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>  News Releases >   2008 >   January

Dartmouth students, faculty praised at scientific meeting

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 01/28/08 • Sue Knapp • (603) 646-3661

Roxanne Karimi
Roxanne Karimi (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

In early December, Roxanne Karimi, who earned her Ph.D. at Dartmouth in 2007, received the Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP). The award is presented annually to an exceptional graduate student or postdoctoral scholar within the SBRP, and it honors the scientific and mentoring accomplishments of the late Karen Wetterhahn, a professor of chemistry at Dartmouth who died in 1997 as a result of an accidental exposure to dimethylmercury. Wetterhahn was an internationally recognized scientist who studied the carcinogenic effects of chromium and nickel, and she also was a pioneer in efforts to encourage and support women in the sciences, helping launch Dartmouth's Women in Science Project.

The Wetterhahn Award, now in its tenth year, was presented at the SBRP's 20th anniversary meeting. Karimi's research involves the movement and accumulation of metals like mercury in aquatic food webs and environments. At Dartmouth, she was also active in the Women in Science Project, working with several undergraduate women in her lab.

"It's wonderful to see Roxanne's excellent research recognized with this award," says Carol Folt, a professor of biological sciences and Karimi's advisor. "And it was particularly meaningful on the tenth anniversary of this award because Karen Wetterhahn was such an inspiration for so many of us, both here at Dartmouth and in the wider research community." Folt is also the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Dartmouth.

Three scholars with Dartmouth connections have won this award: Karimi, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at the State University of New York at Stony Brook; Angeline Andrew Ph.D. 2000, now an assistant professor of community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School; and Anne Spuches, who was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry from 2003-2007 and is currently an assistant professor of chemistry at East Carolina University. All the previous winners of the Wetterhahn Award were invited to the event as part of the tenth anniversary program.

Wetterhahn also served as the first director of Dartmouth's SBRP, which is now in its 13th year, and her legacy was apparent at the meeting.

"Dartmouth's toxic metals research program was well represented at the Superfund Annual Meeting," says Joshua Hamilton, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology and the director of Dartmouth's SPRB and its Center for Environmental Health Sciences. "Not only were all the Wetterhahn awardees there, our faculty gave invited talks and chaired sessions. My graduate student Courtney Kozul won one of the four best student poster awards - out of about 86 student posters."

Hamilton, who also worked with Wetterhahn at Dartmouth, maintains the SBRP's commitment to interdisciplinary education and research.

"I am especially proud of the strong students, both graduate and undergraduate, who have been trained in our program since it was established in 1995. I know Karen would consider that one of our top accomplishments."

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