Reflections on the Undergraduate Education Program at the SOT 58th Annual Meeting and ToxExpo

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I have enjoyed coming to SOT annual meetings for the better part of a decade. One of the highlights has been the premeeting outreach-based festivities. The crown jewel of undergrad outreach is the Undergraduate Education Program/Undergraduate Diversity Program. This year was particularly meaningful, as it is the 30th anniversary of the Undergraduate Diversity Program.

I volunteered to serve as a host mentor. This meant I was able to attend the toxicology presentations Sunday morning along with a group of talented young women who might be the toxicologists of the future. Well, some of them, anyway … the biochemistry major sitting next to me is determined to become a cosmetic chemist. Can’t win them all! And there is a lot of tox in cosmetic chemistry!

The session opened with a talk by Dr. Leigh Ann Burns Naas, SOT President. She described her own circuitous path through various disciplines on the road to toxicology. It’s useful to remind students that the road to their eventual career may not be a straight line. Dr. Burns Naas was followed by Dr. Timothy Nurkiewicz from the West Virginia University School of Medicine, who discussed the role of inhaled pollutants on nonlung toxicity. Dr. Lauren Aleksunes of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, was next, with a PharmD view of preventing drug side effects using urinary and blood biomarkers. Drs. Maureen Gwinn and Antony Williams, both from the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), demonstrated the utility of the US EPA CompTox Chemicals Dashboard with a case study approach. The final speaker of the day was Dr. Myrtle Davis of Bristol-Meyers Squibb. She energized students with a discussion of investigative toxicology. It was a great way to close out the morning.

After lunch with the students, we parted ways. They moved on to breakout sessions with graduate students and academic advisors. I left to represent my university at the Open Time with Academic Toxicology Program Directors and Internship Sponsors. Go Bulls!

This blog was prepared by an SOT Reporter. SOT Reporters are SOT members who volunteer to write about sessions and events they attend during the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo. If you are interested in participating in the SOT Reporter program in the future, please email Giuliana Macaluso.

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