Chris Mulligan

Graduate Student

Chris (he/him) graduated with a BA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from CU Boulder, and he is currently an Earth and Planetary Sciences PhD student here at UC Davis. Chris had a wide range of research experiences before starting grad school – studying honeybee behavioral genetics, helping curate vertebrates at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and most recently working as a research assistant on an NSF funded project studying the biosynthesis of unique bacterial lipids used in paleoclimate models. His undergraduate honors thesis took place at CU’s Organic Geochemistry Lab under Dr. Julio Sepúlveda, where he analyzed sediments from a Late Cretaceous floodplain in Madagascar to reconstruct the ecosystem and learn if the dinosaur mass mortality events that took place were caused by seasonal toxic algal blooms.

Chris’ current work focuses on the ecology of early animals using lipid biomarkers, specifically trying to distinguish between signals from animal tissues, gut microbiomes, dietary sources, and the environment that are all preserved together in fossilized remains. This work involves both modern animals, such as experimentally controlling their diets then looking at their tissue composition, and body fossils directly using biomarkers to understand the animal’s paleobiology.