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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

April 2018

Honors for Guilarte and Richards at Society of Toxicology meeting

The Society of Toxicology honored NIEHS grantee Tomas Guilarte, Ph.D., from Florida International University, and grad student researcher Alicia Richards.

Among those who received recognition at the March meeting of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) were NIEHS grantee Tomas Guilarte, Ph.D., from Florida International University (FIU), and trainee Alicia Richards, a graduate student in the lab of Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

Distinguished Hispanic toxicologist

Tomas Guilarte Guilarte stepped up to the role of dean in 2016. According to Tieu, he recognized the need for successful scientists and academicians to be role models for Hispanics and African American students and faculty. (Photo courtesy of FIU)

The Hispanic Organization of Toxicologists (HOT) selected Guilarte as the recipient of its Distinguished Toxicologist Award. Guilarte accepted his award March 13 and gave a talk about his journey from Cuba to a position as dean of the FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work.

Guilarte is a world-renowned neurotoxicologist who completed a three-year term on the NIEHS National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council in 2017. He was nominated by fellow Stempel College professor and researcher, Kim Tieu, Ph.D.

“Dr. Guilarte has been and is committed to developing excellence in academic environments that are inclusive, collaborative and collegial, and where an emphasis is placed on supporting underrepresented minority faculty and students,” Tieu wrote.

The HOT award recognizes a toxicologist of Hispanic origin for his or her outstanding professional achievements, excellence in research, and level of service to SOT. HOT was created by researchers of Hispanic origin who studied the toxic effects of chemicals on human health. The group’s chief goal is to provide a platform that guarantees awareness and dissemination of toxicological information from the Hispanic community of scholars.

FIU is a minority-serving institution that serves a diverse community of scholars and students, including a predominantly Hispanic student body. According to Guilarte, FIU awards more degrees to Hispanics than any other university in the United States.

Travel award for flame retardant research

Alicia Richards, who works in Birnbaum’s National Cancer Institute laboratory, won the Graduate Student Travel Award from the SOT Dermal Toxicology Specialty Section. The award, sponsored by Charles River Laboratories, supported her attendance at the SOT meeting, where she presented her study of brominated flame retardants.

The award recognized the excellence of Richards’ research poster, “Dermal Uptake of Three Brominated Phenols: Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), Tetrabromobisphenol A bis(2,3-dibromopropyl ether) (TBBPA-BDBPE), and 2,4,6-tribromophenol (TBP).”

Linda Birmbaum and Alicia Richards Richards, right, and mentor Birnbaum celebrated the award. “We’re going to miss her in the lab,” said Birnbaum, “but I’m thrilled to see her career get off to such a good start.” (Photo courtesy of Mike Hughes)

“Although the major route of exposure to these chemicals is oral uptake, dermal contact is likely via contaminated dust,” wrote Richards and the other authors of the poster. “These studies indicate that all three chemicals are likely to be dermally bioavailable, and dermal contact with these agents should be considered an important route of exposure.”

“It was a great opportunity to share my work with other toxicologists interested in dermal uptake and to meet the other graduate students involved in similar work,” said Richards.

After she graduates from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August, Richards will begin her new position as an associate health scientist at Cardno ChemRisk in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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