Baylor Graduate Student Wins Prominent Jeff Black Award

Nov. 13, 2007
News Photo 4320Laura Dobbins

by Frank Raczkiewicz

Laura Dobbins, a Baylor University graduate student from Knoxville, Tenn. has received the EA/Jeff Black Award given by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), a nonprofit, worldwide professional society. The award is given to only one masters-level graduate student in the world and is among the highest awards presented by the society in recognition of a young scientist's research and their contribution to the field of environmental toxicology and chemistry.

"It is certainly a great honor to be chosen by the leading organization in environmental toxicology for this prestigious award," Dobbins said.

Dobbins is the first Baylor student to receive the award. She is currently researching the aquatic toxicology of a group of compounds called parabens. Parabens are used as preservatives in many personal care products, pharmaceuticals and foods. While these compounds have been found in treated wastewater discharges to rivers, their effects on aquatic life are not fully known. Dobbins will be studying the potential disruption to the endocrine system of the fish caused by parabens. It is believed that parabens disrupt hormonal responses in the endocrine system of male fish by mimicking the effects of estrogen, an endogenous hormone, thus ultimately causing reproduction rates to fall.

"This type of research is perfect for me because it allows me to do something that helps better understand how human activities are impacting aquatic systems and the associated organisms," Dobbins said.

One who always liked to mentor young researchers, Jeff Black was a founding member of SETAC and a leading researcher in environmental toxicology before passing away in 1997. The award was initiated by EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc and SETAC in recognition of Jeff Black's life in science and his technical and leadership contributions to SETAC.

About SETAC:

SETAC is a not-for-profit worldwide professional society consisting of individuals and institutions dedicated to the study, analysis, and solution of environmental problems, the management and regulation of natural resources, environmental education, and research and development.

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