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College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics California State University, Sacramento

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NSM Faculty Received University Award

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Dr. Kimberly Mulligan, Associate Professor

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics faculty Kimberly Mulligan, Associate Professor in Biology, received 2021-2022 University Award for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity for Early-Career Faculty which is one of the most prestige awards at Sac State! Congratulations!

Accomplishment & Achievements

Dr. Mulligan’s research involves identifying factors that cause or increase the severity of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. For this research, she has developed a research program using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism because flies are relatively simple for new research students to work with, and they also share a surprising amount of homology with mammals.

In fact, fruit flies have genes that are related to about 75% of disease[1]causing genes in humans, including risk genes for neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. Many genes that disrupt the way neurons (brain cells) develop in humans exist in fruit flies and similarly impact fruit fly neuron development. Thus, while neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders are uniquely human conditions, the genes responsible for these conditions impair many of the same developmental processes in fruit fly brains.

Dr. Mulligan is particularly interested in how brain development is affected by the combined impact of genetic mutations and environmental factors, like exposures to environmental chemicals or changes in the gut microbiome. Some of the most recent research from her lab has shown how developmental exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastics, impairs multiple aspects of brain development in a manner that is dependent on the genetic background of the fly. In addition, her lab’s research examining the gut-brain axis has drawn important connections between a common autism risk gene and changes in gut physiology and the gut microbiome.

CONGRATULATIONS, Professor Mulligan!

About the Award

This award was established in 1989 and is given each year to recognize a colleague in the first ten years of their faculty appointment who has made significant contributions to his or her discipline through scholarly activity, research and publication, or creative and artistic endeavors. The award includes $2,500 in professional development funds and three units of release time from the Offices of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development.

Faculty who are eligible for the award must be tenured or tenure-track faculty within the first ten years of their appointment (including tenure and tenure-track appointments at other universities), and must have been employed at Sacramento State for the past three academic years.