My name is Meghan Radford and I am currently in my second, and final, year as a Master’s in Zoology student at North Carolina State University. My project involves investigating the effects of a synthetically created estrogen that is ubiquitously present in the environment, Bisphenol A (BPA), on the behavior and neurological development of rats. Humans are exposed to BPA on a daily basis; it is present in objects as common as soda can liners, on thermal receipts, and dental sealants. The results from my study will be used by the US Food and Drug Administration, along with work from other labs that are studying a wide range of tissues and potential effects, to determine whether this chemical continues to pose no threat to human health at the current approved daily dosage level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency. Several academic laboratories have independently found deleterious, but varied effects of BPA on health; therefore the FDA has funded the large, overarching study to confirm the effects on multiple organ systems, which I am working on. This project has the potential to alter regulatory policy by demonstrating that chemicals like BPA, that are on the market today and have been approved for consumption and exposure at larger doses, have the potential to show more and different detrimental effects at smaller doses.
This potential to influence the future of regulatory policy is what drew me to the Master’s program. It was a means to continue my education, as well as see the project I began as an undergraduate, to its end. I began working in Dr. Heather Patisaul’s lab as an undergraduate pursuing a degree in Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University. She gave me the opportunity to begin working on my project, and I wanted to be able to work on it from the planning stages through publishing.
This experience has exposed me to the world of scientific writing through reading. Being well versed in the scientific literature surrounding my subject is important, but also understanding public knowledge and opinion is essential to influencing public policy. This has shown me that there is a wide variety of authors and readers with varied levels of scientific education, resulting in sometimes less than true reporting of scientific fact and great explanations of really complex scientific theory. My interest in scientific writing is honing my writing skills, so that I can more simply and accurately communicate results of experiments in an interesting way to facilitate public education and comprehension of the goings on in the scientific world.
My future career goals include a PhD with a focus on neuroimmunology and the potential to also continue with toxicological research. Past my PhD, I’m not positive as to the course of my future, though I am excited about all the possibilities. I do know that I will continue to have an inquisitive mind and be an insatiable reader, therefore Science Writing and Blogging will hopefully be a continually used outlet for expressing thoughts and opinions about information I am exposed to and for synthesizing that information into an easily understandable medium for lay and science audiences.