May 2016

Sam Snow, PhD


Sam graduated from Delaware State University with a degree in Biology. She obtained her PhD in toxicology from the Curriculum in Toxicology at UNC Chapel Hill, studying the effect of air pollution on vascular dysfunction, specifically pro-coagulatory and pro-inflammatory mechanisms. Sam has received numerous awards from SOT for her graduate and postdoctoral work and has recently been elected to 1st year councilor for the North Carolina Regional Chapter of SOT and Vice-Chair for the SOT’s Postdoctoral Assembly for 2016-2017.

A cup of tea with Sam Snow

What is your story? How did you get interested in toxicology?

I’ve always enjoyed both Biology and Chemistry and this field was a way to marry those two interests together. I’ve also been an environmentalist for as long as I can remember, which sparked my interest in air pollution toxicology and my desire to work at the EPA.

What do you do now?

I am a post-doc in the Cardiopulmonary and Immunotoxicology Branch at the Environmental Protection Agency in RTP. I work with Urmila Kodavanti investigating effects of mostly gaseous air pollutants (e.g. ozone, acrolein, photochemical smog) on metabolic disease using susceptible rat models such as those with underlying Type II diabetes or diet-induced obesity. I like my job because I still get to design and run studies and be in the lab, basically all the fun parts of research.

How did you get there?

I started as a UNC/EPA joint post-doc right after I graduated, then transitioned to a post-doc researcher through the ORISE program. Now, I am considered a Federal postdoc but I’ve been working with Urmila for the whole time! The terminology is really just a matter of where the funding comes from.

Where do you see yourself in the future? What are your next steps?

I would really love to get a job at the EPA or some other government position. If that doesn’t work out, I would probably get into environmental consulting. I am studying to test for my DABT (Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicologists), which you can only take three years after you finish your PhD. This certification is good to have for whatever job in toxicology that you might want to apply for.

Where do you see the future of toxicology?

I think the future is going to be in integrating in vitro assays and data for evaluation of toxicity and risk assessment, using computational biology and modeling, determining adverse outcome pathways, etc. While there will always be a need for in vivo animal studies for validation, there is a whole lot of interest in advancing and capitalizing on these more high-throughput technologies.

Apart from the degree, what was the most valuable skill/lesson you gained from your time at UNC?

The most useful skill would have to be learning how to network with students, scientists, people outside of the curriculum. I know everyone says networking is important, but it’s true! I would encourage current students/postdocs to get involved in SOT, with a specialty or regional section. That will help you meet all kinds of people and build your network.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I read, do crossfit. I am on/coach a slow-pitch softball team. I enjoy traveling; I’d really love to go to Europe. Any place in Europe, really!

Sam Snow can be reached at