Jeffrey Yoder‘s (Project 2) lab was the featured lab. The Yoder Lab of Comparative Immunology and Immunotoxicology studies mediators of innate immunity. The primary goals of the Lab are to: 1) study the genetic and functional evolution of innate immune receptors; 2) identify novel mediators of innate immunity; and 3) understand the immunotoxicological effects of environmental chemicals.
Recently, the Lab has begun working on PFAS compounds as part of the NC State Superfund Research Program. Through a combination of in vivo studies using zebrafish and in vitro studies using human cell lines and primary cells, the project aims to understand how these compounds impact the innate immune system. The Lab has shown that exposure to PFAS in these systems suppresses the respiratory burst – an important innate immune process induced by neutrophils in response to pathogens. Defects in this system increase susceptibility to infection. Ongoing studies aim to determine how PFAS exposure impacts other aspects of the innate immune system such as macrophage phagocytosis, phagocyte energy utilization and cytokine production.
Ashley Connors graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 2017 with a BS in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in Environmental Studies. After graduating, she worked at Oregon Health & Science University where her research focused on hypothalamic neuronal circuits involved in reproduction and other homeostatic functions. Ashley is a PhD and works with Jeffrey Yoder (Project 2).
Britney Paul Rajamanickam graduated from NC State in December 2022 with a degree in Biology. While her undergraduate research gave her the opportunity to work with Dr. Jane Hoppin (Project 1), she is open to many different research opportunities and using her lab rotations to explore different areas of toxicology. While she may have finished high school and college in NC, she is a true Midwesterner having grown up in Wisconsin. How deep do her midwestern roots run? Well, she misses Culvers (who wouldn’t?) and has a passion for cheese curds (with ranch).
Hannah Starnes worked as a lab assistant/instructor for the Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: Hazards and Opportunities class this past May & June at Woods Hole. Dr. Scott Belcher (Project 3) and Dr. Heather Patisaul are very involved in the teaching of this course.
Zach McLean is originally from Lenoir, NC. After earning a BS in Human Biology from NC State, he decided he wasn’t done with school. While working on his Master’s in Physiology (NCSU), he worked with Dr. Scott Belcher (Project 3) on an independent research project and found his passion for Toxicology. Zach states his latest interest is “Tears of the Kingdom” and he is a collector of ALL the tools needed for various projects around the house, but he will not disclose whether this is intentional or not.
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