UK College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Member Receives 2021 Kirwan Prize

By Danielle Donham

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 26, 2021) — Two University of Kentucky faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences are recipients of The Graduate School’s distinguished annual awards for exemplary research in the last four years and outstanding contributions to graduate student mentoring and graduate education.

Michael D. Bardo, professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology, is the 2021 recipient of the Albert D. Kirwan Memorial Prize. The prize is bestowed each year to a faculty member in recognition of their outstanding contributions to original research or scholarship, with an emphasis on work produced four years prior to the award.

In additon, Mark T. Fillmore, Director of Graduate Studies and professor of cognitive science in the Department of Psychology, is the 2021 recipient of the William B. Sturgill Award, an honor given each year to a graduate faculty member who has provided outstanding contributions to graduate education at UK.

“The Graduate School and the Graduate Council are proud to recognize and celebrate our 2021 honorees in research and mentoring,” said interim Dean Brian Jackson. “Professors Bardo and Fillmore are outstanding role models to our graduate students, as are so many of our graduate faculty members.”

Bardo, a faculty member at UK since 1982, has worked in neuropsychopharmacology and drug abuse for over 35 years. For his work, he has received continuous funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1985 and is the author of more than 200 research articles.

Bardo’s research investigates neurobehavioral effects of environmental enrichment and social influences on drug self-administration. His research interests also include medication development for substance use disorders. In addition to behavioral processes, his laboratory conducts work using chemogenetics, immunohistochemistry, stereotaxic surgery and microdialysis with High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC).

Throughout his career, Bardo has trained 21 Ph.D. students, 14 postdoctoral scholars and more than 200 undergraduate students in his research laboratory.

“He has always freely shared recognition with his students and made sure people understood their crucial role in the work of his lab, often including first-author status on publications,” said Gregory T. Smith, nominator and department chair. “Beyond recognition, his students describe him as generous with his time and his other resources.”

The Kirwan Memorial Prize was established in 1995 and recognizes its namesakes' collaborative research efforts, as well as Albert Kirwan's endeavors in creating an environment at UK that promotes high quality research and scholarship.

Serving as head football coach from 1938 to 1944 and later dean of men, "Ab" Kirwan was a distinguished faculty member and scholar in the field of Southern history, dean of The Graduate School and served as university president from 1968 to 1970.

Elizabeth Kirwan was awarded the Sullivan Medallion in 1973 for her service to UK and the Lexington community. She held executive roles across more than 10 organizations, including president of the UK Woman’s Club and chairwoman of the Lexington Parks and Recreation Board.

Additional distinguished nominees for the 2021 Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize:

  • Tracy Campbell, E. Vernon Smith and Eloise C. Smith Professor of American History in the Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Susan Gardner, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Jason Unrine, professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
  • Dong-Sheng Yang, University Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.