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VIDEO: UK Great Teacher Grateful for Chance to Impact Students at His Alma Mater

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 13, 2017) — When UK College of Medicine Assistant Professor Nathan Vanderford drives to work, he still experiences a sense of awe when he approaches campus.

"I see the University of Kentucky signs on campus," said Vanderford, a two-time UK alumnus. "It shocks me sometimes that I'm here even all these years later having the opportunity to be here and to contribute to having an impact on students."

Watch why winning a 2017 Great Teacher Award is so meaningful to this rural Tennessee native by clicking on the video above. 

Vanderford is an assistant professor in the Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, assistant director for research in the Markey Cancer Center and assistant dean for academic development in the College of Medicine. He earned his doctoral degree at the University of Kentucky with a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University.

Vanderford’s research interests include epidemiology and molecular etiology of lung cancer, research administration, technology transfer and entrepreneurship, and science pedagogy and career development. One of his most recent publications (in the Journal of Research Administration) detailed a case study at the UK Markey Cancer Center focused on enhancing faculty productivity through a centralized communications and project management infrastructure. In another article published by Science in July 2016, Vanderford described the unusual paths he took to secure a nontraditional faculty position at UK. Vanderford secured his initial opportunity at the Markey Cancer Center as a science writer and editor and, from there, he took on leadership roles that contributed to his transition into a unique tenure-track faculty position. 

The Great Teacher Award, started in 1961, is the longest-running University of Kentucky award recognizing teaching. In order to receive the award, educators 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 selections. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and a monetary reward.

The UK Alumni Association is a membership supported organization committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association or to become a member, visit or call 1-800-269-2586.



Photo of UK College of Medicine Asst. Professor Nathan Vanderford
UK College of Medicine Asst. Professor Nathan Vanderford

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue