• Video
  • May 30 2024

‘Great Teacher’ Mark Fillmore emphasizes importance of student research

In March, the University of Kentucky Alumni Association honored six recipients of this year’s Great Teacher Awards.

Launched in 1961, they are the longest-running UK award recognizing accomplished and passionate educators.

In order to receive the honor, teachers must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selection. Recipients receive a commemorative award and stipend.

Mark Fillmore, Ph.D., research professor in the Department of Psychology in UK's College of Arts and Sciences, is one of the distinguished Great Teacher Award recipients who strives to help his students understand the importance of conducting research.

“I started working in his lab as an undergraduate research assistant. At the time, I didn’t know what a positive influence it would have on me,” said Grace Tomaszewski, a psychology and sociology student. “I decided to go to graduate school, and Professor Fillmore became my mentor. Not only do I think he’s a great professor, he’s a great mentor and a great person. And he’s very deserving of this award.”

Fillmore joined the UK faculty in 1999 after earning his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario.

A member of the behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology area, the overarching theme of Fillmore’s research is understanding the role cognitive processes have in promoting risk-taking behavior — with emphasis on recreational drug use, including alcohol abuse and dependence.

“I was trained as a graduate student, and I’ve always thought, that is the model I want to follow,” he said. “I want it to be a team effort, where I’m not just conducting a study, learning and interpreting results, and publishing a document. I’m taking another individual up that ladder with me."

Fillmore has published more than 180 papers in leading journals of the discipline, has authored or co-authored 10 book chapters and has given numerous invited talks across the globe.

As one of the world's leading scholars in the examination of the effects of alcohol on human cognitive information processing, Fillmore has also acquired more than $10 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health.

“In the last several years, I couldn’t imagine doing this on my own. I think that would definitely take the thrill and excitement out of it,” he said. “I see it as a waste to not include undergraduate and graduate students in some capacity, so they can see and learn from this very important process in society.”

To learn more about what makes Fillmore a “Great Teacher,” check out the video above.

In the coming weeks, UKNow will continue to share videos featuring this year’s Great Teacher Award winners.