Congratulations Dr. Kia Fuller

Congratulations to Dr. Kia Fuller for graduating with her PhD in Genetics and Genomics!

Fuller graduated on May 6th from the University of Florida and was a student in the UF Genetics and Genomics Graduate Program.

When Fuller began her journey with UFGI five years ago she had no idea where her career would take her or what her research focus would be, but now after being molded and refined by her mentors and experiences, her future has become clear.

Fuller joined Dr. Mulligan’s lab after her first rotation here and has known ever since that she wanted to study health outcomes using genetics an sociocultural data. Fuller successfully defended her thesis last month, which was on using a biocultural approach to investigate complex disease.

“When I came in, I knew I was interested in working with humans and people, and I knew that I was interested in working with health specifically.”

Dr. Mulligan’s lab works to understand health outcomes in people using sociocultural data, especially in marginalized communities like African Americans.

Fuller has been a part of several studies in Dr. Mulligan’s lab including one that looked at blood pressure in African Americans using genetics and social networks. She also worked on a project in collaboration with the South Eastern National Tuberculosis Center that looked at INH resistant tuberculosis and factors that influence risk of developing INH resistance.

“ I’ve always been interested in health and have understood that genetics don’t work in a vacuum,” Fuller said. “You may be predisposed or primed for some disease based on genetic variants you have. But your sociocultural and physical environment also play a large part in your health and I wanted to be able to incorporate all of that in my research.”

Fuller stated that one of the most rewarding parts of her career has been being able to share her research with people outside of academia.

“ I’ve loved explaining it to my friends who aren’t involved in research; to audiences who aren’t geneticists so they can see the value in what we do here,” Fuller said. “ I’ve presented at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) and by incorporating genetics into an anthropological framework, using sociocultural data, I feel like I really added a lot into the conversation about the factors that influence disease risk in populations.”

After being in the G&G program for five years, Fuller said that she is grateful for all the support she’s received and for the interdisciplinary nature of the program.

“I love this program because of its emphasis on interdisciplinary work,” Fuller said. “You can be in any lab in any department across the campus if they’re doing genetics work, which shows how applicable genetics research is across disciplines.”

Fuller believes that all G&G students should try to explore different labs while in the program.

“Really take advantage of the rotation system we have in place,” Fuller said. “You might come in knowing where you want to go, but try to have the widest range of rotations that you possibly can. Because you never know when something will interest you that wasn’t really on your radar before.”

Fuller has accepted a position working as a Research Coordinator here at UF Health in Pediatric Research.

“I’ll be helping manage projects, grant writing, methodology, etc.,” Fuller said. “I chose this job because it will allow me to stay in academia and potentially publish, which could help if I want to move onto professorship down the line.”

Fuller is looking forward to beginning a new chapter and we wish her all the best as she continues in her career and research endeavors.

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