2022 Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Awardees

By Karilyn Sant posted 06-02-2022 14:18


The Committee on Diversity Initiatives (CDI) is pleased to announce the four awardees of the 2022 Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award. The awardees are Daisy Belmares-Ortega, Catalina Cobos-Uribe, Rakeysha Pinkston, and Krystal Taylor. The Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award enables undergraduate and graduate students to engage in additional education and career development opportunities to enhance their personal development, with the aim of facilitating successful entry of students into advanced degree programs and transition into the modern toxicology workforce. The SOT Diversity Initiative Endowment Fund provides this award, which is administered by the CDI. Created in 2009, the goal of this fund is to increase and retain individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences.

Daisy Belmares-Ortega
Catalina Cobos-Uribe
Rakeysha Pinkston
Krystal Taylor

Daisy Belmares-Ortega

Ms. Belmares-Orega is an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico. Ms. Belmares-Orega’s research is centered in a liver toxicology laboratory. Her current project is to develop a standardized method to observe cells in 3D to observe their network and communication and to use this as a toxicity testing avenue. Her future goals are to become a physician scientist and specialize in the intersection of toxicology and addiction medicine. Ms. Belmares-Orega will use the award to attend the American College of Toxicology 43rd Annual Meeting.

“Upon learning I was selected for the Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award, I was very happy! The award will help me in continuing to network outside my current institution and learn from a larger community of toxicologists. Additionally, the award will help me explore research topics within toxicology I would like to pursue for graduate school.” —Daisy Belmares-Ortega

Catalina Cobos-Uribe

Ms. Cobos-Uribe is a PhD student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on identifying which chemicals derived from e-cigarettes reach and interact with the respiratory mucosa and how these interactions may lead to disease or adverse health outcomes. Ms. Cobos-Uribe will use the award to attend the online course “The Exposome Boot Camp: Measuring Exposures on an Omic Scale.”

“I was pleased and excited to share the news with my PI and the whole lab. The Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award will provide the resources needed for me to attend the Exposome Boot Camp organized by the University of Columbia. This Boot Camp will introduce me to the principles of exposomics and its analysis, which I intend to apply in my current and future research.” —Catalina Cobos-Uribe

Rakeysha Pinkston

Ms. Pinkston is a PhD student at Southern University and A&M College. Her area of research is in the field of inhalation toxicology, where she studies the effects of aerosols generated from various models of electronic cigarette (e-cig) devices, including JUUL and the 3rd generation style e-cig model, on lung health and immunity. Ms. Pinkston used the award to attend and present a poster-discuss presentation at the American Thoracic Society International Conference. The work she presented investigates the effect that JUUL menthol-flavored aerosol exposure has on allergy-induced asthmatic responses in juvenile mice.

“I was thrilled to learn that I was selected to be a recipient of this award. I am deeply humbled for SOT’s generous support. This award will play a major role in affording me the opportunity to travel and discuss my findings to a wider audience at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Francisco, California, where I have been selected to present a poster-discussion presentation. . . . This conference is directly in line with my area of research, and as a graduate student in the final stages of doctoral study, this award marks a pivotal turning point in my academic career. It will not only allow me to obtain additional career development training to enhance my potential as a respiratory toxicologist, but it will also provide me with the opportunity to network and engage in conversation with accomplished researchers to generate new ideas.” —Rakeysha Pinkston

Krystal Taylor

Ms. Taylor is a PhD student at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Her research involves looking at the impact of PFAS exposure on B cell development and antibody production. After graduate school, she plans to pursue a consumer toxicology and science communications career. Ms. Taylor will use the award to participate in the Scientist Mentoring and Diversity Program for Biotechnology.

“I was filled with joy and excitement when I found out that I had been selected as an award recipient. The Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award will help to finance my travel to attend the Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program for Biotechnology in San Diego, California. As an SMDP scholar, I will be paired with an industry mentor for one year and together we will work on developing and honing the skills that I have learned in school and through the lab so that they may be transferable and marketable to any industry career position.” —Krystal Taylor

SOT congratulates the recipients of the 2022 Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award. Throughout the year, the four awardees will share about their career development experiences on the SOT Communiqué Blog.

The deadline for the 2023 Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award is April 15, 2023. For eligibility requirements and details on how to apply, please visit the award web page.

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