Carey Donald is an NIEHS training grant PhD candidate in Kim Anderson's laboratory.
NIEHS Training Grant recipient (2013 – 2014)
TeamTox Travel Award (2014), website
When did you decide to become a scientist? I decided late in high school, when I learned that I preferred math and science to other classes. I thought I might see myself as a doctor, but my interest turned more towards environmental science once I learned that that was even a thing. The professors in college had an enthusiasm for the environmental sciences and their job. That was what got me interested at first. Then I realized I had a natural interest for the environment and chemistry.
Why did you choose Oregon State University to pursue your PhD? I first came to the Pacific Northwest from the Southeast to work a summer job studying birds. After that, I hung around because there was still so much more to see. After only a short time out of college, I began looking around for graduate programs that featured a combination of chemistry and some environmental science. Through online research I found OSU. I was pleasantly surprised to find a great toxicology program so close.
Research focus in Toxicology: I work with passive sampling devices, which we use to measure real-world mixtures in the environment. For example, we recently used passive samplers to measure numerous pesticides in a remote region in West Africa. I’m also working to understand the toxicity of contaminant mixtures that we detected after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
What is a typical day for you? In lab I spend most of my time working on instruments making sure that I’m getting quality data with careful analytical technique. Back at my desk, I work on analyzing that data with statistics and through reading what other researchers have done. In particular I enjoy learning about data visualization and creating the best display of that data. A full day of either desk or lab work can be challenging, so I try to mix it up daily.
What advice do you have for new students? You can study almost anything you want—it just may require some creativity to get there. Take advantage of all your resources, and ask your friends and advisors for more resources. Make sure to also take full advantage of your time away from the lab, something that is easy to do here in Oregon. Work hard, play hard.
What is next for you? Currently I am interested in a government position, although I must admit my interests change frequently. I also still have the travel itch, so I might try to combine that with an international post-doc in a to-be-determined locale.