Dr. Wade H. Powell’s dedication to providing outstanding toxicological education to undergraduates makes him the ideal recipient of the 2019 SOT Daniel and Patricia Acosta Undergraduate Educator Award.
After receiving his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Emory University in 1997, Dr. Powell embarked on a career in toxicology, initially studying aryl hydrocarbon signal transduction in fish as a postdoctoral scholar in the Biology Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Since 2000, he has taught at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he is now a professor of biology.
Dr. Powell’s teaching activities use the entire life sciences curriculum to expose undergraduates from all levels and varied majors to different facets of toxicology. The molecular biology lab and environmental toxicology seminar are examples of Kenyon courses he instituted that enable students to engage in the field of toxicology directly, and his introductory classes are rich with toxicological examples and anecdotes.
Dr. Powell’s most notable accomplishments involve the performance and promotion of research with undergraduates. Since 2001, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has funded Dr. Powell’s lab with multiple AREA grants, ensuring that the undergraduates composing his group have research opportunities that prepare them well for postgraduate careers. He has mentored more than 50 research students at Kenyon, many of whom have become active participants in the greater toxicology community. Twenty-three of his undergraduates, including several SOT award winners, have presented their research at the Society’s annual meetings, and all research publications from Dr. Powell’s group include undergraduate authors. His students’ success proves the effectiveness of Dr. Powell’s methods; they have become scientists, physicians, veterinarians, teachers, and public servants, continuing their education or launching careers at institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, Harvard University, Princeton University, and the Cleveland Clinic.
Kenyon College has recognized Dr. Powell for his contributions to undergraduate education by bestowing upon him the Robert J. Tomsich Science Award and the Trustee Teaching Excellence Award, the most prestigious honor among Kenyon faculty. Dr. Powell also has served as an active and trusted member of the SOT Undergraduate Education Subcommittee, and many of Dr. Powell’s learning resources are included in the SOT Undergraduate Toxicology Curriculum Resources database.