The GEMS Board of Directors has 13 members, including a president, president-elect, secretary, treasurer, and 9 councilors. The Board meets monthly to plan and prepare for the two annual GEMS meetings.


 Carol Swartz, DVM, Ph.D, is the Director of In Vitro Toxicology and Formulations Manager at Integrated Laboratory Systems, Inc. in Research Triangle Park, NC. She received her BS in Biochemistry and her DVM from Oklahoma State University, and her PhD in Toxicology from Texas A&M University. Dr. Swartz has over 30 years of experience performing laboratory research in genetic toxicology, molecular biology, and biochemistry and over 20 years of experience with in vitro cell culture and cell-based assays and with bacterial mutagenicity assays and molecular genetic toxicology. Dr. Swartz completed a postdoctoral position at the US EPA with Dr. David DeMarini, where she assessed the mutagenicity of drinking water contaminants (disinfection byproducts and nanoparticles) and sulfur-containing contaminants found in combustion emissions using the bacterial mutagenicity assay, Salmonella whole-genome microarrays, and the mouse tandem repeat germline mutation assays. She was also a post-doctoral trainee at NIEHS, where she studied the biology of uterine leiomyoma with Dr. Darlene Dixon. Dr. Swartz has been with ILS for almost 10 years where she is responsible for conduct of in vitro genetic toxicology studies and all formulation laboratory activities. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society, where she is a newly-elected EMGS councilor. She has twice served as Councilor on the Board of Directors for GEMS and has been the GEMS Corporate Sponsorship Coordinator for the past six years.


Arun Pandiri, BVSC&AH, Ph.D., is the leader of the Molecular Pathology Group, Cellular and Molecular Pathology Branch, National Toxicology Program.  He earned his Veterinary degree from ANGR Agricultural University, Hyderabad, India; M.S. from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Ph.D. from Michigan State University and the USDA ARS Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory, East Lansing; and Pathology residency training at North Carolina State University, Raleigh. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and the American Board of Toxicology. Dr. Pandiri received the first Distinguished Early Career Award from the Society of Toxicologic Pathology (STP) in 2014. His areas of interest include chemical-induced carcinogenesis and the toxicologic pathology of digestive and respiratory systems. The current focus of Dr. Pandiri’s group is on identifying mutation signatures in tumors induced by genotoxic and non-genotoxic carcinogens from the NTP rodent cancer bioassays. Dr. Pandiri has presented at various workshops organized by the EPA, FDA and at the local universities NCSU and UNC. In addition, he has also organized several scientific sessions and continuing education programs at the annual meetings of the STP and the American College of Toxicology.  He considers it an honor to serve and contribute to the growth of GEMS especially in the areas of continuing education and career development.


Jennifer Nichols, Ph.D., is a Toxicologist at EPA with broad expertise in health effects related to air pollution. In ORD’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, I have served in a number of capacities primarily  focused on human health risk assessments for air pollution exposures as part of reviews of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). In particular, my work has focused on evaluating and integrating evidence examining respiratory and cardiovascular effects, susceptible populations, and implementation of new methods and approaches to improve transparency and translation of scientific conclusions to support evidence-based decision making. I have previously served in the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards where I led a multi-disciplinary team in the review of the primary NAAQS for Oxides of Nitrogen. Prior to joining EPA in 2012, I completed doctoral research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I worked under Dr. Steve Kleeberger to characterize genetic and genomic mechanisms of neonatal acute lung injury. In these roles, I have effectively engaged in multi-disciplinary collaborations and worked with diverse groups of technical and nontechnical stakeholders internal and external to EPA on topics related to scientific research, policy, and communication. In addition, I have taken an active service role in the scientific community, including serving as a councilor on the GEMS Board from 2013-2016.


Jessica Hartman, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral scholar in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, working in the lab of Dr. Joel Meyer. Her research is working to uncover the role of metabolism in driving interindividual differences in toxicity associated with environmental exposures. More specifically, she is studying how genetics, diet, and exercise, as well as differences in xenobiotic metabolism, impact toxicity in the model organism C. elegans. This research builds on her prior doctoral research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where Dr. Hartman worked with Dr. Grover Miller to study metabolism of common environmental pollutants by the human cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP2E1. Dr. Hartman has already demonstrated a strong commitment to the advocacy and support of trainees, evidenced by her role as mentor to students and as Chair of the New Investigator Committee in the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX). In this role, she spearheaded the organization of trainee career development events at three national ISSX conferences and led efforts to improve New Investigator member benefits in the society. Dr. Hartman plans to pursue a career in academic research, where she hopes to continue to train students and develop her research program. Dr. Hartman is eager to explore the relationship of her work to environmental mutagenesis through working with GEMS.

2019-2021 COUNCILORS

Shaun D. McCullough, PhD., is a Principal Investigator in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where his laboratory uses organotypic airway models to explore the molecular mechanisms responsible for the adverse health effects of inhaled toxicants.  Dr. McCullough holds a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics from the University of Virginia and currently serves on the editorial boards of Environmental Epigenetics and the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, and as a subject matter expert in epigenetics for the EPA’s review of OECD guidelines.  He has also been an invited speaker and session chair at a variety of meetings and the Chair of Contemporary Concepts in Toxicology meetings on both toxicoepigenetics and organotypic epithelial models.  Dr. McCullough has also served as the President of SOT’s Molecular and Systems Biology Specialty Section, Chair of SOT’s Career Resources and Development Committee, and as a member of the Board of Directors for the American Society for Cellular and Computational Toxicology.

Esra Mutlu, Ph.D., is a chemist in the Division of the National Toxicology Program (NTP). Dr. Mutlu received her BSc (Honors) in Chemistry from Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey in 2001 and her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK in 2004. Esra worked at UNC Chapel Hill and U.S. EPA as a postdoctoral fellow and was actively involved in research on DNA adduct formation, mutagenicity and mutagenic emission factors of particulate matters of various emissions. She manages chemistry contracts conducting toxicokinetic studies and supporting toxicity and carcinogenicity studies of diverse chemicals including botanicals, PAHs, sunscreen ingredients, and phenolic benzotriazoles. Dr. Mutlu’s research interests include the reactive metabolites of xenobiotics and mode of action of chemicals and their metabolites in vivo. Dr. Mutlu received several rewards, including the SOT Carcinogenesis Specialty Session Best Postdoctoral Research Award (2013), GEMS Best Oral Presentation Award (2012), and The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (2006-2008).

Laura Taylor, M.S., is currently researching the influence of genetics and epigenetics on biomarker levels after workers have been exposed to diisocyanates in polyurethane paint. The goal of her doctoral work is to refine exposure assessment models, further knowledge on the toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of diisocyanate exposures, and advance methodologies to identify genetically susceptible populations in order to reduce workers’ development of adverse health effects. This research is being conducted under the direction of Dr. Leena Nylander-French at the University of North Carolina as part of the Environmental Sciences and Engineering program. Previously, Laura received a Master of Science degree in Toxicology from UNC. Outside of her doctoral work, Laura mentors students for the Step Up to Physical Science and Engineering (SUPER) program for her alma mater, Randolph College, and volunteers at her local animal shelter. Her memberships include Phi Beta Kappa and the National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry, and she has presented her work at the International Society of Exposure Science’s annual meeting. During her career, Laura hopes to perform implementation science for public health and sustainability initiatives.

2018-2020 COUNCILORS

Michelle Angrish, Ph.D., is a Toxicologist in the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program. Since joining the agency in 2014, she has advanced the application of Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) to chemical prioritization and risk assessment via 10 peer-reviewed publications, been awarded an EPA Stage 1 Pathfinder Innovation Project, co-managed the first ever Metabolic Health Effects Chapter in the Particulate Matter Integrative Science Assessment, and kicking-off an international task force to explore the use of semantics and artificial intelligence to enhance systematic review methods. Michelle is a strategic innovator and prior to earning Ph.D.s in genetics and environmental toxicology from Michigan State University, used her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to gain R&D positions developing point of care diagnostic devices for medical and agricultural applications. Dr. Angrish has laboratory expertise exploring mechanisms of metabolic disease that extend to molecular mechanisms of lipid and glucose disorders. Michelle is a member of scientific organizations that include SOT, EMGS, and GEMS, a proud mother of two, and looks forward to serve and support GEMS!

Alison Harrill, Ph.D., is a Geneticist at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences in the Division of the National Toxicology Program (NTP). Her research interests include investigating the role of genetic sequence variation and population dynamics as it relates to toxicity susceptibility, and development/qualification of novel biofluid-based miRNA biomarkers of organ toxicity. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for Toxicological Sciences, co-Chair of the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute’s (HESI) Application of Genomics to Mechanism-Based Risk Assessment Technical Committee, co-chair of the HESI miRNA Biomarkers Working Group, co-Chair of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Contemporary Concepts in Toxicology Committee, and past Secretary/Treasurer of the Toxicology Division within the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Dr. Harrill received her Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2009). Dr. Harrill and her team have received several awards, including the Burroughs Wellcome Award for Innovation in Regulatory Science (2013-2016), the SOT Outstanding Published Paper in Advancing the Science of Risk Assessment Award (2009) and the SOT Best Paper Published in Toxicological Sciences (2016).

Natalie Saini, Ph.D., completed her Ph.D in 2014 from Georgia Institute of Technology, where she was working on understanding how intrinsic DNA damage and repair pathways contribute to genome instability in yeast. Dr. Saini is currently a postdoctoral scientist in Dr. Dmitry Gordenin’s lab at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She is working towards establishing herself as an independent researcher in the near future. Dr. Saini’s overarching research goal is to determine the range of genome-wide mutation loads and to identify the mutation signatures in the cells of healthy individuals to decipher environmental and genetic causes of genome instability. She utilizes simple model organisms like yeast to understand how environmental agents affect DNA stability, and to apply this knowledge to answer key questions regarding the impact of environmental damage on mutagenesis in humans, resulting in important insights into how these factors affect human health. Dr. Saini recently was awarded the Young Scientist Award by EMGS and is looking forward to participating the North Carolina Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis Society.

2017-2019 COUNCILORS

Catherine (Cathy) Sprankle, M.S., is a Senior Communications Specialist at ILS, an RTP company that provides toxicity testing and related services to NIEHS, EPA, and other government and commercial clients. Cathy's group supports the NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM), which develops and evaluates non-animal methods for chemical safety testing. Cathy manages the NICEATM website, writes articles on NICEATM activities for the NIEHS newsletter, and has a variety of other communications responsibilities. Prior to joining ILS, Cathy spent over 20 years working as a lab scientist for a number of RTP-area institutions including NCSU, GSK, and NIEHS. She was an active member of GEMS in the 1980s and 1990s during her 10 years working for CIIT (later the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences), and won the Best Poster Presentation award at the Fall 1993 meeting. Other honors include recognition by the Society for Technical Communication for her work as editor of the ICCVAM Biennial Progress report, a publication that has won several STC awards. Cathy has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in technical communication from NCSU. Her diverse interests are reflected by her many volunteer activities with groups such as Raleigh Little Theatre, the City of Raleigh Parks Commission, Sanderson High School Band Boosters, and the Brookhaven Night Garden Club.

Natalia Ryan, Ph.D. (formerly VanDuyn), is a toxicologist in the Human Safety – Regulatory Toxicology group at Bayer CropScience.  Her current role involves the analysis and interpretation of high-throughput screening data (including ToxCast and Tox21) for Bayer active ingredients and participating in efforts to improve and expand internal early toxicology screening methods to refine the product development process.  Dr. Ryan also contributes to industry work groups related to computational toxicology and risk assessment.  Dr. Ryan earned her PhD in Toxicology from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2014 where she studied the molecular mechanisms of methylmercury toxicity in C. elegans under the guidance of Dr. Richard Nass.  To expand her expertise in mechanisms of toxicity, she pursued an ORISE postdoctoral fellowship in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL) at the US EPA in Research Triangle Park, NC under the mentorship of Drs. Brian Chorley and Chris Corton.  The main focus of her work was integrating genomics into predictive toxicology and creating gene expression biomarkers for nuclear receptor activation to aid in the development of adverse outcome pathways.  She also participated in the High-throughput Toxicity Testing and Cancer Adverse Outcome Pathway task groups and was involved in the Networking and Leadership Training Organization (NLTO).  She has been a member of the Society of Toxicology for eight years and the Molecular and Systems Biology, In Vitro and Alternative Methods and Carcinogenesis Specialty Sections, earning several awards for her research.  Dr. Ryan joined GEMS in 2014 and was the recipient of the Best Talk Award at the 2014 annual fall meeting.  


Tom Hughes, M.S.,  was the co-founder of GEMS in 1983.  He served as the GEMS President three times and has been on the BOD as Councilor, Treasurer, Corporate Sponsor Coordinator and Vice President.  He was awarded the GEMS Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual Meeting in 2015.  He has been a QA and Records Manager at the US EPA for the past 17 years and a laboratory scientist at the US EPA for five years prior to being a QA and Records Manager.  Scientifically, he was involved in the World Trade Center (WTC) research, where a 20 member Team exposed mice to dusts from the WTC immediately after the 9/11/01 disaster and in the Penobscot River Study in Maine where the water, sediment and drinking water of the Penobscot River and the fish and plants were investigate for toxicity for the Penobscot Indian Nation.  Previous to being at the US EPA, Tom was a Principal Investigator in two contract labs for twenty years, were he conducted GLP testing for industrial clients, and where he conducted toxicology testing for industry, NCI, EPA and NTP.  Tom was the U.S. EPA QA Manager of the Year in 2002 and was a US EPA National Honor Award winner in 2014 for his work with the Penobscot Indians.  He will retireD from the US EPA after 22 years on October 29, 2016 after which he continued to be an invaluable supporter of the mission of GEMS.  

P.O. Box 13475, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

GEMS is incorporated as a non-profit scientific organization in the state of North Carolina  and with the federal government. 

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