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Current Toxicology Scholars
Changqing Zhou
Comparative Biosciences




I am a Ph.D. Student in Dr. Jodi Flaws’ laboratory in the department of Comparative Biosciences. My research is focusing on how endocrine disrupting chemicals impact normal ovarian functions. Specifically, I am testing the ovotoxicity of a phthalate mixture made from six phthalates commonly found in humans. Most previous toxicity studies have focused on a single chemical or a mixture of chemicals that do not reflect the human exposure levels. My study will be the first to test the toxicity of a phthalate mixture made according to human exposure in an environmentally relevant dose range. Further, I will study the impact of the chemical exposure on the first and subsequent generations. This will provide information on the transgenerational effects of chemical exposure

Payel Kundu
Neuroscience Program



I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Program working with Dr. Susan Schantz. My research investigates how botanical supplements affect cognition. Botanical supplements are available over the counter and are largely unregulated in the United States. It is estimated that one in four women in the US will use a botanical supplement to try to gain relief from peri-menopause symptoms. However, little is known about the efficacy and safety of most commercially sold botanical estrogens. Estradiol has the potential to negatively impact cognition in some circumstances, thus it is important to investigate whether botanical estrogens could act similarly. We have been working with biologically active components of licorice root including isoliquiritigenin (ISL) in an ovariectomized rat model. We have investigated the effects of ISL on a delayed spatial alternation task as well as on a hippocampus-sensitive metric change in object location task (MCOL). We have also investigated the effects of licorice root powder and licorice root extract on the MCOL task. Supplements containing these compounds are already being consumed by women and our work will contribute to a better understanding of any potentially positive or negative impacts these compounds can have on cognition.

Maya Scott
Comparative Biosciences



I am a Ph.D. Student in Dr. Marilyn O'Hara Ruiz' laboratory in the Department of Pathobiology intereseted in spatial epidemiology. The overall objective of my research is to determine the degree to which arsenic persists in the environment in natural settings and how it may affect the risk of exposure of the people near these sites. I will investigate, in particular, how spatial distribution of arsenic affects water quality, how soil physical and chemical properties modulate those effects, and I will assess the exposure risk to people in areas where former sources of arsenic are present.

Daniel Kougias
Neuroscience Program



I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Program working in Dr. Janice Juraska’s laboratory. My current research investigates the cognitive and neural effects of phthalates, a
class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and its interaction with a high fat diet in development. This is a collaborative effort with Dr. Yuan-Xiang Pan’s laboratory, whose expertise will broaden our investigation to provide epigenetic analyses of inflammation,
oxidative stress, and hormonal regulation, as well as body mass composition via MRI.


Rekha Balachandran
Comparative Biosciences

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Biosciences working with Dr. Paul Eubig. I am interested in how diverse environmental factors, such as exposure to pesticides and disrupting circadian rhythms, can affect behavior.  Specifically, I am interested in using a rodent model to assess the effect of circadian disruption using pharmacologic challenges of cholinergic and dopamergic drugs. This will pave the way to subsequent researchtesting the effects pf chlorpyrifos exposure alone and in conjunction with circadian disruption.  Findings from this project will allow us to better understand how interactions between chemical exposure and daily light cycle disruption affect cognition.