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Environmental Factor, September 2015

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Two SRP grantees selected as prestigious AAAS Fellows

By Sara Mishamandani

Newsome, Suk, Hennig, and Collman

Newsome, second from right, at the SRP Annual Meeting in Nov. 2014 with, from left, Suk, Hennig, and Collman. (Photo courtesy of Heather Henry)

Wendy Heiger-Bernays

Heiger-Bernays is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health. (Photo courtesy of Cyndey Scott)

This month, NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) researchers Wendy Heiger-Bernays, Ph.D., and Bradley Newsome, Ph.D., join an elite group of scientists and engineers as American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellows to help connect good science to government decision-making.

The highly competitive AAAS Science and Technology Fellowship provides scientists and engineers from a spectrum of career stages with opportunities to learn firsthand about policymaking. At the same time, they contribute their knowledge and analytical skills to federal policy efforts. Heiger-Bernays and Newsome will begin their one-year fellowships on Sept. 1, both in Washington, D.C.

Bradley Newsome

Newsome, who was a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Kentucky (UK) SRP Center, will work in the Chief Office of Scientific Workforce Diversity, led by Hannah Valantine, M.D., within the office team of NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Brad. Dr. Valantine’s office is doing some very creative things and it's fabulous to have an environmental health scientist working there,” said Gwen Collman, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training. “Brad can bring the unique challenges and opportunities in environmental health sciences to activities coming from NIH leadership.”

Newsome received his doctoral degree in May 2014 and was a postdoctoral scholar under the guidance of Bernhard Hennig, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition and toxicology and UK SRP Center director. At the UK SRP Center, Newsome studied molecular techniques to understand how polychlorinated biphenyl toxicity is associated with the early phases of atherosclerosis.

He also served as the graduate and postdoctoral training coordinator in the Center’s Training Core. As part of his AAAS fellowship, Newsome will address the changing needs of scientific training and the vital role of a diverse workforce in driving needs-based innovation.

Newsome was selected to receive the annual SRP Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award in 2014, for outstanding contributions to research and educational needs.                                                 

Wendy Heiger-Bernays

Heiger-Bernays, associate professor at the Boston University (BU) School of Public Health, will work in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Her project uses computational toxicological data to identify chemicals that disrupt hormones before they are brought to market (see related story).

Heiger-Bernays researches migration of contaminants in urban gardens and their associated risks, the effects of contaminants on fish and their potential human health effects, and the risks posed by exposure to flame retardants. With training in molecular toxicology and risk assessment methods, her work incorporates elements from both the laboratory and field. As the leader of the BU SRP Center’s Research Translation Core, she also helps researchers and regulatory groups use science to inform policy and practice.

“Heiger-Bernays is an excellent addition to the team tasked with incorporating an alternative scientific approach to screen chemicals for their ability to interact with the endocrine system,” said Bill Suk, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS SRP. “She will have the opportunity to improve how we evaluate chemicals to inform decision-making in a way that decreases costs and reduces animal testing.”

(Sara Mishamandani is a research and communication specialist for MDB Inc., a contractor for the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training.)

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