Jill Silverman, PhD – Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Behavioral and neuroimaging phenotypes following early life pesticide exposure Worldwide, organophosphate pesticides are the most commonly used class of pesticides. Epidemiological studies have linked their use to autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, developmental delay, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Currently, the impacts of early-life exposure to low doses that are representative of what people and, in particular, pregnant women and children may experience, have not been well-studied. Dr. Silverman’s project is measuring the effects of exposure to chlorpyrifos, a widely used organophosphate, during early life on behavioral endpoints and underlying brain anomalies in a rodent model.

Neil Hunter, PhD – Department of Microbiology

Effects of atrazine on the developing ovary Atrazine, a widely used weed killer is a common contaminant found in drinking water. Atrazine is a member of a family of chemicals called the xenoestrogens that mimic the hormone estrogen and thereby disrupt endocrine function. Another xenoestrogen, bisphenol-A (BPA), causes problems in female reproduction. BPA leads to a “grand-maternal effect” that increases the likelihood of developmental problems in grandchildren. Even subtle defects in processes of female reproduction can lead to miscarriage or chromosomal disorders such as Down Syndrome. Dr. Hunter and his team will investigate whether similar effects in female reproduction and birth outcomes are associated with exposure to atrazine.