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Your Environment. Your Health.

2013 Winners

Superfund Research Program

Congratulations to the 2013 winners of the K.C. Donnelly Externship Award!

Audrey Bone

Audrey Bone

Audrey Bone is a graduate student at the Duke University Superfund Research Program Center under the guidance of Richard Di Giulio, Ph.D.  Her current research project involves evaluating the effects of nanomaterial-based degradation on toxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). She is assessing how the potential degradation products of these processes affect vertebrate development.

She will be conducting a six week externship at Oregon State University where she will be evaluating by-products from PAH degradation by nanoparticles. She will learn to use the zebrafish developmental toxicity bioassay and molecular tools developed at Oregon State University to understand the toxicity pathways and phenotypes associated with these degradation products. Robert Tanguay, Ph.D, will provide mentorship while she is there.

“Learning novel laboratory assays and techniques and applying them to ongoing research is a critical aspect to further basic and applied scientific research,” said Bone. “Acquiring the skill of properly executing the zebrafish assay and analyzing the subsequent data will not only advance my current project, but will provide a tool that I will be able to use in my career as an environmental toxicologist.”

James Rice

James Rice

James Rice is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate with the Brown University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Research Translation Core and with Brown SRP Investigator Eric Suuberg, Ph.D. Rice will conduct a three month research externship at the Fisherville Mill Brownfield site in Grafton, MA, under the guidance of Robert Burgess, Ph.D., a staff scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Rice will lead a passive sampler study in the Blackstone River at the Fisherville Mill site to monitor contamination of heating oil containing petroleum hydrocarbons and other potential pollutants. The passive sampling devices can be effective at monitoring contaminant concentrations in water columns and sediment interstitial waters and produce information on dissolved and bioavailable concentrations of contaminants.  Rice will deploy, collect, and analyze contaminants at the Fisherville Mill site. 

“This externship will enhance my research skills and knowledge of an exciting and innovative environmental sampling technique,” said Rice. “It will also be my first opportunity to partner with and conduct research at a government laboratory, providing me with experience connecting academic research to government and professional practice.”

Leah Chibwe

Leah Chibwe

Leah Chibwe is a graduate student at the Oregon State University (OSU) Superfund Research Program under the guidance of Staci Simonich, Ph.D.  She will complete a three month externship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) with Michael Aitken, Ph.D.  Chibwe will identify potentially genotoxic compounds in bioremediated soil, originally contaminated with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). She plans to extract and fractionate PAHs from pre- and post-remediated soil samples and then conduct the novel DT40 bioassay to characterize genotoxicity associated with the fractions. Additionally, she will use Comprehensive 2-Dimensional Gas Chromatography coupled to Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (GCxGC/ToF-MS) to investigate whether parent PAHs are converted to oxygenated PAH byproducts, which are more water soluble, bioavailable, and potentially more toxic.

“This externship will give me the opportunity to learn about the operation of the UNC lab-scale bioreactor and the DT40 bioassay technique at UNC to evaluate the human health impacts of PAHs at Superfund sites,” said Chibwe. “I will also expand my knowledge and experience beyond the scope of analytical chemistry, allowing me to learn a transferable skill set that will benefit both myself and the Simonich lab at OSU.”

Shohreh Farzan

Shohreh Farzan

Shohreh Farzan is a Post-Doctoral Researcher working with the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program (SRP) under the guidance of Margaret Karagas, Ph.D.  She will complete a three month externship at New York University (NYU) in collaboration with the Columbia University SRP to examine the role of arsenic exposure on blood pressure over time and in relation to cardiovascular disease related mortality. Using existing data from the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS) cohort in Bangladesh, she will examine changes in longitudinal measurements of blood pressure in relation to arsenic exposure and use genotyping data to assess the role of potential genetic modifiers. She will also use data from the New Hampshire Health Study to investigate whether environmental levels of arsenic exposure in the US population are related to cardiovascular disease mortality. Yu Chen, Ph.D., will provide mentorship while she is at NYU.

“Although I have had formal classroom training in longitudinal analysis methods and have analyzed some of my own data in my current work, I have not had the opportunity to test my aptitude with such a rich, longitudinal dataset as that of the HEALS cohort,” said Farzan. “I am eager to train with Dr. Yu Chen, who will help me to develop a more diverse skill set, as well as expose me to an area of research that has broad applications for future work.”

Erin Madeen

Erin Madeen

Erin Madeen is a graduate student in the Oregon State University (OSU) Superfund Research Program under the mentorship of David Williams, Ph.D.  She will complete a three week externship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Ca. under the guidance of Ted Ognibene, Ph.D. Madeen will be conducting analysis of high molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in blood and urine from human volunteers following micro-dosing with environmentally relevant amounts of  labeled PAHs. She will learn to use moving wire technology, an HPLC system that can separate individual metabolites coupled to accelerator mass spectrometry, for metabolite quantitation. The externship will provide support for a collaborative goal of the OSU Center to determine the ultra-low dose pharmacokinetics of PAHs and metabolites in human volunteers.

“Moving wire is a new technology and our project is the first metabolite study on this system. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is in a unique position to provide valuable training that I can bring back to my laboratory at OSU. We will rely heavily on the moving wire platform for future projects,” said Madeen. “My ultimate goal is to produce data that helps generate accurate human risk assessment decisions for better health and quality of life.”

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