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Dr. Nixon has a a longstanding research interest in neural mechanisms driving behavior and how environmental triggers such as diet can influence these brain systems. Current studies use preclinical models to explore the role of neuroinflammation and microglial response in neurodegeneration, neuroprotection, and interactions with external stressors such as dietary fats. Dr. Nixon has a broad background in behavioral neuroscience, with specific experience and training in circadian biology, obesity and ingestive behavior, neuroprotection, and neurodegenerative disease. His doctoral work examined the link between neuropeptide signaling and patterns of physical activity in a diurnal rodent. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota and a Career Development awardee at the Minneapolis VA, Dr. Nixon continued to pursue studies of activity and energy expenditure, investigating the effects of supplementing or interfering with peptide signaling in various hypothalamic nuclei to affect weight gain, food intake, and energy expenditure in rodent models of obesity.