About the Environmental Toxicology Graduate Program at UCR
The interdepartmental Environmental Toxicology Graduate Program (ETOX) offers an integrated interdisciplinary course of student leading to the M.S. or Ph.D.
The Environmental Toxicology Graduate Program was initiated in 1989 to educate and train future generations of scientists with the knowledge and skills needed to address the complex environmental and toxicological issues confronting our society.
As an interdepartmental program, our participating faculty members are from a number of departments in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS), Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE), College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS), and School of Medicine (SOM), though the majority of students have been working in laboratories of faculty from the CNAS. After more than 30 years of development, ETOX has evolved into a strong and well-established graduate program, dedicated to train scientists capable of directing multi-disciplinary research in environmental toxicology.
Students in our program work on research projects aiming to reveal mechanisms of how environmental and toxicological components affect the ecosystems and human health, to develop technologies for effective monitoring of the impacts of environmental pollution, to cultivate strategies for control, reduction, and even remediation of environmental pollution, etc. Our faculty members are strong in diverse research areas, including genetic toxicology and epigenetics, analytical chemistry and proteomics, developmental toxicology, as well as endocrine disruption and metabolism. Owing to the dedicated service from our faculty members, our program is able to provide excellent support and training through the campus Graduate Division, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships from faculty research grants for ETOX students throughout their graduate studies.
Stem Cells in Toxicity Testing of Electronic Cigarette Refill Fluids
Vasundhra Bahl in the Talbot Lab is investigating the effects of electronic cigarette refill fluids on human health. She carried out a cytotoxicity screen using human embryonic stem cells and mouse neural stem cells as in vitro models for early embryonic development in order to assess the effects of these products on prenatal stages. She also used human pulmonary fibroblasts to compare the effects of these products on prenatal and adult stages. The research shows that most of the products were more cytotoxic to the stem cells than the adult cell type, indicating that prenatal stages would be more sensitive to the adverse effects of electronic cigarette refill products. This is one of the first screens in which stem cells have been used for in vitro cytotoxicity testing of a large number of products in a time and cost efficient manner.
Microbial Project: Rancho La Brea Tar Pits
Jean-Paul Baquiran and Richard Belcher are taking samples of natural asphalts from the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, in Downtown Los Angeles, California. Jean-Paul (left) is analyzing the metagenome of the asphalts using next generation DNA sequencing to help characterize the metabolic pathways of petroleum hydrocarbons. Richard (right) is isolating bacteria optimized for biosurfactant production, which can increase the bioavailability of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons for subsequent biodegradation.
Aquatic Ecotoxicology: Schlenk Lab
His research focuses on understanding the biochemical factors that influence susceptibility to environmental and natural chemicals. Three specific projects involve the impact of climate change on environmental factors that influence detoxification strategies in aquatic organisms; mechanistic investigations of the effects of salinity on pesticide toxicity in fish; and the role of biotransformation as a mechanism of tolerance to natural and man-made toxic agents.