period was from 2008-2013, but was recently extended to 2018.  This competitive renewal speaks volumes about the quality and impact of the cutting edge, fundamental research conducted by the center.  CEINT is a collaboration between scientists from Duke University, Carnegie Mellon University, Howard University, Virginia Tech, University of Kentucky, and Stanford University. CEINT was funded to explore the potential environmental exposure, biological effects, and ecological impacts of a variety of manufactured nanomaterials. CEINT performs fundamental research on the behavior of nano-scale materials in laboratory and complex ecosystems, probing all aspects of nanomaterial transport, fate and exposure as well as ecotoxicological and ecosystem impacts. Additionally, CEINT scientists are developing risk assessment tools to provide guidance in assessing existing and future concerns surrounding the environmental implications of nanomaterials. Broader impact activities supported by this award include development of innovative formal curricula in grades 9-12, outreach curricula with partner museums, and undergraduate research experiences. Unrine serves as the theme leader for cellular and organismal impacts and serves on the steering committee for the center.

Jason Unrine, Assistant Professor
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment
University of Kentucky
phone: 1 859 257 1657

Alan Fryar

Alan Fryer

Dr. Alan Fryar of UK’s Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) Department was recently awarded the prestigious Fulbright Program scholarship by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  Through its support of education and research, this program promotes collaboration between the U.S. and other countries to address common priorities and concerns.  Scholarship recipients are selected through a merit based competition established on academic achievement and leadership in the area of study.  For his project, Dr. Fryar will work with Prof. Lahcen Benaabidate (Faculté des Sciences et Techniques – Fès) to study the influence of climate change on spring flows in Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains.

Why Morocco?  Morocco has been in drought since the 1980s and global climate change is expected to reduce available water resources further. The Middle Atlas plateau is the “water tower” for Morocco's two largest rivers, the Sebou and the Oum Er Rbia, which originate from springs. These rivers are a major economic resource for the country so an understanding of the impact of climate change on their source is imperative to long-term water management strategies.  To approach the problem, Dr. Fryar and Prof. Benaabidate will focus on short-term responses of these source springs to storms and snowmelt, which would be expected to change with climate. Beginning January 2014, they will conduct data review and field reconnaissance to identify springs that respond relatively rapidly to infiltration and instrument them for water level, temperature, and water chemistry measurements.  Results of this project should be scientifically novel and useful for water managers. 

Other Research: Dr. Fryar’s research encompasses recharge, flow, and chemistry in regional sedimentary aquifers; natural attenuation of contaminants; groundwater-surface water interactions; transport of sediments and bacteria in karst aquifers; water resources in developing countries; and the history of hydrology.   Currently, he is working with graduate students and recent graduates from Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia as part of a training network in hydrologic sciences.  This effort, funded by the U.S. Department of State, is being conducted in collaboration with colleagues from those countries as well as the University of Georgia and UK.  A little closer to home, he is finalizing a project for the U.S. Department of Energy to assess groundwater and pollutant discharge to springs along a creek downstream of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.   This research is funded through the Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and Environment.   

 Courses:  When he’s not engaged in his research, Dr. Fryar is responsible for the development and/or delivery of several EES courses including EES 585 (Hydrogeology), which focuses on the occurrence and movement of groundwater and its role in the water cycle, and EES 385 (Hydrology and Water Resources), which covers occurrence, movement, and quality of fresh water in the water cycle.

On his students:  “I’m fortunate to have had great graduate students. I’ve been the primary advisor for six PhD graduates and 13 MS graduates.   I’m currently advising three PhD students (and co-advising another) and one MS student. My former advisees are working for environmental and engineering consulting firms, government agencies, universities, a petroleum company, Alltech, and the Lexington Fire Department.”

If you would like to know more about Dr. Fryar’s Fulbright award or other information about his research, please contact him via email at the address below.

Alan E. Fryar, Associate Professor
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Kentucky
phone: 1 859 257 4392

© 2013 Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment