Amanda  Bullert

Amanda Bullert, PhD student, neuroscience

Links environment to brain health

“Amanda has quickly become an expert in her field…As such, she is both driving discovery that will uncover the impact PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) have on our children and enhancing the training of her colleagues.” -James Ankrum, associate professor, biomedical engineering

Hometown: Holdingford, Minnesota

Faculty mentor/advisor: Hans-Joachim Lehmler, PhD, professor, occupational and environmental health, College of Public Health

What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience, expected graduation date May 2024

Please describe your research: My research focuses on the influence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a class of persistent organic pollutants, on the adolescent brain. Recent studies have found that indoor air concentrations of PCBs can be much higher than outdoor air in older school buildings. I model possible PCB exposures in school-aged children to determine if there are neurodevelopmental effects.

In simple terms, why does this research matter? By studying how PCBs affect the learning and brain potential of school-aged children, we can partner with schools to help minimize PCB sources indoors minimizing exposure, while maximizing the health and safety of the students. It is important to look at how things in our environment (air, soil, pollutants, products, etc.) influence our overall health and more specifically our brains.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? Immediately

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Research has provided me with a rich and unique opportunity to make the world a more efficient and healthier place for everyone. Due to the numerous collaborations within the Iowa Superfund Research Program (ISRP), I am proud to say that my research is truly interdisciplinary. I have developed and utilized bioinformatics, molecular, toxicology, and analytical chemistry approaches to generate comprehensive data. As a graduate student, I appreciate all the opportunities my position in the ISRP has presented to me to become a more well-rounded scientist.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I am interested in exploring environmental neurotoxicology and how environmental pollutants, toxins, or substances found in our daily surroundings could influence our central nervous systems. I plan to pursue positions within the Midwest region that consult with biomedical engineering companies, engage with the public, and focus on the reduction of toxicants found to interact with humans.

Banner location: Downtown—Washington St., in front of Discerning Eye