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Graduate Defense: Adam Schuller
March 13 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm MDT
Title: Effects of Wildfire Smoke Exposure on Peripheral Body Systems and Implications for Laboratory Animal Research
Program: Doctor of Philosophy in Biomolecular Sciences
Advisor: Dr. Luke Montrose, Biomolecular Sciences
Committee Members: Dr. Cheyl Jorcyk, Biological Sciences, Dr. Lisa Warner, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Dr. Alison Bernstein, Public and Population Health
Wildfire smoke exposure is becoming a frequent global problem as more intense fire seasons occur each year with warmer and drier climates. Still, little is known about the specific effects elicited when wildfire smoke exposure occurs, especially in body systems outside of the lung and heart. Here, I will discuss what associations have been made between wildfire smoke exposure and peripheral body system health effects before sharing novel work which demonstrates significant changes associated with the male reproductive and central nervous systems in mice exposed to wildfire smoke. I will first emphasize the importance of monitoring the air quality within laboratory animal facilities by presenting data characterizing the ability of ambient wildfire smoke to penetrate a vivarium structure, significantly influencing indoor air quality during major fire events. Then, I will profile the DNA methylation phenotype of mouse male germ cells following an occupationally relevant whole-body simulated wildfire smoke exposure. Lastly, I will present data which demonstrates neuroinflammatory and neuroendocrine disruption following passive wildfire smoke exposure, as well as acute and chronic high dose simulated wildfire smoke exposure, which might underlie phenotypic changes in the central nervous system and/or reproductive tissues. These findings will be contextualized with regard to the greater body of literature in the fields of environmental toxicology and toxicoepigenetics, including how this work may inform future efforts to advance our understanding of wildfire smoke effects on public and occupational health.