Recent Endowment Fund Award Recipients

2020 Endowment Awardees

The SOT Endowment Fund is a family of funds that support SOT programs and members. Many of the funds sponsor awards designed to encourage, assist, and highlight toxicology research and toxicologists.

Andersen/Clewell Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Qiran Chen
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD Candidate
Institution/Affiliation: Indiana University Bloomington

Ms. Chen was extremely honored to have been recognized. This award is particularly meaningful to her because it boosts her confidence and inspires her to achieve her career goals. It was also her pleasure to have such an opportunity to communicate with intelligent scholars in RASS. 

Ms. Chen's work focuses on the improvement of risk assessment through innovative statistical and analytical methodologies. The long-term goal of this research is develop a methodological framework that integrates mechanistic plausibility, experimental data, and uncertainty and variability into dose-response analysis in support of probabilistic carcinogen risk assessment. Her current study is to establish a new approach for dose-response assessment for carcinogens with the quantitative information of its mode of action.

Boehringer Ingelheim Biotherapeutic Safety Excellence Fund

Recipient: Frances  Shaffo
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Shaffo was very honored to be the second awardee of the BI Biotherapeutic Safety Excellence award. She feels this is a wonderful award that will help trainees take part in additional opportunities outside of SOT, which for her will hopefully involve traveling to the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapies annual meeting. She feels this will greatly complement her involvement in SOT and further her growth as a toxicologist in the exciting field of gene therapy. 

Dr. Shaffo works on pre-clinical development of novel adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapies for rare neurological diseases. The specific research for which this award was bestowed was on the development and safety profile of a gene therapy for SLC6A1 related disorder, which causes epilepsy and intellectual disability.   

Bruce A. Fowler Metals Endowment Fund

Recipient: Dilshan  Harichandra
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Covance Laboratories US

Dr. Harichandra was honored and very excited to receive this prestigious award. Importantly, this award shows the positive impact that he made in metal toxicology research and gave visibility to his goal of understanding the role biological mechanisms underlying the propagation of the disease with respect to environmental neurotoxic stress.

Dr. Harischandra's research focused on the role of environmental neurotoxicant manganese and in the pathogenesis of Parkinsonism. This award relates to his contributions in decoding contradictory characteristics of the α-synuclein protein, where it presents neuroprotective effects under acute manganese exposures and neurodegenerative responses at chronic exposure conditions. Dr. Harischandra's research shown chronic manganese exposure promotes the aggregation and prion-like cell-to-cell exosomal transmission of α-synuclein resulting in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative responses in experimental models of Parkinsonism. His future research goals include evaluating serum exosome in a large cohort of human samples from subjects that expose to manages through occupational exposure and establish an exosome-based biomarker for Parkinsonism and related disorders.

Bruce A. Fowler Undergraduate Educator Award

Recipient: Christine Perdan Curran
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Northern Kentucky University

Dr. Curran has been awarded the 2020 SOT Bruce A. Fowler Undergraduate Educator Award for her excellence, creativity, and success in undergraduate instruction in toxicology and the sciences as a whole.

Dr. Curran received her BSJ from Ohio University. Then, as evidence of her devotedness to the field, she began instructing undergraduates even before she received her PhD in environmental health from the University of Cincinnati in 2007. Dr. Curran began her teaching career in 1992 as an Adjunct Instructor and later as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of biology at the University of Cincinnati. In 2008, she joined Northern Kentucky University as an Assistant Professor of biological sciences, where she continues to serve as a Professor of biological sciences and Director of the neuroscience program.

Dr. Curran has played a key role in the environmental science program at Northern Kentucky University, which not only has doubled in size but also has added a bachelor of arts program in addition to the original bachelor of science program since she began her career at the university. Specifically, she has developed a widely popular course in environmental toxicology that combines problem-based, team-based, and service learning to expose students to toxicology concepts and encourage them to apply such concepts to issues in the community. Further, Dr. Curran has integrated her toxicology training into her anatomy and physiology courses, which more than 200 students take each semester.

The Curran laboratory, which focuses on gene-environment interactions during brain development, is primarily composed of undergraduate students. At 90%, the average retention and graduation rate for Dr. Curran’s students is double that of STEM students throughout the nation. Over the past decade, more than 75 undergraduates have trained under Dr. Curran, and during that time frame, her students have delivered 110 presentations—many of which received awards—during regional and national meetings. She also works toward facilitating success in the STEM fields for women, underrepresented minorities, and underserved populations through her involvement in both the Next-Generation Researchers Initiative working group of the National Institutes of Health and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).

Dr. Curran’s exemplary scientific service includes her current role as President of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (formerly the Teratology Society) and participation on several Editorial Boards, including presently, as a member of the Reproductive Toxicology Editorial Board. She also is a FASEB Board Member.

Dr. Curran has been a champion of undergraduate education within SOT as well, including active involvement in the Undergraduate Educator Network. An SOT member since 2004, she not only has co-chaired the K–12 Education Subcommittee and the Undergraduate Education Subcommittee, but also has been making major contributions to the Ohio Valley Regional Chapter since she was a graduate student. In addition to serving as the chapter’s first K–12 liaison, Dr. Curran also initiated the undergraduate poster awards and was the 2015–2016 Ohio Valley Regional Chapter President. Further, Dr. Curran is the inaugural Chair of the Faculty United for Undergraduate Recruitment and Education (FUTURE) Committee, formed in 2019 with the purpose of recruiting, retaining, training, and educating undergraduates with an interest in toxicology and preparing future generations for success in the field.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Colin Anderson
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Colorado

Mr. Anderson is extremely grateful for this award, and he knows that it will help him gain reputation and standing within his field. He is excited to continue his path towards becoming an independent investigator.

Mr. Anderson is investigating the fungicide maneb and its mechanistic association with Parkinson's disease. Maneb has been shown to directly inhibit dehydrogenase enzymes, yet the molecular mechanism has yet to be uncovered. His work outlines how thiol interactions between maneb and protein cysteines may underlie this inhibition, and how this contributes to the Parkinson's disease phenotype.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Reena Berman
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: National Jewish Health

Ms. Berman is very proud and honored to have been a finalist for the Carl C. Smith Award. This is her final year of her graduate studies and earning this prestigious award is a great achievement to close out her graduate career. The work that went into this award application was a collaborative effort between multiple groups and facilities across the United States. It is a great validation of the efforts of Ms. Berman and her colleagues to be recognized at SOT and by the Mechanisms Specialty Section.

For her PhD in Toxicology, Ms. Berman is studying the role of toxic desert dust from Afghanistan in causing respiratory illness in deployed soldiers. Increasing numbers of soldiers are returning from deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq with asthma-like symptoms. She plans to complete her thesis in the next few months and pursue a career in industry after her defense. In the manuscript that was submitted for this award, she used cutting edge single-cell RNA sequencing to examine deployment related lung disease after returning from Afghanistan. Ms. Berman modeled the post-deployment setting by exposing mice to prolonged aerosolized Afghanistan desert dust, then treating them with a common household allergen. By looking at each cell on an individual level, she was able to identify a unique population of cells that was active only after exposure to both dust and allergen. Ms. Berman believes that deployment related lung disease may persist after a soldier returns from duty because of the activities of these uniquely induced cells.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Melissa Clemens
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MPH, MLS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Ms. Clemens was so grateful to receive this award. The Carl C. Smith Award is highly prestigious, and it makes it possible for her to attend SOT where she can share her research and network with other scientists.

The goal of Ms. Clemens' research is to determine the role of lipids in the mechanisms of drug-induced liver injury and repair. She recently discovered that endogenous phosphatidic acid (PA) enhances liver regeneration. Since PA is available over-the-counter as a dietary supplement, she next wondered if exogenous PA can be used as a treatment for liver injury. Most recently, she determined that PA treatment reduces liver injury caused by acetaminophen overdose through a mechanism that seems to involve upregulation of the cytokine interleukin-6. After graduation, Ms. Clemens hopes to continue her liver research but expand to include other liver diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Emily Marques
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rhode Island

Ms. Marques is honored to receive this award and the recognition will help her to secure a postdoctoral position that will advance her career and interests in liver toxicology.

She is currently researching liver toxicity of perfluoroaklyl substances (PFAS) in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) models as part of the University of Rhode Island's Superfund center, Sources, Transport, Exposure & Effects of PFASs (STEEP). In the work Ms. Marques has submitted for this award, she has measured and screened the ability of 19 different PFAS to induce lipid accumulation in human hepatocytes.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Archit Rastogi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BTech
Institution/Affiliation: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Mr. Rastogi was thrilled to receive the award. While it is always gratifying to win an award - the Carl C. Smith Award - owing to its storied history and prestige, is especially rewarding. This award will facilitate his traveling to the SOT Annual Meeting, which will be invaluable at this juncture in his career.

Mr. Rastogi investigated how early life exposure to per fluorinated compounds disrupt the developing pancreas, and how this can lead to later life diseases. The first part of his work showed that redox disruptions induced by exposures at specific developmental stages underlies this toxicity. The next part of his work, for which he won this award, identifies a specific transcription factor in the pancreas that PFOS affects, disrupting endogenous redox signaling. This is significant because it provides physicians with a roadmap, identifying molecular targets that they could screen for in vulnerable and exposed populations.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Christine Rygiel
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MPH, CIC
Institution/Affiliation: University of Michigan

Ms. Rygiel is excited about receiving this award because it will help off-set some of the costs associated with attending and traveling to the SOT annual conference. Being able to present her research at SOT will help her gather feedback regarding her recent research work. Feedback will help her strengthen the ideas around any uncertainties in this new protocol in order for others to adapt these new interpretations regarding distinguishing the differences between methylation and hydroxymethylation, and the potentially different roles each mark presented. Ms. Rygiel greatly appreciates the funding!

Ms. Rygiel's research focuses on understanding the effects that perinatal lead (Pb) exposure has on DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation. DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation have been proposed as mechanisms that drive the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) hypothesis, which states that early-life toxicant exposures, including Pb, during developmental periods (i.e. gestation, infancy, puberty, etc.) may be linked to the development of disease later in life. Increased levels of 5mC are associated with decreased transcription factor binding at promoter/enhancer sites and suppression of transcription. While 5mC is widely studied, the role of 5hmC, an intermediate in oxidative demethylation that is associated with increased gene expression, as an important epigenetic mark of active DNA demethylation remains a great debate. Most current methods, including standard bisulfite treatments, do not differentiate between 5mC and 5hmC. Therefore, detecting changes in levels of 5mC and 5hmC, separately, may provide additional insights into mechanisms of Pb-induced epigenetic alterations relating to the DOHaD hypothesis. Ms. Rygiel tested the hypothesis that prenatal Pb exposure at each trimester within candidate regions of genes previously associated with prenatal Pb exposure would result in independent alterations in 5mC and 5hmC levels. Environmental-mediated 5mC/5hmC changes could have important implications for transcriptional control and expression, and may underlie later-life disease developmental. Her results show that 5hmC is not only detectable in whole blood leukocytes, but that there are trimester-specific alterations in 5mC and 5hmC that are independent of each other, thus providing mechanistic support for 5hmC role in Pb-induced epigenetic modifications. Future work involves determining the viability of surrogate tissues (blood leukocytes) explaining effects in target tissues (brain cortex), which will utilize a mouse model. We expect to see that 5hmC patterns in blood will be correlated to cortex, potentially providing evidence that the blood epigenome provides a viable signature for Pb exposure related epigenetic changes relevant to epigenetic epidemiology.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Cody Schmidlin
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, BA
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Mr. Schmidlin was thrilled that his research was recognized as being worthy of this award. He is grateful to the Mechanisms Specialty Section and the Society of Toxicology for this opportunity.

Chronic arsenic exposure continues to be a worldwide health concern because of its prevalence and contribution to disease, specifically cancer. Many individuals, specifically in the southwestern United States, are exposed to chronic low dose arsenic levels in ground and well water as a result of mining and mineralization. Mr. Schmidlin's research indicates that chronic exposure to arsenic leads normal lung cells to become cancerous, and that these cells have properties consistent with cancer cell spread. When cancer spreads in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, the 5-year survival rate drops to 6%, as compared to 60% in localized tumors; however, the exact mechanism for what causes NSCLC cells to spread is unknown. One proposed contributor is nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (NRF2), a protein with known oncogenic properties that is induced by arsenic toxicity. While NRF2 itself has not been shown to cause cancer cell spread, Mr. Schmidlin demonstrated that it can regulate SRY-box 9 (SOX9): a cellular protein linked with cancer cell spread. Then, he demonstrated that chronic arsenic exposure increased expression of both NRF2 and SOX9, and that this made lung cells more cancerous in terms of growth and spread. To confirm that one of the mechanisms behind NSCLC spread was NRF2 and SOX9, he demonstrated that with loss of NRF2 or SOX9, cancer cells grew slower, and invaded and migrated less. By providing a mechanism by which lung cancer can spread, Mr. Schmidlin has a better understanding of how he can target certain proteins to improve patient outcome. Overall, this evidence suggests that NRF2 control of SOX9 expression can contribute to the spread of both environmentally and genetically driven lung tumors. In the future, he hopes to find methods/drugs to target the NRF2 signaling pathway in order to prevent cancer cell spread via increased SOX9 expression.

Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award Fund

Recipient: Regina Schnegelberger
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh

Ms. Schnegelberger became a member of SOT in 2018 and attended her first SOT meeting shortly thereafter. She is looking forward to attending the upcoming SOT meeting, which will be her third. Each meeting she has been overwhelmed by the quality and breadth of research presented and always finds herself with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and excitement towards her own studies. She is positive the upcoming meeting won?t be any different and that the information she receives from attending will be very helpful not only for her research project, but also for her professional development as a scientist. She is very excited and honored to receive this award and afford her the opportunity to present her research, develop relationships with fellow scientists, and explore the possibilities that a doctorate degree can provide to her.

The research in Ms. Schnegelberger's laboratory focuses on the environmental toxicant vinyl chloride (VC) and its exposure in the context of underlying liver disease. The overall goal of her laboratory is to demonstrate that low environmental exposure may have significant effects on human health when combined with additional risk factors for liver disease. Specifically, data published by her lab showed that sub-hepatotoxic levels of VC/VC metabolites can exacerbate existing liver injury. Ms. Schnegelberger's lab has shown that VC exposure is mitotoxic, significantly decreasing mitochondrial respiration and respiratory capacity. VC also enhanced oxidative and ER stress caused by high-fat diet (HFD). Mechanistically, very little is known regarding how chronic VC exposure enhances the risk of developing liver disease. Her current research project is an extension of the previous work from her lab to fill this critical gap. One of the major observations in her work was that VC caused mitochondrial dysfunction and ER stress. Mitochondria and the ER physically interact via specialized contact sites called mitochondria-associated ER membranes (MAMs), through which membrane and luminal components exchange. Importantly, MAMs shelter key components that impact cellular and organelle function by regulating and controlling mitochondrial function, ER stress signaling, and autophagy. Moreover, ER-mitochondria contact sites also support the mediation of mitochondrial fission and fusion events, and disrupted ER-mitochondria interactions can result in ER stress. Ms. Schnegelberger has specifically hypothesize that VC exposure disrupts ER-mitochondria communication, resulting in dysregulated calcium homeostasis, reactive oxygen species generation, impaired mitochondrial function, and ER stress.

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Meghan Rebuli
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Rebuli was very excited about receiving this award. It validates all of the work that she has accomplished in her tenure as a postdoctoral researcher and reinforces the importance of her service and leadership in advancing women in toxicology. This award will help her pursue her research by encouraging her continued dedication to efforts to advance the visibility, recognition, and support of women in the field of toxicology. Additionally, Dr. Rebuli will continue to strive to improve the inclusion of women as subjects in scientific research and analyzing all of her endpoints by sex to enhance the available data on toxicology relevant to women's biology and physiology.

A variety of pulmonary diseases are known to affect females differently than males, in incidence, clinical manifestation, and severity. In the case of asthma, incidence and severity are thought to be sex hormone dependent as males are more susceptible before puberty, then incidence flips to be female-heavy after puberty, and is further altered during changes in hormonal status such as pregnancy and menopause. Another example is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), where cigarette smoking was previously thought to be a primary risk factor, however recent evidence suggests that even females who are never smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with COPD than men. In both asthma and COPD, environmental factors have also been linked to disease incidence and exacerbation severity, however little is known about the interaction of sex and environmental exposures and their collective contribution to disease. To fill this gap, Dr. Rebuli's postdoctoral research has focused on investigating the interaction of inhaled pollutants, including wood smoke and e-cigarettes, and sex to induce differential effects on the respiratory innate immune system. She first identified a number of baseline sex differences in respiratory immune gene expression, which was the basis for analyzing effects of toxicants in the airway sex-specifically. She then completed two human studies to identify sex-specific effects on respiratory immune host defense after exposure to wood smoke and e-cigarettes. In the wood smoke exposure study, Dr. Rebuli used a human controlled exposure system to expose healthy human subjects to wood smoke in order to mimic wildfire exposures in a more controlled system. She then administered a vaccine dose of Live Attenuated Influenza Virus (LAIV), a cold adapted virus that only replicates in the nasal passages, to safely study the potential for air pollutants to alter response to infection. She collected samples pre- and post-infection from the nose and used targeted gene array technology to analyze nasal immune cell gene expression. From this study, Dr. Rebuli identified a variety of genes in the airway that interacted both with sex and exposure, where males experienced increased rates of inflammation in response to wood smoke exposure, compared to filtered air; while females experienced mild suppression of host-defense responses (effects in opposite directions). These effects suggest that males and females are likely differentially susceptible to infection and infection induced inflammation after wood smoke exposure. This work has been published in the top respiratory journal in her field, American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine. Presenting this work, Dr. Rebuli has also won several awards and has been featured as the first author in several popular press pieces about this work. To explore the potential for a common mode of action (MOA) in sex specific response to toxicants, she completed a similar study using a different toxicant, e-cigarettes, she inoculated non-smokers, e-cigarette users, and cigarette smokers with LAIV, taking samples from the nose pre- and post- infection, analyzing changes in nasal epithelial cell gene expression and nasal mucosal immune mediator levels using the non-invasive nasal sampling method that she developed. In this study, Dr. Rebuli reproduced previous findings of impaired host-defense response in cigarette smokers and she identified novel sex-specific responses, particularly in e-cigarette users. While links between sex and environmental exposures have been suggested in epidemiological and animal studies, her postdoctoral work includes the first controlled human exposure studies to identify respiratory sex differences after toxicant and influenza exposure. To expand on these studies and fill knowledge gaps related to sex specific impacts of respiratory toxicants, her ongoing research is focused on investigating potential mechanisms of action (correlation of sex hormone levels with effects or sex-specific gene-level regulation of effects), the role of critical windows of exposure on clinical outcomes, and understanding sex specific effects of air pollutants on respiratory diseases across the lifespan. Overall, the goal for her research is to understand the interaction of sex and air pollutants on the respiratory immune system.

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Victoria Salemme
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Ms. Salemme was amazed and so grateful to have received this award from the Women in Toxicology Special Interest Group. This award will help with some of the costs associated with traveling to the SOT annual meeting, where she is presenting a poster on the research project she is currently working on, and the reason she was given this award. Presenting at a large scale conference allows her to network with researchers in the field of toxicology while learning more about current and up-and-coming research. As an undergraduate student aiming to pursue a PhD and a career in research, learning from others in the field is immensely beneficial to helping her navigate the world of science and determine where and how she can achieve her personal and scientific goals.

Currently, Ms. Salemme is using computer programs to sort and identify cellular functions within the body that are highly affected by exposure to environmental and occupational pollutants or chemicals. She has found that chemical exposure alters hormonal functions in the body, the innate immune response, and the use of lipids in the body. Other expected functions seen previously in a multitude of chemical exposure experiments were also found to be altered. This experiment will aid future researchers in determining the effects of chemicals on the body in ways previously unknown and unstudied. As a researcher, she hopes to use experiments such as this one to formulate new diagnostic methods for animals and humans, with a focus on chronic diseases and exposures.

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Rachel Speer
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Ms. Speer felt extremely honored to have received this award. She has always been passionate about supporting women in toxicology and encouraging women in the STEM fields. This award will help support her travel to the SOT meeting where she hopes to broaden the scope of her work and add to the quality of her research. She also hopes to meet other researchers to work with and collaborate with in the future.

Ms. Speer's research is in environmental toxicology focusing on how metals lead to carcinogenic endpoints. Her doctoral research has focused on how hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] affects human and wildlife health using a One Environmental Health Approach. This work is informative about how metals in the environment lead to adverse effects in humans, wildlife, and the environment. In the future she hopes to apply this approach to study how other environmental toxicants affect health by looking at different endpoints. This award was given for her research investigating Cr(VI) effects on the high fidelity DNA repair pathway, homologous recombination. This work investigates how Cr(VI) inhibits an essential protein in this pathway, RAD51, affecting its transcriptional regulation by the transcription factor E2F1. Specifically, Ms. Speer shows Cr may bind to acetylated lysine at promoter regions inhibiting transcription. This work is important because it helps identify a key mechanism of Cr(VI) carcinogenesis that may be applied to other carcinogenic pathways of Cr(VI) exposure.

Celebrating Women in Toxicology Award Fund

Recipient: Anne Turco
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: University of Wisconsin Madison

Ms. Turco was extremely excited upon receiving this award. She will use this money to continue to pursue outreach opportunities. She purchases supplies for activities with students every year so a portion of these funds will go to purchasing these supplies to educate grade school children about toxicology.

Ms. Turco's PhD project is investigating the impact of an environmental contaminant on nerve density and smooth muscle contraction in the prostate. As men age, they experience difficulty urinating, but it is unknown why. One treatment is to prescribe drugs that relax prostate smooth muscle, but it is unknown why these drugs work. She has hypothesized that axons that control prostate smooth muscle contraction increase in density after exposure to an environmental contaminant to increase smooth muscle contraction and urinary symptoms. Ms. Turco's future career goals are pursuing a career as an independent toxicologist in industry. She won the present award for leadership and service during her graduate career. She is her graduate program's student leadership president and she organizes professional development seminars, the annual retreat, and authors the semi-annual newsletter. Lastly, she organizes her graduate program's outreach program. Further, Ms. Turco is the vice president of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) Madison chapter where she organizes industry tours, authors the monthly newsletter, and organizes professional development events.

Dharm V. Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Milan Prajapati
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BPharm, MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Brown University

Dr. Prajapati was honored and excited to receive a Dharm V. Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award. He believes that receiving this award is a professionally rewarding experience that will improve his professional skills, build professional networks, and help him achieve short- and long-term goals. The Society of Toxicology has provided him a unique platform to exchange scientific ideas and achieve productive interactions with other researchers. Such interactions have always led to constructive feedback on his research projects. He conveys sincere thanks to his mentor Dr. Bartnikas, SOT, and ASIO leadership for their time and dedication.

Dr. Prajapati's postdoctoral research was focused on identifying key molecular pathways of manganese toxicity using inherited mouse models of manganese excess. Manganese is an essential nutrient important for many biological functions. However, excess manganese can be detrimental and often leads to disease conditions. The first disease of inherited manganese excess was reported in 2012 due to mutations in SLC30A10 (also known as Znt10), a novel manganese transport protein. SLC30A10 mutation in patients is associated with hypermanganesemia, dystonia, polycythemia, and cirrhosis. These phenotypes are attributed to manganese excess, however, the exact molecular mechanisms leading to these phenotypes have yet to be elucidated. To address this end, Dr. Prajapati has developed a mouse model of inherited manganese excess due to Slc30a10 deficiency that recapitulates key phenotypes of human disease (PMID: 31527311). He is using this inherited mouse model of manganese excess to identify key molecular pathways leading manganese toxicity. His research projects take advantage of novel techniques developed in molecular biology to advance the field of toxicology by shedding new light into the role of systemic manganese toxicity in the mammalian body. Dr. Prajapati's long-term research goal is to understand the mechanistic causes underlying human diseases of Mn excess and enable the development of efficient and targeted treatments for metal toxicity. The understanding of metal regulation, homeostasis, and toxicity mechanisms will provide new avenues for pharmacological interventions for patients experiencing inherited or environmental/occupational metal exposure leading to systemic toxicity. His long-term career goal is to contribute towards the future of scientific research in allied health sciences by establishing himself as tenure-track faculty. He enjoys teaching as it provides an opportunity for brainstorming new research ideas and sharing his love of science. In the future, Dr. Prajapati sees himself running his own research group solving fundamental issues about the interaction of these metals with the mammalian body. His plan for development towards an independent research career in metal biology involves the acquisition of new scientific skills in genetic engineering, biotechnology, pathology; career development training to include presentations at scientific meetings, the publication of research findings, mentoring students, and attending professional development workshops. His short-term goal is to secure independent research funding which will him achieve his long-term research and didactic goals.

Dharm V. Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Niyati Vaccharajani
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Dr. Vaccharajani was absolutely delighted and deeply honoured to have received this distinguished award. She is extremely passionate about her work and gaining recognition for it has motivated her to work even harder on this important research field. Recognition of her work through this prestigious award will enable her to promote the rapidly developing and challenging field of exosomes in the critical research area of drug-induced liver injury. In turn, this will enable Dr. Vaccharajani to discuss ideas, and potentially collaborate with leading scientists working on similar research areas, thus promoting interdisciplinary scientific endeavors. Additionally, Dr. Vaccharajani will be able to reach out to a wider community of international scientists working in toxicology - including those from India and those who are of Indian origin. She will also get a valuable opportunity to learn more about the on-going toxicology-based international research such as in countries like India.

Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is a major public health issue which impacts patients, healthcare providers, drug developers, and drug regulators. Moreover, idiosyncratic DILI (IDILI) is the most problematic form of DILI as it occurs only very rarely among treated patients and often only after several weeks or months of treatment with the offending drug. As a result, this liability is typically detected only late in clinical development. Dr. Vaccharajani's current work will help support the prediction and understanding of IDILI, thereby reducing the potential for patient harm and the cost of drug development. Her professional goal is to make strides in a medically-relevant research field that identifies, as well as correctly interprets, early signals of debilitating human diseases - thereby preventing them all together. She hopes to achieve this goal by being a research scientist in the pharmaceutical sector. Dr. Vaccharajani had previously demonstrated alterations in hepatocyte-derived exosomes (HDEs) prior to and in the absence of overt necrosis associated with idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injury (IDILI). HDEs contain miRNAs and proteins which may possess value in the form of sensitive and specific biomarkers for IDILI liability. The objective of this project was to identify HDE-based biomarkers of IDILI by profiling protein and miRNA changes in primary human hepatocytes exposed to subtoxic and toxic concentrations of IDILI compounds.Through her research, she has identified 4 potential biomarkers of IDILI in HDEs which she is currently in the process of validating.The findings of this study are novel as several of the candidate biomarkers have not been previously reported in HDE and/or to be altered in response to IDILI. Importantly, the HDE-based candidate biomarkers identified in this study may be utilized to refine existing in vitro assays for improving IDILI predictions.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Qiran Chen
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD Candidate
Institution/Affiliation: Indiana University School of Public Health

Ms. Chen's study aims to develop a new method to quantify the dose-response relationship of carcinogens. Besides the liver tumors induced by TCDD, the precursor events are also included in the assessment instead of using a single specific event for dose-response assessment in the current approach. This work can overcome some limitations of current approach to dose-response assessment from a biological perspective. It will also provide for more meaningful scientifically-based cancer risk assessment.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Md Sanaullah Sajib
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MPharm
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Mr. Sajib was both delighted and honored to receive the award. This will help him in attending the SOT conference and learn about the latest advancements in the field.

Cancer generally starts at a site of the body. When it spreads to other organs it is called 'cancer metastasis'. This spreading occurs through the blood vessels. In his research project, Mr. Sajib has investigated one of the pathways that the cancer cells exploit to travel in and out of blood vessels. He has found that the cancer cells activate 'RhoA-ROCK' pathway of endothelium (the inner cell lining of blood vessels). By using various techniques including animal models, he has shown that metastasis can be reduced by blocking this pathway in endothelial cells.

Dharm V. Singh Carcinogenesis Award Fund

Recipient: Jennifer Toyoda
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

When Ms. Toyoda received the award notice, her heart raced with excitement, and she found it rewarding to see the evidence build for the role of centrosome amplification in the carcinogenic mechanism for hexavalent chromium. This award motivates her to improve communication about the studies she is pursuing and she is excited to show SOT attendees next year what else she has learned.

Hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] is a well-known lung carcinogen with environmental and occupational exposure risks, yet the carcinogenic mechanism of hexavalent chromium is unknown. A key mechanism for Cr(VI) carcinogenesis is induction of chromosome instability, including changes in chromosome number which can arise due to centrosome amplification. Centrosome amplification is observed in many types of cancers and is present in neoplasias, tumors, and is associated with aggressive cancers. Ms. Toyoda's study examines centrosome amplification in Cr(VI)-exposed human lung cells and human lung tissue, and investigates the mechanism of Cr(VI)-induced centrosome disruption in human lung cells. Her hypothesis is Cr(VI) disrupts proteins that regulate centrosome duplication, leading to centriole disengagement and centrosome amplification. This study shows Cr(VI) exposure causes centrosome amplification in human lung cells, and she also observed centrosome amplification in Cr(VI)-induced lung tumors. Cr(VI) exposure causes centriole disengagement, which is a key driver of centrosome over-duplication. Additionally, key proteins that inhibit centriole disengagement, securin and cyclin B1, are decreased after Cr(VI) exposure. Together, these data demonstrate prolonged Cr(VI) exposure induces centriole disengagement, centrosome amplification, and causes decreased levels of proteins that inhibit centriole disengagement. Ongoing studies using securin and separase siRNA knockdown, as well as an animal inhalation model are elucidating the role of these proteins in the Cr(VI) carcinogenic mechanism.

Diversity Initiatives Fund

Recipient: Dalisa Kendricks
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Auburn University

Upon receiving this award, Ms. Kendricks was more than a little excited and immediately announced it to her mentor. This award is important for her to receive the necessary training to both complete her dissertation project and to give her the necessary skills for a career in uncovering behavioral and biological markers of developmental neurotoxicity.

Ms. Kendricks' research seeks to determine long-term effects of exposure to the environmental contaminant, methylmercury, during early development. Her goal is to better understand the consequences of such exposure and how it relates to symptoms and biomarkers of neurological disorders. The first step in doing this is gaining an understanding of how methylmercury induces long-term behavioral and neural changes. The current research seeks to coalesce these tow aspects of methylmercury toxicity by observing changes in memory and attention and relating these changes in dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with these behaviors and of methylmercury.

Diversity Initiatives Fund

Recipient: Courtney McClure
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of California, Los Angeles

Ms. McClure was delighted to receive this award and to further advance her career in toxicology! It is a great opportunity for her as a result of SOT's generosity. The course is highly relevant to her field of study, molecular toxicology, and she is very excited to further her training. The award will help her pursue her research by advancing her foundational knowledge of toxicology and equip her to better assess and improve her current project. Having this increased understanding of toxicology will help her to be able to understand the field at a completely new level and have a new ability to pursue her research.

Ms. McClure's work focuses on how we are affected by toxicants in our environment. She is particularly interested in the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is a commonly used pesticide across the US. Her research is investigating what effects chlopyrifos may have on serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter important for mood, sleep, and cognition. She uses the model organism C. elegans, a 1 millimeter long nematode, chosen for its simple nervous system. In humans, chlorpyrifos produces multiple neurodegenerative disorders, and is known to have effects in C. elegans' behavior as well. She is interested in assessing how chlorpyrifos affects the nematode C. elegans in terms of behavior that is innervated by serotonin. This will help her to better understand how environmental toxicants like chlorpyrifos act on our nervous systems.  

Donald E. Gardner Inhalation Toxicology Education Award Fund

Recipient: Cody  Smith
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Dr. Smith was elated to learn he'd been awarded the Donald E. Gardner Inhalation Toxicology Education Award. Receipt of this award will allow him to gain additional training outside of his primary mentor's expertise, which will broaden his scientific toolkit and open novel lines of independent investigation. 

Dr. Smith's postdoctoral research focuses on the role of innate immune cells, namely macrophages, in toxicant-induced lung injury and repair. His long-term career goal is to be an established investigator directing a research program focused on elucidating cellular signaling mechanisms contributing to sex-based differences in pulmonary disease. As part of this training experience, he plans to learn techniques to investigate the role of estrogen receptor signaling in mesenchymal stem cell differentiation in toxicant-induced lung injury and repair as a mechanism contributing to sex-based differences in lung disease, an emerging area of research. This training and education experience will allow him to broaden his scientific toolkit, promote his independence, and facilitate his transition to a faculty position.  

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Elana Elkin
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD, MPH
Institution/Affiliation: University of Michigan

Dr. Elkin was very surprised and humbled to receive the Carney Trainee Award from the Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology Specialty Section. It will help her to attend SOT scientific sessions, present her work, and most importantly, network with other toxicologists in her field.

Dr. Elkin's research evaluates the effects of environmental contaminants on the placenta in order to elucidate mechanism by which pollutants may contribute to adverse birth outcomes.

Edward W. Carney Trainee Award Fund

Recipient: Vasiliki Mourikes
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine

Ms. Mourikes was incredibly surprised when she found out she was selected for the Edward W. Carney Trainee Award. She feels very grateful to her adviser and her colleagues for encouraging her to apply. Their support has been pivotal in making the transition between a veterinary curriculum and a research environment quite enjoyable. The award will make a significant contribution to her travel expenses for the 59th annual SOT meeting in Anaheim. Beyond sharing her own research, attending the conference will allow Ms. Mourikes to network with other successful toxicologists exchanging information about new developments in toxicology, including techniques and approaches that she can apply to her future research.

At the time of the award, Ms. Mourikes was a third year DVM-PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The broad goal of her research is to characterize toxic endpoints of agricultural chemicals and understand their mechanism of toxicity to the ovary. Most agricultural chemicals currently in use pose a massive toxic trade off to human, animal, and environmental health. By further researching detoxification mechanisms, we can develop pesticides that are both efficient and non-threatening. Ultimately, she sees herself in either of two capacities; as a professor in academia or working for a government agency like the NIEHS. With training in both clinical medicine and research, she will be positioned to provide unique perspective and a comparative approach to the ever-growing field of translational veterinary medicine. In addition to doing her own research in veterinary and environmental toxicology, Ms. Mourikes is motivated to bring the field to the forefront of both human and animal healthcare systems. She hopes to act as a positive mentor to other students and wants to make herself accessible to people that are not in the science or medical fields. Regardless of the setting, her goal is to study the direct impacts of agricultural chemicals on animal health and use her work as a platform to raise awareness of the connectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. The specific research for which Ms. Mourikes won this award addresses the effects that imidacloprid, the most popular neonicotinoid insecticide, has on ovarian antral follicle growth and steroidogenesis. Neonicotinoids are synthetic nicotine derivatives that act as systemic neurotoxicants. They can be found across all agricultural systems, as well as in flea and tick preventatives that we apply to our pets. Their ubiquitous and rapidly increasing use results in chronic exposure of non-target species including humans and our pets, livestock, fish, birds, and pollinators. Hypotheses: Environmentally relevant levels of imidacloprid interfere with ovarian antral follicle growth and steroidogenesis. Methods: Antral follicle culture is an extremely valuable tool in environmental and reproductive toxicology. The antral follicle contains three different cell types that intricately communicate with each other to make critical contributions to reproductive and systemic physiologic health. The oocyte, granulsa cells, and theca cells make critical contributions to reproduction as well as systemic physiological health. The sex steroid hormones released from granulosa and theca cells work in feedback loops with gonadotropins and hypothalamic hormones in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Unlike single cell culture systems, antral follicle culture allows one to explore the individual functions as well as the interactions of these three cell types much like they would function in the whole animal. The four concentrations of imidacloprid were carefully selected to be representative of humans and animals who are exposed as consumers of contaminated food and water, and imidacloprid containing pharmaceuticals (0.2 and 2 μg/ml), as well as humans who are occupationally exposed and livestock who have higher exposure because of their proximity to the sites of imidacloprid application (20 μg/ml). The value in assessing the toxic endpoints associated with various concentrations is that it allows us to better understand the patterns of dose response which are often quite convoluted for endocrine disrupting chemicals. The antral follicle growth pattern described in the abstract above (48hrs in culture) as well as the growth patterns associated with 72hr and 96hr cultures, support the hypothesis that endocrine disruption by imidacloprid exhibits a nonmonotonic dose-response where exposure to the lowest concentration(0.2 μg/ml) is most inhibitory on follicle growth, and exposure to the highest concentration(200 μg/ml) is least inhibitory on follicle growth compared to control. Changes in expression of cell cycle regulators and apoptotic factors explain some of the observed patterns, but not all. For example, the significant down regulation of the proliferation factor Ki67 and the cell cycle stimulator Ccna2 in the follicles treated with 0.2 μg/ml imidacloprid explain why those follicles experience the greatest growth arrest. The expression of these factors remained unchanged in the follicles treated with 200 μg/ml imidacloprid, suggesting that other factors mediate the effects that imidacloprid has on antral follicle health. Outcomes: As described above, the production of sex steroid hormones by the antral follicle has both local reproductive effects as well as systemic effects in the whole animal. By assessing the steroidogenic machinery that exists within each of these cells, she can identify if imidacloprid interferes with steroidogenesis, and if so, how it does so specifically. Imidacloprid exposure caused significant changes in expression of the cytochrome P450 monooxygenases involved in steroidogenesis by both the granulosa and theca cells. These changes in expression along with the quantification of hormones released into the culture media indicate that imidacloprid can interfere with the functional ovary. The changes in expression observed in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and both estrogen receptors provide valuable insight into the mechanisms through which imidacloprid can have negative reproductive and systemic health outcomes. Together, the data collected from this multi-cell culture system have given Ms. Mourikes both direction and important insight for designing an in vivo protocol to assess the impact of imidacloprid in the mouse- an invaluable model for the mammalian species. As she continues to characterize the morphological and functional manifestations of imidacloprid toxicity to the ovary, she is looking forward to adding bioactive metabolites to her analysis, as well as other relevant neonicotinoids. She is excited at the prospect of exploring mechanisms of neonicotinoid toxicity, as well as detoxification mechanisms in the ovary.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Alkeiver Cannon
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina - School of Medicine

Upon receiving notification that she had been awarded this award, Ms. Cannon was very surprised and extremely grateful. She feels this award will highlight her productivity and assist in securing additional funding to continue pursuing her research.

Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic, inflammatory disease that is a growing health concern in the United States. Currently, treatment is accomplished by administration of broad immunosuppressive drugs which often lead to serious side effects, thus emphasizing the need for a more specific approach. Ms. Cannon's studies focus on determining the effects of activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in the amelioration of this disease. Though genetic factors have been implicated in autoimmune diseases, they have found that elements outside of the genes known as the epigenome, specifically microRNAs such as miR-374, play a role in modulating this disease and may serve as preventive or therapeutic targets. In the future, her goals include broadening her knowledge of the epigenome, further exploring the effects of activating AhR by plant products.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sarah Carratt
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University

In many ways, the choice to use postdoctoral time to gain expertise in biomedical research has required Dr. Carratt to take a step away from toxicology. However, she feels that a part of her identity is deeply rooted in toxicology, which is why she has continued to be involved through SOT committees and the Postdoctoral Assembly. It makes her proud to receive an award from the Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund in recognition of her work at the intersection of toxicology and cancer biology. It gives her hope that she will be able to find her niche in the next stage of her career.

Dr. Carratt believes the key to creating more efficacious and tolerable therapies for patients is finding more specific targets, and her postdoctoral research aims to turn markers of poor prognosis into opportunities for targeted therapy. Her research largely centers on SETBP1 mutations, which are associated with poor prognosis and relapse in a number of leukemias. She is actively investigating how SETBP1 drives gene expression changes, histone modification, cell cycle dysfunction, and alters of the hematopoietic differentiation hierarchy. Dr. Carratt's current, short-term goal is to gain expertise in molecular biology and oncology. She is particularly interested in mechanistic investigations of oncogene cooperation, which she believes is the key to creating more efficacious and tolerable therapies for patients with aggressive, heterogeneous disease. Her long-term goal is to be a leader at the intersection of cancer biology, pharmacology, and toxicology.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Siennah Miller
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Ms. Miller was very excited to learn that she received the Emil Pfitzer Drug Discovery Toxicology Endowment Fund student award. The award will help her pursue her research by providing funding for publication fees, membership fees for professional societies like SOT, and traveling to scientific meetings where she can share her exciting research with others. 

Ms. Miller's graduate research focuses on drug transport across the blood-testis barrier (BTB). The male genital tract is a sanctuary site for diseases such as viral infections and cancer. When drugs are able to circumvent this barrier, diseases can be treated more effectively without the need for orchiectomy or radiation therapy for cancer or the risk of sexual transmission of viruses. Drug transporters are required for many drugs and toxicants to enter the testis. Drugs that are substrates transporters can effectively cross this barrier to provide therapeutic benefit. Her research focuses specifically on the equilibrative nucleoside transporters (ENTs). These transporters provide endogenous nucleosides essential for nucleic acid synthesis. Drugs that have analogous structures to endogenous nucleosides, such as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), are thought to be substrates for the ENTs. Identifying substrates and further developing our understanding of the substrate selectivity of the ENTs could provide insight on the most effective treatment options for patients with cancer or viral infections. 

To study these transporters, Ms. Miller developed CRISPR/Cas9 functional knockouts of ENT1 and ENT2. These cell lines allow her to examine the function of each ENT individually. She has characterized uridine transport in these cells and the effects of NRTIs and various nucleoside and heterocyclic analogs on uridine transport.  This work showed the interactions of several clinically relevant compounds with ENT1 and ENT2 including abacavir. Ms. Miller plans on determining whether or not these compounds are inhibitors and/or substrates of ENT1 and ENT2 and hopes to develop a pharmacophore that will help predict the ability of currently available drugs to cross the BTB and guide future drug development. After she earns her PhD, she wants to work in the pharmaceutical industry in a drug metabolism and disposition group. 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Leah Norona
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Genentech, Inc.

Dr. Norona was greatly honored to receive this award. She relayed it is gratifying to know that their hard work and efforts have been noticed and appreciated even during these challenging times. This award will help her pursue her research by increasing visibility among colleagues and facilitate important scientific discussions and collaborations.

Dr. Norona has always been intrigued by the cellular mechanisms underlying adverse health effects resulting from compound exposure. Her future goal is to become a more well-rounded toxicologist and a leader in the strategic implementation of new de-risking strategies to help get novel, safer drugs to patients. The main goal of her research is to make scientific contributions to the optimization/development of novel in vitro models to capture and understand complex mechanisms of drug-induced liver injury (DILI). In particular, the role that that drug-induced antagonism of the nuclear hormone receptor farnesoid X receptor (FXR) plays in a sub-type of DILI that results in an increase in intracellular bile acids that can lead to hepatocellular injury. FXR is the master regulator of bile acid homeostasis and there is a prevailing assumption in the DILI field that FXR antagonism is an important mechanism of DILI. However, there has not been an exhaustive look at both the prevalence of this phenomenon broadly, nor a true assessment of the predictivity of FXR antagonism to identify clinically relevant hepatotoxicants. The work described in this poster abstract addresses these areas by employing two complementary experimental approaches to assess FXR antagonism for a large and balanced test set of clinically relevant hepatotoxicants and drugs not associated with DILI. After careful consideration for cytotoxicity to reduce potential for false-positive signals, which previous reports have failed to do, the findings support relatively low overall prevalence of FXR antagonism across the test set and minimal to moderate predictive value to identify known hepatotoxicants retrospectively. Taken together, this work represents an important addition to the DILI field and outlines novel approaches that can be employed in drug discovery to address this phenotype for mechanistic studies, risk assessment or issue mitigation.

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sharavan  Ramachandran
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Dr. Ramachandran was really excited to hear that he was selected as a recipient for the prestigious Emil Pfizer Drug Discovery Toxicology Student Endowment Award. It is a great honor and acknowledgement of his research findings. This award will invigorate his career prospects by providing a global platform to present his research.  

Dr. Ramachandran's doctoral thesis project is focused on re-purposing Pimavanserin for brain tumors and pancreatic cancer. This approach will pave way for novel treatment options for cancer patients. His short term goal is to decipher the mechanism of action behind the anticancer effects of PVT. His long term goal is to conduct clinical studies on pimavanserin and develop pimavanserin as a novel therapeutic agent for cancer. 

Emil A. Pfitzer Drug Discovery Student Award Fund

Recipient: Souvarish Sarkar
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Harvard Medical School

Dr. Sarkar was thrilled to receive the award. He received the award as a graduate student and is now in his first year of postdoc. Receiving this award means a lot to him and it will help him pursue his career in translational science. 

Dr. Sarkar's research revolves around the role of environmental factors in neurodegeneration and how they interact with genetic factors. His goal is to have an independent lab focusing on gene-environment interaction in Parkinson's disease. Currently, he is working on developing a multiplex model which can be used to study the interactions in a high-throughput manner using alternative models like Drosophila.

Environmental Carcinogenesis Research Fellowship Fund

Recipient: Tasha Thong
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Michigan

Ms. Thong was excited and encouraged to know that the work she finds interesting and meaningful is also of interest to other top scientists in her field. This award will help to support her travel to SOT where she will be able to share the work she is passionate about with others.

Ms. Thong's research project is focused on uncovering the biological basis for racial disparities in breast cancer between African American (AA) and European American (EA) women. At every age, African American women have worse breast cancer outcomes, yet the biological basis for this is still unknown. Ms. Thong believes that stem cells play a crucial role in carcinogenesis, and she cultured normal breast tissue from healthy volunteers in order to characterize differences between mammary stem cells between AA and EA women. Thus far she has used single-cell RNA sequencing to characterize the transcriptomic profiles of her samples, and her future work will involve epigenetic profiling as well as challenging the samples with exposure to environmental toxicants.

Environmental Carcinogenesis Research Fellowship Fund

Recipient: Eric Uwimana
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Dr. Uwimana was thrilled and humbled to receive the first Environmental Carcinogenesis Award. This is an encouragement in his research and will contribute to his travel to the SOT meeting where he will share his research and exchange ideas with fellow researchers in the field.

Naphthalene (NA) is a ubiquitous pollutant to which humans are widely exposed. NA causes nasal and lung tumors in adult rats and mice and it has been classified as a possible human carcinogen. The mechanism of NA carcinogenicity, which may involve both genotoxic and non-genotoxic events, is not clear. A prerequisite for NA’s toxicity in the respiratory tract is bioactivation by cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes. Dr. Uwimana's research focuses on identifying liver-generated Naphthalene metabolites that may contribute to lung toxicity and carcinogenicity in vivo and characterize lung NA-DNA adducts formed in vitro and in vivo in NA-exposed mice and human lung cells. The long-term goal is to define the metabolic mechanisms that influence NA-mediated lung carcinogenesis in experimental animals and humans. The outcome of these studies is expected to improve assessment of human lung cancer risks from exposures to NA and other related chemicals and facilitate cancer prevention.

Founders Award

Recipient: Sidney Green
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD, ATS
Institution/Affiliation: Howard University

Through his more than 50 years as a practicing toxicologist, Dr. Green has made major contributions to academia, industry, and government for which he has earned the 2020 SOT Founders Award (for Outstanding Leadership in Toxicology).

Dr. Green joined the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) as a pharmacologist in 1965, after spending several years in industry. He received his PhD in biochemical pharmacology from Howard University in 1972. Through various roles at US FDA—most recently as Director of the Division of Toxicological Research—Dr. Green contributed to safety decision-making by ensuring appropriate research information was available to facilitate the development of regulatory guidelines used to establish safe versus unsafe exposure levels for chemical and physical agents that humans encounter daily. His efforts as the Agency’s chief spokesperson in the area of alternative tests contributed significantly to the establishment of the Interagency Regulatory Alternatives Group, which set the stage for the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods.

Dr. Green’s contributions to safety decision-making continued through his role at the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), where he served as Chief of the Toxic Effects Branch, Health Review Division, in the Office of Toxic Substances. In this role, he and other members of the branch represented US EPA on many Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) scientific panels responsible for developing toxicological guidelines for the testing of materials by OECD members. He also chaired the US EPA GeneTox Committee, the charge of which was to review the status of most of the methods used in genetic toxicology.

Joining Covance Inc. as Director of the Department of Toxicology in 1995, Dr. Green was charged with ensuring the appropriateness of studies in multispecies for generating data to support safety-of-use requirements for designated products as part of the premarket approval process. Then, in 1998, Dr. Green joined Howard University College of Medicine as an Adjunct Associate Professor of pharmacology, a position he continues to hold.

Dr. Green also served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Toxicity Testing. He was a member of the committee, the efforts of which resulted in the 2007 publication of Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy, which has been instrumental in changing how toxicologists think about the approach to safety evaluation. In addition, Dr. Green has authored more than 70 publications, primarily on topics involving genetic toxicology, short-term test methodology, and policy issues associated with alternatives to animal testing.

Dr. Green has been actively involved in SOT since 1974 in appointed, elected, and volunteer capacities. His service includes positions on Council, as Chair of the Membership Committee, and as President of several Component Groups. In addition to service to SOT, Dr. Green is a Past President of the American College of Toxicology, Association of Government Toxicologists, and Academy of Toxicological Sciences.

Frank C. Lu Food Safety Student Award Fund

Recipient: Robert Freeborn
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

Mr. Freeborn was ecstatic upon notification of the award. He is a fifth-year PhD student and his abstract was the culmination of his thesis project. It was an honor to receive the Frank C. Lu award in recognition of his work. This award helped him establish a functional workspace in his home to continue remotely working electronically on his project efficiently.

The research of Mr. Freeborn's lab focuses on various food additives and metals and how they adversely affect adaptive immune responses. The work for this award focuses on the food additive, tBHQ, and how it impairs the T cell response to influenza virus infection. He generated a line of mice lacking the transcription factor, Nrf2, in T cells. Nrf2 is activated by tBHQ, so by eliminating it he can determine if tBHQ suppressed the immune response to influenza through activation of Nrf2. His future goals are to lead immunology discovery projects in a large biotech company, working closely with various departments to help get new products to patients with unmet needs.

Frank C. Lu Food Safety Student Award Fund

Recipient: Madelyn Huang
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Dr. Huang is very honored to receive this award and is grateful to the Food Safety Specialty Section as she is passionate about food safety and toxicology. It is encouraging to see that her research is of interest to a broad audience. This award will facilitate her travel to the next SOT meeting to share her ongoing work and to identify next steps for her career.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the National Toxicology Program, their group has the opportunity to be study scientists for a variety of environmental chemicals of interest to the Program. It has been a valuable experience learning about and designing toxicity studies to evaluate safety, exposing her to a variety of sub-disciplines of toxicology. Dr. Huang's portfolio includes a number of consumer-product-related chemicals, such as dietary supplements, mycotoxins, and phthalates. The research for which she won the award is an investigation of how the chemical structure of perfluorinated compounds alters their toxicity. This kind of research is important for evaluating risk and/or predicting toxicity of other perfluorinated chemicals for which she does not have safety data. Her long-term career goal is to be a toxicologist advocating for public health, particularly as it relates to food safety and nutrition.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award Fund

Recipient: Avinash Kumar
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Kumar was extremely delighted and proud upon receiving this award. He was humbled that his research has been acknowledged and receiving this award would certainly provide him recognition in the Society of Toxicology and further motivate him to progress his career in the field of toxicology to become an independent scientist. He developed interest in the field of liver pathobiology uopn graduation and has been doing research in this area. He wants to progress his career in the field of hepatotoxicology to become an independent scientist and provide mentoring afterwards.

Dr. Kumar's specific research for which this award is based relates to studying the effect of environmental toxicant vinyl chloride  (VC) exposure in the context of underlying liver disease. Vinyl chloride monomer is a gaseous organochloride which after polymerization forms the plastic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC). VC monomer at high concentration causes hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and its carcinogenic properties were mainly mitigated by lowering the daily exposure limits by OSHA. However, they have recently shown that sub OSHA exposure levels of VC can also exacerbate liver injury caused by high fat diet (HFD). A critical concern therefore is the potential for overlap between diets rich in fatty acid and exposure to VC, because both the factors tend to be higher in the areas of lower socioeconomic status. Importantly the mechanism by which lower concentration of VC sensitizes the liver to other stressors (e.g., HFD) is not completely known. Therefore, the goal of the current project is to shed new light on the mechanism by which VC exacerbates high fat diet-induced hepatic injury and tumor formation and also potential mechanisms to alleviate these risks.

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award Fund

Recipient: Lauren Poole
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Michigan State University

When it was announced that Dr. Poole had won the Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award, she was shocked and overwhelmed with gratitude. Knowing how competitive this award is, she could not believe she was selected from such a strong pool of applicants. Dr. Poole feels extremely fortunate to have had amazing mentors throughout her education and through her membership in the Society of Toxicology. She constantly seeks to emulate her mentors by doing the best science she can and sharing her enthusiasm for her work with every trainee she mentors in any capacity. To be recognized for both of these qualities by the Mechanisms Specialty Section is truly an honor. Her ultimate career goal is to have her own research lab at an academic institution and to serve as a PhD mentor to graduate students of her own. This prestigious and generous award from the Society of Toxicology will certainly make her more confident in her upcoming search for a junior faculty position, and will attract enthusiastic students to her research program. 

Dr. Poole is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. James Luyendyk at Michigan State University. Her research interests seek to understand how blood clotting proteins contribute to the progression of chronic liver disease. Chronic liver disease affects millions of Americans each year, and can develop as a result of exposure to environmental contaminants, consumption of a high-fat diet or excessive alcohol, or viral or autoimmune hepatitis. The end stage of chronic liver disease, liver fibrosis, is characterized by excessive accumulation of collagen, or scar tissue, in the liver which ultimately prevents normal liver function. One specific liver cell type, the hepatic stellate cell, is the primary producer of this scar tissue in the injured liver. The research presented in her 2020 SOT Annual Meeting abstract identified that a receptor expressed by hepatic stellate cells, protease-activated receptor-1, plays an important role in the progression of hepatic fibrosis. Protease-activated receptor-1 is a receptor for certain clotting proteins, such as thrombin. These findings were made possible by the development of a new mouse in which protease-activated receptor-1 is deleted only in hepatic stellate cells, and not other liver cell types. They found that when stellate cell protease-activated receptor-1 was deleted, mice developed significantly less liver fibrosis in response to chronic chemical-induced liver injury. This research provides an important capstone to decades of scientific research investigating the role of the blood clotting cascade in liver disease and identifies a novel druggable target for liver disease treatment.  

Dr. Poole's primary career goal is to become an independent investigator at an academic institution. It is extremely important to her to continue her research program focusing on the connections between exposure to toxicants, activation of the blood clotting cascade, and tissue injury and to share her passion and enthusiasm for this work with students. She strives to continue to grow her involvement in the Society of Toxicology, particularly by acting as a mentor to new students, who are the future of our discipline. 

Gabriel L. Plaa Education Award Fund

Recipient: Souvarish Sarkar
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MA
Institution/Affiliation: Harvard Medical School

Mr. Sarkar was thrilled to receive the award. This award meant a little more than all the other awards he has received because it not only valued his work on mechanistic toxicology but also recognized his contribution in educating and helping graduate and undergraduate students. 

Mr. Sarkar's research revolves around the role of environmental factors in neurodegeneration and how they interact with genetic factors. His goal is to have an independent lab focusing on gene-environment interaction in Parkinson's disease. Currently, he is working on developing a multiplex model which can be used to study the interactions in a high-throughput manner using alternative models like Drosophila. 

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Prathyusha Bagam
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MSc
Institution/Affiliation: Southern University A&M College

Ms. Bagam was really excited and grateful when she learned that she was the recipient of this award. It is a prestigious honor which will benefit her tremendously in her scientific pursuit. Her first reaction was to call up her mentor- Dr. Sanjay Batra- to thank him for all his support and guidance during these years. Being in the final stages of her graduate studies, attending the national meeting of Society of Toxicology is of great significance to her research; and being selected for the prestigious Dr. Harihara Mehendale award will help in introducing and sharing her research to a wider audience. Ms. Bagam feels it will be a great opportunity to interact with renowned scientists working in the field of toxicology and she will benefit hugely from the discussions, feedback, and new ideas. Furthermore, she will be able to incorporate these new ideas while finalizing her upcoming original research articles. Recognition from this award will further motivate Ms. Bagam to pursue with high standard of excellence in research and achieve her career goals.

Ms. Bagam works in the field of Pulmonary Immunotoxicity with focus on Inhalation Toxicology. She is interested in determining the effect of cigarette smoke (active and passive smoking) on the mechanism(s) associated with protein homeostasis. To be more specific, her project's focus is to determine the molecular mechanisms associated with the regulation of autophagy mechanism during cigarette smoke exposure using secondhand smoke exposed murine model and in vitro. Autophagy plays a critical role in maintaining cellular homeostasis under stress conditions and her goal is to unravel the critical players of this phenomenon which could be targeted for the development of better therapeutic strategies for pulmonary disorders resulting from smoke exposure. Since not much is known about the pathophysiology of COPD, this could be an interesting pursuit as it might provide answers to the regulators of inflammatory responses as well during exposure to cigarette smoke. The work which Ms. Bagam will be presenting at the SOT Annual Meeting focuses on determining the role of FOXO transcription factors in regulating cigarette smoke induced autophagy in human alveolar epithelial cells. Although the role of FOXO transcription factors in regulating autophagy has been documented earlier, their role and the detailed molecular mechanism during cigarette smoke exposure remains to be fully explored. In this regard, her results demonstrate dysregulated expression of FOXO1 and FOXO3 in response to cigarette smoke challenge. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation, gene knockdown and gene over expression techniques she has nailed down the molecular mechanism which demonstrates essential role of FOXO1 transcription factor in regulating the expression of key autophagy proteins during cigarette smoke exposure. Her results are exciting as they provide a snapshot of the molecular events that are triggered on smoke exposure and augment the autophagic flux in cigarette smoke challenged cells.

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Archit Rastogi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BTech
Institution/Affiliation: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Mr. Rastogi was thrilled to receive the award! The award will enable him to travel to the SOT Meeting, which will be invaluable at this juncture in his career.

Mr. Rastogi's doctoral thesis focuses on discerning how fetal exposures to the environmental toxicants impact health later in life. He won this award for work demonstrating how specific transcription factors are abnormally expressed in the pancreas upon toxicant exposure. This misimpression results in aberrant pancreas structure, which could predispose individuals to diabetes later in life.

Harihara Mehendale Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Dharmin Rokad
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Iowa State University

Mr. Rokad was pleased, and felt extremely honored and humbled to learn that he was receiving this award. It will help him in realizing his goals as a young researcher in the field, and will support him at various levels in his journey as a researcher.

Mr. Rokad is currently working on Manganese toxicity with regards to neurological diseases including Parkinson's Disease. He is learning and investigating how Manganese over-exposure leads to neurodegeneration and disease condition. His Ph.D. research focuses on divalent manganese (Mn) interactions with α-Synuclein protein and neurodegeneration. His current project focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms involved in manganese-induced misfolded α-Synuclein release through exosomes and its relevance to synucleopathies. Occupational and environmental exposure through inhalation and ingestion leads to elevated doses of Mn which can lead to a neurological condition such as Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases. Mr. Rokad is currently evaluating the role of manganese in modulating endosomal protein trafficking mechanisms to promote the α-synuclein exosomal release and Parkinson's Disease pathogenesis. Based on these findings, he is planning to identify novel therapeutic targets for Parkinson's Disease.

Health and Environmental Science Institute Immunotoxicology Young Investigator Student Award Fund

Recipient: Thea Golden
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PharmD, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Golden is very grateful to be the recipient of this award. She is excited to present her work at SOT and receive valuable feedback from experts in the field of immunotoxicology. Her research is beginning to focus on environmental causes of in-utero alterations and it is ideal timing to speak with toxicologists.

Recently it has become evident that alterations during fetal development can have lasting effects on offspring health. In Dr. Golden's laboratory, she focuses on intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) leading to development of type 2 diabetes and obesity in the adult. The research she will present at SOT identifies immune populations altered in the pancreas following IUGR and suggests their direct involvement in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Having identified critical windows of susceptibility and populations deleterious to the pancreas, she now is exploring various environmental insults during fetal development that also result in pancreatic inflammation and subsequent development of type 2 diabetes.

Jean Lu Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Liang Chi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mr. Chi was so excited when he learned he had received the American Association of Chinese in Toxicology SIG Jean Lu Student Scholarship Award. It is a huge honor for him and an important approval for his PhD study. It will encourage him to study more in the future.

Mr. Chi's studies mainly focused on the functional interactions between gut microbiota and arsenic exposure. His study reveals that gut microbiota can modulate arsenic bioavailability and biotransformation which could protect the host against arsenic toxicity. But chronic arsenic exposure can perturb normal gut microbiota and cause community dysbiosis, which will affect host health and disease outcomes. He found that transplanting arsenic-exposed gut microbiota to healthy mice could induce glucose intolerance in mice, which is associated with the disturbed intestinal bile acid signals.

John Doull Student Award Fund

Recipient: Sarah Burnett
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Ms. Burnett was honored to receive the John Doull Endowment Award from the Risk Assessment Specialty Section (RASS). The award would have allowed her to travel to and present her research at the 2020 SOT Annual Meeting, but as it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was thankful for the opportunity to instead present this work at the RASS Virtual Awards Ceremony. She was excited to share this research with the scientific community and gain feedback to advance both the research and her career. She finds it exciting and rewarding to see other scientists interested in their work, and receiving this award encourages her to continue pursuing impactful research.

The primary focus of Ms. Burnett's research is assessing the adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, a known major safety liability of pharmaceutical compounds, and the potential for cardiotoxicity during drug development. Due to the lack of routine cardiotoxicity testing of non-pharmaceutical compounds, thousands of environmental chemicals (pesticides, flame retardants, plastics, etc.) remain untested for their potential cardiovascular adverse effects. Her research aims to assess the cardiotoxicity hazard of environmental chemicals in vitro by using a population of human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes. Their results showed that various environmental chemicals affect the beating parameters of iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes with varied potencies and degrees of population variability. This research demonstrates the feasibility of using a population-based organotypic model for high-throughput cardiotoxicity screening. Ms. Burnett's long-term research interest is in advancing human health risk assessment by utilizing and developing alternative methods for safety evaluation.

Laxman S. Desai Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Durgesh Dwivedi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER)

Mr. Dwivedi was really excited and pleased when he received this prestigious award. He immediately shared the good news with his advisor and also thanked his advisor for his support and encouragement. This award will help Mr. Dwivedi to get recognition in the Society of Toxicology, which is very crucial for a research career. Further, this award will provide recognition of his work and compliment his research in the field of liver toxicology. This award has not only given a positive impact on Mr. Dwivedi but also highly recognized his research. Mr. Dwivedi highly appreciates and thanks the team for giving him this opportunity. He looks forward to serving the society whenever and whichever way it is possible in the future.

Mr. Dwivedi's research involves elucidating the mechanism of liver toxicity in mice and rats induced by liver toxicants, especially involving the role of anti-oxidant signaling in counteracting these toxicities. He has found that medicines used in the treatment of diabetes and neurological disorders also reduce the development of liver toxicities. So in a nutshell, drugs that either reduce the inflammatory condition or increase the anti-oxidant status, deserve further attention for the development of new drugs to treat liver disorders following the same mechanism.

Laxman S. Desai Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Student Award Fund

Recipient: Isha Mhatre
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: Kent State University

Ms. Mhatre is honored to receive this award as it is an invaluable recognition of her research. Attending this conference will give her an opportunity to present her research to a large audience and provide her with excellent scientific feedback and knowledge. This award will significantly aid in her career development in the field of neurotoxicology. Ms. Mhatre is grateful to the ASIO for their support.

Ms. Mhatre's research primarily focuses on neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and investigating the mechanisms involved in the progression of the disease. While chronic neuroinflammation has been shown to play a critical role in the etiology of AD, aging and presence of the APOE4 allele have emerged as significant risk factors for the disease, with reports potentially identifying women as a susceptible group. The abstract that she will be presenting is aimed at studying how age, sex, and genotype modify the response to an inflammatory stimulus such as Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in humanized targeted replacement APOE3 and APOE4 mice. This award will aid her research in elucidating and advancing science's understanding of the mechanisms of how the non-modifiable risk factors modulate inflammatory responses in a complex and multifaceted neurodegenerative disorder such as Alzheimer’s.

Mary Amdur Student Award Fund

Recipient: Elise Hickman
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ms. Hickman was excited and honored to receive this award. This award will assist in funding Ms. Hickman's travel to the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting, where she will present her research, engage with other researchers, and participate in professional development activities.

At the time of the award, Ms. Hickman was a 3rd year PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She researches the effects of e-cigarettes on the respiratory immune system using both in vitro and human in vivo approaches. She won the Mary Amdur Student Award for her project assessing whether and how e-cigarette use alters the nasal microbiome in human subjects.

Mary Amdur Student Award Fund

Recipient: Syed Masood
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mr. Masood's initial reaction to receiving the Mary Amdur Student Award from the Inhalation and Respiratory Specialty Section was surprise. The Mary Amdur Student Award is a highly competitive and prestigious award, bestowing an incredible honor to the recipient of the award. The award is recognition of the progress he has made in the lab in his first couple years as a graduate student; it is highly motivating. Receiving the award shows Mr. Masood that the research he does is impactful and thus motivates him to focus and fine tune his research. Receiving the Mary Amdur Student Award is uplifting and motivates him to continue pursue his research in a new revitalized manner.

Isprene hydroxy hydroperoxide (ISOPOOH) is a naturally occurring molecule in the atmosphere produced as byproduct of EPA regulation to lower ozone levels. Very little is known about toxicology of the molecule other than it can produce secondary organic aerosols and cause respiratory inflammatory effects. Mr. Masood has shown ISOPOOH is a very potent in causing oxidative stress in the airway epithelium. He would like to understand how it causes oxidative stress; specifically, he wants to determine its molecular initiating event.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Damaris Albores-Garcia
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Florida International University

Dr. Albores-Garcia is very happy and proud that her work is being recognized by her peers. She is looking forward to presenting her work in the upcoming SOT meeting and hopefully receiving a lot of feedback on her research. Thank you!

Dr. Albores-Garcia's research focuses on finding if lead exposure contributes to schizophrenia and substance use disorder. Understanding this will help researchers to find the mechanisms behind the comorbidity and to explore treatments to ameliorate the deleterious effects of lead exposure.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Danqi Chen
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: New York University

It is Dr. Chen's great honor to receive this award. It is an acknowledgment of her research in the Metals field. It can promote her to go further in this field in the future.

Dr. Chen is working on the molecular mechanism of some environmental and occupational carcinogens, such as Hexavalent Chromium, Arsenic, and formaldehyde. She thinks the fundamental study of environmental carcinogens is an important part of occupational health study. Among these, she is mainly focused on the effects of arsenic (As) on histone mRNA polyadenylation, cell transformation, and chromatin assembly. Arsenic is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a group 1 human carcinogen. The mechanisms that underlie arsenic-mediated carcinogenesis, including epigenetic alterations, are not fully understood. Dr. Chen found for the first time a profound increase in polyadenylation of all the canonical histone mRNAs following As exposure. She further demonstrated that As induces the loss of stem-loop binding protein (SLBP), preventing proper canonical histone pre-mRNA processing and, subsequently resulting in the aberrant polyadenylation of the mRNA. The addition of the poly (A) tail to the canonical histone mRNA increased the mRNA stability, allowing the polyadenylated histones to be present not only in S phase but in other phases of the cell cycle as well. This alteration disrupted nucleosome assembly, transcription, and genomic stability. In particular, the ChIP-seq results revealed that induction of polyadenylated H3.1 mRNA results in the displacement of the variant H3.3 from critical gene regulatory elements such as active promoters, insulators, and enhancers. H3.3 displacement appeared to be critical for arsenic-induced carcinogenesis, since knockdown of H3.3 by siRNA induced cell transformation, whereas overexpression of H3.3 rescued cells from arsenic-induced cell transformation. Her study uncovered polyadenylation of H3.1 mRNA and displacement of H3.3 from regulatory elements as a potential new mechanism for As carcinogenesis. Dr. Chen's findings might add new insight not only into the oncogenic role for histone variant H3.3 but also into genomic instability induced by the imbalance in histone stoichiometry.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Liang Chi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill

Mr. Chi was really excited when he learned he received this award. It is a great honor for him, and it will encourage him to continuously study how the interactions of gut microbiota and environmental pollutants can affect host health.

His study mainly focused on functional interactions between gut microbiota and arsenic exposure. Mr. Chi's previous work demonstrates that gut microbiota plays a critical role in arsenic bioavailability and biotransformation in mice. Moreover, chronic arsenic exposure can dramatically change gut microbiota, including perturbing normal community structure, changing the richness of functional genes and metabolites. Here, he demonstrated that transplanting the gut microbiota from arsenic-exposed mice to healthy mice can induce glucose intolerance in the recipients. Correspondingly, gene expression associated with glucose metabolism in adipose tissues and livers are affected by arsenic-perturbed gut microbiota. The current study reveals that arsenic-induced gut microbiota dysbiosis could play a role in arsenic-associated toxic effects and thus modulation of the gut microbiota might be an intervention strategy to ameliorate the diabetic effects of arsenic exposure.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Cassandra Meakin
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ms. Meakin was very honored and humbled to receive this award. The award will help her to cover the cost of travel and expenses to the SOT Annual Meeting.

Ms. Meakin examined the effects of arsenic as an endocrine disruptor during pregnancy. She is interested in how exposures during development lead to later life health outcomes. She would like to remain in academia and pursue a K grant to start her own lab. This award was given to Ms. Meakin for her work investigating arsenic altering the glucocorticoid receptor pathway in the placenta.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Jamie Young
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BA, MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

As a former Metals Specialty Section student representative, Ms. Young knows the impressive pool of research that is submitted for consideration for this award every year. Thus, upon receiving notification of winning the Graduate Student Research Award she was ecstatic and humbled. Receiving such a prestigious award from the very group where she started her SOT career is amazing. In addition, her current research, focused on metal-enhanced, diet induced disease, has been greatly influenced by a number of past and current Metals Specialty Section members and their research. Hence, receiving this award will allow Ms. Young's work and ideas to be highlighted among a group of esteemed scientists in a similar field who can provide feedback, ideas and suggestion for future directions and possible collaborations. She is truly grateful!

Currently Ms. Young's research is focused on the interactions between cadmium, a non-essential metal, and high fat diet in the development of liver disease and the use of dietary zinc to stop disease initiation and progression. This project takes into consideration that environmental exposures are typically multigenerational and life-long, and that factors, such as diet, are involved in the development of disease. She proposes whole life, low dose cadmium exposure will enhance metabolic syndrome associated with consumption of a high fat diet, resulting in liver disease and that zinc plays a key role in determining this outcome. Additionally, liver diseases, like many metabolic diseases, is sexually dimorphic with men more likely to develop the diseases then women. However, women tend to accumulate more cadmium in their bodies then men. Therefore, Ms. Young is also investigating gender as a risk factor for cadmium-enhanced, diet-induced liver disease. Her future goal is to develop into a successful, independent scientist with knowledge and expertise in a broad range of research areas that will allow her to pursue her own research in metal-induced diseases, therapeutic targets, and environmental health. More specifically Ms. Young's long term research interest is in studying the mechanisms and sex specific differences in metal-induced diseases with focus on lung cancer.

Metals Specialty Section Student Research Award Fund

Recipient: Ranran Zhang
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Dr. Zhang felt honored and excited to receive the Metals Specialty Section Research Award. SOT’s recognition of her efforts through this award has increased her confidence to keep pursing her dream of becoming an independent researcher in the field of toxicology in the future.

Dr. Zhang's interest and research focus on illustrating the interaction of human placental transporters with the toxic heavy metal cadmium. During pregnancy, the mother is exposed to both drugs and environmental compounds. While the placenta generally forms a good barrier against fetal exposure, some drugs as well as toxic compounds can accumulate in the placenta and potentially reach the fetus. For instance, cadmium (Cd) which is a non-essential toxic metal widespread in environment, is detectable in 97% of pregnant women. Studies have found adverse associations of Cd levels with birth weight and perinatal growth. As a result of developmental delays in growth and development, this impairment may persist through childhood. As a result, it is critical to identify mechanisms that regulate Cd accumulation and responses in trophoblasts. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify critical protective pathways within the placenta to reduce the risk of long-term developmental toxicity. One potential mechanism to prevent Cd accumulation is the efflux transporter BCRP, which is abundantly expressed in syncytiotrophoblasts in human placenta. To assess the ability of BCRP to protect the fetus from Cd exposure, Dr. Zhang is conducting two research projects including:1) relationships between Cd level in human placentas (N=28) with birth outcomes (i.e., baby weight) and transporter levels; and 2) in vitro studies directly assessing the ability of BCRP to efflux cadmium and protect against placenta toxicity using genetically-modified trophoblasts. In addition to these projects, she is scaling up her methods and will apply them to a large birth cohort of 290 babies as well as ex vivo studies using fresh human placenta tissue exposed to cadmium and transporter inhibitors.

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Mathia Colwell
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Minnesota

Ms. Colwell was overjoyed and incredibly honored for the recognition of her research. Receiving this award will give her the opportunity to share her research with a large audience and continue to advance her knowledge in the area of modifying the epigenome.

Ms. Colwell was granted this award based upon her research using decitabine as a hypomethylating agent in a whole mouse model. Her findings indicate decitabine, a popular DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, does not preferentially demethylate the epigenome or dysregulate gene expression uniformly in somatic tissues. Her current research focus is on the effects of intergenerational arsenic exposure on the mouse epigenome, and how it influences adult health in the unexposed offspring. Her future goal is to advance her understanding of epigenetic reprogramming and how in utero exposures can affect the onset of disease in adult offspring.

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Subham Dasgupta
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Dr. Dasgupta was absolutely delighted and honored to receive this award and recognition from his peers and stalwarts within the field. In addition to supporting his travel to SOT, this will encourage him to explore more research areas and techniques within the fields of molecular and systems toxicology and work harder to contribute more to the field. The recognition will also give him an opportunity to network with faculty and fellow postdocs and gain new insights into career development and research areas that will definitely elevate his career directions. Dr. Dasgupta thanks Dr. Volz for being a great mentor and members of the Volz and Liu labs, specifically Ms. Aalekhya Reddam for their support in this study.

Dr. Dasgupta's research interests lie in investigation and discover of mechanisms of early developmental toxicity induced by common environmental contaminants. Using zebrafish as a model, he is specifically interested in toxicant-induced transcriptomic disruptions in processes that regulate cell division, migration, germ layer formation and their effects on the downstream developmental trajectory of the embryo. He is also interested in the role of epigenetic mechanisms, miRNAs and long non-coding RNAs in development and transgenerational toxicity. Mr. Dasgupta's submitted SOT abstract identifies perfluorooctanesulfonamide (PFOSA) as a developmental toxicant from a screen of PFASs. Subsequently, using mRNA sequencing and additional morphometric assessments, he shows that PFOSA can also lead to a disruption and inhibition of hepatic development.

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Jennifer Schaefer
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Ms. Schaefer was ecstatic and over-filled with joy upon receiving an email notification that she had won the 3rd place MSBSS Graduate Student Research Award. For she and her colleagues who had worked together on the project, to be recognized and acknowledged for their hard work truly means a lot to her. Her thesis work heavily investigates critical physiological and biological mechanisms that regulate fertility status and early pregnancy events by focusing on key molecules (aquaporins), systems (reproductive axis specifically the uterus and placenta), and Gαq/11-coupled receptors. Winning an award within her research field gives her more motivation in elucidating these complex mechanisms in the hope of developing new therapies and discovering biomarkers for infertility and pregnancy complications/conditions. Receiving this award will help Ms. Schaefer further pursue her research by aiding in the funds to attend the SOT meeting where she plans to network with fellow peers, colleagues, and experts in multiple disciplines along with expanding her knowledge in different backgrounds that would enrich her intellectual growth, research skills, career development as a toxicologist, and scientific knowledge. Being able to present her research, encouraging and enhancing her scientific communication skills to a wide variety of people with diverse backgrounds will allow her to break scientific communication barriers and gain new insight and ideas into her research project whether it be a different parameter to look at or new method/technique that will advance her future investigations. Attending and presenting at SOT will also allow Ms. Schaefer to share her area of expertise, research, and perspective in hopes of also furthering another’s research. At SOT, she will attend multiple platform and poster presentations where she will be able to learn about other molecules, mechanisms, experimental designs, and modeling to name a few, that she can utilize in future development of techniques to investigate her hypotheses.

Much of Ms. Schaefer's research comprises on better understanding the importance of key molecules such as aquaporins and Gαq/11-coupled receptor signaling, in regulating fertility status along with the establishment and maintenance of a successful pregnancy. This is a major goal of her lab since over 7 million American women of reproductive age are infertile. A uterus that is unreceptive to embryo implantation is a major cause of infertility. Regulation of uterine luminal fluid levels during early pregnancy is essential for successful reproduction and a determinant of fertility in both rodents and humans. In both rodents and humans, excessive luminal fluid can have a negative impact on pregnancy such as implantation failure as too much fluid reduces contact between the embryo and luminal epithelium. Aquaporins are bidirectional transporters that move water along a concentration gradient, regulating water homeostasis. To date, 13 mammalian AQPs (AQP0–12) have been identified, but in the mouse, Aqp10 is a pseudogene, and thus only 12 Aqp genes encode functional proteins. Being the recipient of the MSBSS award was based off the specific research investigating the hypothesis that mouse uterine AQPs regulate luminal fluid levels in the preimplantation period and are impacted by estradiol and progesterone. To better understand their roles in regulating luminal fluid levels in the preimplantation period, Ms. Schaefer conducted a multi-pronged analysis of uterine Aqp/AQP expression on the morning of D1 and D4 of pregnancy in ovarian superovulated and non-superovulated WT C57 Bl/6 mice. Expression was also determined in ovariectomized mice that received E2, P4 or E2 + P4 and in D4 pregnant RU486-treated mice. Major conclusions from her study revealed that uterine AQPs are dynamically regulated by E2 and P4 in the pregnant mouse uterus during the preimplantation period and this could have a major impact on uterine fluid homeostasis not just in the mouse but also in pregnant women. Furthermore, she demonstrated clearly that for many of the AQPs, their expression is significantly altered following supraphysiological levels of E2 and P4 via ovarian superovulation (such as those encountered during IVF therapy and upon exposure to various endocrine disrupting chemicals or environmental toxins) which have an impact on female reproductive functions during early pregnancy. Ms. Schaefer's future thesis work will continue to explore the role of aquaporins in crucial signaling pathways involved in early pregnancy events and how compounds that alter levels of estradiol or progesterone (environmental toxins or endocrine disrupting chemicals) affect aquaporin expression and other critical genes and proteins involved in early pregnancy. The use of aquaporins will serve as a valuable tool in testing to see if specific pathways relating to water homeostasis, fertility, female reproduction function, and early pregnancy events (uterine receptivity, preimplantation, and embryo implantation) become altered. Measuring aquaporin expression can be a new marker of normal function as altered expression is also predicted to occur in any pathological state that changes the normal E2:P4 ratio and this could impact negatively on fertility. This will be utilized in her other work studying novel Gαq/11-coupled receptors that are major regulators of fertility such as the kisspeptin receptor (KISS1R) and GPR83. Overall, elucidation of critical receptors and molecules involved in fertility status and early pregnancy events will aid in the development of new targeted therapies and discovery of biomarkers for infertility and pregnancy complications/conditions.

Molecular and Systems Biology Student Award Fund

Recipient: Emily Severance
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ms. Severance is very grateful to receive this award and to have her research recognized. This award helps her present her research and meet professionals in the toxicology field at SOT.

Ms. Severance's research is on Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). PFOS is a persistent environmental toxicant historically found in firefighting foams and consumer products. Her research investigates how PFOS interacts with the Nrf2 antioxidant response pathway and the underlying mechanism behind PFOS induced oxidative stress in human kidney cells. So far she has found that PFOS activates Nrf2 and indirectly causes oxidative stress. Future research will include investigating the affects of PFOS on pancreatic beta cells.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Tarana Arman
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: Washington State University

Ms. Arman felt that receiving this award from PANWAT was a very humbling and special moment. She feels very fortunate for being able to present her research to the erudite audience. Platform presentations can be very unnerving. At PANWAT this year, she had the opportunity to listen to some really great presentations. This award will help Ms. Arman by boosting her confidence to participate in more events. PANWAT also helps her to widen her network of researchers to improve communication and knowledge around her toxicological research. This monetary award will help Ms. Arman to take part in the next conference.

Ms. Arman's research primarily focuses on studying an at-risk population-people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and an environmental toxin, microcystin. NAFLD is the most common chronic liver disease in the United States (affects 30% of adults) and has a significant global prevalence (up to 25%). NAFLD is also significantly associated with chronic kidney diseases (CKD). Current trends of global warming and anthropogenic activities have led to an increase in blue-green algal blooms in freshwater; these blooms produce toxins like the microcystins. Microcystins are established hepatotoxins and can also cause renal toxicity. The primary route of exposure to these toxins is through oral consumption of contaminated water and fish. The pathogenesis of NAFLD and CKD have overlapping mechanisms with microcystin toxicity. With the increasing frequency and size of algal blooms and the increasing prevalence of NAFLD, the intersection of these two factors is an important area of study in toxicology. Ms. Arman's research focuses on the mechanistic understanding of how a diet-induced NAFLD condition interacts with microcystin toxicity to produce liver and kidney pathologies. She is positive that her research will contribute towards understanding the differential exposure and toxicity of harmful environmental components for at-risk populations. Ms. Arman's current project is looking into the hepatic recovery mechanisms after MCLR toxicity, but with a continued exposure to a poor diet. Immunohistochemistry and plasma biochemistry results suggests that continued stress from a poor diet following MCLR exposure impairs the hepatic recovery mechanisms, and presents an advanced NASH stage.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Kelley Bastin
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Mrs. Bastin was quite shocked and extremely excited that she was going to be receiving this award since this was her first time attending a regional SOT conference. This award will help her pursue her research goals further and dive deeper into understanding polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Mrs. Bastin’s research evaluates the role of metabolism in the susceptibility of chemically-mediated toxicity and respiratory disease in human bronchial cells caused by a type of air pollutant known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). PAHs are contaminants released into our environment from incomplete combustion processes such as wood-burning and cigarette smoke. When PAHs are inhaled, cells metabolize them into reactive metabolites that can cause mutations and alterations of gene signaling leading to tumor growth. This study looks specifically at the metabolites produced from exposure to PAHs and analyzed the metabolic capacity of human bronchial cells (HBEC) cultured in 3D as a model to study the toxicity of PAHs. Her future goals are to measure the metabolic enzyme activity that produces these reactive metabolites by activity-based protein proteomics to correlate with our gene expression data and metabolism studies. This will help to determine the relevance of in vitro 3D culture models for studying chemical toxicity in the lung.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Yvonne Chang
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Chang was so excited for her work to be recognized by the PANWAT regional chapter. She was also very thankful of the PANWAT chapter for its encouragement to graduate students and trainees. The funds from this award will support her travel to the SOT Annual Meeting.

Ms. Chang's dissertation research uses in vitro and bioinformatics approaches to link 3D human bronchial epithelial gene expression to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon cancer risk values in an effort to identify potential regulators of toxicity. Using a coexpression network analysis approach, she identified gene sets significantly correlated to relative potency factors (RPF) that include cell adhesion and cell cycle genes. Through benchmark dose modeling at the gene and pathway level for cells treated with benzo[a]pyrene, she has also identified cell cycle regulation and DNA damage as among the most sensitive gene sets to exposure. After she finishes her dissertation research, she is interested in careers in predictive and investigative toxicology where she can further work with organotypic in vitro models and develop her skills in interrogating complex data.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Anna Chlebowski
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Western University of Health Sciences

Dr. Chlebowski was surprised to learn that she had won the award, and very proud. This is a project she has been involved in for a couple of years, and one that her PI has been working on for decades. Making a contribution to such a substantial project, and having that contribution be recognized, is always a good feeling.

This research project is working to understand how exposure to chemicals early-in-life, while the brain is still developing, can contribute to the development of neurodegenerative disorders. Specifically, Dr. Chlebowski was looking at a neurodegenerative disorder called Guam Parkinson-Dementia Complex (PDC), found in the South Pacific. First she needed to develop a model system, which involved generating stem cells from samples taken from PDC patients and healthy controls, and then using the stem cells to generate neural stem cells and neurons. Once Dr. Chlebowski generated the stem cells, she was able to start exposing them to toxins and see how that impacted the development of neurons, or other types of cells found in the brain.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Subham Dasgupta
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Dr. Dasgupta was absolutely pleased to have received this award for his platform presentation. He expressed that it was a really great feeling to be recognized by peers within his field. This award will provide him with encouragement and financial support to attend the SOT conference.

Dr. Dasgupta's research interests lie in unraveling mechanisms of early developmental toxicity of common environmental contaminants. Eventually, he wants to set up a research program and establish himself in developmental toxicology. Within the research presented here, he investigated the mechanisms of developmental toxicity of the flame retardant TDCIPP and showed that TDCIPP exposures within zebrafish embryos result in transcriptomic and epigenetic disruptions during an early developmental window that lead to defects in germ layer structure and organogenesis.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Joseph Dempsey
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MPH
Institution/Affiliation: University of Washington

Mr. Dempsey's research is focused on understanding how the gut microbiome interacts with the host liver during development and how exposure to toxic environmental chemicals may negatively impact this interaction to increase the risk of diseases in adults. Currently, he is working on integrating multiple high-throughput datasets to explain the persistent effects of chemicals on the gut microbiome and liver. During postnatal development, coinciding with the maturation of host signaling pathways, there are profound changes in the composition and functions of gut microbiome. Gut microbiome produces distinct microbial metabolites including short-chain fatty acids, which are known histone deacetylase inhibitors. At adult age, mice exposed early in life to the former flame retardant BDE-99 showed persistent changes in gut microbiome composition, short-chain fatty acids, as well as transcriptomic changes in the liver. These persistent changes initiated by neonatal exposure to BDE-99 could ultimately alter the metabolic and detoxification capacity of the adult liver.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Matthew Gomez
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Washington

Mr. Gomez was filled with gratitude and joy upon receiving this award, knowing that his investment in this project was recognized and rewarded. It feels nice to know that his research is going in the right direction and getting this reward is additional assurance for him to continue and finish this project. The money will be used mainly as part to pay his rent, as he is working a part time job right now to fulfill all his housing needs. This award will allow Mr. Gomez, even if a little bit, to spend more time in the lab and finish this project.

Mr. Gomez's work focuses on the gut microbiome which is an emerging field where it's increasingly recognized as a key player in toxicological responses and a plethora of diseases such as inflammation, metabolic syndromes, and cancer. He conducted a lot of wet lab work with the assistance of his P.I. and colleagues while learning statistic models and programs in order to analyze his data. More specifically, the project Mr. Gomez undertook serves to bridge the gap between proven responses in acute models by conducting an experiment meant to highlight the persistent effects of the three chemicals mentioned above in the gut microbiome. Knowing this, we may be able to identify how composition variation may influence different pathways and diseases outcomes in animal models. Mr. Gomez believes that working in this lab has provided him the tools he will require in order to become a great scientist. He plans to apply for a PhD program in immunology/bacteriology in order to hopefully start his own lab dedicated to cancer research and immunotherapy.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Natalie Johnson
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University / University of Kansas Medical Center

Upon receiving this award, Ms. Johnson was shocked. She could not believe that research she did over the summer in her home town was impressive to other researchers. This was her first poster presentation and she can see now that everyone was a lot more impressed by her presentation than she had assumed. The money will help Ms. Johnson continue to present at various conferences and pursue more research opportunities while continuing to support herself. At her undergraduate institution, she is not paid for her research and awards such as this one allow her to continue to use her time to do this research while not having to worry about finances.

Ms. Johnson did research over the summer of 2019 at The University of Kansas Medical Center in the department of Toxicology and Pharmacology in order to prepare for a future in research or medicine. This summer research is what she had presented at PANWAT and the research for which she has won this award. Her research involved the Aryl Hydrocarbon receptor and liver fibrosis. This project was an extension of a project at Boise State University with Dr. Kristen Mitchell. At Boise State, researchers are studying the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and its role in the mediation of TCDD-induced hepatotoxicity. TCDD is a persistent environmental toxicant in which toxicity is mediated by the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (Ahr) which functions as a ligand activated transcription factor. When bound to TCDD, its ligand, it can dysregulate extracellular matrix (ECM) homeostasis and cause fibrosis, or scarring. The Mitchell Lab created knockout mice and Ms. Johnson's project looked at the comparison of the cotreatment of TCDD and CCl4 in the wildtype and knockout mice. It was observed that the initial injury, inflammation and hepatic stellate cell activation were decreased in the knockout co-treatment as compared to the wild-type co-treatment. All of these alterations should lead to decreased fibrosis, however unexpectedly fibrosis was the same and thus she looked at Hyaluronan in these mice. Hyaluronan is used in maintaining tissue homeostasis however is persistent in chronically wounded tissue and thus contributes to scarring. It was determined that hyaluronan was decreased in the co-treatment knockouts compared to the co-treatment wild-type mice. This matched the inflammation, initial injury, as well as the HSC activation done by the Mitchell lab and thus Hyaluronan was not deemed the cause of HSC activation. It was determined through gelatinase activity that gelatinases (and possibly other remodeling enzymes) must be responsible for the similar degree of fibrosis seen between both co-treated genotypes.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Sarah Kobernat
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: Boise State University

Ms. Kobernat is proud to be an active member of SOT and PANWAT.

Ms. Kobernat's previous work focused on the role of the AhR in the progression of liver disease. Her research recently pivoted to RNA aptamers and DNA origami.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Yvonne Rericha
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Rericha was extremely happy and grateful to receive this award. It was an incredibly beneficial experience presenting her poster at PANWAT. Everything she learned while presenting her poster and discussing her project with viewers will help her to continue to develop as a researcher and communicator of science.

Ms. Rericha is testing the toxicity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, persistent compounds that are often found in materials that one wants to repel both water and oils. She is currently using zebrafish to investigate how toxic these chemicals are and what biological pathways they affect. Additionally, she wants to determine whether there are trends in chemical toxicity based on the structure of the chemicals. Ms. Rericha won this award for the poster that she presented on the set-up and methods for this research. She is looking forward to continuing this research and further developing as a toxicologist.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: David Scoville
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Washington

Dr. Scoville was surprised and excited to receive this award. It will help him pursue his research in that the opportunity to have his work recognized provides excellent motivation.

Dr. Scoville is using integrative bioinformatic approaches to study the toxicity of the formerly used flame retardants polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The project he won this award presenting was focused on early life exposures and persistent transcriptional changes in xenobiotic, intermediary metabolism, and epigenetic modifier genes that may help explain how PBDEs could impact risks for diseases/adverse health effects in adulthood.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Prarthana Shankar
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State Univetsity

Ms. Shankar was excited and incredibly happy upon receiving notice of this award. She is a very nervous public speaker, but has been working on improving her presentation skills with the help of her PI and lab. She was glad that their hard work paid off.

Ms. Shankar is investigating the toxicity of a class of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs that society is exposed to via vehicle exhaust, for example. Upon exposure, several molecular events take place which then lead up to toxicity. The goal of her research is to understand which of these events are important for toxicity and if she can identify certain molecular signatures that could indicated PAH exposure. In the future, Ms. Shankar would like to work in chemical regulation or safety, to provide the data for safety of a specific chemical.

Pacific Northwest Toxicology Development Fund

Recipient: Lindsay Wilson
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Oregon State University

Ms. Wilson was excited and grateful to receive the award and it gave her confidence to continue sharing her work and improving her presentation skills. She was given helpful feedback from conference attendees that has helped her formulate ideas and improve her research since returning to her university.

The work that resulted in this award is on the importance of experimental conditions in high-throughput chemical screening, particularly when using the zebrafish early life-stage screening platform. In the future, Ms. Wilson would like to use the zebrafish model to better understand epigenetic changes resulting from exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in PAH toxicity, including epigenetics.

Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award Fund

Recipient: Zhenzhen Shi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Emory University

Dr. Shi was truly excited to receive this award. She has many years of research experience in the fields of applied dynamical systems and computational modeling of disease progression. Since she joined Dr. Zhang's group at Emory, under his supervision she has started to use mathematical and engineering approaches, acquired from her past experience, to work on identifying the mechanisms and effects of environmental chemicals. Dr. Shi's confidence in working on this area is enhanced by this award.

Dr. Shi's current research focuses on using mathematical, statistical, and computational methods to explore the effects of environmental chemicals on human health. For her future research, she is interested in unraveling the complexities of human health under environmental exposures, with a particular emphasis on modeling cellular/molecular mechanisms of biological responses to environmental exposures/infections. In this work, she constructed a mathematical model to describe essential thyroid hormone regulation in the human. By incorporating the thyroid profile data set in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey into the model, Dr. Shi used statistical methods to generate parameter distributions. Each combination of parameter values drawn from the parameter distributions can represent an individual in a virtual human population. The model can take both parameter values from the distributions and thyroid testing data from experiments to predict altered hormone profiles for a human population.

Perry J. Gehring Biological Modeling Student Award Fund

Recipient: Honesty Tohon
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MSc, MPH
Institution/Affiliation: University of Montreal

Mr. Tohon reacted with joy and gratitude. The emotion is linked, on the one hand, to the fact that he comes from very far away (Benin) and on the other hand, to the fact that the awards of SOT are very competitive. He dreamed of this since the beginning of his doctoral training at the University of Montreal without being sure to get it one day. However, Mr. Tohon kept his faith in a job well done. After his Master in Environmental Health at the School of Public Health of the Free University of Brussels (Belgium) where he had obtained very good results, he had the opportunity to pursue a thesis in this field. But Mr. Tohon started to take a great interest in toxicology and risk assessment at this time. He had given up this thesis possibility in Brussels to enroll in Montreal. Biological modeling, the specialty in which his doctoral research is integrated, was totally new to him at the start. This SOT award is a kind of confirmation that Mr. Tohon has managed to distinguish himself in this area. He would like to express his gratitude to his research directors (Professor Sami Haddad and Dr. Mathieu Valcke) and to Dr. Andy Nong for the confidence placed in him and the resources made available to him to carry out his doctoral research works. During Mr. Tohon's stays in their respective laboratories, they transmitted to him the love for computational toxicology. He is grateful also to the members of the BMSS of SOT who recognized in his work a great merit. This award encourages him to strengthen his skills and to continue research in toxicology, as much as possible, with methods of computational toxicology, with a view to contribute to reduce or avoid the use of laboratory animals.

Mr. Tohon's doctoral research focuses on the study of the impact of multi-route chemical co-exposures (case of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)) on the interindividual variability of the fate of individual substances in the human body. Additionally, his research is also focussed on the interpretation of biomonitoring data for these chemical compounds in the human body. To do this, biological modeling approaches are used to assess exposure to mixtures of volatile organic chemicals in the context of human biomonitoring of environmental chemicals in Canada (CHMS). The techniques for reconstructing external exposure from biomonitoring data in adult subpopulations have been refined and proposed to interpret these data on VOCs reported by Health Canada in various subpopulations of different ages. Mr. Tohon's future short-term goals will be based on improving the interpretation of biomonitoring data for other mixtures of volatile organic chemicals using biological modeling. The research for which he obtained this award consisted in developing a biological modeling approach to reconstruct individual exposure in air to toluene from data relating to one of its urinary markers (BMA) reported by Health Canada in Canadian individuals, and to propose a method that could help to quantify the uncertainty associated with the interpretation, according to the developed approach, of biological spot measurements collected during the national health surveys.

Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award Fund

Recipient: Juliana Agudelo Areiza
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Rhode Island, College of Pharmacy

Ms. Agudelo Areiza was honored to receive the Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award. This award will enable her to attend the Society of Toxicology meeting for the first time as a graduate student. As a result, she will have the opportunity to showcase her work, network with and learn from incredible toxicologists from all over the world. Furthermore, it will serve as a platform for her to mentor and inspire undergraduate students to be involved in the field of toxicology.

Ms. Agudelo Areiza is currently getting her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences with a concentration in Pharmacology and Toxicology. Her research focuses on investigating the impact of perinatal exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These are a group of synthetic environmental toxicants known to cause adverse health effects. This award was granted to her based on her research of how low dose perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) exposure alters various gene pathways as a result of placental transferase in PFOS-diet exposure C57BL/6 mice. Ms. Agudelo Areiza intends to continue investigating how PFASs play a role in developmental- and neurotoxicity.

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Student Award Fund

Recipient: Durgesh K. Dwivedi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) S.A.S. Nagar

Mr. Dwivedi was really excited and pleased when he received this prestigious award. He immediately shared the good news with his PhD advisor and also thanked him for his support and encouragement. The award will help Mr. Dwivedi to get recognition in the Society of Toxicology, which is very crucial for a research career. This award has not only given a positive impact on him, but also highly recognized his research.

Mr. Dwivedi's research involves elucidating the molecular mechanism of liver toxicity in rats induced by liver toxicants. Especially involving the role of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant signaling in counteracting these toxicities. In conclusion, drugs that either reduce the inflammatory condition, or increase the anti-oxidant status, deserve further attention for the development of new drugs to treat liver disorders following the same mechanism.

Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Student Award Fund

Recipient: Colette Miller
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: US Environmental Protection Agency

Research awards are crucial to the professional development of trainees. Endowment awards such as the Perry J. Gehring Risk Assessment Award provides the opportunity for young scientists to craft their scientific message and provide networking opportunities for early career researchers. Dr. Miller recognizes that being a recipient of a SOT endowment award not only establishes name recognition with leaders in the toxicology field but also documents evidence that their work is of high scientific quality and value. Both of these are invaluable, particularly during the transition from postdoc to an independent scientist. Dr. Miller was truly honored to have been named the 2020 recipient of the Perry J. Gehring Best Postdoctoral Fellow Endowment Award from the Risk Assessment Specialty Section. While she believes that her research has important implications for risk assessment, it is incredibly validating to know that senior leaders in this field believe so as well and further, that we are asking the right questions.

What we are exposed to during gestation, even acutely, may have long-lasting health effects on ourselves and our children. The purpose of D. Miller's postdoctoral program at the US EPA has been to investigate how air pollutants may contribute to this. In just a few short years, they have provided some of the first studies demonstrating biological plausibility behind the relationship between maternal ozone exposure and fetal growth restriction reported in observational studies. They have now begun to extend this work into the characterization of metabolic disease risk in the offspring when they are adolescents. In the work that was recognized by the Risk Assessment Specialty Section, they report that offspring from rats who were exposed to ozone during their pregnancy show susceptibility to the effects of an unhealthy diet, high in saturated fat. Further, we detail how these risks differ between male and female offspring, with males showing a vulnerability to high blood cholesterol and fat storage and females being more prone to liver dysfunction. Together, this data suggests that prenatal exposure to ozone predicates postnatal metabolic sensitivity to environmental stressors such as diet. Dr. Miller's career goals are to continue in this important research area by characterizing the long-term health impacts of air pollutants on future generations. Her interests lie in investigating the mechanisms that link the exposure of inhaled pollutants on adverse pregnancy outcomes. And further, study how such exposures program the developing offspring for increased susceptibility to cardiometabolic diseases in adulthood. She is extremely grateful for the support of her mentors, both near and far, who have shown considerable trust in her abilities as a junior investigator. And she looks forward to being able to continue in their paths, providing similar guidance and encouragement for the next generation of scientists.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Lillie Marie Barnett
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, BA
Institution/Affiliation: University of Georgia

Ms. Barnett was delighted to receive the Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award. This will enable her to attend NIH FAES training workshops, as well as the Gordon Conference on Molecular Toxicology, which will both strengthen the skills that she applies to her dissertation project as well as her future research.

Ms. Barnett's research focuses on the in vitro mechanisms by which brominated flame retardants (BFRs) cause toxicity to the kidney. Specifically, she is exploring this from two angles: First studying the epigenetic mechanisms by which BFRs cause cell death in tubular epithelial cells and second by exploring how these BFR-exposed tubular cells impact neighboring kidney fibroblasts to potentially contribute to toxicant-induced kidney fibrosis. Upon completing her PhD, Ms. Barnett hopes to become a project manager for the EPA, CDC, or other government organization that conducts toxicology research. Ultimately, she hopes to effectively design research projects that answer the latest mechanistic toxicology questions that are relevant to preserving the health of our public.

Renal Toxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Joseph Jilek
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

Dr. Jilek is honored to receive this award from the Mechanisms Specialty Section - this specialty section is home to a very impressive list of scientists and he finds it very exciting to be honored within this group. Specifically, receiving the Renal Toxicology award is a fantastic boost of momentum for his research project.

Dr. Jilek's research aims to understand how nonalcoholic steatohepatitis affects kidney function. Specifically, he is interested in how these changes affect clearance of drugs/toxicants via the kidney. This specific project evaluated how clearance of cisplatin, a drug known to be toxic to the kidney, is reduced in a rat model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Subsequently, he found that this coincides with reduced kidney toxicity.

Robert J. Rubin Student Travel Award Fund

Recipient: Alexa Murray
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Ms. Murray was thrilled to receive the Mechanisms Specialty Section Robert J. Rubin Student Travel Award! She is active within the Society of Toxicology and looks forward to attending the meeting each year. This award will help support her travel and attendance to the annual meeting where she has the opportunity to network and keep up to date on cutting edge research in the field of toxicology.

Ms. Murray's research is focused on analyzing mechanisms regulating macrophage activation following nitrogen mustard (NM) exposure, a chemical analog of sulfur mustard that was originally developed in the early 1900’s for chemical warfare. Pulmonary injury induced by mustards is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in victims. Mustard gas continues to pose a significant health threat to both military and civilian populations because of its high toxicity and ease of manufacturing. Currently, there are no treatment options for pulmonary injury and fibrosis caused by mustard exposure. By elucidating inflammatory mechanisms underlying lung toxicity, researchers may be able to develop efficacious therapeutics. Pulmonary toxicity induced by NM is associated with a prominent macrophage dominant inflammatory response. Following NM exposure, there is a sequential accumulation of pro-inflammatory M1 and anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages. Specifically, Ms. Murray speculates that dysregulation of lung lipids within M2 macrophages is a key factor driving pulmonary fibrosis. FXR is a transcription factor involved in lipid homeostasis. FXR activates genes that promote lipid uptake and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Following NM exposure, she found that expression of Fxr was upregulated. To investigate alterations in FXR activity, she exposed male and female wild-type and FXR-/- mice to control or NM and collected bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, lung tissue, and alveolar macrophages 3, 14, and 28 days later. She found that changes were more prominent in FXR-/- mice at all time points, especially in males. Her findings suggest that FXR modulates inflammation and macrophage response following NM in a sex-dependent manner. Ms. Murray's future goal is to find a position in academics or industry that will allow her to continue to work in the fields of pulmonary toxicology and immunotoxicology.

Roger O. McClellan Student Award Fund

Recipient: Vasiliki Mourikes
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: UIUC College of Veterinary Medicine

Ms. Mourikes was incredibly surprised when she found out she was selected for the Roger O. McClellan Student Award. She is very grateful to her adviser and colleagues for encouraging her to apply. Their support has been pivotal in making the transition between a veterinary curriculum and a research environment quite enjoyable. The award will make a significant contribution to her travel expenses for the 60th annual SOT meeting in Orlando. Beyond sharing her own research, attending the conference will allow her to network with other successful toxicologists exchanging information about new developments in toxicology, including techniques and approaches that she can apply to future research. Ms. Mourikes extends her sincerest gratitude to Dr. McClellan and the CTPVSS.

At the time of the award, Ms. Mourikes was a third year DVM-PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The broad goal of the research is to characterize toxic endpoints of agricultural chemicals and understand their mechanism of toxicity to the ovary. Ultimately, she sees herself in either of two capacities; as a professor in academia or working for a government agency like the NIEHS. With training in both clinical medicine and research, she will be positioned to provide unique perspective and a comparative approach to the ever-growing field of translational veterinary medicine. In addition to doing research in veterinary and environmental toxicology, she is motivated to bring the field to the forefront of both human and animal healthcare systems. She hopes to act as a positive mentor to other students and wants to make herself accessible to people that are not in the science or medical fields at all. Regardless of the setting, her goal is to study the direct impacts of agricultural chemicals on animal health and use her work as a platform to raise awareness of the connectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. The specific research for which this award addresses are the effects that imidacloprid, the most popular neonicotinoid insecticide, has on ovarian antral follicle growth and steroidogenesis. Neonicotinoids are synthetic nicotine derivatives that act as systemic neurotoxicants. They can be found across all agricultural systems, as well as in flea and tick preventatives that we apply to our pets. Their ubiquitous and rapidly increasing use results in chronic exposure of non-target species, including humans and our pets, livestock, fish, birds, and pollinators. Hypothesis: Environmentally relevant levels of imidacloprid interfere with ovarian antral follicle growth and steroidogenesis Methods: Antral follicle culture is an extremely valuable tool in reproductive toxicology. The ovarian antral follicle contains three different cell types; oocytes, granulosa cells, and theca cells, that intricately communicate with each other to make critical contributions to reproductive and systemic physiologic health. Unlike single cell culture systems, antral follicle culture allows her to explore the individual functions as well as the interactions of these three cell types much like they would function in the whole animal. The four concentrations of imidacloprid were carefully selected to be representative of humans and animals who are exposed as consumers of contaminated food and water, and imidacloprid containing pharmaceuticals (0.2 and 2 μg/ml), as well as humans who are occupationally exposed and livestock who have higher exposure because of their proximity to the sites of imidacloprid application (20 μg/ml). The value in assessing the toxic endpoints associated with various concentrations is that it allows one to better understand the patterns of dose response which are often quite convoluted for endocrine disrupting chemicals. The antral follicle growth pattern described in the abstract above (48hrs in culture) as well as the growth patterns associated with 72 hr and 96 hr cultures, support the hypothesis that endocrine disruption by imidacloprid exhibits a nonmonotonic dose-response where exposure to the lowest concentration(0.2 μg/ml) is most inhibitory on follicle growth, and exposure to the highest concentration(200 μg/ml) is least inhibitory on follicle growth compared to control. Changes in expression of cell cycle regulators and apoptotic factors explain some of the observed patterns, but not all. For example, the significant down regulation of the proliferation factor Ki67 and the cell cycle stimulator Ccna2 in the follicles treated with 0.2 μg/ml imidacloprid explain why those follicles experience the greatest growth arrest. The expression of these factors remained unchanged in the follicles treated with 200 μg/ml imidacloprid, suggesting that other factors mediate the effects that imidacloprid has on antral follicle health. Outcomes: As described above, the production of sex steroid hormones by the antral follicle has both local reproductive effects as well as systemic effects in the whole animal. By assessing the steroidogenic machinery that exists within each of these cells, she can identify if imidacloprid interferes with steroidogenesis, and if so, how it does so specifically. Imidacloprid exposure caused significant changes in expression of the cytochrome P450 monooxygenases involved in steroidogenesis by both the granulosa and theca cells. These changes in expression along with the quantification of hormones released into the culture media indicate that imidacloprid can interfere with the functional ovary. The changes in expression observed in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and both estrogen receptors provide valuable insight into the mechanisms through which imidacloprid can have negative reproductive and systemic health outcomes. Together, the data collected from this multi-cell culture system have given her both direction and important insight for designing an in vivo protocol to assess the impact of imidacloprid in the mouse- an invaluable model for the mammalian species. As she continues to characterize the morphological and functional manifestations of imidacloprid toxicity to the ovary, she is looking forward to adding bioactive metabolites to her analysis, as well as other relevant neonicotinoids. She is excited at the prospect of exploring mechanisms of neonicotinoid toxicity, as well as detoxification mechanisms in the ovary.

 

Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award

Recipient: Melissa Clemens
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MPH, MLS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Ms. Clemens was so excited to hear that she had received the Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award. This award will make it possible for her to go to the Annual SOT meeting where she plans to network, interview, and share her research with potential employers.

Ms. Clemens' research encompasses the role of lipids in the mechanisms of drug-induced liver injury and repair. Recently, she discovered that phosphatidic acid is important for liver regeneration after acetaminophen-induced liver injury. These findings led to her current project, for which she received this award. In the awarded project, Ms. Clemens wondered if phosphatidic acid could be used as a treatment for acetaminophen-induced liver injury. She determined that phosphatidic acid delays liver injury through a mechanism involving interleukin-6.

Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award

Recipient: Daniel Rizzolo
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Mr. Rizzolo was very excited to receive the Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award. He is an active SOT member and looks forward to the meeting each year. This award will aid him in attending the 2021 annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. The meeting provides him with the opportunity to expand his networking and keeps him up to date on toxicology related research and technologies.

Mr. Rizzolo's research interests revolve around the influence of intestinal signaling molecules on hepatic homeostasis during liver injury and disease pathogenesis. He is currently in the lab of Dr. Grace Guo at Rutgers University, where he studies gut-liver crosstalk with a focus on the farnesoid X receptor (FXR). The FXR has been shown to regulate lipid and glucose metabolism, liver regeneration, inflammation, liver cancer, and bile acid (BA) homeostasis. BAs specifically have been shown to influence lipid and glucose metabolism, energy expenditure, inflammation, liver and gastrointestinal functions, and bacterial proliferation through interactions with the FXR, vitamin D receptor, pregnane X receptor, G-protein coupled BA receptor 1, and sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor 2. There are currently over 30 different BA species known in humans and rodents, each of which is capable of interacting with numerous receptors to varying degrees. The difficulty of mechanistically identifying the role of individual BAs in vivo is 2 fold; 1) the complex mixture of different BA species in vivo makes identifying the impact of individual BA species difficult and 2) feeding mice even low levels of BAs can be cytotoxic. To overcome these obstacles, Mr. Rizzolo's current research has focused on the development of a mouse model lacking 2 key enzymes in the initiation of BA metabolism, Cyp7a1 and Cyp27a1. These mice have over an 80% reduction of BAs, while maintaining similar expression levels of genes involved in BA synthesis, transport, and regulation. Through treatment with a synthetic FXR agonist, GW4064, he has shown that these mice maintain their responsiveness to FXR activation. Additionally, MR. Rizzolo is using these mice to investigate sex differences in bile acid metabolism. In the future, he aims to pursue a career in investigative toxicology.

Ronald G. Thurman Student Travel Award

Recipient: Regina Schnegelberger
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh

To Ms. Schnegelberger, this award means validation her research and validation of the hard work she put in during her training as a scientist. This motivates her to set her goals even higher and to push herself further. Each SOT meeting she has attended has overwhelmed her with the quality and breadth of the research presented and she always finds herself with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and excitement towards her own studies. This award will help Ms. Schnegelberger attend next year's meeting, which she is positive won't be any different and the information and collaborations she receives from attending will be very helpful not only for her research project, but also for her professional development as a scientist.

Ms. Schnegelberger's research focuses on the environmental toxicant vinyl chloride (VC) and its exposure in the context of underlying liver disease. High concentrations of VC are directly hepatotoxic; however, the impact of lower environmental exposure on exacerbating liver disease is unclear. The overall goal of her laboratory is to demonstrate that even low environmental exposure may have significant effects on human health when combined with additional risk factors for liver disease. Mechanistically, very little is known regarding how chronic VC exposure enhances the risk of developing liver disease. Ms. Schnegelberger's current research project is an extension of the previous work from her lab to fill this critical gap. One of the major observations in her work was that VC caused mitochondrial dysfunction and ER stress. Mitochondria and the ER physically interact via specialized contact sites called mitochondria-associated ER membranes (MAMs), through which membrane and luminal components exchange. Importantly, MAMs shelter key components that impact cellular and organelle function by regulating and controlling mitochondrial function, ER stress signaling, and autophagy. Moreover, ER-mitochondria contact sites also support the mediation of mitochondrial fission and fusion events, and disrupted ER-mitochondria interactions can result in ER stress. Ms. Schnegelberger specifically hypothesized that VC exposure disrupts ER-mitochondria communication, resulting in dysregulated calcium homeostasis, reactive oxygen species generation, impaired mitochondrial function, and ER stress. Having strong human health applications, her current project has helped her realize the close relationship between bench work and clinical practice. Staying involved in the field of hepatotoxicology that has many clinical applications is of great interest to Ms. Schnegelberger. She would like to become involved in clinical research and use her background to assist ongoing research studies, which would help educate about toxicant exposure and further bridge the gap between human health and basic science research.

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Kelsey  Behrens
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Behrens was very excited to have been selected to receive this travel award, and she hopes to have the opportunity to use it to attend SOT next year.

This work describes a novel mouse line that her lab has generated in which the mouse genes corresponding to three of the main glutathione s-transeferase (GST) families have been removed and replaced with the human counterparts. The GST superfamily has predominated throughout evolution as a mechanisms of protection against toxic electrophiles. With this research, Dr. Behrens characterizes some key differences between mouse and human GST gene properties that may lead to species-dependent differences in protection against toxicity. This humanized model is an important first step to better understanding the mechanisms by which this diverse gene family metabolizes and protects against chemical and pharmaceutical insult.

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Reena Berman
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: University of Colorado

Ms. Berman was very proud of herself and honored to be recognized by the SOT Mechanisms Specialty Section leadership with this award. The research that went into this abstract was a very intensive set of experiments that took many months to complete. Being recognized with such a prestigious award is one of the most fulfilling feelings after working so hard on a project.

Ms. Berman is a 4th year Toxicology PhD Candidate at the University of Colorado/National Jewish Health. In her thesis project, she is studying the role of desert particulate matter from Afghanistan in causing lung disease in soldiers returning from deployment. In the study that won the award, she used novel single cell RNA sequencing technology to identify a small subset of cells that she believes contributes to the prolonged disease symptoms that soldiers experience in the post deployment setting.

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Itishree Kaushik
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Dr. Kaushik was very elated and satisfied upon hearing that she had received the 2020 Sheldon D. Murphy Award. Every award has its own significance and she feels that receiving an award gives one confidence in one's work. She is glad that the association has decided to defer this award to attend the 2021 Annual Meeting as this award will aid her in traveling to SOT next year.

Dr. Kaushik's research focuses on identifying the anti cancer effects of Moxidectin, an anthelminthic drug. Through this study, she is trying to understand the relationship between neurotransmitters in the brain and their role in pediatric cancer progression. In the future, she plans to understand the mechanisms behind the highly aggressive and malignant pediatric brain tumors.

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Siennah Miller
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Ms. Miller was very excited to receive this award. This award will help cover travel expenses for the annual meeting where she can share her research and network with other scientists.

The failure of therapeutics to cross the blood-testis barrier (BTB) presents numerous difficulties. This includes the need for chemotherapy or irradiation for leukemia and testicular cancer patients that results in orchiectomy to avoid relapse (requiring a lifetime of hormone therapy and inability to have children), sanctuary sites where virus seclusion makes eradication impossible, and drug delivery of potential male contraceptives. For many drugs that require access to the male genital tract to elicit their therapeutic function, carrier-mediated entry is the only way to cross cell membrane barriers effectively. Sertoli cells comprise the barrier epithelium of the testis and limit paracellular diffusion because of tight junctions. Compounds can bypass the BTB through uptake transporters present at the basal membrane and efflux transporters present at the apical membrane of Sertoli cells. Ms. Miller's previous data show the BTB penetration of endogenous nucleosides through the Equilibrative Nucleoside Transporters (ENTs). ENT1 is localized to the basal membrane and ENT2 is localized to the apical membrane of Sertoli cells. Therapeutic nucleoside analogs could be substrates for the ENTs because of their similarity in chemical structure to endogenous nucleosides. Predicting which compounds are able to circumvent the BTB could greatly improve drug delivery, especially of antivirals and chemotherapeutics. Ms. Miller generated novel CRISPR/Cas9 functional ENT knockout HeLa S3 cell lines to study the kinetics and substrate selectivity of these transporters. These cells were used to examine the impact of compounds on transporter function including nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a small nucleoside analog library. Abacavir was the most potent inhibitor of ENT activity, and had a higher affinity for ENT1. This data will help establish the substrate selectivity profile between these transporters and can aid in the development of future compounds that are able to circumvent the blood-testis barrier via the ENT1-ENT2 transepithelial transport pathway. Ms. Miller's short-term goals include developing a pharmacophore for ENT1 and ENT2 that can facilitate the development of compounds that are ENT substrates. Her long-term goals include learning PK/PD modeling and PBPK modeling and applying her knowledge of drug transport to modeling. She would like to work at a pharmaceutical company after finishing her PhD at the University of Arizona.

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Sharavan Ramachandran
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Dr. Ramachandran was excited and honored upon receiving this award. It is a great acknowledgment for his research findings. This award will invigorate his research and will aid him in attending the SOT Annual Meeting, where he plans to present his research on a global platform and gain expert suggestions.

Dr. Ramachandran's doctoral thesis research is based on developing a novel therapy for pancreatic cancer and brain tumors. During his PhD, he discovered the anti-cancer effects of an anti-psychotic drug, Pimavanserin. For the Sheldon D. Murphy award, Dr. Ramachandran presented his data on the pro-autophagic effects of Pimavanserin. His results showed that pimavanserin suppressed pancreatic tumor growth in vitro and in vivo by inducing autophagy-mediated apoptosis. Dr. Ramachandran's pre-clinical studies demonstrated that Pimavanseirn could serve as a novel therapeutic option for pancreatic cancer and brain tumors. His goal is to develop PVT as an effective anti-cancer agent and improve the therapeutic outcome of cancer patients. His long-term goal is to become an entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical sector.

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Archit Rastogi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Dr. Rastogi was especially humbled to receive this award two years in a row. It is gratifying to know that the research conducted as part of his PhD is perceived as impactful by the broader toxicology community. Receiving recognition in the form of these awards helps broaden networks and build collaborations.

Dr. Rastogi's research focuses on how fetal exposures to toxic chemicals can adversely impact development. The organ of interest is the pancreas, with abnormal development having implications for the potential onset of diabetes later in life. He won this award for the latest part of this project, wherein he identified specific transcription factors that are perturbed by toxicants leading to abnormal pancreas development.

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Monika Roy
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MSPH
Institution/Affiliation: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ms. Roy was really pleasantly surprised to receive this award when she was watching the awards webinar. This award will help her with travel expenses to conferences so that she can share her research with the toxicology community.

Ms. Roy's research investigates how developmental exposures to PCB-11, a chemical byproduct in pigments, or PCB-11 metabolites, affect Cyp1a liver function and lipid accumulation, under both acute and chronic exposure settings. Specific work for this research included in vivo EROD assays in zebrafish, fluorescence imaging, RT-qPCR, and Oil-Red-O staining of juvenile zebrafish.

Sheldon D. Murphy Memorial Fund

Recipient: Cody Schmidlin
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, BA
Institution/Affiliation: University of Arizona

Mr. Schmidlin is very grateful to the Mechanisms Specialty Section and the Society of Toxicology. He is looking forward to presenting his research next year at the Annual Meeting in order to foster scientific discussion and collaboration.

Mr. Schmidlin's research focuses on how chronic arsenic exposure contributes to the aggressiveness of tumors, with particular emphasis on metastasis. Specifically, he looked at how chronic arsenic exposure affects the NRF2 signaling pathway and how this in turn potentiates metastasis. In the future, Mr. Schmidlin would want to show how treatment with NRF2 inhibitors could prevent tumor progression/metastasis.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Faith Anderson
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BA, BS
Institution/Affiliation: Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College

Ms. Anderson was truly honored and greatly humbled by the committees' decision to select her for such an award. She is very passionate about environmental toxicology and its role in public health and is greatly looking forward to sharing her research with the broader scientific community. She is excited to receive feedback on her work and incorporate the suggestions of others in order to improve the quality of her research. Critical analysis and thoughtful discussion of her body of work will allow her to come away with new viewpoints and future directions for her project. This award greatly offsets the total cost of the conference, allowing Ms. Anderson to participate in additional meetings throughout the year, which, as a senior graduate student, is of timely importance as she is actively looking for postdoctoral positions in the field.

Broadly, Ms. Anderson's graduate work has focused on cellular stress and death within the central nervous system (CNS). Her lab researches the molecular events contributing to the initiation and progression of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, particularly in the context of Parkinson's disease (PD). Within the lab, she studied the effect of environmental toxicant exposure as it relates to sterile neuroinflammation and cell death. Specifically, her work, supported by this award, revolves around the widely-used, blood-brain-barrier permeant, organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos (CPF). Epidemiological studies link CPF exposure to a broad range of neurologic disorders, including developmental delay, and neurodegenerative disorders, such as PD. Ms. Anderson is seeking to validate epidemiologic data linking CPF exposure to neurodegenerative disease by evaluating a novel mechanism of CPF-induced cell death within the CNS. Her long-term goal is to develop a career in academia, and to secure a research and teaching professorship. She envisions leading her own laboratory where she can continue to focus on the major theme of her doctoral and eventual post-doctoral studies and explore the molecular basis of environmental toxicology within the larger context of public health and neurodegenerative disease processes.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Anna Chlebowski
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Western University of Health Sciences

Dr. Chlebowski was honored and delighted to learn that she had been selected as a recipient of the NTSS Toshio Narahasi Poster Award. Receiving this award will help offset the cost of future conference attendance so that she may continue to share her research.

The goal of Dr. Chlebowski’s research is to better understand the causative factor(s) of Guam Parkinson’s Dementia Complex (PDC), which can potentially provide insight into other similar neurodegenerative diseases as well. In order to study PDC, she developed an iPSC-based model from Guamanian patients, which can now be used to examine how environmental factors, particularly toxins from the cycad plant, may impact neurodevelopment and contribute to the development of PDC.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Rachel Foguth
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Purdue University

Ms. Foguth was extremely excited to receive this award. It was on her graduate school wish list to have a poster chosen for an NTSS award like this. This will help Ms. Foguth pursue her research by giving her the funds to use to learn other areas of toxicology that she has not gotten the opportunity to develop during her research thus far.

Ms. Foguth's research focuses on exposure to chemicals that are in the diet or contaminants in water and how they are affecting the brain. One set of chemicals that she is studying are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as the forever chemicals, which are present in water, in more than 99% of human blood, and which can be transferred to infants both before and after birth. This is especially important because infants are being exposed to these chemicals before their brain is fully developed and could affect its development. Ms. Foguth used a sentinel species, Northern leopard frogs, to study the effects of these chemicals on developmental exposure because their brains have neuromelanin, similar to humans, which she thinks increases the toxic effects of these chemicals. She showed that these chemicals are accumulating in the brains of these frogs and changing brain levels of certain chemicals, such as serotonin and acetylcholine, which are important for things such as mood and motor function, respectively. Ms. Foguth also showed that these chemicals could be having an effect on the brain's connection to the heart, which could indicate that these chemicals could lead to heart problems. Her future research is aimed at determining the mechanism through which these chemicals are affecting the developing frog brain and what specific functions of the brain they are changing.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: John Kim
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BA
Institution/Affiliation: Vanderbilt University

Mr. Kim was extremely grateful to receive the Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Specialty Section Award. He was thankful to have a specialty section dedicated to his research area of interest, and educational funds were available to support students interested in toxicology. Although the SOT 2020 Annual Meeting at Anaheim was canceled due to COVID-19, he was able to use the funds to defray the costs associated with the sudden cancellation of travel-related expenses. Additionally, the funds were used to further support his research done remotely during the closure of campus.

Mr. Kim's research project investigates the biochemical basis of a rare metabolic, neurodevelopmental disorder called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS). In patients with SLOS, the machinery of cholesterol production is disrupted, resulting in elevated levels of a cholesterol precursor called 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC). While the exact mechanism is unknown, evidence shows abnormal levels of 7-DHC may be responsible for the developmental disabilities seen in SLOS patients, ranging from intellectual disability to craniofacial malformations. His research utilizes brain cells derived from human skin cells that have been reprogrammed into stem cells, to validate previous findings that several FDA-approved antipsychotic medications disrupt cholesterol production in a similar manner found in SLOS. He specifically looked at cortical glutamatergic and mesencephalic dopaminergic neural precursor cultures and observed differences in how they respond to antipsychotic exposure. From a toxicological standpoint, Mr. Kim's research is significant as these drugs cross the placental barrier and have the potential to disrupt the proper development of the fetal brain. His future goal is to be a medical toxicologist and expand the library of known clinical phenotypes in response to new toxins and toxicants.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Edward Pajarillo
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Florida A&M University

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Pajarillo's initial reaction was shock and excitement as this is his first award since joining the Society of Toxicology and the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section. He is deeply honored and grateful for this award, to his supervisor, and to the committee. This award has encouraged and motivated him to pursue the molecular mechanisms of manganese neurotoxicity and to integrate state-of-the-art in vitro and in vivo models that will generate comprehensive and meaningful data to draw meaningful conclusions and develop therapeutic strategies against manganese neurotoxicity.

Dr. Pajarillo's research is currently focused on the molecular basis of manganese neurotoxicity in neurons, astrocytes and microglia; exploring the functions of transcription factors such as yin yang 1 (YY1) and NRSF/REST, glutamate transporters and Parkinson's disease-related kinase LRRK2. In the future, he is eager to integrate his experience in Neurotoxicology and Microbiology to explore the link between the gut microbiota and brain diseases; elucidate the gut microbiota interface as a major contributor to the pathogenesis of brain diseases; investigating the molecular mechanisms and connection between two distinct systems to develop novel therapeutics and improve strategies against brain diseases. The current study explored the function of YY1 by generating a conditional knockout model whereby astrocytic YY1 was deleted which attenuated manganese-induced dopaminergic neurotoxicity in mice potentially via reversing the impairment of glutamate transporters and excitotoxic neuronal cell death.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Kelley Patten
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: University of California, Davis

Dr. Patten was surprised and very humbled to receive the Toshio Narahashi NTSS Graduate Student Poster Award! This award will help provide resources that are necessary for initiating new directions of this research.

Dr. Patten's research is centered on understanding how chronic exposure to traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) alters normal brain function. She has explored this both at early (neurodevelopmental) and late (neurodegenerative) life stages in rodents. In future work, she would like to focus on targeted approaches to manipulate the neuroimmune effects of air pollution, and thereby ameliorate or prevent neurodegeneration. In the work she presented for this award, Dr. Patten showed that Alzheimer's disease-susceptible and wildtype rats that were exposed to TRAP had earlier and more pronounced Alzheimer's disease phenotypes than rats exposed to control air. She further documented that this occurred with air pollution levels that were within mass concentration regulatory limits for particulate matter. Finally, her research showed that TRAP exposure differentially modulated neuroinflammation, depending on sex, genotype, and age.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Asha Rizor
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MPH
Institution/Affiliation: Florida A&M University

Ms. Rizor was extremely excited to be notified that she would receive the 2020 NTSS Toshio Narahashi Conference Award! This will be her first time attending SOT, and receiving conference support will help to defray the costs of conference travel and registration. She is looking forward to learning at the Annual Meeting and presenting her research.

Ms. Rizor's doctoral research project is entitled ‘Mechanisms of YY1 activation via NF-κB signaling in Manganese-induced impairment of astrocytic glutamate transporters.’ This research aims to examine the mechanisms by which manganese (Mn) exerts its neurotoxic effects and leads to a Parkinsonian syndrome known as ‘manganism.’ On the cellular level, Mn disrupts the activity of excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2), a transporter which is responsible for regulating brain levels of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Without EAAT2, glutamate accumulates in the brain and overstimulates neurons, leading to neuronal injury and eventual death. Her results indicate that Mn-induced EAAT2 repression involves the activation of a transcription factor known as Yin-Yang 1 (YY1), which binds to EAAT2. The activation of YY1 may occur via phosphorylation by kinases Aurora B kinase (AurkB) and Casein kinase II (CKII). Understanding the mechanisms of Mn-induced transcriptional repression and excitotoxicity can provide a foundation for the development of new therapies to treat neurodegenerative disorders such as manganism or Parkinson’s disease.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Shreesh Sammi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Purdue University

Dr. Sammi was really happy when he came to know about winning this award. This was third time he had participated in the NTSS poster competition, and he is thankful to NTSS for such encouragement. This award will truly have a motivational effect on his research career.

Dr. Sammi is currently working as a postdoctoral research associate studying the effect of toxicants on morphology and function of dopaminergic neurons using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism. The two projects that he is working on are: Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. With a relatively low frequency of the familial cases, a larger scientific notion advocates toxicant exposure as a likely perpetrator of the onset and progression of the disease. Some pesticides, such as rotenone, have been identified. However, the fact that not all PD cases have a history of exposure still renders the question only partially answered. Dr. Sammi hypothesizes the role of dietary toxicants, particularly heterocyclic aromatic amines that are formed as a result of pyrolysis in the overcooked meat. So far studies on heterocyclic amines have led to the identification of harmane as a potential DA toxicant in C. elegans (Sammi et al., 2017). Another project entails studies on polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are widely utilized as stain repellents, flame retardants, additives in nonstick cookware, and in the food packaging. PFAS have half-lives and are detectable in the blood of >99% of individuals. The future goal of Dr. Sammi's projects would be to gain mechanistic insights into the underlying mechanism of dopaminergic toxicity.

Toshio Narahashi Neurotoxicology Fellowship Award Fund

Recipient: Bianca Yaghoobi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of California, Davis

Ms. Yaghoobi felt honored to have received the award and deeply grateful and thankful to the board and the judges involved. She congratulates the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section on continuing the award process this year despite the current situation . This award will help her pursue her research in encouraging her that her work deserves recognition, which is highly encouraging and motivational, and it will financially support her during this time.

Ms. Yaghoobi's research and work in the Lein lab broadly focuses on understanding the developmental neurotoxic potential of chemicals found in the environment that might pose a risk to human health. She received the award for research she conducted on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are a class of chemicals that have been banned since the 1970s, but are very persistent in the environment and have been shown to pose a significant risk to the developing nervous system. Cell culture work in the past established a causal role for the ryanodine receptor (RyR) and PCB developmental neurotoxicity; however, confirming this relationship in animal models has not been possible using rodent models because RyR knockouts are embryolethal, and pharmacological inhibition of RyRs causes cardiotoxicity. In contrast, such studies are more feasible using the zebrafish model. Ms. Yaghoobi's data provide the first confirmation of a critical role for the RyR in the neurobehavioral toxicity of PCBs in a vertebrate model, which justifies future studies using gene-editing techniques to modulate tissue-specific expression of RyR in the developing zebrafish. Fundamentally as a scientist, she is interested in understanding the influence of environmental insults during development on human health and cognition. She hopes to expand on the research she has done so far in the lab and use her skills to help and ensure potential risks in the environment are eliminated or at least regulated.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Olushola Awoyemi
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS, MBA, PhD
Institution/Affiliation: Texas Tech University

Dr. Awoyemi felt proud of himself, for the award speaks volumes of the quality of his research work and contributions to the field of toxicology. This award will help supplement his travel funds to present his research findings at the SOT Annual Meeting.

Various anthropogenic activities alter the concentrations of dietary nutrients in environmental media. These stoichiometric changes may interact with the uptake and effects of metals in exposed organisms. It is therefore important to assess trophic-level interactive effects of the changes in media and dietary nutrients on the toxicities of metals; to provide nutrient-mediated risk factors of toxic metals exposures in environmental media. This study investigates the single and joint toxicities of cadmium (Cd) and arsenic (As) in algae, Scenedesmus acutus and Daphnia pulex, under varied media and dietary phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) conditions. Acute studies were conducted to assess the IC50s (7 d) and LC50s (24, 48, 72, and 96 h) of the metals (Cd and As) against S. acutus and D. pulex , respectively, when acting singly and as a binary mixture. Algae growth rate and the 7-d IC50s were determined under low (20% P, 25% N), median (60% P, 62.5% N) and optimum (100% P, 100% N) dietary nutrients of a COMBO media. Chronic studies (14 d–21 d) were conducted to assess the developmental (survival, growth), reproductive (brood size, timeline), behavioral (distance moved, velocity, acceleration) and physiological (feeding, heart rate, respiration) responses of D. pulex exposed to Cd (0, 18.75, 37.5 and 75.0 μg/L) and As (0, 625, 1250 and 2500 μg/L) under low, median and optimum media and dietary P and N conditions. Results showed enhancement of Cd and As toxicities (singly and mixture) against S. acutus and D. pulex cultured under low P and low N conditions. There was a concentration-dependent decrease in S. acutus growth rate with IC50s in the order Cd+As > Cd > As in Low P > Low N > COMBO media with evidences of hormesis. Furthermore, binary mixtures of Cd and As against D. pulex were additive (24 h) and synergistic (> 24 h) with significant interaction (p<0.05) effects of media nutrients, Cd and As on algae growth, and survival, reproduction, physiology and behavior of D. pulex. The importance of taking into account the interactive effects of contaminant mixtures and dietary nutrients in environmental media on toxicity outcomes for effective risk assessment was discussed. This is Dr. Awoyemi's doctoral dissertation research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and to which he was honored with the TAO SIG Graduate Student Research Award for the 2nd year in a row. His immediate future goal is to build his career professionally as an Environmental Toxicologist & Risk Assessor/Manager while he begins his career with the US EPA as an ORISE Fellow.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Alkeiver Cannon
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of South Carolina - School of Medicine

Upon receiving notification that she had been selected for this award, Ms. Cannon was super excited and extremely grateful. Receiving financial assistance to attend the Society of Toxicology's Annual Meeting and being afforded the opportunity to interact with other scientists will be instrumental in her ability to pursue her research and pertinent to her development as a researcher. Specifically, she will be able to learn ongoing, cutting-edge research and technology and gain experience in presenting her scientific research.

Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic, inflammatory disease that is a growing health concern in the United States. Currently, treatment is accomplished by administration of broad immunosuppressive drugs which often lead to serious side effects, thus emphasizing the need for a more specific approach. Ms. Cannon's studies focus on determining the effects of activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in the amelioration of this disease. Though genetic factors have been implicated in autoimmune diseases, we have found that elements outside of the genes, known as the epigenome, play a role in modulating this disease and may serve as preventive or therapeutic targets (specifically microRNAs such as miR-374). In the future, her goals include broadening her knowledge of the epigenome, further exploring the effects of activating AhR by plant products.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Keturah Kiper
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Purdue University

Ms. Kiper felt relief upon hearing she won this award as she will use this to pay for part of her trip to the annual SOT meeting, and hopefully she will be able to gain useful information on her research.

Ms. Kiper's research focuses on determining the type of interaction between arsenic (As) and lead (Pb) at environmentally relevant concentrations for future development of disease studies. Another sub aim of this research is to provide work that contributes to building confidence of mixture toxicology methodology by applying three interaction models, concentration addition, independent action, and isobologram model, to the mixture results. The focus and a subsequent aim of her research can and will impact the way environmental chemicals are regulated. The chemicals selected in Ms. Kiper's research were inspired by the collaborative work she and her advisor do with Dr. Ellen Wells. With her lab they have worked to secure a Superfund communities’ confidence and funding to begin to investigate the lasting consequences of an USS virgin Pb smelting plant and the mismanagement of waste and emissions during the plant’s time in operation. This community in East Chicago has experienced generations of exposure to unsafe levels of Pb and As that far exceed maximum contamination levels, nevermind levels safe for children. It is assumed the absolute simplicity is key to understand the effects of a chemical exposure, but often what we find is that no matter how simplistic toxicologists aim to be, absolute simplicity infringes upon the accurate portrayal of the detriment experienced post-exposure to mixtures throughout our lives. More importantly, this inaccurate portrayal provides a thin veil for many industries to operate behind. The results from this study provide the field with a better understanding of the interaction of two specific metals that persist in our environment, invade our drinking water, increase the years of life lost (YLL), and decrease the quality of life for humans. The results from Ms. Kiper's research provide the evidence needed to question the safety of other communities like East Chicago as and evidence that can support environmental remediation of sites that decrease individual’s quality of life.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Rakeysha Pinkston
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MS
Institution/Affiliation: Southern University and A&M College

First, Ms. Pinkston would like to express her sincere gratitude for selecting her to be a recipient of this award. She was thrilled to learn of her selection for this honor and she is deeply appreciative of SOT's support. This year Ms. Pinkston's abstract was selected to deliver a platform presentation at the National SOT Meeting. Without a doubt, this travel award will play a key role in achieving her research goals by affording her the opportunity to travel in order to present her research. This is an honor that means the world to her as a graduate student because it will not only provide her with a platform to introduce research, but it will also present the opportunity to incite conversation and discussion with experienced researchers that will be indispensable to her doctoral study and professional goals.

Electronic cigarettes, including JUUL, are battery-powered devices that are used to inhale a mixture of nicotine, flavorings and other chemical compounds. These devices are currently the most commonly used form of tobacco products among youth in the United Sates. In fact, more than 5 million teenagers have been reported to use e-cigs, which fuels public health concerns over adverse effects related to the usage e-cig products. Ms. Pinkston's research focuses on studying the effects of aerosols generated from various e-cig devices, including JUUL and the 3rd generation style e-cig model, on lung health and immunity using lung cells and macrophages in a system that mimics human lung e-cig and JUUL exposures. Her aim is to provide new scientific information that is critical for public health policies and regulations of these devices. For her platform presentation at the National SOT meeting, Ms. Pinkston will present part of her work where she evaluated the toxicity and cellular effects of two popular JUUL and 3rd generation e-cig flavors (crème brûlée and mango) in macrophages. In the future, she intends to establish a career as an independent investigator in the field of regulatory science pertaining to new and emerging tobacco products at an academic or government research institution. It is her goal to make significant contributions in regulatory science and to increase public health awareness and safety pertaining to alternative tobacco products.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Shagun Shukla
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees:
Institution/Affiliation: CSIR - Indian Institute of Toxicology Research

The Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting and ToxExpo is the largest scientific event where many worthwhile scoops in the field of toxicology would be talked upon. The SOT Annual Meeting provides the most complete and in-depth coverage of toxicology which is broadly Ms. Shukla's topic of research. Receiving this award was an overwhelming feeling which made her family and friends proud. Many research groups have devoted their expertise to the research field of toxicology and are expected to show up at the SOT Annual Meeting. Therefore, attending this conference will give Ms. Shukla an opportunity to understand the impact of toxicology and chances to share ideas with world’s renowned toxicologists. It will provide her with an opportunity to interact and gain some insights on her area of research which will help her enormously in the enrichment of her research topic and lead to development of better approaches that she can include in her research studies. Witnessing the global scientific population and their thoughts and work first hand will be a welcome experience for any student from research field and Ms. Shukla wishes to grab this opportunity to imbibe good research and scientific practices in her curriculum.

Ms. Shukla's research work is focused towards understanding the association between in utero arsenic exposure and metabolic disorders by investigating the epigenomic imprinting mechanisms behind it and its effect on gut microflora. Prolonged exposure to inorganic arsenic can lead to increased risk of several forms of cancer and numerous non-cancerous ailments such as various skin diseases, chronic cough, metabolic syndromes like type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, hypertension etc. and it also may have severe detrimental effects on peripheral and central nervous system, liver, cardiovascular system and kidney. Although her current research work is based upon animal models in controlled environments, arsenic contamination and its related complications are a global issue. Arsenic is a common groundwater pollutant across the globe and vast regions of eastern India are affected by arsenic contamination in the drinking water. The most common health problems associated with chronic exposure to arsenic in drinking water is cancers of various organs including skin, bladder and lung. Emerging evidence also suggests that, in arsenic endemic areas, chronic exposure to arsenic is also correlated with the development of type II diabetes and related metabolic disorders. In her study, Ms. Shukla employed a gestational exposure model using very low doses of arsenic (0.4 and 4 ppm). She observed the tissue arsenic levels in various organs of arsenic exposed gravid Balb/c females. Arsenic species was found to be highly concentrated in the liver and adipose tissues of the mothers during the gestational exposure, but interestingly, no significant deposition of arsenic was found in the embryos at any time point during the gestation period. However, after 6 weeks of age, she observed a steady increase in the body weights of both male and female offspring along with an increase in fasting blood glucose levels. Whereas, random blood glucose levels showed no change with time. To check the metabolic status of the exposed animals she performed multiplex ELISA assays for the circulating metabolic hormones. The results showed hyperinsulinemia and hyperleptinemia in the exposed animals indicating a pre-diabetic phenotype. There was a concomitant decrease in 120 minutes oral glucose tolerance and decreased insulin sensitivity. Increased JNK1/2 pathway in the visceral fat tissue of the animals was observed which has been known to regulate various adipokines in both obese mouse model and humans. Overall, Ms. Shukla's studies indicated that only prenatal exposure to arsenic can induce adult onset disturbances in glucose homeostasis and metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity. The molecular and epigenetic mechanisms behind this association are yet unclear and are the subject of further research.

Toxicologists of African Origin Endowment Fund

Recipient: Ruth Nabwire Wangia-Dixon
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Georgia

Ms. Wangia-Dixon is very grateful for this generous award which will facilitate her travel to share early findings on naturally occurring aflatoxins and level of contamination in foods destined for human consumption.

It has been established that aflatoxins are group I carcinogens, immune suppressants, and mutagens.Given the heterogeneous nature of aflatoxin contamination in food supplies, Ms. Wangia-Dixon's research seeks to incorporate biomarkers in addition to surveillance data to assess the role of aflatoxins on adverse health outcomes. Her future goal is to pursue an academic career as a research scientist and mentor the next generation.

Toxikon, a Preclinical Toxicology Organization, and Dr. Dharm Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Award Fund

Recipient: Vidya Chandrasekaran
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MTech
Institution/Affiliation: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Ms. Chandrasekaran was extremely delighted and honoured to be selected as a recipient for ASIO Toxicon-Dr.Dharm Singh International travel award. She would like to thank the committee members and the sponsors of this award. Attending the SOT on top of receiving such a reputable award will provide her with an excellent platform to meet with leaders of the field and get some insights, to further expand her scientific network, and also it will motivate her to constantly engage in this field of toxicological research and to strive to excel at it.

Ms. Chandrasekaran is currently in her third year of Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (MSCA-ITN) PhD fellowship. She is working in the field of molecular toxicology focusing mainly on developing a renal proximal tubular model from the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) for the toxicity testing. The aim of the research is to incorporate this model to modern-day toxicological assays to move one step closer in the line for creating animal-free safety and risk assessment platforms and to explore individual genetic susceptibilities to toxicants. The main goal for her is to build networks, establish collaborations, and to implement the knowledge gained in this multi-disciplinary platform from stem cell biology, mechanistic toxicology and high throughput studies into integrated toxicological methods and to become an expert in this field.

Toxikon, a Preclinical Toxicology Organization, and Dr. Dharm Singh Association of Scientists of Indian Origin Award Fund

Recipient: Snigdha Gupta
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: CSIR-IITR

Ms. Gupta was really delighted and motivated on receiving this award. This award comes as a ray of hope to attend SOT as she was desperately looking for funds to attend the conference. She is now determined to attend the conference and looking forward to the ASIO meeting and SOT. SOT Annual meeting and ToxExpo is the world’s largest scientific conference in the field of toxicology to cover broad and balanced topics related to toxicology and safety of the mankind. This conference provides platform to numerous scientists, researchers and peers from all around the globe to interact, share and discuss their research work. Ms. Gupta has achieved preliminary but promising results involving male subfertility/reproductive toxicity and environmental chemical exposure. Therefore, attending this conference will help her in discussing her findings with the peers which will further help in refining the research work and go further utilizing the candidate gene as therapeutic target for male sub-fertility/reproductive toxicity. Due to an earlier lab work published in the Toxicological Sciences journal (PMID: 24973093), Drosophila has been approved as a model for reproductive toxicity by OECD. Since the conference will attract researchers across the globe; it will be an excellent platform for lab collaboration.

These days there is a global increase in incidences of infertility. When society talks about infertility the first thing that comes in mind is female infertility. In a socially and religiously diverse country like India, still women share the major burden of issues relating to infertility/sub-fertility but now there is major research showing male related subfertility has a equal role to play. Ms. Gupta's thesis work is on xenobiotic induced male subfertility/reproductive toxicity. There is a drastic decrease in semen quality according to various international reports and the reasons can be many but due to the short span during which this change has taken place makes us think that its more related to the increased toxicant load and changed lifestyle than the genetic factors. These xenobiotics disrupt endocrine function and/or cause oxidative stress adversely affecting male fertility. Therefore, prospective studies are warranted to study the endocrine disrupting potential of xenobiotics, however, the same has been hampered by the lack of in vivo alternatives to animal models. In this context, Drosophila melanogaster with its well characterized reproductive biology and conserved homology to higher organisms stands as an excellent alternative to animal models to generate reproductive toxicity data equally relevant to both lower and higher organisms. Therefore Ms. Gupta is using Drosophila as a model organism for her study of xenobiotic induced male reproductive toxicity Currently, she is working as a graduate student at CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research. Being the student of the only toxicology institute in the country by itself provides her prestigious standing. It is fascinating for her to learn about the crucial aspects in the field of toxicology. Being a toxicologist, after her graduate studies Ms. Gupta would like to join as a postdoctoral researcher abroad in the field of developmental and reproductive toxicology. Further, she would also like to indulge in the field of ayurgenomics and try to understand how the Indian herbal medicines can be used to restore the imbalance and the onset of various hormonal disorders due to impact of increasing chemicals in day to day life. Finally, she would like to establish herself as a toxicologist and use all the knowledge gathered for the benefit of mankind.

Specific work for which Ms. Gupta has received this award-: Male factor infertility/subfertility due to reduced sperm counts (oligospermia), poor sperm motility (asthenozoospermia) and abnormal sperm morphology (teratozoospermia) is now a global problem. The exponential increase in male infertility, in part has been attributed to innumerable number of chemicals released into the environment. Although several studies have examined estrogen/androgen receptors in male fertility and chemical mediated endocrine disruption, the role of Estrogen receptor-related receptors (ERRs; orphan receptors that belong to the same class of estrogen receptors and known to regulate the mitochondrial physiology and cellular energy metabolism) in chemical mediated reduced male fertility remains neglected. In this context, Drosophila based studies from her lab had reported testicular deformities and reduced sperm mitochondria in ERR knockdown males and also shown reduced ERR expression (transcript levels) as well as activity when exposed to Di-butyl phthalate (DBP), a plasticizer and a potential endocrine disruptor. In view of these, Ms. Gupta hypothesized that ERR mediated regulation of mitochondrial homeostasis in testes could be a critical determinant in male fertility and that ERR could be a potential target for chemical mediated endocrine disruption. Accordingly, she finds that modulation of ERR alters the expression/levels of candidates associated with mitochondrial integrity in testes/sperm. Testes samples from DBP exposed male had reduced mitochondria and altered transcript/protein levels of candidate genes associated with mitochondrial biogenesis, fission, fusion and mitophagy, like those from ERR knockdown males. These males had mislocalized as well as reduced mitochondria with altered membrane potential in testes. Further, ultrastructural analysis involving the apical region of testes in DBP exposed males revealed round swollen mitochondria with deformed cristae. Also, transcripts/proteins associated with mitochondrial biogenesis (cdk4, NRF1, NRF2, cyclin D), mitochondrial dynamics (drp1, mitofusin) as well as mitophagy (dpink and parkin) were misregulated in testes/sperm from DBP exposed males. Besides, ATP-5α Synthase (marker of ATP synthesis) levels were significantly reduced in testes/sperm suggesting functional alterations also in mitochondria from DBP exposed males.

Currently, Ms. Gupta is examining the impact of reduced mitochondria/altered mitochondrial homeostasis in ERR/DBP testes and sperm on the sperm function and/or motility. The results have been positive showing reduced sperm motility. The novelty of the work is that the study outcome can potentially position Estrogen-related receptor as a single unified target for male infertility, testicular dysgenesis and ciliopathies. In addition, it is a first of a kind to study the link between estrogen-related receptor and sperm mitochondria. The study will help her lab in understanding the functional significance of ERR in testicular morphogenesis and sperm motility. Subsequently, the knowledge generated will help towards developing Drosophila ERR derived reporter gene-based screening platforms in future. These transgenic platforms will be useful for the assessment of xenobiotics for their potential to hamper male fertility and the same would be used for screening drugs/small molecules to identify ERR agonists as potential therapeutic agents. These findings have potential implications of the ERR mediated mitochondrial mechanisms underlying chemical mediated reduced male fertility for asthenozoospermia.

Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund

Recipient: Jeanine D'Errico
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: Rutgers University

Ms. D'Errico was ecstatic upon receiving the news that she was selected to receive the Women in Toxicology Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund Student Award. She is honored and grateful to have the support given by this fund award to put towards her scientific research investigating the impact of inhaled nano-sized materials on placental health and function during pregnancy, an area that is severely understudied. This new resource enables her to utilize technologies to enhance her scientific pursuits that she might not have otherwise had the ability to do.

Ms. D'Errico's research focuses on placental toxicology after maternal inhalation of nanomaterials, namely titanium dioxide and polystyrene plastic, during pregnancy. These investigations may uncover new toxicological outcomes that contribute to both maternal and fetal adverse outcomes seen with inhalation exposure during this sensitive time period. In addition, by investigating this understudied organ, new discoveries may be made to understand how placental adaptations may occur with pervasive environmental exposures. Her future goal is to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry working towards developing new drugs particularly that are safe for the reproductive system as well as pregnancy.

Vera W. Hudson and Elizabeth K. Weisburger Scholarship Fund

Recipient: Monika Roy
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS, MSPH
Institution/Affiliation: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ms. Roy was absolutely ecstatic to receive the news about this award. She knows that there are so many talented and hard-working toxicology graduate students, so she is very honored. This award will help fund her travel expenses for this annual meeting to share her research. These funds may also be used to help fund a proposed research project with a company with which she interned over the summer of 2019.

Ms. Roy's research is in understanding the public health risk from a compound called PCB-11 that is found in paints, resins, and sealants. There has been very little research conducted on the toxicity of this compound; however, it is detected in humans, and other related chemicals are well-known toxicants. She is using the zebrafish model to investigate how PCB-11 interacts with a liver enzyme that normally works to detoxify compounds, as well as looking at whether PCB-11 increases hepatic lipid accumulation. The research she conducted for this award investigated how two prevalent PCB-11 metabolites affect this liver enzyme in acute 3-day exposures, both in single and in co-exposures with other environmentally-relevant chemicals. Her research for this award also included chronically exposing fish for 15-days in both single and co-exposure low concentration exposure paradigms to assess lipid accumulation via Oil-Red-O staining. In the future, Ms. Roy would like to gain some experience working in industry as a toxicologist, but eventually work as a regulatory toxicologist.

Young Soo Choi Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Christine Kim
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: MS
Institution/Affiliation: University of Louisville

Ms. Kim was very thankful and honored to receive this award. This scholarship will help her to travel to national conferences, where she will present her work, share ideas, receive feedback, and network with other scientists. It will help her develop presentation and communication skills, which are important to obtain as a scientist. She plans to challenge herself to step outside of her comfort zone and network with people from different fields of science.

Lung cancer is the leading cancer in the US, and Kentucky leads the nation with the highest lung cancer death rates. Although smoking is associated with lung cancer development, 20% of patients who die from lung cancer in the US have never smoked, suggesting there are other risk factors. One of these risk factors is arsenic exposure. Fifteen percent of the US population drinks domestic well water, and in many areas, this unregulated well water contains levels of arsenic that exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recommended levels. Though there is a strong association between arsenic exposure and lung cancer development, the clear mechanism is unknown. Further, previous studies have shown acute arsenic exposure increases expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a cell surface receptor tyrosine kinase that is associated with many different types of cancer, including lung cancer. In her research, they hypothesize that chronic arsenic exposure disrupts the EGFR endocytic trafficking, leading to increased receptor expression. This project examines the impact of chronic “environmentally relevant" levels of arsenic on the EGFR expression, distribution and trafficking. This current research study will help in identifying novel targets of environmental toxicants, which will further contribute in developing therapeutic targets for cancer. Ms. Kim's overall career goal is to be a creative, independent, ambitious scientist. To fulfill that goal, she would like to be a professor, who educates not only young scientists, but also the general public to initiate more interest in science.

Young Soo Choi Student Scholarship Award Fund

Recipient: Dorothy You
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: BS
Institution/Affiliation: North Carolina State University

Ms. You was delighted to hear that she was selected to receive the Young Soo Choi award. This award has a lot of meanings to her. It would help her to attend not only the SOT and other conferences that she would like to attend, and it also gives her great motivation to pursue her research and the goal. Furthermore, this means more and is a big honor to receive this award during her graduate career recognizing her research as a Korean American toxicologist. The scholarship will provide Ms. You with great financial support to take continuing education courses relevant to sex differences that could maximize her research skills. She is really excited to present her research for the upcoming SOT meeting.

Nanomaterials are being widely used in different industrial applications from medical devices to electronic applications. With its increase in usage, nanomaterials pose potential risks to the workers in occupational settings. In particular, nickel nanoparticles (NiNPs), one of the most widely used metal nanoparticles in the industry with their high catalytic activities, could potentially be toxic to the respiratory system when inhaled based on previous literature on nickel’s toxicity. Sex and duration of the exposures are critical factors that determine the susceptibility and metabolism of the toxicants. For example, males are more susceptible to viral or bacterial infections while females are more susceptible to chronic inflammation like asthma according to epidemiology studies. However she is unaware of any other studies having investigated sex differences in acute versus chronic inflammatory responses to nickel. In this study, Ms. You is investigating whether the male or female is more susceptible to acute and chronic exposure to NiNPs. Her findings will clarify that the susceptibility of males or females toward the same toxicant may differ depending on the timing and duration of exposure.

Yves Alarie Scholarship Fund

Recipient: Sara Vliet
Award Year: 2020
Current Degrees: PhD, Environmental Tox
Institution/Affiliation: ORISE/ US Environmental Protection Agency

Dr. Vliet was honored and excited to be chosen for this award! She will be using the award funds to pursue additional training opportunities outside of her current postdoctoral position. This award will help her cover the costs of attending SOT and other scientific conferences, as well as participating in virtual training to expand her computational toxicology skill set. Having this opportunity to learn about new tools will not only help in her current research but will contribute to her future career development as well. 

Dr. Vliet's research focuses on computational strategies to address the challenge of extrapolating toxicity data across thousands of important species. Using the EPA Sequence Alignment to Predict Across Species Susceptibility (SeqAPASS) tool, she uses publicly available data to examine protein-chemical interactions across species and make predictions of species sensitivity. Using a combination of data science techniques, molecular biology, and in vivo laboratory exposures, she works to examine, confirm, and refine these computational predictions by anchoring them to functional outcomes. Currently, she is assessing cross-species differences in susceptibility to androgenic chemicals. In the future, she hopes to continue working at the intersection of big data, computational models, and toxicity testing, contributing to the development of more efficient and mechanism-based chemical risk assessments.