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Postdoctoral Members

Postdoctoral membership in SOT provides early career toxicologists with opportunities for scientific growth, networking, and career advancement. All members of SOT who self-identify as postdoctoral scholars are part of the Postdoctoral Assembly (PDA), which was formed to increase involvement of postdocs in SOT and to address issues related to the postdoctoral experience. The PDA is governed by an elected PDA Executive Board who provide leadership for communications, strategic activities, and events of special interest to postdocs. Postdoctoral members serve leadership roles in the Society by participating as representatives for SOT Regional Chapters, Special Interest Groups, Specialty Sections, and to Committees.

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How SOT Defines a Postdoc

The Society of Toxicology aligns its definition of a postdoctoral researcher closely with the definition set by the National Postdoctoral Association.

Characteristics that define a postdoctoral position include:

  • The postdoctoral appointment is temporary.
  • Effort is focused primarily on research.
  • The development of professional skills prepares the postdoc to actively pursue a career.
  • The postdoc is supervised by at least one senior scholar.
  • The postdoc is allowed and encouraged to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship.
  • The appointment is not part of a clinical training program.
Postdoctoral Assembly Leadership

All SOT Postdoctoral members are part of the Society’s Postdoctoral Assembly (PDA), which is governed by the elected PDA Executive Board. Postdoctoral representatives are appointed to SOT Regional Chapters, Special Interest Groups, Specialty Sections, and some SOT Committees to enhance the involvement of postdoctoral scholars within SOT.

2018–2019 PDA Executive Board

  • Manushree Bharadwaj, Chair (2018–2019)
  • Melanie Abongwa, Vice-Chair (2018–2020)
  • Gurjot Kaur, Secretary (2017–2019)
  • David Faulkner, Treasurer (2018–2019)
  • Brita Kilburg-Basnyat, Councilor (2018–2019)
  • Sarah Lacher, Councilor (2018–2019)
  • Barbara L. F. Kaplan, Council Contact (2018–2019)

Manushree Bharadwaj Manushree Bharadwaj, Chair

Dr. Bharadwaj is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Toxicology Program Laboratories (NTPL) at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). After completion of her veterinary medicine degree in India (2011), she moved to the US and graduated with a PhD in Biomedical Sciences (2016) from the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University (OSU). Soon after graduating, Dr. Bharadwaj joined the Reproductive and Endocrine Toxicology Group at NTPL, NIEHS. Her current research at NIEHS involves multiple aspects of developmental, reproductive, and endocrine toxicology. She is using her pharmacology, toxicology and bioanalytical knowledge to characterize environmental contaminating chemicals and their potential effects on our body. Dr. Bharadwaj has served in different leadership roles, such as, the class representative during veterinary school (2006–2011) and as the vice-president (2013), president of Graduate Student Association (2014) at OSU and Vice-Chair of the SOT Postdoctoral Assembly (May 2017–18). She became an SOT member in 2015 and is an active member of the North Carolina Regional Chapter, Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology Specialty Section, Women in Toxicology, Comparative Veterinary Specialty Section, and Association of Scientists of Indian Origin. Under her broader vision for PDA, Dr. Bharadwaj is determined to conduct outstanding scientific and professional development activities and encourage participation from postdocs all over the world.


Melanie Abongwa Melanie Abongwa, Vice-Chair

Dr. Abongwa received her doctorate in Toxicology from Iowa State University, USA in 2017. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Buea, Cameroon. Dr. Abongwa is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Robertson and Dr. Richard Martin, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University. Her research focuses on the pharmacological characterization of parasitic nematode ion channels using molecular cloning and electrophysiology techniques. She also mentors non-thesis Master’s students in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Iowa State University. Dr. Abongwa has been an active member of SOT since 2013 and has served SOT in various capacities including Graduate Student Representative of Toxicologists of African Origin (TAO) Special Interest Group, Graduate Student Representative of Drug Discovery Toxicology Specialty Section (DDTSS), Graduate Student Leadership Committee (GSLC) Career Resource and Development (CRAD) volunteer, GSLC Professional Development Subcommittee volunteer, Continuing Education Course volunteer, and now Vice Chair of the Postdoctoral Assembly (PDA). Dr. Abongwa is also editor of the Toxicologists of African Origin (TAO) newsletter and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP) and the British Pharmacological Society (BPS).


Gurjot Kaur Gurjot Kaur, Secretary

Dr. Kaur holds a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from Delhi Institute of Sciences and Research, India, Master’s in Biotechnology from National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, India and PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Innsbruck, Austria. She is currently working at the University of Konstanz. Her main research interests include ‘Transporters involved in microcystin cytotoxicity’ and ‘Ion channels involved in neurotoxicity’ in humans. She has served in many leadership roles throughout her education such as ‘Think-tank for Internationalization’ committee member at University of Konstanz during postdoc, MCBO student representative, conference organizing committee member and student moderator during PhD, editorial assistant during Master’s and Cultural Secretary during Bachelor’s. In addition, she is actively involved in social issues such as increasing public awareness to waste segregation in India through her Facebook blog titled ‘let’s bin it Delhiites’ and integration of science in daily life and twitter handle.


David Faulkner David Faulkner, Treasurer

Dr. Faulkner received his PhD in Molecular Toxicology from UC Berkeley in 2017, a Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health (2013), and a BS in Microbiology, and a BA in English Language from the University of Michigan (2011). His dissertation work investigated the use of high-throughput in vitro and alternative methods for hazard assessment of industrial chemicals. He is also interested in green chemistry, rational molecular design, and computational toxicology. In 2017 he published a book chapter on how to use computational toxicology tools in the early stages of chemical design. He has been an active member of the Society of Toxicology since 2013, frequently writing for the SOT Communique Blog. David also contributes to the In Silico Toxicology Protocols Consortium and edits the popular science communication blog UseYourBrainForScience.com. He joined the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry as a Postdoctoral Scholar in 2018 where he provides toxicological support to an interdisciplinary team of Green Chemistry researchers.


Brita Kilburg-Basnyat Brita Kilburg-Basnyat, Councilor

Dr. Kilburg-Basnyat received her PhD in Human Toxicology from the University of Iowa (2015) and a BS in Biology from Loras College (2009). Currently, she is a Postdoctoral Scholar at East Carolina University conducting her research in the laboratory of Dr. Kymberly Gowdy. Her research focuses on investigating the adverse health impacts of ozone inhalation on pulmonary inflammation and lipid metabolism. Currently, she is investigating how a DHA-enriched diet reduces ozone-induced inflammation. Brita has been an active member of the Society of Toxicology in 2016 and has attended both Central States and North Carolina Society of Toxicology regional meetings. Dr. Kilburg-Basnyat has been involved as Vice President and Secretary of the East Carolina University Postdoctoral Council and as Postdoctoral Representative (2016–2018) and the President of the Eastern North Carolina chapter of Graduate Women in Science (2016–2018). Dr. Kilburg-Basnyat is excited to be serving on the PDA Executive Board and to contributing to Postdoctoral career development opportunities and content.


Sarah Lacher Sarah Lacher, Councilor

Dr. Lacher received her PhD in Toxicology from the University of Montana (2013) and BS in Biology with an emphasis in Secondary Education from University of Northern Colorado (2006). She is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Minnesota Medical School conducting her research in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Slattery. Her research focuses on characterizing cell-type specific patterns of gene regulation following exposure to various inducers of oxidative stress. She is interested in investigating stress-induced gene expression changes at the level of protein-DNA binding as well as at the level of DNA accessibility and chromatin conformation. Dr. Lacher has been an active member of the Society of Toxicology since 2006 and has held several leadership positions including serving as the Postdoctoral Representative for the Northland Regional Chapter of the SOT (2014–2018), Chair of the Programming Subcommittee of the Graduate Student Leadership Committee (2013), and Graduate Student Representative for the Ethics, Legal, and Social Issues Specialty Section (2010–2012).


Barbara Kaplan Barbara L. F. Kaplan, Council Contact

Dr. Kaplan earned her PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Michigan State University. She conducted postdoctoral research in tumor immunology at the University of Chicago, then returned to Michigan State University as a Research Assistant Professor. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Center for Environmental Health Sciences at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine (MSU-CVM). In addition to Dr. Kaplan’s experience with the Society noted above, Dr. Kaplan teaches immunology to veterinary students and pharmacology and toxicology to undergraduate and graduate students at MSU. Dr. Kaplan has been active in mentoring DVM-PhD students, undergraduate students, and veterinary students participating the Summer Research Experience at MSU-CVM. Dr. Kaplan also mentored an undergraduate student from Mississippi University for Women for a summer, which led to a ToxScholar visit. During Dr. Kaplan’s ToxScholar visit to the Mississippi University for Women, Dr. Kaplan met with about 30 undergraduate students and introduced toxicology principles, toxicology careers, and opportunities available from SOT. Dr. Kaplan has contributed to the last three editions of Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology (chapter on Immunotoxicology), and this past summer was one of 32 accepted attendees to the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science Boot Camp in Stony Brook, New York.


Postdoc Regional Chapter, Special Interest Group, and Specialty Section Representatives

Each SOT Regional Chapter, Special Interest Group, and Specialty Section may appoint a Postdoctoral Representative to provide leadership for their group and communication with the PDA. The representative encourages membership in SOT and the component group as well as development of activities to enhance involvement of postdocs in SOT. The complete list of current representatives is available on ToXchange.

Postdoc Committee Representatives

Some SOT Committees invite the PDA Executive Board to appoint a Postdoctoral Representative to serve as an ad hoc member of the committee to provide the perspective of, and communication with, SOT postdoctoral scholars.

Career Resources and Development Committee
Pankajini Mallick
ScitoVation

Committee on Diversity Initiatives
Samantha J. Snow
US Environmental Protection Agency

Continuing Education Committee
Miao Li
Kansas State University

Education Committee
Philip A. Wages
Vanderbilt University

Membership Committee
Courtney Roper
Oregon State University

Best Postdoctoral Publication Award

The Best Postdoctoral Publication Award recognizes outstanding work accomplished during formal, mentored postdoctoral traineeships by recognizing recently published exceptional papers in the field of toxicology. Applications are reviewed by the Postdoctoral Assembly Board and outside reviewers with appropriate scientific expertise, following NIH conflict of interest, confidentiality, and nondisclosure rules.

2017 Recipients

BPP Awardee Colette N. Miller, PhD, US EPA
Uterine Artery Flow and Offspring Growth in Long-Evans Rats Following Maternal Exposure to Ozone During Implantation.
Environmental Health Perspectives in 2017
BPP Awardee Sreenivasa C. Ramaiahgari, PhD, NIEHS
Three-Dimensional (3D) HepaRG Spheroid Model With Physiologically Relevant Xenobiotic Metabolism Competence and Hepatocyte Functionality for Liver Toxicity Screening.
Toxicological Sciences in 2017
BPP Awardee Priyanka Trivedi, PhD, Harvard Medical School
Targeting Phospholipase D4 Attenuates Kidney Fibrosis.
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology in 2017
Postdoc Events and Activities

Poster Tours for Trainees

The Postdoctoral Assembly organizes Poster Tours for Trainees at the SOT Annual Meeting for graduate students and postdoctoral scientists to participate in a one-hour guided poster tour with a toxicologist guide. These small group tours provide the opportunity for trainees to take part in critical evaluation of cutting-edge toxicology methods and research findings and network with a senior toxicologist.

PDA Luncheon

To encourage increased participation and networking among postdoctoral scholars, the Postdoctoral Assembly (PDA) Board hosts a luncheon at the SOT Annual Meeting exclusively for postdocs to gather in an informal setting to relax, network, and celebrate their achievements others, including PDA officers, Postdoctoral Representatives, and SOT Councilors.

Postdoc Resources

PDA Webinars and Career Development Sessions

The PDA organizes webinars designed to provide postdocs with career tips and advice. The PDA also helps organize Career Development Sessions each year at the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. Recordings of these webinars and information on the Career Development Sessions are available in the Careers section of the website.

Go to: Career Development Advice and Tips for webinar and session information

PDA-Hosted Webinar on Tips for Organizing and Presenting a Webinar

Postdoc Career White Papers

Post-y Newsletter

The Post-y is produced by the Postdoctoral Assembly on a biannual basis to feature news and articles of interest to SOT postdoctoral members throughout the year.