2023 Diversity Initiatives Career Development Award Recipients

By Corie Ellison posted 06-01-2023 11:46


The SOT Committee on Diversity Initiatives (CDI) is pleased to announce the seven recipients of the 2023 Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award: Eric Brown, Chelsea Cary, Mahmoud Salem, Antonio Saporito, Ashley Schwartz, Talia Seymore, and Jada Spady. The Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award enables undergraduate and graduate students to engage in education and career development opportunities with the aim of facilitating successful entry into advanced degree programs and transition into the modern toxicology workforce. This award supports activities that are outside of a student’s current program or institution. The SOT Diversity Initiatives Endowment Fund supports this award, which is administered by the CDI. Created in 2009, the goal of the fund is to increase and retain individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences.


Eric Brown

Eric Brown is a PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research investigates the mechanisms that underlie the association between exposure to complex chemical mixtures and adverse health outcomes across the life course. This award will support travel for Mr. Brown to and from Harvard University for his collaborative research with Brent Coull, PhD.

“I was excited to learn about receiving this award. This award enables me to further examine how exposures to metals mixtures are associated with disease, specifically adverse neonatal outcomes. This award will directly assist me in the pursuit of a multidisciplinary approach to model complex environmental chemical mixtures, enhancing the statistical methods used in my dissertation. Furthermore, as a first-generation college student, this opportunity will expand my personal and professional network to achieve my long-term professional goal of becoming a principal investigator.”


Chelsea Cary

Chelsea Cary is a PhD student at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her research focuses on how inhalation of micro- and nanoplastics during pregnancy affects uterine and placental vessels. This award will support travel costs for Ms. Cary to attend the 2023 Scientist Mentoring and Development Program (SMDP) Biotech Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

I was very excited and grateful upon seeing the news that I got this award. This award will allow me to attend SMDP Biotech, which I believe will be a pivotal moment in my career development.”


Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem is an undergraduate student at Stony Brook University. His research explores the mechanism behind PFAS degradation by bacteria, and he also works in biomarker discovery. This award will support his participation in the “Next-Gen Sequence Analysis Tools—A Hands-On Approach” virtual course offered by UCSC Silicon Valley Extension.

“This award will help in me acquiring skills with transcriptomic studies we perform on tumor cells and the treatment transcriptomics we hope to do with the bacteria. … [It is] very nice knowing an organization is supporting my academic success.”


Antonio Saporito

Antonio Saporito is a PhD student at New York University. His current research examines the health risks and exposure associated with occupational cooking. This award will support his participation in the Environmental Mixtures Workshop offered by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

“[I am] quite excited, as I can pursue this course called ‘Environmental Mixtures’ and help build my understanding of exposure science and risk assessment regarding mixtures.”


Ashley Schwartz

Ashley Schwartz is a PhD student at San Diego State University. Her research is in the field of developmental toxicology with a primary focus on computational and biological modeling. This award will support travel for Ms. Schwartz to participate in the Gene Regulatory Networks for Development Advanced Research Course at the Marine Biological Laboratory.

“I am extremely excited and grateful to be chosen as a recipient of the Diversity Initiatives Career Development Award. The receipt of this award will allow me to expand my skill set and research endeavors by providing the financial support to attend an advanced research course. The course will be conducted by leading developmental biologists from across the country. This opportunity will provide complementary training for my dissertation project and give me a new perspective on computational modeling for developmental toxicology.”


Talia Seymore

Talia Seymore is a PhD student at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her research focuses on the effect of maternal inhalation of nanoparticles on placental function. This award will support travel for her to attend the 2023 International Federation of Placenta Associations Conference.

“Upon receiving this award, I was ecstatic but, most of all, grateful. This award will play a large role in the progression of my research by helping me to attend a conference that has a sole focus on the placenta, the main character of my dissertation project.”


Jada Spady

Jada Spady is an undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University. She is majoring in pharmacology and toxicology and will be working as an intern for Genentech within the clinical pharmacology developmental sciences department in San Francisco, California, this summer. During her internship, she will have the opportunity to undertake quantitative research to determine therapeutic drug dosages for ongoing clinical trials. This award will help cover upfront travel and housing costs for her participation in the internship.

I had just finished my last final when I opened the email announcing that my application was selected for the 2023 Diversity Initiative Career Development Award! I felt a rush of excitement and gratitude that the Committee on Diversity Initiatives was able to recognize my achievements and support me on my scientific plan path. This award will support me during my summer internship to expand my network, work to be a leader in my field, and further develop my skills in clinical drug development research.”


SOT congratulates the 2023 Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award recipients. Throughout the year, the awardees will share their career development experiences on the SOT blog.

The deadline for the 2024 Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award is April 15, 2024. For eligibility requirements and details on how to apply, please visit the award's web page.

If you wish to contribute to the SOT Endowment Fund, please visit the SOT website for information on how to contribute.