Big Congratulations to our Students
for Fall 2016!

For successfully defending their Ph.D. thesis:

 Heather Norman, PhD in Nutritional Sciences Melanie Pleiss, PhD in Pharmacology
 Kendra Staggs, PhD in Pharmacology Maja Redzic, PhD in Nutritional Sciences

For successfully getting her Master’s Degree: 

 Yongshi Liu, MS in Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Wellness and Sports Nutrition

For successfully passing their Qualifying Exams.

 James Wise   Jared Hoffman
 Han Gia (Ginny) Ly   Jessie Hoffman
 Hilaree Frazier Yongchao Wang
 Reem Basaqr


This past Sunday, December 4th, Kaia Hampton and Nika Larian volunteered at the PTA 5K with the Better Bites program to hand out healthy snacks and fruit-infused water to children. The Better Bites program is a part of the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition, which is a Lexington-based group dedicated to making healthy eating and physical activity popular and accessible to Lexington tweens and children in their homes, schools, and communities. The Better Bites program encourages kids to “snack strong” by providing examples of healthy snacks to children in their community, including at bus stops and recreational areas. NSPS has been in contact with the Better Bites group to plan more community nutrition service opportunities in the upcoming semester. 

Nika Larian (Left) and Kaia Hampton (Right)


Our Graduate Students recently participated in the "Cards for Hospitalized Kids"  drive. They channeled their artistic sides and hand-made close to 50 holiday cards for sick children spending the holidays in the hospital.

The department is proud of its students for their time and kind efforts!


From left to right top row: Heather Norman, Yasir Al-Siraj, Marion Coe, David Schnell, Jared Hoffman

From left to right bottom row: Kaia Hampton, Courtney Turpin, Kaiyuan Tan, Jessie Hoffman and Nika Larian

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Happy Halloween!

Today some of the officers met to provide FREE, healthy snacks to our community. They  reserved the table through UK to promote health and wellness in between the Kentucky clinic deli and the Nursing building.

They  had a lot of people stop by and thank them for putting this healthy event on. :)


In an effort to serve the community, at least once a month our NSPS Students work with Volunteermatch. In September they worked on a  community garden (Get in a Garden- Whitney Ave Garden) in support of Seedleaf, an organization that emphasises:

Nourishing Communities by Growing + Sharing Food

Working to increase the amount, affordability, nutritional value, and sustainability of food available to people at risk of hunger in central Kentucky

Our students cleared weeds, planted over 5 different kinds of vegetables and helped pick veggies and... had a blast doing it!

From Left to right: Hilaree Frazier, Jared Hoffman, Nika Larian, Jessie Hoffman and Kaia Hampton

Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences Students Fall 2016
Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences Students Fall 2016


2016- AUGUST -  Walk to End Alzheimer's - Lexington, KY

The Walk to End Alzheimer's was a terric event! $175,922.90 was raised for the cause. More than 1,100 participants, 130 teams! One of them was the Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences' department. Organized by our NSPS Association that was able to raise $325 for the cause. Weather was top as was tha ambiance with all the participants. 

This is the 22nd year the Alzheimer’s Association has hosted the event. The walk’s success has supported research for a cure and helped over 100,000 families in the Chapter area living with Alzheimer’s.The Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, is the nation’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.


Kaia Hampton, President

Research Interest:  Insulin Receptor signaling in the brain/adipocytes, S2R(PGRMC1) signaling in cancer.  Kaia comes from the sunshine state calling Tallahassee, FL home. She graduated from The University of Tampa with a Biochemistry degree where she was heavily involved in undergraduate research Cancer research and a scholarship student athlete. She entered through the IBS program and is in her third year in the lab of Dr. Rolf Craven. She recently has been awarded a T32 training grant.  Other interests: running (5ks to marathons), fitness, cooking healthy (meal prepping!) and animals.

Nika Larian, Vice President

Research Interests: Obesity, aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), diabetes, adipocyte physiology, inflammasome, SAA. Nika graduated from Transylvania University with B.A.s in Biology and French Language and Literature. She began the Nutritional Sciences Ph.D. program in 2015 in Dr. Lisa Cassis’s lab as a recipient of an NIH T32 Training Grant and the Daniel Reedy Quality Achievement Award. As a Superfund trainee, Nika’s current work focuses on nutritionally-derived endogenous ligands of the AhR that regulate adipocyte differentiation and proliferation and may contribute to the development of obesity. She is also currently taking courses to receive her B.S. in Dietetics and Human Nutrition in order to become a Registered Dietitian. Nika’s other interests include cooking, fitness, playing tennis and flag football, fashion, and spending time with her friends, family, and puppy.

Dave Schnell, Secretary

SchnellResearch Interests: Cancer, cell metabolism, free radical/antioxidant biology A West Virginian transplant originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Dave earned his B.S. in exercise physiology from West Virginia University. He is currently in his fourth year as a PhD student in Nutritional Sciences working in the laboratory of Daret St. Clair examining the role of manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD/SOD2) in regulating metabolic patterns in pre-tumor cancer development. When not doing science, Dave can generally be found cooking and eating delicious food,riding a bicycle unreasonable distances, or performing some sort of music.

Jessie Hoffman,  Treasurer

Research interests: Atherosclerosis, environmental pollutants, intestinal health, gut microbiome, dietary fiber.  Jessie graduated from Newberry College in Newberry,  South Carolina in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology.  She received her M.S. in Nutrition in 2015 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she conducted research regarding the benefits of consuming grapes on attenuating obesity and related health outcomes.  She began the Nutritional Sciences PhD program in 2015 in Dr. Bernhard Hennig’s lab as a trainee within the UK Superfund Research Center.  Her current research focuses on the way that nutrition can combat the negative health effects associated with exposure to environmental pollutants. She is also a recipient of the NIH T32 Training Grant.  Other interests: fitness, cooking, playing soccer, hiking, and spending time with family and friends. 

May 14th 2016


Each year our department supports the American Heart Association Heart Walk by putting together a team. Through this, our team raises money and awareness about the critical issues regarding heart health here in the state of Kentucky. We would love to have faculty and staff involved and supporting our departmental team.

Remember, actual participation in the walk on May 14th 2016 at 9am at Keeneland is not necessary to join the team. All support, advocacy, and donations go much further. Please join today and share the link with anyone you think would be willing to help. The AHA has funded a lot of research here at UK so we should all make the effort to give back!

Click the link below to join and get involved!

Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences Page (Click here!) 

Once you click the link, look for the "Join Team" and "Donate Now" buttons in the right corner of the webpage. 

 February 5th 2016

February 5th 2016 - Our students had a great turn out for their NSPS monthly meeting! They had a guest speaker from UK's Proposal Development Office discussing grant writing. They are currently working on creating a workshop to be held at the end of the semester that will cover the following topics in "Scientific Communication": (1) how to give scientific seminars (2) how to prepare and write a thesis (3) how to communicate science to a non-science background audience.


The mission of the Nutritional Sciences and Pharmacology Students (NSPS) association is to promote social and academic camaraderie among graduate students in the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences. Our primary aim is to encourage participation in group activities both inside and outside the walls of the University of Kentucky. NSPS facilitates regular student-led meetings, community service opportunities, social events, and peer support for graduate students. Our goal is to aid in personal and professional growth and support students along their path to academic success.