Purdue Health Sciences professor serves as mentor in NIH-funded program

Written By: Rebecca Hoffa, rhoffa@purdue.edu

Jason Cannon

Jason Cannon, associate professor of health sciencesPhoto provided

Jason Cannon, associate professor of health sciences in the Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences, is serving as one of 25 volunteer mentors in the Toxicology Mentoring and Skills Development Training Program (ToxMSDT) to provide career advice and guidance to underrepresented minority undergraduate students in STEM. Cannon is mentoring Besan Khader, a senior studying chemistry at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

ToxMSDT is a five-year, mostly virtual program that is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Its goal is to build a pathway for students from underserved populations to enter graduate toxicology programs and eventually pursue a career in toxicology. Each year, 25 undergraduate students will be selected to the program and matched 1-to-1 with volunteer mentors across the country in industry, academia, government or nonprofit entities.

“This national program is a great way to cultivate more diversity in the field of toxicology and provide new opportunities for undergraduate students to find career options upon graduation,” said Aaron Bowman, professor and head of the School of Health Sciences. “Dr. Cannon brings valuable expertise from Purdue University’s School of Health Sciences to his mentorship role.”

The program is hosted by the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) in collaboration with the Society of Toxicology, Iowa State University, Tuskegee University, The Ohio State University and Michigan State University.

The inaugural mentee/mentor training workshop will take place Oct. 8-9 at UC Davis to introduce the program’s online learning modules. The program requires students to complete six learning modules that provide foundational knowledge in toxicology.

Future in-person events include an opportunity for the students to shadow their mentor at their place of work; the Society of Toxicology Annual Conference in San Diego on March 26-29; and a capstone event at Tuskegee University in Alabama on April 20-23, 2022, where students will receive a certificate after successfully completing the program.

Direct all questions about the application process to pvanbenthem@ucdavis.edu, and view the full list of ToxMSDT mentors.