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Superfund Student Honored at Annual Toxicology Meeting

By Rebecca Wilson
April 2009

Photo of Courtney Kozul, Ph.D. candidate at Darthmoth College
Courtney Kozul's research has received the attention of the scientific community and mainstream media alike. (Photo courtesy of Dartmouth SBRP)

The NIEHS Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP) was well represented at this year's Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting March 15-19 in Baltimore (see related Spotlight story), where Dartmouth College Ph.D. candidate and SBRP trainee Courtney Kozul was awarded an impressive four awards in recognition of her research.

Kozul was honored with awards from the Women in Toxicology Scholarship Fund, the Northeast Society of Toxicology, and the Molecular Biology Specialty Section. She also received a graduate student travel award from the meeting organizers. The awards point to the quality of research and caliber of students trained under the SBRP.

"Courtney is an exceptionally bright and hard-working young scientist and very deserving of these awards," said Joshua Hamilton, Ph. D., Kozul's research advisor and professor in the Dartmouth Medical School Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Program. "The success of her project also highlights how the interdisciplinary environment of the Superfund Training Program fosters high-caliber, innovative and highly translational science that addresses real-world problems."

Kozul and the Dartmouth program are no strangers to mainstream media attention. Some of Kozul's early work on the purity of lab mouse feed was featured in a March 2009 article, "A Matter of Chow," ( Exit NIEHS in The Scientist magazine. "It was some great national attention for our SBRP work," Kozul said of the piece.

Kozul also enjoys a long list of other awards and honors for her research, including the Best Student Poster award at the SBRP Annual Meeting in 2007 and 2008 and an Outstanding Oral Presentation award and travel scholarship at the International Central and Eastern European Conference on Health and the Environment in 2008. Her research was also recognized with the 2008 Karen Wetterhahn Award from the New England Membrane Enzyme Group.

Work as an SBRP trainee has opened many doors in Kozul's research career. "The SBRP is a wonderful example of the success that can be achieved by working at the interface of different scientific disciplines," she explained. "While my research focuses on the human health effects of metal exposure, I have had the opportunity to integrate knowledge and techniques from many other fields including remediation, analytical measurement, epidemiology and outreach."

Kozul adds that these interactions have provided her with the skills she needs to become a successful and respected environmental health researcher - a career she intends to further through a postdoctoral fellowship following her graduation in May 2010.

(Rebecca Wilson is an environmental health information specialist for MDB, Inc., a contractor for the NIEHS Superfund Basic Research Program and Worker Education and Training Program.)

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