Funding a Future in Research
For as long as Lillian Murphy '20 can remember, her mother has been in pain. Lillian's mother suffers from endometriosis—a painful disorder in the pelvic area that has no scientifically proven cause, but it is something the Murphy family attributes to the chemicals her mother was exposed to while growing up as the child of migrant farmworkers.
"My mom has learned to overcome so much and is such an inspiration to me. It's part of the reason I am interested in doing bio-medical research in neurological disorders," Lillian says. The Sacramento-native chose to attend Sacramento State because it allowed her to pursue her degree at her mother's alma mater and stay close enough to help her family.
Soon after arriving at Sac State, Lillian became connected with Assistant Professor Kimberly Mulligan and applied to work in Professor Mulligan's lab in biological sciences. After proving her dedication and abilities, Professor Mulligan encouraged Lillian to apply for the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) award. This program, which is unique to Sac State, provides funding to support projects in which faculty and undergraduate students work together on research or other scholarly projects.
Lillian was awarded a SURE scholarship, which allowed her to focus on her research on genetic patterns in the brains of fruit flies that carry risk factors associated with autism. She has presented her findings at various conferences and earned the prestigious Glenn Nagel Award—given for the best undergraduate research across the entire CSU system. It also ignited a passion for a future career in research.
"The financial support I received to do research has been a big part of my life," says Lillian, who was accepted into doctoral programs at the nation's top educational institutions, including Harvard University, and will pursue her doctorate at UC Berkeley.
"Anytime someone can help a Sac State student, it allows that student to focus on doing well in their classes instead of worrying about loans or trying to work odd jobs while going to school. It's definitely worth it."