Sam Eliasen

Sam Eliasen, Undergraduate student, neuroscience, biochemistry and molecular biology

Studies toxin exposure before birth

“Overall, Sam is a highly accomplished student and member of the field that our lab has been extremely lucky to have.” – Robert Taylor, lab manager

LeClaire, Iowa

Faculty mentor/advisor:
Hanna Stevens, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry, Carver College of Medicine

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
Neuroscience BS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology BS, Certificate in Clinical and Translational Science. May 2024

Please describe your research:
I work to better understand how pesticides impact fetal development during pregnancy. Specifically, I look at household compounds and how common exposure methods can lead to altered brain development and risk of neurodevelopmental diseases. My research also emphasizes the role of the placenta in mediating the effects of toxic substances during pregnancy.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
It’s important to be aware of the chemicals that surround us each day and how these may impact human health. Sometimes, these effects can reach beyond our own immediate health and affect those around us—family members, children, and loved ones included. Studying reproductive and developmental toxicology helps to better illuminate these widespread effects so that we can protect future generations.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
At the beginning of my second semester.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
Research involvement has helped me hone my critical thinking skills and appreciate where scientific knowledge comes from. My lab has also provided me with great mentorship and opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought possible. I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Stevens and her lab for the years of support.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation?
I plan to work at the National Institutes of Health as a post-bac research trainee while I apply to medical schools.

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