Graduate student takes first place in science group competition

Justine Nicholas, a graduate student in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, recently won first place for her talk in the public health category of a competition held at the annual conference of the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, held Oct. 16-20 in Los Angeles.

More than 1,400 abstracts were presented at the conference and only 150 were chosen for graduate student oral presentations, which Nicholas participated in.  Nicholas was the only master’s degree student in her category —  public health, including environmental health/epidemiology — to compete. She presented preliminary results from her thesis work on the pulmonary toxicity of carbon nanomaterials. Along with two other graduate students from the College of Public Health and Health Professions, Nicholas received a travel grant to attend the conference.

“The manipulation and application of nanotechnology is advancing rapidly in many fields,” Nicholas said. “Despite wide-scale use, the biotoxicity associated with single-walled carbon nanotube pulmonary exposures is not well established. Several studies report that SWCNTs induce pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis, but few reports have addressed whether these particles are cleared. My thesis work focuses on assessing airway clearance kinetics of SWCNT exposures in a rodent model.”

Nicholas’ mentors are Dr. Donald Bolser, professor and associate chair of the college’s department of physiologiocal sciences, and Dr. Tara Sabo-Attwood, an associate professor and interim chair of the department of environmental and global health, College of Public Health and Health Professions.

The Society is an NSF-sponsored organization that fosters diversity, mentoring and full representation in STEM fields.



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