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Biology faculty named Distinguished Professor

Biological Sciences Professor Paul Garris has been named a Distinguished Professor, which is ISU’s highest faculty honor.

Garris came to Illinois State in 1996 after earning his Ph.D. in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Indiana University School of Medicine, and completing postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

His research focuses on dopamine neurons. He questions the view that dopamine is a “pleasure chemical” in the brain, exploring that it may instead be a learning signal associating rewards to predictive cues. He has also established research programs on Parkinson’s disease.

Garris has gained international recognition, with his work published in Nature. He has garnered more than $3 million in external funding from such agencies as the National Institutes of Health. He has also been instrumental in teaching and mentoring students during his career.