What topic are you trying to understand?
My work tries to understand how exposure to mixtures of commonly found environmental chemicals, such as those found in personal care products, pesticides, household air, and dust, during pregnancy will impact both the physical and neurological development of children.
What made you become interested in this kind of work?
I worked in a neuro-genetics lab after college, we used nematodes to investigate the impact of specific genetic mutations on the development of neurologic disorders. However, the inability to directly translate my results in the context of human populations led me to pursue a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology at Boston University. During my tenure as a Masters student, I realized that I was specifically interested in intervenable environmental factors associated with childhood diseases. I wanted to investigate exposures we could change, through policies or clinical recommendations, in order improve children’s long-term health. I became interested in environmental chemicals, specifically, endocrine disruptors that often look like hormones to our body, that may adversely change fetal development and lead to later life disease.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I hope that my work will encourage policymakers to take action and create regulation that protects the most vulnerable members of society.
Why is this work important, more broadly?
The developing fetus and young children are especially sensitive to environmental chemicals because they are developing rapidly and cannot efficiently detoxify harmful chemicals from their system. Exposure to environmental chemicals is associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes from neurodevelopmental disorders to obesity. Identifying these exposures will provide regulatory agencies with comprehensive toxicity information about mixtures of environmental chemical, and allow for more effective interventions during appropriate periods of development.