The University of New Mexico Graduate Studies has announced the appointment of Nikki Jernigan as the interim associate dean of Graduate Studies. Interim graduate dean Jesse Alemán appointed Jernigan to the post based on her experience with graduate curricular processes, her outstanding research record, and her experience supporting graduate students through grant funding, curriculum development, and mentoring across the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

Nikki Jernigan

“Dr. Jernigan brings with her the skill and expertise for us to close the gap between main and north campus when it comes to graduate education and better serving graduate students on both sides of Lomas,” Alemán said.

Jernigan was born and raised in New Mexico. She earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in 2004 and did her postdoctoral training at the Cardiovascular-Renal Research Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, before returning to UNM. Since joining the faculty of the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology in 2008, she has built a strong research program to understand the underlying mechanisms of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, with a particular emphasis on hypoxic pulmonary hypertension and obesity-induced hypertension and diabetes. Her research has appreciated broad-based recognition by the national and international scientific community, exemplified by service on study sections, journal editorial boards, and invited symposia. Jernigan is currently serving on committees of the American Physiological Society, National Institutes of Health (NIH) study section, and is an Associate Editor for Comprehensive Physiology, American Journal of Physiology, and Journal of Physiology (London). 

Alongside her research record, Jernigan’s teaching efforts have been recognized by the Educational Excellence Award at UNM School of Medicine for making significant contributions to graduate, medical, and undergraduate education at UNM. She has contributed to the teaching of the Phase I medical curriculum, Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, and individual mentoring in the laboratory. Jernigan has also mentored several postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate trainees through NIH-funded research training programs. “These programs,” Jernigan notes, “are designed to encourage and support the development of students engaged in graduate studies and to provide assistance in the improvement of teaching at minority-serving institutions.”

“I am excited for this opportunity to work with Dean Alemán and the experienced staff in Graduate Studies. My goal is to facilitate student success by providing the academic support services and resources, opportunity for grants and scholarship, and thru work with academic units on curricular programming and development,” Jernigan said.

Jernigan’s interim appointment runs to July 2023.