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Comparative Biosciences Graduate Student Spotlight: Raya I. Boyd

Raya Boyd

What is your academic background? 

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a minor in Environmental Toxicology from North Carolina State University at Raleigh.

Who is your PI?

My PI is Michael J. Spinella, PhD, a professor in the Comparative Biosciences department.

Why did you choose a lab in the CB department for graduate school?

While still an undergrad, I received the opportunity to do research within this department. I participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Toxicology (SURETox) under directors Dr. Jodi Flaws, Department of Comparative Biosciences, and Dr. Romana Nowak, Department of Animal Sciences. I had a fantastic experience and knew that I would love to come back for my Ph.D.

Describe your current research project.

Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous chemicals found in many everyday items, such as water and oil repellants, non-stick coatings, and food packaging. Many studies have shown that PFAS exposure is associated with an increased risk of testicular cancer; however, it remains unknown how this occurs. Therefore, we are studying the factors of PFAS exposure that are leading to increased testicular cancer risk.

What impact do you think your research could have on society?

By studying the mechanisms of PFAS exposure in the context of testicular cancer, we can help develop preventative care and alternative treatment methods to prevent and continue treating testicular cancer, respectively.

What are your passions outside of research?

Outside of the lab, you will find me playing video games and Dungeons and Dragons, reading, and writing.