Dan Brown wants to understand how early-life exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) affects the development of fish. As a third year doctoral student at Duke University, under the guidance of Richard Di Giulio, Ph.D, Brown is investigating how some fish, which live on a Superfund site, have developed a resistance to the toxicant. While acute exposures have been well-studied, little is known about the subtle effects of chronic, low-level exposures.
He will use his results to study killifish living in the Elizabeth River, which runs through the Atlantic Wood Industries Superfund site and investigate the costs and benefits of the fishes’ adaptation to living in a PAH-contaminated environment. Remarkably, some of the fish in the river have developed a resistance to the acute effects of PAH exposure. Brown’s research is unique in that it introduces both behavioral and performance-based assays to better track the emergence of effects following early life exposure.
Brown received a bachelor's degree in biology from Elon University in 2009. He was inspired by his undergraduate mentor to pursue a doctorate degree. After he graduates, Brown is interested in a post-doctoral position within government or academia. Eventually he would like to teach at a small liberal arts college to encourage undergraduate research and interest in the environmental sciences.
When he’s not in the lab, Brown serves as the Community Outreach Chair on the University's Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC). He is also volunteering as one of the student advisors for the SRP Annual Meeting, which will be held in Raleigh, N.C., in October 2012. Finally, Brown enjoys intramural sports, specifically basketball, soccer, and volleyball.