Judith T. Zelikoff, PhD, is the recipient of the 2018 Society of Toxicology (SOT) Education Award. Dr. Zelikoff has made significant contributions to toxicology education. She has an uncanny ability to communicate high-level toxicology research in a way that makes it understandable to students at every level of training and also to members of the general public. Through her lectures, she brings out the importance of the science and the excitement of discovery in the findings within the field.
Dr. Zelikoff joined the faculty at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine in 1982, where she presently serves as a tenured full professor for the Department of Environmental Medicine. Her research is focused in the areas of developmental immunotoxicology and reproductive and pulmonary toxicology associated with tobacco products and ambient air pollution.
A sought-after educator, Dr. Zelikoff effectively incorporates her research programs with other teaching commitments to educate undergraduates as well as graduate students. She has provided research experience to 12 high school students and to six undergraduate students. Dr. Zelikoff has successfully mentored 27 masters students and 10 PhD students, and she has served on a number of thesis committees. Through her guidance and mentorship, her students have been known to be extremely well-prepared, even when presenting their talks for the first time. In addition to teaching toxicology nationally, she has mentored a number of international students, and her teaching experience spans the globe to include countries such as Australia, Nigeria, New Zealand, Jamaica, India, Nepal, and Thailand.
As the Community Outreach and Education Program director of the NYU National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Environmental Health Sciences Core Center, Dr. Zelikoff also is very active in education about toxicology to non-toxicologists and underserved minorities. In this capacity, she works to educate and guide environmentally-impacted communities about toxic pollution, contaminant-associated health outcomes, and possible intervention strategies.
Dr. Zelikoff treats her students with respect, while at the same time expecting a lot from each of them. She shows genuine interest in their development as students, as well as their professional development as scientists. Her teaching style is very straightforward and enthusiastic. This technique gains the trust of her students and people learn better as a result. Dr. Zelikoff often reiterates that the best part of her job is the students and knowing she played a role in their professional growth and success.
A member of the Society since 1986, Dr. Zelikoff has been very active within education initiatives, serving as chair of the Education Committee and as chair of the Committee for Diversity Initiatives. In addition, she has served as SOT Secretary and within the leadership of various SOT Specialty Sections and Regional Chapters, including currently as president of the Ethical, Legal, Forensics, and Societal Issues Specialty Section. Also, as a testament to her dedication and commitment to toxicology education, she was honored in 2015 by the Women in Toxicology Special Interest Group with its Mentorship Award. In 2012, she was selected as a host for the SOT Global Senior Scholar Exchange Program and received the 2012 Career Achievement Award in Immunotoxicology from the Immunotoxicology Specialty Section.