Special Thanks to the Volunteers of the Undergraduate Diversity Program

Submitted by Kimberly Hodge-Bell, PhD, DABT, 2017-2018 Chair, Committee on Diversity Initiatives

This year marked the 29th Annual Undergraduate Diversity Program at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Annual Meeting, held in San Antonio, Texas.

Patricia E. Ganey, SOT 2017–2018 President, welcomed participants to the three-day program created for undergraduates to increase awareness of toxicology as a science and as a career, encourage the pursuit of advanced degrees in biomedical sciences, and improve knowledge of basic principles and concepts in toxicology.

Thirty-eight outstanding undergraduates and four advisors were selected to attend this program. Sunday activities involved nearly 100 additional undergraduates who registered for the Annual Meeting, including the fourteen 2018 Pfizer SOT Undergraduate Travel Award Recipients, the SOT Undergraduate Intern Travel Awardee, and fifteen students from the Toxicology Mentoring and Skills Development Training program at Iowa State and Tuskegee University.

The success of this program is due in large part to the dynamic volunteers who generously give their time to teach and inspire the next generation of young scientists. The Committee on Diversity Initiatives (CDI) would like to recognize and give special thanks to these wonderful program volunteers.

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Icebreaker Winners posing with their ToxSquad bowler hats

Speakers Antonio Baines, Patrick Allard, Alicia Timme-Laragy, and Betina Lew provided special toxicology lectures, Courtney McGinnis facilitated an awesome interactive session, and Martin Philbert shared an inspirational career talk.

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Courtney McGinnis (pictured above, standing) is guiding undergraduate students through the interactive session discussion.

Career Roundtable facilitators Merrie Mosedale, Frederick Moulin, Chidozie Joshua Amuzie, José E. Manautou, Njwen Anyangwe, Joe Zhou, Antonio Baines, Ines Pagan, Kimberly Hodge-Bell, Aileen Keating, Angela Curry, and Jacqueline Akunda informed the students about career opportunities in toxicology and the differences in employment in industry, academia, or government settings.

Graduate Program Breakout Group facilitators Jim P. Luyendyk, Eva A. Amouzougan, Craig Marcus, Corie Robinson, Natalie Johnson, Tanzir Mortuza, Courtney E. W. Sulentic, and Suresh K. Nagumalli provided tips about applying to and being successful in graduate school from graduate student and academic advisor perspectives for the Student and Advisor sessions.

Host Mentors Marie Bourgeois, Shubhra Chaudhuri, Angela Curry, Tirupapuliyur Damodaran, Elena Hernandez-Ramon, Joshua Gray, Mario Green, Erin Hines, Natalie Johnson, Marquea King, Adrian Nanez, Nathan Pechacek, Emily Place, Jennifer Rayner, Mindy Reynolds, Larissa Williams, Braulio Jimenez, and Pedro Del Valle networked with undergraduates while providing them with guidance through the program and the perspectives of career toxicologists. 

Peer Mentors Teresa Anguiano, Olushola Awoyemi, Jazmyne Barney, Emma Bowers, Alexandra Colón-Rodríguez, Rosemarie de la Rosa, Samantha Faber, Hanumantha Madala, Caroline Moore, Tanzir Mortuza, Luke T. Knight, Alexandra Noel, Kimberly A. Rivera-Caraballo, Corie Robinson, Arya Sobhakumari, Eva Vitucci, Sara Vliet, and Phillip Wages led and inspired the students throughout the entire three-day program while providing their first hand experiences of what graduate school is like.

The host and peer mentors will continue to keep in contact with their mentor group students throughout their undergraduate studies and be a resource to them as they consider career paths and advanced degrees.

Toxicology Topic Guides Nehal Gupta, Virunya Bhat, Ali Sifat, Erica Dashner-Titus, Rosie A. Sneed, Eva Amouzougan, Nathan Pechacek, Miao Li, Jeanine Bussiere, Krisa Camargo, Mohammad Abul Kaisar, Irene Abraham, and David A. Jett led Undergraduate Program participants on Monday afternoon to visit scientific sessions and posters in particular toxicological areas of interest.

During the open session with Academic Program Directors and Internship Sponsors, the undergraduates had the opportunity to meet with Academic Program Directors of 32 programs from across the United States to learn about various graduate school programs or summer internship opportunities. 

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Pictured above are undergraduates networking and learning about graduate school programs during the open session with Academic Program Directors and Internship Sponsors.

CDI and the students are very fortunate to have leading toxicologists take time to share their knowledge and professional development experiences. Many of this year’s participants shared that the Undergraduate Program was a wonderful and affirming experience, and how valuable the experience will be as they plan career paths and consider pursuing advanced degrees.

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