Ella Sanvee ’23 Earns Award to Attend Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting


Sanvee received an Undergraduate Diversity Program Award to attend the multi-day event, where she also presented her own research poster

Ella Sanvee '23 presents her research poster at the Society of Toxicology meeting in San Diego, CA

This spring, junior Emmanuella (Ella) Sanvee earned entrance to the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting, a multi-day event held in San Diego, CA. While there, Sanvee attended lectures given by prominent researchers, gathered information about possible internships and advanced degree programs and even presented her very own research poster.

Sanvee received an Undergraduate Diversity Program (UDP) Award, which provides the opportunity for promising undergraduate science majors interested in research careers to attend the SOT Annual Meeting. The UDP Award covered all travel expenses, accommodations, and meals. The goal of the program is to attract students from diverse backgrounds to graduate schools in the biomedical sciences, especially toxicology.

About 300 undergraduate students applied and Sanvee was one of about 30 students to receive the prestigious award. It was the Bel Air, Maryland resident’s first-ever visit to California.

The students at the meeting were able to attend lectures geared towards undergraduates, introducing them to the various topics in the toxicology field. These lectures were given by some of the field’s most prominent researchers. There were also breakout sessions where students had the opportunity to talk with admissions counselors from different graduate schools, and to learn about internships and other career paths.

“The conference really opened my eyes to different possible career paths,” said Sanvee, who is majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, along with a minor in Public Health. “I plan to go to medical school, but I also find the field of toxicology very interesting, and there’s really so much overlap. For example, there are people who work in the public health aspect of toxicology. So it was great to see how I can intersect all of these different interests.”

Sanvee will graduate in May 2023, and will likely pursue a Master’s in Biomedical Sciences first, and then move on to med school. She is also interested in programs that allow you to earn a Master’s in Public Health and an MD concurrently, as getting the MPH is important to her.

About 7,000 people were in attendance for the Annual Meeting.

It was at the urging of one of Sanvee’s professors, Mindy Reynolds, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major, that Sanvee pursued this unique opportunity.  Reynolds is a member of SOT, and the two had collaborated on an 8-week summer research project, which studied the role of MLH1 in cobalt and nickel induced toxicity in V79 cells. They are studying how environmentally relevant levels of these metals may be linked to epigenetic changes and the development of cancerous phenotypes.

“It was wonderful to be able to bring Ella to the SOT meeting and to expose her to a broader range of scientific topics,” said Reynolds.  “Over the course of our research experience I was able to witness Ella grow and become more confident in herself and realize there are so many opportunities open for her.”

Sanvee took advantage of one additional opportunity while there – presenting her own research poster on these heavy metals found in the environment. In order to present, she had to apply. “Most of the presenters were established toxicologists, so it was a really big thing for me to present my research,” she said. But rather than feel intimidated, when her time came, she felt like she was really just sharing with peers. “By that time, I had acquainted myself with the environment, and found that everyone was really there to learn from each other,” she said.

Sanvee found the experience gratifying, noting that she made many great contacts that will be good resources as her career progresses. She heavily credits Reynolds for inspiring her and helping her to come out of her shell. “A year ago, I would not have been comfortable going after this opportunity, but Dr. Reynolds encouraged me so much and is really amazing,” she said, noting that she was struggling with self-confidence and believing in herself. “Thanks to her support, I finally feel like I am in my element.”