CVM Graduate Students To Lead By Example In Now-Virtual Society Of Toxicology Annual Meeting, Texas Edition

Story by Madeline Patton, CVMBS Communications

SOT 2020 Virtual Meeting Logo

While many scientific meetings across the country are being cancelled, this Saturday (April 4, 2020), a large Texas cohort of toxicology faculty and trainees will be utilizing an online format to replace some of the events that were scheduled for March in Anaheim, California, as part of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Annual Meeting.

The one thing that will be well-represented at this virtual event is Aggie toxicologists. Among the 36 virtual short talks, about half will be led by Texas A&M University’s Interdisciplinary Faculty of Toxicology graduate students and postdocs, most of them from the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an incredible impact on academia. Many universities have moved to virtual courses and cancelled major events.

Dr. Ivan Rusyn, director of the toxicology training program and a university professor in the CVM’s Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS), described how the pandemic has impacted research, specifically.

“The pandemic’s impact is most notable in the uncertainty of how the research can be planned and executed,” Rusyn said. “With restrictions on interactions, limitations on lab access, and challenges with obtaining necessary reagents and services because of the impact on the world-wide supply chain, the whole research enterprise is slowing down considerably, which will have negative effects of yet-unknown proportions on the trainees and other researchers.”

In spite of the uncertainty, the SOT 2020 Virtual Meeting (Texas Edition) will still provide an opportunity for students to share the work they have dedicated their time and efforts to with some of the approximately 8,000 individuals from around the country who generally attend the SOT’s annual five-day event.

Map of Texas with participating institutions marked
The institutions participating in the Society of Toxicology 2020 Virtual Meeting, Texas Edition.

Lectures and educational courses can still be presented by webinar, though poster presentations cannot take place in the traditional format.

“With the in-person meeting being cancelled, the Society of Toxicology is working hard to make at least some of the originally scheduled program available and accessible to the meeting attendees,” Rusyn said. “This day-long meeting will be held via Zoom and afford the opportunity for students from 11 toxicology training programs across Texas to show their exciting work and answer questions. This is an excellent opportunity for them to learn about each other’s work and interact with one another.”

Texas A&M has had a major role in coordinating the meeting and recruiting speakers and participants. Because the Texas A&M Interdisciplinary Faculty of Toxicology makes up the largest number of participants in comparison to other toxicology programs from across the state, the program decided to step up and help coordinate the event.

“Our program is highly cohesive and supportive of trainee attendance to scientific meetings to open their personal and scientific horizons through interaction with peers,” Rusyn said. “Networking and communication skills are very important in their graduate education; therefore, we feel strongly as a program that the hard work of preparing their posters doesn’t go to waste and their efforts are recognized.”

The CVM students scheduled to present include:

  • Zunwei Chen – “High-Content and -Throughoput 3D Mouse Embryonic Stem Cell Cpheriod Cultures for Characterizing the Developmental Toxicity Potency of Chemicals”
  • Courtney Sakolish – “The Cross-Laboratory Testing and Evaluation of a Cardiac Microphysiological System”
  • Lauren Lewis – “The Utility of a Human In Vitro Population-Based Model for Studies of Epigenetic and Genotoxic Mechanisms”
  • Toriq Mustapha – “Direct Quantification Method for S-Phenyl Cysteine Benzene: Oxide Hemoglobin Adduct”
  • Krisa Camargo – “Biosensor Technology Applications in Galveston Bay and Houston Ship Channel: Rapid Analyses for Soils and Sediments”
  • Sharmila Bhandari – “HGBEnviroScreen: Enabling Community Action through Data Integration in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria Region”
  • Alina Roman-Hubers – “Rapid Hazard Identification Using Human iPSC-Derived Cell-Based In Vitro Testing: A Case Study of a Hypothetical Spill of a Complex Substance”
  • Danila Cuomo – “Variation in Blood Lead Accumulation Is Strongly Influenced by Genetics and Diet”
  • Alexander Blanchette – “An In Vitro-In Silico Model for Characterizing Hazard and Population Variability in Cardiotoxicity Induced by Environmental Chemicals”
  • Rupesh Shrestha – “Bis-Indole Derived Nuclear Receptor 4A1 (NR4A1) Antagonists Inhibit TGF-b- Induced Invasion of Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma Cells”
  • Kumaravel Mohankumar – “Development of Fibrosis in Endometriotic Cells Is NR4A1 Dependent and Can Be Inhibited by NR4A1 Antagonists”
  • Keshav Karki – “Novel Drug Targets for Inhibiting Tumor Growth and Immunotherapy-Related Checkpoints”
  • Dylan McBee – “Targeting Nrf2 through Lactational Transfer of Sulforaphane: Implications for Respiratory Syncytial Virus Severity in a Neonatal Mouse Model”
  • Sarah Hearon – “Reduction of Pesticide Bioavailability with Charcoal and Clay-Based Sorbents”
  • Meichen Wang – “Processed Clay Can Bind Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Mixtures with High Affinity”
  • Chimeddulam Dalaijamts – “Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Modeling of Impact of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease on Toxicokinetics of Perchloroethylene in Mice”


For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science;; 979-862-4216

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