Heather Patisaul, a decorated biologist and one of the nation’s leading voices on how chemicals in consumer goods can alter the brain, has been named the new associate dean for research in NC State’s College of Sciences. She assumes her new role Aug. 12.
As associate dean for research, Patisaul will lead the College of Sciences Research Office, which promotes research activity across the college and helps faculty and staff in academic departments and research centers develop and maintain high-quality research programs. The office oversees external funding activities for the college and is responsible for maintaining compliance with the guidelines and policies consistent with university, state and federal requirements.
Patisaul, who joined the NC State faculty in 2006, is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. She studies how chemicals are reshaping the biological makeup of our brains and bodies. Her lab explores the ways in which endocrine disruptors — chemicals that interfere with hormones — alter pathways in the brain that relate to sex-specific physiology and behavior. These types of disruptors — which include bisphenol A (BPA) and related chemicals — are often found in disposable plastics, food wrappers, furniture, tents, and many other household products.
Patisaul’s research has been continuously funded since 2007, when she received an Outstanding New Environmental Scientist award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The award was made as part of the prestigious R01 research project grant program run by the National Institutes of Health. In 2017, she received her most recent R01 grant.
Patisaul has made educating the public about her research an important part of her job. She has given science briefings to Congress, is frequently interviewed by national media, and often addresses groups at museums and schools. Her many awards and honors include being named to NC State’s inaugural class of University Faculty Scholars in 2012.
Patisaul received her B.S. in zoology in 1995 from the University of Florida and her Ph.D. in population biology, ecology and evolution from Emory University in 2001. She did postdoctoral work at Emory’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences.