Allie Daniel

Allie Daniel, PhD student, human toxicology

Analyzes effects of environmental toxins

“I am nominating Allie because I have never met a more ambitious and dedicated student… Although the novelty of her work increases its complexity, her project is important to rural Iowans and all those exposed to pesticides.” -Marie Gaine, assistant professor, pharmaceutical sciences and experimental therapeutics

Hometown: Davenport, Iowa

Faculty mentor/advisor: Marie Gaine, PhD, assistant professor, pharmaceutical sciences and experimental therapeutics, College of Pharmacy

What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Human toxicology, 2024

Please describe your research: Organophosphate (OP) pesticides have been known to cause neurotoxicity and are thought to be associated with psychiatric disorders. The goal of my research is to use chemical means to explore the association between these environmental toxins and mental health through analyzing biological samples. My hypothesis is that individuals with higher levels of OP pesticides and byproducts in their blood and urine will be more likely to exhibit signs of psychiatric distress such as depression and suicidal behavior.

In simple terms, why does this research matter? We hope that with a well-developed analytical method and model for determining environmental toxicants in biological samples, we can identify those at risk for suicide sooner. This would allow for interventions and suicide prevention, especially in vulnerable populations.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was lucky enough to start research before I started classes. I started in Dr. Gaine’s lab the summer before I started the program.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Research makes it possible to be successful as a scientist. Doing research at the University of Iowa has allowed me to collaborate with highly skilled professionals and grow my knowledge base. Doing this research makes me excited about making a difference in the lives of those who struggle with mental health concerns. Research drives me to be a better student, to ask questions about how the world works, and to find answers to those questions.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I plan to work at a lab in the Midwest after graduation to be near my family. In the future, I hope to use my toxicology and chemistry knowledge to make the world a better, safer place for the generations to come.

Banner location: Downtown—Washington St., across from Daydream Comics