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Extramural Update

Karimi presented her study, titled
Karimi presented her study, titled "The Ecophysiology of Metal Accumulation in Aquatic Food Webs." In May 2007, National Public Radio featured a related study(http://srb.npaci.edu/cgi-bin/nsdl.cgi?uid=/2007-06-01T05:26:12Z/09EECE6E6DE1D19E22540084B3F277DC/news0502071.html) by her team on the program "Science Friday." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Lang, left, and Superfund Technical Information Specialist Kathy Ahlmark applauded past winners of the Wetterhahn Award prior to Karimi's presentation.
Lang, left, and Superfund Technical Information Specialist Kathy Ahlmark applauded past winners of the Wetterhahn Award prior to Karimi's presentation. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
On the final morning of the meeting, Superfund Acting Director Claudia Thompson, Ph.D., congratulated Brian Clark on his poster session award.
On the final morning of the meeting, Superfund Acting Director Claudia Thompson, Ph.D., congratulated Brian Clark on his poster session award. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Karimi Honored with Superfund's 2007 Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award

The Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP) announced that Roxanne Karimi, Ph.D., of Dartmouth College is the recipient of the tenth annual Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award(http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/srp/training/training6.cfm. The award was presented on December 4th, 2007 at the SBRP 20th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Durham, N.C., by NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training Acting Director Dennis Lang, Ph.D.

Each year, the SBRP presents this award to an outstanding scholar to pay tribute to the life and scientific accomplishments of Karen E. Wetterhahn, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, the Albert Bradley Third Century Professor in the Sciences, and former director of the SBRP at Dartmouth College. Wetterhahn died in 1997 as the result of an accidental exposure to dimethylmercury. She played an integral role in the administration of the sciences at Dartmouth and co-founded Dartmouth's Women in Science Project (WISP), which is aimed at increasing the number of women majoring and taking courses in the sciences, including mathematics and engineering.

An acknowledged international expert on the effects of heavy metals on biological systems and a dedicated teacher and mentor, Wetterhahn was a leader in conducting research on how metals initiate cancer and other metal-induced human diseases at the molecular level. She fostered links between biology, chemistry, environmental studies, engineering and medical science, insisting that "the life sciences are interdisciplinary."

According to the nominating committee, Karimi exhibits characteristics worthy of a Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Awardee. She has been active in the WISP program, has mentored several undergraduate women in her lab, and has also been active in promoting the participation of underrepresented groups in the sciences.

Karimi completed her Ph.D. at Dartmouth College in the spring of 2007, and is now working in a postdoctoral fellowship in the Marine Sciences Center at Stony Brook University. Karimi's SBRP research focused on the accumulation and cycling of heavy metals within freshwater organisms, food webs and ecosystems. Her research also revealed that contrary to the prevailing conventional wisdom, free-swimming pelagic fish may actually accumulate more mercury than those feeding benthically on food webs of the sediments because pelagic fish predominantly feed on zooplankton that are much higher mercury than benthic prey."

Karimi's current postdoctoral research at Stony Brook University examines pairwise, metal-metal and metal-nutrient interactions and their effects on metal accumulation and efflux in marine organisms. For example, essential metals, namely selenium, while potentially toxic at relatively high concentrations, can have protective effects against mercury accumulation and toxicity.

Superfund Poster Awards

Grantees and students displayed 154 poster abstracts at the anniversary meeting. In addition to Karimi, four students were honored as winners for their entries in the poster session, two for each of the evening sessions. Winners will receive a check for $250 in honor of their accomplishment.

  • Elizabeth Oesterling, University of Kentucky, as lead author of "Benzo[a]pyrene-Induced Vascular Endothelial Adhesion Molecule Expression Can Be Reduced by Selective Flavonoid Treatment"
  • Bryan Clark, Duke University, as lead author of "Investigation of PAH Adaptation in Atlantic Killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) Using Morpholino Gene Knockdown"
  • Karen Wovkulich, Columbia University, as lead author of "Mobilization of Arsenic from Contaminated Sediments for Improved Remediation"
  • Courtney Kozul, Dartmouth College, as lead author of "Chronic Low-dose Arsenic Exposure Alters Key Regulators of Innate Immune Response in vivo"

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