Professional News

‘Great Teacher’ Mark Fillmore emphasizes importance of student research

Video produced by UK Public Relations and Strategic Communication and Marketing and Brand Strategy. To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. If using a mobile device, click on the “thought bubble” in the same area.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 30, 2024) — 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.

Photo of Mark Fillmore Working with Students in the Computer Lab
Mark Fillmore, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Psychology in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, is one of the distinguished Great Teacher Award recipients who strives to help his students understand the importance of research.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.