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Rissman named Head of Biological Sciences at NC State

Dr. Emilie Rissman has been named the first permanent head of NC State’s new Department of Biological Sciences. Her appointment is effective Nov. 1.

Emilie RissmanRissman comes to NC State from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, where she is a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics. Her selection followed a national search to succeed Dr. Chris Gould, who has served as interim head since the department’s founding on July 1, 2013.

As head, Rissman will oversee academic, administrative and budgetary matters for a department with 2,100 students and 160 faculty, staff and postdoctoral researchers. The one-year-old department, which combines people and programs in biology, genetics, microbiology and toxicology, was created to boost interdisciplinary educational opportunities and research collaborations both within the biological sciences and at its intersections with the physical, mathematical and earth-system sciences.

Rissman received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in biological psychology from Cornell University. In 1987, she joined the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, serving as a faculty member in the departments of Psychology and Biology and moving through the ranks from assistant professor to full professor. She joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics in the university’s School of Medicine in 2002.

Her research in the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology focuses on how hormones and environmental chemicals affect behavior and the brain. She studies how steroid hormone receptors — proteins that help regulate which genes are turned on or off — regulate differences between males and females. Her research group is also examining how endocrine disruptor chemicals, which interfere with hormone systems and can cause disabilities in social behaviors and other developmental disorders, alter brain development and behavior over generations.  Her work has been and continues to be funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Rissman is the author of more than 160 publications and dozens of book chapters and scholarly reviews. Her many honors include the NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation; a Career Development Award from the National Institute of Mental Health; and serving as a speaker in named lecture series around the country.

Rissman helped found the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, which has grown into an international group with more than 1,200 members. She served as the society’s first treasurer and, later, as its president. Rissman is an associate editor for the journal Endocrinology and serves on the editorial boards for the journals Hormones and Behavior, Journal of Neuroendocrinology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuroendocrinology and Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology.