Former INBRE Fellow Nishad Jayasundara Awarded a Named Chair at Duke

Former INBRE fellow and College of the Atlantic grad Nishad Jayasundara has been named the Juli Plant Grainger Assistant Professor of Global Environmental Health at Duke University, where his research focuses on exploring the adverse ecological and human health impacts of chemical pollution and climate change.

Nishad Jayasundara in 2006 as a then recent graduate of the College of the Atlantic.

Known for his innovative studies using fish species as sentinels to measure the biochemical and physiological consequences of exposure to chemical and physical stressors, Dr. Jayasundara recently has been working with an interdisciplinary team of environmental and health researchers to unravel how climate change and water contamination may be driving a rise in kidney disease among rice farmers in Sri Lanka.

“The quality of Nishad’s research speaks for itself. Though still in the early stage of his career, he’s already tackling complex challenges and doing work that could have far-reaching beneficial impacts on the health of people and our planet,” said Toddi Steelman, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School at Duke.

Read full article from Duke University here.

While studying at the College of the Atlantic in 2002, Nishad signed up for a short course on molecular biology offered through the INBRE program. This sparked an interest in hands-on scientific research that led to a BRIN (precursor of INBRE) research fellowship during that summer in which he studied the toxicology of hexavalent chromium in marine animals. These experiences, as well as staff research assistant positions at both the Jackson Laboratory and MDI Biological Laboratory, paved the path for him to pursue a Ph.D., which he received in 2012 from Stanford University.

Jayasundara pursued these passions for 4 years as an assistant professor in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine, and joined the faculty as an assistant professor of environmental toxicology and health at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, where he had received his postdoctoral training. During that time and in recognition of his early-career work on the consequences of exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), he received the prestigious Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in 2015.

“During my undergraduate years in Maine, I benefited immensely from the research opportunities that were available for students and I am excited about creating a research platform for students who are curious about how changes in the environment are affecting the biological systems around us,” he said.