Blair Paulik could have attended graduate school with a full scholarship at Duke University, but she chose Oregon State after being deeply impressed by the history of the Environmental and Molecular Toxicology department.

"I liked how established the department is — they've had a superfund for a long time and have a good relationship with the EPA." Blair explains. "Having an NIEHS training grant for 40 years is very impressive. Having an Ivy League school offer you funding for the full five years of a PhD program is difficult to turn down, but graduate school is much more about research and the department you're in rather than name recognition. The collaborative nature of the toxicology department at OSU is remarkable."

Blair is currently seeking to develop a model that will allow researchers to predict what contaminants are present in organisms by analyzing sampling devices placed in the Portland harbor. Determining what toxins have contaminated an ecological area typically involves catching large numbers and testing them. Developing methods that simplify the process can save a great deal of time and money, a vital consideration for researchers. “OSU's already done some work on this problem,” she says, “so I have a lot of resources to draw on.”

Receiving the Provost Fellowship was enticing, but OSU's reputation and the rich cultural diversity of the Pacific Northwest was just as important a draw. “The Provost Fellowship gave me a buffer I wouldn't have had otherwise; I haven't had to worry about money and I've been able to focus on my research - that's invaluable. And, honestly, I love it here. I love the outdoors, and I have a deep respect and concern for our environment. I have the opportunity to do interesting research with an impressive department.

For more information about the OSU Superfund Project, please visit: http://superfund.oregonstate.edu/home