Three recipients of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) International ToxScholar funding for this year have been announced by the Education Committee. To apply, SOT members submit a plan for research and career presentations that will be delivered to graduate and undergraduate students at academic institutions in developing nations. The committee received many high quality and robust proposals addressing the goals of this program, which are to expand awareness of toxicology and promote toxicology careers around the globe.
Gurjot Kaur, from the University of Konstanz in Germany, will be spending several days at each of four institutions in India during January 2018. These include the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Baddi University of Emerging Sciences and Technology, Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences, and Delhi Pharmaceutical Sciences & Research University. Her presentations will include focused discussion of research and career development with undergraduate, graduate students, and faculty. These schools currently do not have courses in toxicology and the students are largely unaware of the career opportunities in a country facing the challenge of hazardous toxic levels of environmental pollutants. If this endeavor is successful, all institutions agreed that a more inclusive lecture series would be actualized with a more intensive coverage of the field.
Logeswari Ponnusamy will travel to four rural institutions in India this December and January. She is an employee at Zoetis Inc, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Noting that there is an extensive lack of awareness in India about the field of toxicology and that veterinary students go into traditional fields (private practice, academic teaching, and government clinical positions) without knowing that they are well-prepared for careers related to toxicology, she will leverage her DVM degree as she meets with veterinary students at the Pookot and Mannuthy campuses of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University and Tamilnadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. She also will speak at the Department of Zoology at Yadava College. The two states where her visits will occur do not have active pharmaceutical industries. Hosts from these institutions have shown active interest in establishing a cross-collaborative career development program that will provide resources for core toxicology research training. She also will emphasize the value in connecting with SOT to take advantage of mentorship and other benefits of affiliation with SOT, which have been critical in her own professional development.
Haiyan Tong has highlighted that toxicology is not a strong field of study in China. The institutions she will visit do not have toxicology programs or coursework available to train students. Working to build the toxicology knowledge in China is a very important endeavor as the country faces environmental issues, with toxicologists having a key role in assessing the risk of environmental pollutants. She is an employee of the US Environmental Protection Agency in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and will conduct her ToxScholar visit during her leave in summer of 2018. The host institution, Jinzhou Medical University, touches on toxicology topics in the medical program but not in an extensive manner. There is no graduate program or research program in toxicology. Her itinerary will include lectures at Dalian Medical University, China Medical University, and Shenyang Medical College—with the ultimate intention of recruiting the best and brightest students into toxicology! Her discussion topics will include career opportunities for toxicologists, graduate training, and information about SOT.
To date the International ToxScholar program has funded 25 ToxScholars for trips to 20 countries (see table below for list). The program provides up to $1,250 for travel expenses and matching funding from an SOT Component Group or other source may be used to support the project. We encourage SOT members to begin developing applications for the October 9, 2018, deadline and especially would like to see proposals to take toxicology to developing countries that have not yet had a visit. Feel free to contact members of the Education Committee if you have any questions.
International ToxScholars and Countries Visited