Eastern Kentucky University graduates Dr. Nelson D. Horseman and Dr. Julia K. Bohannon were each presented the EKU College of Science Award during ceremonies on Sept. 10. The college’s highest honor is presented to individuals who have made impactful contributions to the college.
Horseman earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from EKU in 1973 and 1975, respectively, before earning a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. He began his career at Marquette University, where he taught for nine years. In 1989, he accepted a position at the University of Cincinnati, where he spent the majority of his career in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology as a professor and Fellow of the Graduate School. He retired in 2015.
He currently serves as the managing partner of Amelgo, LLC-Dairy Discovery & Innovation, a biotechnology company based in Covington, Kentucky, and concerned with developing technologies that address the major dry-off and transition cow problems.
Horseman also chairs the Dean’s Development Cabinet for the EKU College of Science. He recently established an endowment for student success that supports the Peer Mentoring Center in the Department of Biological Sciences.
During his campus visit, Horseman, who holds a number of patents, was able to share his experiences on commercialization of intellectual property with two College of Science faculty members, Drs. Margaret Ndinguri and Lindsay Calderon, who recently received a patent for developing a compound that targets reproductive cancers.
“My most memorable experiences at EKU relate to the mentoring I received from faculty,” Horseman told the students. “Years from now, you will reflect upon your time here and will likely come to the same conclusion. Make the most of the opportunities provided to you by the faculty.”
Bohannon obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology from EKU in 2003 and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Texas Medical Branch in 2011.
She is an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where she has a vibrant research program aimed at identifying potential therapeutic agents for the prevention of infection in severely burned patients.
The awards were presented to Horseman and Bohannon in conjunction with the annual College of Science Alumni Lecture series, for which the latter was this year’s speaker.
In an often moving and inspirational address, Bohannon shared how a childhood tragedy shaped her life and career. When she was only 9 months old, Bohannon and her teenage parents received severe burns from an explosion and fire in their trailer home in Louisville, Kentucky. As a result of injuries she sustained in the incident, she had to endure a multitude of surgeries well into her teenage years. She also had to endure many personal losses and challenges throughout her life. She credits her aunt, who cared for her following the accident. “She always told me I could do anything I wanted and she pushed me to be my best,” Bohannon said. “She never allowed me to give up.”
Bohannon also credited her success to the unwavering support she received from other family members, friends, and incredible mentors along the way.
“To be successful in research, you need to have perseverance, insatiable curiosity and tenacious optimism, and you should be very careful in your choice of mentors,” she told students. “You need people who believe in you.”
Bohannon’s visit to her alma mater included other speaking engagements with faculty and students.
The College of Science Award and the Alumni Lecture Series “were established to enhance our engagement with alumni and to provide a platform for the college’s graduates to motivate and inspire current students to strive for their highest potential,” said Dr. Tom Otieno, dean of the College of Science. “The recent visits by Drs. Horseman and Bohannon clearly illustrate the benefits of such interactions for both faculty and students.”