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Education Award

Ilona Jaspers, PhD

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

The Education Award is presented to an individual who is distinguished by the teaching and training of toxicologists and who has made significant contributions to education in the broad field of toxicology.

For her progressive vision and exceptional leadership in the education and development of the next generation of toxicologists, Ilona Jaspers, PhD, is the 2024 recipient of the SOT Education Award.

After receiving her doctorate in environmental health sciences from New York University Medical Center in 1997, Dr. Jaspers began a postdoctoral research fellow position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she has held various professorships and leadership positions since. Dr. Jaspers has been the Director of the Curriculum of Toxicology & Environmental Medicine since 2011 and the Director for the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology since 2020.

As an educator and mentor, Dr. Jasper’s accomplishments shine. An extensive number of mentees that have matriculated though the Curriculum of Toxicology & Environmental Medicine have gone on to prominent positions in academia, government, and industry. The wide range of career options, training opportunities, and successes of trainees in the program are a testament to the tireless leadership and enthusiasm that Dr. Jaspers brings to the education of trainees.

While the direct impact on the education and career success of her trainees is highly visible, the personal connections, emotional support, and focus on inclusionary science that Dr. Jaspers brings to her students’ education also are recognized. Dr. Jaspers found a way to use sponsored funds to support mental health resources for students within her programs in response to the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Jaspers also is a prodigious organizer of events and activities for her students both at international conferences (such as the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo) and within the university—giving students the soft-skills and networking needed to succeed. Dr. Jaspers also applied for, received, and currently directs a R25 grant (21st Century Environmental Health Scholars) that provides a summer of intensive research training in toxicology and environmental health sciences for individuals from historically black colleges and universities, community colleges, and primarily undergraduate institutions that do not have an extensive research program.

In addition to her teaching and leadership roles, Dr. Jaspers has been an active SOT member since joining in 1996. In addition to her membership in the Inhalation and Respiratory Toxicology Specialty Section, the Women in Toxicology Special Interest Group, and the North Carolina Regional Chapter. Dr. Jaspers also was a member of the SOT Awards Committee in 2020 and 2021, serving as Chair her final year on the Committee.

Because of her exceptional vision and distinction in the full development of the next generation of toxicologists, the Society is pleased to bestow the 2024 Education Award to Dr. Jaspers.

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