Welcome to our A4 Member Spotlight! Every quarter A4 will be featuring a brief bio on an active A4 member. If you’d like to be featured in a future newsletter, please contact Cathy Rudisill.
Dr. Emily Golden
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
Q1: Where are you located?
Silver Spring, MD (Outside of Washington, DC)
Q2: Who do you work for and how long have you been there?
I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) at Johns Hopkins University. My first role at CAAT was as a research assistant in 2017. In 2018, I was accepted to the Environmental Health doctoral program in the Toxicology, Physiology, and Molecular Mechanisms Track at Johns Hopkins University. This past August, I defended my doctoral dissertation, and in October transitioned to my current role as a postdoctoral fellow.
Q3: What is your educational background and how did you get started in the AA field?
My path to the AA field has been a winding one. I have a bachelor's degree in chemistry, where I realized that solving problems using science was something I really enjoyed. Forensic science was a natural fit for science and problem solving, so I pursued a master’s degree in forensic toxicology at The George Washington University. After graduating, I accepted a position as a toxicologist at a consulting firm, working for several years on chemical hazard and alternatives assessments to identify safer chemistries. During that time, I utilized in silico tools to fill data gaps, and I observed that, while these in silico tools were incredibly useful, there were instances where predictions did not resolve a chemical’s hazard profile. Digging deeper into these unresolved predictions intrigued me, so I returned to academia to pursue my doctoral degree. I carried out my doctoral dissertation research under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Hartung and Dr. Alexandra Maertens at the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) exploring the performance of in silico tools for sensitization and identifying areas of the chemical space in which these tools could be improved. I hope that this research contributes to improved computational models, which will benefit the AA field by allowing for more accurate predictions to fill data gaps in alternatives assessments.
Q4: What compels you to work in the chemical alternatives assessment/informed substitution field?
We are exposed to many chemicals every day, some of which are hazardous, so I think it is critical to identify and shift to safer chemistries wherever possible, so I feel that working in the AA field helps make a difference in public health. I also really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of chemical alternatives assessment, particularly using read-across to identify similar chemicals and employing in silico tools to fill data gaps.
Q5: Have you recently published an article, received an award, or completed project?
I have been lucky enough to have published a few articles during my doctoral journey, but one that is most relevant to the A4 community is our publication entitled, “Avoiding Regrettable Substitutions: Green Toxicology for Sustainable Chemistry”. We evaluated the available literature on regrettable substitutions and identified some of the common causes of regrettable substitutions. I invite you to read it here! https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acssuschemeng.0c09435
Q6: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time, I like to spend time with my husband and two sons exploring new playgrounds and going for walks with our dog, Wrigley. I also enjoy coaching Special Olympics soccer, which I have been doing for the past 12 years.
Q7: What do you like most about being a member of the A4?
There’s a lot about A4 that makes membership valuable, but I particularly enjoy the symposia hosted by A4. These events bring together so many experts to share ideas and advance the AA field; they are so informative!