Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society Annual Elections
October 1, 2018 to December 1, 2018.

The 2018 ballot includes:
1. EMGS Vice-President Elect (One candidate will be elected.)

2. EMGS Secretary (One candidate will be elected.)

3. EMGS Councilor (Five candidates will be elected.)

4. One EMGS bylaws amendment (Vote to approve change or not.)

Candidate Biographies and Bylaw Amendment Explanation

Please read about the candidates and proposed bylaws amendments, then select the "vote" button at the bottom of the page to go to the ballot.

Vice President-Elect:
Dr. John Nicolette, Abbvie Inc.
Dr. Carole Yauk, Health Canada


John Nicolette is currently the Director of Genetic, Occupational and Environmental toxicology at AbbVie, Inc. in North Chicago, IL.  He has spent the majority of his 27 year career in the pharmaceutical industry as a genetic toxicologist at companies such as Pfizer and Pharmacia.  A member of EMGS since 1998, he has served on council and has chaired an outreach task force that implemented the EMGS Emerging Scientist travel award and the EMGS quest game.  He is currently the chair of the Membership and Professional Development committee and serves on the Endowment Fund board.  He is co-chair of the DruSafe Impurities Safety working group; an industry team that is working toward best practices for evaluation and control of mutagenic and non-mutagenic impurities in drugs.   

He will focus on the areas of membership and meeting attendance, specifically targeting the industrial regulatory genetic toxicologists, genomic researchers, as well as any associated regulatory personnel.  Challenges stem from diminishing travel budgets and meeting content applicable to these individuals.  Additionally, he feels that EMGS could take on a bigger role in informing regulatory bodies on key concerns related to the evaluation of impact to the genome, whether these are discrete incidences or more broadly applied, regulatory-driven testing or risk evaluation expectations.  Short-duration task forces could leverage the expertise of our membership from the basic research expert, to the practical testing and assessing scientist, to the government regulator that must apply this knowledge to keep the public safe.


Dr. Carole Yauk is the lead scientist of the Genomics Laboratory in the Environmental Health Science and Research Bureau at Health Canada (HC), and an adjunct professor of Biology at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Ontario. She has 25 years of experience in genomics/genetic toxicology and has been an enthusiastic member of the EMGS for nearly 20 years.

Carole obtained her Ph.D. in Biology from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where she investigated the effects of air pollution on heritable mutations. In post-doctoral research at the University of Leicester, England, she developed novel single-molecule PCR techniques to characterize tandem repeat mutation frequencies and meiotic recombination hotspots. She returned to Canada in 2002 to establish a research core in toxicogenomics at HC. Her current research is focused on the development and application of genomic approaches for chemical risk assessment. She has received numerous awards for this work, including HC’s ‘Most Promising Scientist’, ‘Excellence in Leadership’ and ‘Excellence in Science’ awards.

Carole also participates extensively in international activities associated with advancing regulatory applications of genomics. She currently co-chairs the Health and Environmental Sciences Institutes’ Genomics Committee and is actively involved in the Genetic Toxicology Technical Committee. She serves on OECD and grant review/oversight committees, and on several editorial boards.

Since her first meeting in Minneapolis, Carole has been a huge EMGS fan, attributing many of her successes to her network of EMGS collaborators. She has served on Council, as Chair of the Heritable Mutations and Disease Special Interest Group, as co-chair of the Special Interest Group Committee, and on other EMGS committees. She was Associate Editor of Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis for 10 years and is currently on its editorial board. She is a committed member who has rarely missed an annual meeting and is greatly looking forward to more opportunities to contribute.

Secretary: (1 will be elected.)
Dr. Meagan Myers, FDA/NCTR
Dr. Janice Pluth, University of Nevada Las Vegas


Meagan B. Myers received her doctorate in Interdisciplinary Toxicology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2006.  In 2006, she joined the National Center for Toxicological Research as a Staff Fellow in the Division of Genetic and Molecular Toxicology (DGMT).  In 2017, Dr. Myers was promoted to Research Biologist within the DGMT.  Dr. Myers’ research focuses on developing somatic hotspot point mutations as quantitative biomarkers of cancer risk.  Utilizing highly-sensitive techniques, including Allele-specific Competitive Blocker PCR (ACB-PCR) and Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) methodologies, she has quantified levels of hotspot cancer-driver mutations, such as those found in KRAS, in various human tissues and tumors.  Her research interests include using highly-sensitive techniques to define normal and pathological levels of cancer-relevant mutations, such as those found in triple-negative breast cancer, with the ultimate goal of understanding how low frequency mutant subpopulations in tumors may contribute to the acquired resistance to cancer therapies. 

Dr. Myers has been an active member of the EMGS since 2004.  She served on Council (2015-2018), as Council Representative to the EMGS Executive Board (2016-2017), and as a member of the Education, Student and New Investigator Affairs (ESNIA) Committee (2009-present), the Public Relations and Communications Committee (2011), the EMGS Membership Task Force (2011), the SIG Leaders Committee (2014-present), the Young Scientist Award Committee (2015-2017), and the EMGS News Committee (2018-present).  She currently serves as Chair of the Women in the EMGS (WEMGS).  Dr. Myers’ membership/involvement in other scientific societies includes:  Society of Toxicology, South Central Chapter of the SOT (Councilor, 2010-2012), American Association for Cancer Research, and Sigma Xi.


Dr. Janice Pluth is an Associate Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Dr. Pluth obtained her BA from the University of Minnesota and began her research career as an undergraduate in the cytogenetics research lab of Dr. Betsy Hirsch. She was involved in studies directed to understanding the role of genetics in DNA repair using a large twin cohort. She received a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from the Department of Microbiology at the University of Vermont under the guidance of Dr. Richard Albertini, the father of the HPRT assay. In her doctoral research she investigated whether the pesticide malathion led to the reactivation of V(D)J recombinase and its mutagenic effects using the HPRT assay. In 1996, Dr. Pluth began working at Lawrence Livermore National Lab as Post-doctoral researcher for Dr. James Tucker and studied the relationship between various P450 polymorphisms and chromosome aberration frequencies. Her next post doctoral position was at Stanford University working with Cordula Kirchgessner defining the proteins important for repairing DNA damage in various phases of the cell cycle and the interplay of these proteins. Her last post doctoral position was with Dr. Priscilla Cooper following up on previous work investigating the cell cycle dependencies of various DNA repair pathways. She became an independent investigator at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2004 and worked there until 2017 when she left to take a position at UNLV.

Her research has centered on understanding intra-individual variation in DSB repair and the role of genetic versus environmental effects on baseline mutation frequencies. She has been a NASA investigator since 2004, and incorporated studies designed to unravel how early damage events relate to longer-term effects and to cancer risk. Her research has incorporated the use of both high and low LET radiations as a means to induce both simple and more complex DSBs, to study how differences in the complexity of the breaks affect cellular responses.  More recent studies have incorporated 3D tissue models to paint a more realistic picture of in vivo responses. Her current interests are focused on identifying the etiology of radiation-induced cancer and the importance of stem cells in this process.

Dr. Pluth has been a member of the Environmental Mutagen Society since 1992. She has served as Council Member (2003-2006), Co-Chair of the Woman in EMGS SIG (2007-2011), President of Epigenetics SIG (2013-present), and is a Member of the Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis Editorial Board. Dr. Pluth has served on the EMS Membership and Professional Development Committee (2007-2010), and the Education, Student and New Investigator Committee (2004-present). She is the current secretary of EMGS and has performed this role since 2016.

Councilors: (5 will be elected.)
Dr. Nikolai Chepelev, Health Canada
Ms. Jill Escher, Escher Fund for Autism
Dr. Christopher Faulk, University of Minnesota
Dr. Les Hanakahi, University of Illinois
Dr. Robert H. Heflich, US FDA/NCTR
Dr. Cheryl Anne Hobbs, Integrated Laboratory Systems
Dr. Isabelle R. Miousse, University of Arkansas
Dr. Vincent L. Reynolds, Eli Lilly and Company
Dr. Leon F. Stankowski, Charles River Laboratories


Nikolai Chepelev joined Genomics/Genetic Toxicology Laboratories of Health Canada in 2011. There, he developed strong expertise in the application of genomics and genetic toxicology for human health risk assessment. His work in the field received several awards, including an EMGS/EMM best paper award by a postdoctoral fellow in 2017. Nikolai is a co-chair of the Risk Assessment Special Interests Group of EMGS. His current research is aimed at the development of higher throughput in vitro tools for genetic toxicity assessment of new and existing chemicals, as well as the application of quantitative genetic toxicity data for derivation of health-based guidance values.


Jill Escher is a research philanthropist based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose work focuses on novel questions of heritable effects of early germ cell exposures. Through the Escher Fund for Autism, Ms. Escher has funded many research projects aimed at examining disruptive early germline programming and gametic effects of drug, smoking, and chemical exposures, with an emphasis on risk for dysregulated neurodevelopment in offspring. Her work was recently featured in the journal Environmental Epigenetics in “Bugs in the program: can pregnancy drugs and smoking disturb molecular reprogramming of the fetal germline, increasing heritable risk for autism and neurodevelopmental disorders?”

Enthusiastic about connecting laypeople to cutting-edge science, Ms. Escher created a website, GermlineExposures.org, as a repository of information concerning the nature and consequences of human germline's vulnerability to exposures. In her role as an advocate for germ cell perturbation as an endpoint for regulatory action, she has repeatedly petitioned the FDA to include fetal germ cells as a tissue of interest in drug risk assessment.

An active proponent of the mission of EMGS, Ms. Escher has presented at several meetings, has co-chaired a symposium on exposures and autism, and will be co-chairing an EMGS workshop called “What are your germ cells smoking?” in September 2019.

A former attorney and current member of nonprofit boards, Ms. Escher is well versed in matters of corporate governance, She has served as president of the board of Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area since 2013, and was recently elected president of the National Council on Severe Autism. She received her bachelor's degree in English from Stanford University in 1987 and a masters in City and Regional Planning and Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996. She is also the mother of two children with nonverbal autism.


Dr. Christopher Faulk has been a member of EMGS since 2013 and is a member of the epigenetics SIG as well having served as New Investigator Co-Chair of the 47th annual meeting of EMGS. He advises two PhD students, both EMGS travel award winners. Since 2015, Dr. Faulk has worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota studying environmentally induced epigenetic changes arising from dietary or toxicological exposure in early development that result in lifelong health consequences. In pursuit of DNA methylation dynamics, he trained as a postdoc at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, in the applied area of epigenetic toxicology under the direction of Dr. Dana Dolinoy. His work merges epigenetic toxicology, environmental exposure, nutrition, and evolutionary biology to determine how epigenetic factors drive mutation to alter gene expression in response to environmental toxicants.

As a recipient of the inaugural EMGS Newly Independent Investigators Engagement Program, Dr. Faulk has personally experienced the benefits of EMGS especially for junior scientists. Because of this award he will have the opportunity to plan a symposium for a future meeting, something few societies offer junior members. If elected to council, Dr. Faulk anticipates a greater role in EMGS, paying forward by training students, giving them the opportunity to present at our national meetings and promoting the society. He has served on the EMGS Split Track Task force, presented in SIGs, and consulted on the development of the Member Initiated External Activities. He considers this his “home society” and finds fellow members to be passionate, dedicated to the advancement of our society, members, and our science. As councilor, Dr. Faulk will focus on membership expansion, increasing utilization of SIG resources, and consensus building towards the EMGS mission with the ultimate goal of producing good science and good policy.


Dr.  Les Hanakahi is an Associate Professor at the in the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1990 from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and her PhD in Biophysics and Biochemistry in 1996 from Yale University. She received her training in DNA repair and nucleic acid enzymology as a postdoctoral fellow at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF - UK) under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen West. During her postdoc Dr. Hanakahi focused on the application molecular mechanism of DNA double-strand break repair by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ).

Dr. Hanakahi started her independent career in fall of 2002, and received the Rita Allen Scholar's Award in 2003.  Her laboratory is focused on understanding mechanisms of DBA double-strand break repair in humans, and the cross-talk between DNA-repair pathways to coordinate repair at DNA breaks with additional forms of DNA damage at terminal bases.

Dr. Hanakahi has been a member of EMGS since 2010, and has been co-chair of the Education Student New Investigator Committee (now sub-committee) since 2014.  Les feel that EMGS is an outstanding society that offers important networking and leadership opportunities that are critical for career development.  She hopes to contribute more to the society and its efforts to help educate and support the next generation of environmental researchers by serving on council.

Dr. Robert Heflich received a Ph.D. in Microbiology from Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey in 1976, followed by postdoctoral training with Veronica Maher and Justin McCormick at Michigan State University, where he studied DNA repair and mutagenesis in normal human fibroblasts. Bob joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s National Center for Toxicological Research in 1979, where he is currently Director of the Division of Genetic and Molecular Toxicology. His research involves the development of approaches to measure and analyze mutations in laboratory animals, most recently using the endogenous Pig-a gene as a reporter of mutation in mice, rats, and humans.  Other research interests include the development and characterization of relevant in vitro organotypic assays, especially as related to evaluating the risks associated with inhaled substances. Bob has published over 200 papers in peer reviewed journals, has served as Editor-in-Chief of Environmental and Molecular and Mutagenesis, participates on several FDA and international committees, and has devoted considerable effort towards developing an OECD Test Guideline for the in vivo Pig-a gene mutation assay. He has been an EMGS member since 1983.


Dr. Cheryl A. Hobbs has many years of diverse experience with in vivo and in vitro models of disease and genetic damage incurred by chemical exposure.  She has expertise and publications in the fields of genetic and general toxicology, gene regulation, and epigenetic mechanisms of disease and toxicity.  Currently, Dr. Hobbs serves as the Director of Toxicology at ILS, Inc., overseeing the conduct of genetic and general toxicity testing for both government agencies and commercial clients.  She has a keen interest in extending the safety evaluation of environmental chemicals to include adverse effects on the epigenome; recently, she has been using toxicogenomics to develop gene signatures predictive of chemical-induced effects on the stem cell epigenome that may potentially lead to developmental disorders or disease.  Previously, Dr. Hobbs led ILS’ participation in the international validation of the in vivo comet assay; she currently serves on the OECD expert panel on the Pig-a assay, development teams for the CDISC standard for exchange of nonclinical data (SEND) for submission of genetox data, the editorial board of Mutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis, and as a reviewer for multiple journals.  Prior to joining ILS, Dr. Hobbs held concurrent appointments at Lankenau Hospital in suburban Philadelphia, and the affiliated Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, where she previously did her postdoctoral training.  Prior to obtaining her doctorate, she worked as a molecular biologist in support of drug discovery programs at Sterling Winthrop, Inc. and cancer research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center.  Dr. Hobbs attained her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioscience and Biotechnology from Drexel University and her B.A. in Biological Sciences and Computer Science from the University of Delaware.  She has been a member of several professional organizations, including EMGS since 2007, AACR, NCSOT, and recently served as a Councilor on the Board of Directors of GEMS.

Dr. Isabelle Miousse is an Assistant Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She received her Ph.D in Human Genetics from McGill University in Canada. Her work focuses on the role of methyl donors in cancer epigenetics. She has been an active member of EMGS since 2014.  She serves as the Education, Student and New Investigator Affairs Committee Co-Chair and organizes the annual networking contest for Student and New Investigators.


Vincent L. Reynolds, PhD, DABT is a toxicologist with over 3 decades of experience in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Vinny completed his undergraduate degree (Chemistry/Biology) at Delaware, his PhD (Toxicology) at Kentucky, and postdoctoral studies on effects of oncogenes at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He joined the gene-tox group at DuPont and spent 12 years in the chemical industry with DuPont and Dow Corning where his activities included study director roles in genetic and general toxicology, risk assessment to support workplace exposure guidelines and environmental remediation, and developmental/reproductive toxicity assessments of commodity chemicals and consumer product components. Dr. Reynolds is now a Research Advisor with Eli Lilly & Company where he has been a Toxicology Project Leader for 19 years. He has been responsible for the design, conduct, and oversight of toxicology studies supporting regulatory filings and clinical development for numerous small molecules and biologics for treating cancer and metabolic diseases. Vinny has provided technical leadership in resolving a wide range of issues, including mutagenicity, endocrine, reproductive, bone, and carcinogenicity concerns. He has remained true to his genetic toxicology roots, has served on the Board of Directors for the Genetic Toxicology Association, and is a leading gene-tox subject matter expert within Lilly. Dr. Reynolds believes passionately epigenetics is rapidly emerging as a new pharmaceutical frontier and toxicologists must be energetically engaged in efforts to address potential epigenetic safety concerns. He co-chairs a DruSafe working group examining current pharma practices in epigenetic drug development, has chaired, co-chaired, or contributed to numerous symposia and CE sessions at national meetings, and authored/co-authored over 50 publications, abstracts, and book chapters on a broad range of toxicology topics.  He is the inventor on two patents and brings a deep awareness of gene-tox concerns specific to both the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.


Leon F. Stankowski, Jr., PhD, will bring a breadth of experience to the EMGS Councilor position.  He has been a member of EMGS and the genetic toxicology community since graduate school in Oak Ridge.  Leon has worked at four contract research organizations (Pharmakon Research and successors, Covance Laboratories, BioReliance, and WIL Research – subsequently bought by Charles River Laboratories), and also spent three years managing the genetic toxicology group at Johnson & Johnson PRD.  Leon obtained BS degrees in premedicine and biophysics from The Pennsylvania State University, and received his PhD in biomedical sciences (genetics) from the University of Tennessee – Oak Ridge Graduate School of Biomedical Science.

Leon is currently Senior Scientific Director for Genetic and In Vitro Toxicology at Charles River in Skokie, IL, just outside Chicago.  Previous roles included bench work in basic and applied research settings, study direction for various regulatory assays, managing laboratories and staff, and providing scientific expertise to commercial clients and regulatory agencies.  Leon authored or coauthored dozens of peer-reviewed and invited papers/presentations, and over 100 posters/talks.  He served/serves on numerous industrial and regulatory workgroups including ASTM, ILSI-HESI GTTC, IWGT and US EPA, and was/is a member of various expert workgroups revising and drafting OECD genotoxicity test guidelines.

Leon has been a member of EMGS and the Genetic Toxicology Association (GTA) for more years than he cares to admit.  He has been an editorial board member for EMM, and a reviewer for that and other journals.  In GTA, he has served as director, assistant treasurer, meeting coordinator, session and workshop chair, and is presently its treasurer.  Leon’s many relationships throughout this field can help EMGS grow, increasing and motivating membership.  His extensive volunteer experience in GTA and other organizations will bring a fresh perspective to Council, and make him an ideal candidate for this position.

Proposed Bylaws Amendment: Alter the text that does not specify solidified timelines with regards to Membership Dues.

Rationale: The proposed Bylaws change does not give a specific date that a member will lose his/her membership, but states that it will be 6 months after dues were to be paid.


Section 2. The Executive Board shall determine the date yearly membership dues are to be paid. Any members whose dues are unpaid on such date will be so notified and will be notified that he/she is not a member in good standing.  If such member’s dues remain unpaid 6 months beyond the due date, he/she will no longer be deemed a member.

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