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Plenary Speakers

Sunday, October 15
5:30 - 7:00 PM

"Visions of Exposure Science"

Gwen CollmanGwen Collman, PhD

Director – Division of Extramural Research & Training
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


Presentation Title: "Transforming Exposure Science: Needs for the Future"

Gwen Collman is director of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training where she leads approximately 60 professional staff in areas of scientific program administration, peer review, and the management and administration of about 1,500 active grants each year. She directs scientific activities across the field of environmental health sciences including basic sciences (i.e., DNA repair, epigenetics, environmental genomics), organ-specific toxicology (i.e., reproductive, neurotoxicology, respiratory), public health related programs (i.e., environmental epidemiology, environmental public health), and training and career development. She also oversees the implementation of the Superfund Research Program and the Worker Education and Training Program.
         Prior to her current role, Collman served in program development and management, beginning in 1992 as a member, then as Chief of the Susceptibility and Population Health Branch. During this time, she directed research on the role of genetic and environmental factors on the development of human disease, from animal models of genetic susceptibility to population studies focusing on etiology and intervention. She was responsible for building the NIEHS grant portfolio in environmental and molecular epidemiology, and developed several complex multidisciplinary research programs. These include the NIEHS Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers Program, the NIEHS/EPA Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention, and the Genes, Environment and Health Initiative. Also, under her guidance, a team created a vision for the Partnerships for Environmental Public Health programs for the next decade. In recognition of her achievements, she is the recipient of numerous NIEHS Merit Awards, two NIH Director's Awards, and the DHHS Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service. Collman received a Ph.D. in Environmental Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health where she was awarded the 2009 H.A. Tyroler Distinguished Alumni Award.

Tashni-Ann DubroyTashni-Ann Dubroy, PhD

President, Shaw University

Presentation Title: "The Value of Minority Participation in Exposure Science – Lessons from Cuba to the Carolinas"

Fresh from her recent appointment as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Howard University, Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, (formerly President of Shaw University), has been awarded Female President of the Year by the HBCU Digest. Tashni-Ann Dubroy most recently served as the 17th President of the “Mother of all Historically Black Universities in the South”, Shaw University. Appointed in August 2015 during the University’s sesquicentennial celebratory year, Dr. Dubroy’s administration positioned Shaw as a resource to the City of Raleigh through entrepreneurial innovation, civic presence and support for students and surrounding communities.
         Dr. Dubroy’s philosophy of fiscal conservatism and institutional capacity-building made her a fast-rising star in the higher education community. In its first year, the Dubroy Administration effectively reversed six consecutive years of enrollment declines and yielded a 15 percent increase of new and returning students in 2015. That same year, the administration closed a $4 million fundraising gap which included an institutional record $630,000 raised during Shaw’s annual homecoming weekend, and earned positive change in net assets to counteract a two-year loss – all of which earned her honors as 2017 CEO of the Year in the Triangle region. She was named to the 40 Under 40: Excellence in Leadership list by the Triangle Business Journal. She has received numerous accolades from local philanthropic organizations.
         Her path to the presidency was unconventional, but her leadership has been categorized as a fresh and needed vision for the sustainability of higher education in metropolitan settings. Dr. Dubroy began her career as a Research Scientist at BASF, the world's largest chemical company. She quickly ascended to the position of Global Technology Analyst, and after two years, was appointed to serve Chemical Procurement Manager, where she managed a strategic sourcing budget of $35 million.
Prior to joining Shaw University, she co-founded Tea and Honey Blends, a hair care company that manufactured and retailed natural hair care products, and co-owned downtown Raleigh’s Element Beauty Bar. Her entrepreneurial success has landed her on the pages of Money Magazine and Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek.
         A nationally-recognized advocate for female participation in the sciences, Dr. Dubroy was recognized by Cosmopolitan Magazine, as a “Fun, Fearless Female” who is making waves in the science community as founder of the Brilliant & Beautiful Foundation. Dr. Dubroy also serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and the Carolina Business Development Fund.
         Dr. Dubroy earned her Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry from North Carolina State University in 2007, and holds a Masters of Business Administration from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Prior to her executive appointment, the Shaw University alumna served as Special Assistant to the President, Chair of Shaw University’s Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and as an associate professor of Chemistry.
         She is married to Dale Dubroy and they have one daughter, Marli-Jolie.

Randy WoodsonRandy Woodson, PhD

Chancellor, North Carolina State University

Presentation Title: "Exposure Science at NC State"

Dr. Randy Woodson, the 14th chancellor of North Carolina State University, is a nationally recognized scholar and academic leader who oversees the largest university in North Carolina, with more than 34,000 students and a budget of $1.4 billion. Under his leadership, NC State has built upon its reputation as a pre-eminent research institution and has witnessed many transformative changes — the opening of the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on Centennial Campus, the launch of the College of Sciences and the completion of the Lonnie Poole Golf Course. Even in the face of unprecedented financial challenges, these advances were made possible thanks to Woodson’s strategic plan, which aligned the university for greater effectiveness, efficiency and — most importantly — student success. As the landscape of funding for public universities continues to change, NC State consistently ranks in the top five best values among public universities in the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report and Princeton Review. Chancellor Woodson has extensive experience as a member of university faculty and administration, with a reputation for consensus building throughout his 30-year career in higher education. He came to NC State from Purdue University, where he most recently served as executive vice president for academic affairs. Woodson is an internationally renowned plant molecular biologist specializing in reproductive processes in agricultural crops. He earned his undergraduate degree in horticulture from the University of Arkansas and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant physiology from Cornell University.


Monday, October 16
8:00 - 9:00 AM

"Desecration of Tó Baką’e and Diné way of life: How the Navajo Sacred Male River of the San Juan became the Yellow River"

Karletta ChiefKarletta Chief, PhD

Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist, University of Arizona

Dr. Karletta Chief (Diné) is an Assistant Professor and Specialist in Soil, Water, and Environmental Sciences at the University of Arizona (UA). Her research focuses on understanding, tools, and predictions of watershed hydrology, unsaturated flow in arid environments, and how natural and human disturbances impact water resources. Two of her primary tribal projects are The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Climate Adaptation and Traditional Knowledge and The Navajo Nation Gold King Mine Spill Impacts. Dr. Chief received a B.S. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University in 1998 and 2000 and a Ph.D. in Hydrology and Water Resources from UA in 2007. In 2011, Dr. Chief was named American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Most Promising Scientist/Scholar, 2013 Stanford University Distinguished Alumni Scholar award, 2015 Native American 40 under 40, 2016 AISES Professional of the Year, and 2016 Phoenix Indian Center Woman of the Year.


Tuesday, October 17
8:00 - 9:30 AM

"Consequential" exposure science. Lessons from environmental disparities  

Mary WolffMary Wolff, PhD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai 

Dr. Wolff’s career began as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Irving Selikoff whom she read about in the New Yorker. His research evolved from asbestos to other occupational and environmental threats during the 1970s. Some of the workplace exposures, including asbestos and lead, became increasingly important as general population exposures under his leadership. Mainly in clinical studies, both exposure biomarkers and questionnaire metrics were used to assess numerous environmental exposures. Among the exposures studied in the late 20th century were persistent halogenated aromatic agents in Michigan and among workers at the New York General Electrical manufacturing facility (DDT, PCB, PBB and others). Their research defined basic principles of exposure including distribution and sources, adipose:serum ratios, half-lives, and patterns of organochlorine residues in humans, both occupational and common, male vs female, as well as adult and child. In the 1980s, the hormonal potential of these chemicals was realized and the widespread general population exposures were documented. This led to projects in the 1990s to investigate potential risk for organochlorine exposures in relation to breast cancer, including breast cancer in minority women, because of the disparate risk of black women for early onset breast cancer and mortality and their higher exposures to environmental chemicals. To better incorporate a window of susceptibility for environmental exposures, later research focussed on intermediate endpoints for breast cancer, in particular puberty which had disparate demographic and environmental attributes similar to those for breast cancer. Also, it became necessary in study of endocrine disruptors to account for short-term nature of exposure biomarkers. This characterizes new-age, 21st century exposures that are highly prevalent as well as relevant to hormonally sensitive health endpoints. Recent research led to the first observations of associations with childhood behavior, birth size, and somatic growth as well as pubertal onset. She continues to emphasize the importance of appropriate use of exposure biomarkers, and to urge researchers to avoid inappropriate application of technologically feasible measurements, noting that as chemicals can be measured at lower and lower levels, it is important to consider relevance to health.


Wednesday, October 18 
8:00 - 9:00 AM

"Challenges and Opportunities in Public Engagement Regarding Environmental Exposure"

Brian SouthwellBrian Southwell

Program Director, Science in the Public Sphere, RTI International

Dr. Brian Southwell is Director of the Science in the Public Sphere Program in the Center for Communication Science at RTI International. In addition, Dr. Southwell is an Adjunct Professor with Duke University, where he teaches about social marketing and behavioral interventions. He also is Research Professor (of Mass Communication) and Adjunct Associate Professor (of Health Behavior) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Southwell’s contributions appear in more than 100 journal articles and chapters and his various books, including the forthcoming Misinformation and Mass Audiences (which he edited for the University of Texas Press), have all been based in social science research. Southwell also is host of a public radio show, The Measure of Everyday Life, for WNCU (90.7 FM in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, media market).