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Environmental Factor, January 2012

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NIEHS selects 2012 ONES awardees

By Eddy Ball

Lauren Aleksunes, Ph.D.

A former NIEHS-supported postdoc at The University of Kansas Medical Center in the lab of Curtis Klaassen, Ph.D., Aleksunes will pursue her studies on the disposition of environmental chemicals during pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of Rutgers University)

NIEHS has announced funding for seven early stage tenure-track investigators as 2012 Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) awardees. The highly competitive, five-year ONES grants will total approximately $4 million for the first year, and the awardees, like their predecessors in the five-year-old program, will visit NIEHS to present talks about their research projects.

The new awardees reflect the broad range of NIEHS research interests.

  • Lauren Aleksunes, Pharm.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Ulrike Dydak, Ph.D., an assistant professor of health sciences in the Purdue University School of Health Sciences, with an adjunct appointment at the Indiana Institute for Biomedical Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Stacey Harper, Ph.D., an assistant professor of nanotoxicology in the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology and the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University
  • Joel Meyer, Ph.D., an assistant professor of environmental toxicology in the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Brandon Pierce, Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology in The University of Chicago Department of Health Studies
  • Christy Porucznik, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the University of Utah School of Medicine Public Health Program
  • Vishal Vaidya, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine and environmental health at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health

“This grant is designed to serve as the foundation of a successful research career,” said NIEHS Training and Career Programs Health Scientist Administrator Carol Shreffler, Ph.D. “The program strives to build a long-term relationship between the awardees and NIEHS."

“We, indeed, have made this a very competitive process,” Shreffler noted, “and we look forward to having these awardees make some very seminal contributions in the field of environmental health sciences.”

Stacey Harper, Ph.D.

A former postdoc in the NIEHS-funded Environmental Health Sciences Center at Oregon State University, Harper plans to conduct integrative studies to define drivers of nanomaterial toxicity. (Photo courtesy of Stacey Harper)

Brandon Pierce, Ph.D.

Partially supported by an NIEHS Superfund Research Program grant during his postdoc, Pierce will continue research with a Bangladesh cohort, studying the effects of arsenic exposure on telomeres. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Pierce)

Vishal Vaidya, Ph.D.

A recipient of an NIEHS Pathway to Independence Award in 2007, and former summer intern at NIEHS during graduate school, Vaidya will study fibrinogen signaling in kidney tissue repair. (Photo courtesy of Vishal Vaidya)

Ulrike Dydak, Ph.D.

A physicist who focuses on the investigation of human in vivo metabolism, Dydak will utilize neuroimaging for early diagnosis of manganese toxicity in humans and rodents, expanding on preliminary research funded through an NIEHS exploratory grant. (Photo courtesy of Purdue Univeristy)

Joel Meyer, Ph.D.

A former postdoc in the NIEHS Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Meyer will expand his investigation of the role of mitochondrial DNA damage in neurodegeneration. (Photo courtesy of Duke University)

Christy Porucznik, Ph.D.

A former lieutenant commander in the United States Public Health Service, who was supported by an NIEHS training grant during graduate school, Porucznik will investigate peri-conceptional biomonitoring as part of her interests in preventive medicine. (Photo courtesy of Christy Porucznik)

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