The Committee on Diversity Initiatives (CDI) is pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of the Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award. The Society of Toxicology (SOT) recognizes that career development experiences facilitate successful entry of students into advanced degree programs and transition into the modern toxicology workforce. This award enables undergraduate and graduate students to engage in additional education and career development opportunities to enhance their personal development. The SOT Diversity Initiative Endowment Fund provides the support for this award that aims to increase and retain individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. Recipients of this award are chosen based on criteria that include: quality of proposed experience, relevance of the proposed professional activity to a career involving the science of toxicology, academic achievement, and recommendation by academic advisor.
Jephte Akakpo, a graduate student at The University of Kansas Medical Center, will attend the Advanced Imaging Mass Spectrometry (AIMS) Laboratory Course hosted by the National Research Resource for Imaging Mass Spectrometry at Vanderbilt University. Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) is a novel tool enabling sensitive identification of drugs and metabolites superimposed on tissue sections, providing accurate spatial information of biological relevance. The 3- to 4-day AIMS course includes lectures and hands-on experience, including sample sectioning, matrix application, image generation, and image processing. Mr. Akakpo aspires to build a career in analytical toxicology, and the course will allow him to gain training on this novel technique, which is not available at his institution. His advisor wrote that the course will “support his career development to apply cutting-edge analytical techniques to toxicological problems.”
Giovan Cholico, a graduate student at Boise State University, will attend a bioinformatics training under Dr. Robert Tanguay from Oregon State University. Dr. Tanguay’s laboratory, which focuses on using zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a systems toxicology model, frequently has students who present posters at the SOT Annual Meetings. Mr. Cholico hopes this training will teach him how to analyze RNA-sequencing data to measure differential gene expression. This training also will enhance his research on the role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) signaling during liver fibrogenesis. The training fills an unmet need in Mr. Cholico’s career as his current institution lacks higher level bioinformatics expertise.
Roxana Coreas, a graduate student at the University of California, Riverside, will attend the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) National Meeting and Expo. This year’s ACS meeting theme is Nanoscience, Nanotechnology & Beyond, which aligns with Ms. Coreas’ current research investigating the effects of nanomaterials on cellular components. While courses at her institution provide insight into the development of toxicological assays and how to efficiently study chemicals, they do not include nanoscience, which is critical to her research project. She wrote that the meeting “would not only expose me to pertinent topics within nanotoxicology but also it would help me bridge my foundational knowledge with current and prospective research.” Ms. Coreas plans on pursuing a postdoc position after graduate school and hopes to network with nanotoxicology professionals at the meeting.
Rosemarie de la Rosa, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, will attend the 11th Gordon Research Conference on Environmental Endocrine Disruptors (EEDs). This biennial conference will provide a comprehensive overview of the latest advances in EED research and facilitate collegial discussions and fruitful exchanges between leading environmental toxicologists and junior colleagues from all over the world. This will be Ms. de la Rosa’s first international conference and she will be presenting her research on environmental compounds that disrupt glucocorticoid receptor signaling. Her long-term goal is to become a research professor of toxicology. Ms. de la Rosa mentors an undergraduate student and her advisor believes she “brings a novel and diverse perspective” to their program and is a “role model for minority students, especially students potentially interested in STEM studies.”
Belkys Gonzalez, a graduate student at St. John's University, will attend a workshop for training in hazard characterization and risk assessment. This workshop will enhance Ms. Gonzalez’s knowledge and experience on risk assessment, a topic she was first introduced to at her institution. The workshop will provide in-depth hands-on training that goes beyond the classroom and is designed to systematically provide the latest methods in human health chemical risk assessments. Ms. Gonzalez has been an active SOT member since 2013 and an active participant in the Mid-Atlantic Chapter.
Kimberly Rivera-Caraballo, an undergraduate student at University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, will attend the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB) 77th Annual Meeting. Generally, researchers from Puerto Rico have limited academic and professional development opportunities as most professional meetings are held outside the island, and this award allows Ms. Rivera-Caraballo to fill those needs. She hopes this SDB meeting will strengthen her research on Xenopus laevis embryology. She was also the 2018 SOT Perry J. Gehring Diversity Student Travel Award recipient and has since volunteered at SOT’s Undergraduate Diversity Program as a peer mentor.
Sylvia Sanchez, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, will attend the 11th Gordon Research Conference on Environmental Endocrine Disruptors (EEDs). This biennial conference will provide a comprehensive overview of the latest advances in EED research and facilitate collegial discussions and fruitful exchanges between leading environmental toxicologists and junior colleagues from all over the world. This will be the first conference that Ms. Sanchez attends that focuses entirely on her research interest in environmental endocrine disruptors. She plans on presenting her research on the endocrine system and how perturbations to normal hormone levels (estrogens and androgens) contribute to the progression of disease, specifically in migrant populations. Her advisor added that her research "is an effort dedicated to addressing health disparities in underserved areas."
Continue support of outstanding students such as these by contributing to the SOT Diversity Initiatives Endowment Fund.