HESI’s skilled scientific staff and decades of organizational experience make it possible to efficiently convene collaborative teams and synergize resources. Each of HESI’s scientific committees is supported by one or more staff members who hold advanced degrees in science or public health. Every staff member fulfills a vital role in creating science-based solutions for a safer, more sustainable world.
Syril Pettit is the Executive Director of the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) and has been with the organization since 2000. Dr. Pettit holds a Doctorate in Public Health Leadership (DrPH) from the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management (MEM) from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Amherst College. As the organization’s senior scientific and organizational leader, Dr. Pettit guides strategic and technical direction for the organization’s collaborative programs and its Board of Trustees. She has authored or co-authored dozens of scientific articles and lectured at international scientific meetings around the world on topics including public health, oncology, cardiac safety, genomics, collaborative approaches to science, and other drug and chemical safety issues. She is an avid runner and swimmer.
Associate Director, Environmental Sciencemembry@hesiglobal.org
Michelle Embry received her PhD in Toxicology in 2004 and her BS in Biology and Environmental Science and Policy in 1998 from Duke University. She is currently the Associate Director of Environmental Science at the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI), where she provides leadership, technical direction, and guidance to varied, multi-stakeholder, collaborative committees on topics related to risk assessment and environmental protection worldwide.
Prior to joining HESI in 2006, Dr. Embry worked as an Ecological Risk Assessor at the US EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. She has expertise in both human health and ecotoxicology, with an emphasis on integrated approaches and alternative methods. Her current project portfolio includes the Animal Alternatives in Environmental Risk Assessment Committee and the Development of Methods for a Tiered Approach to Assess Bioaccumulation of Chemicals Committee, two of HESI’s projects aimed at improving ecological risk assessment. Dr. Embry’s work also includes the Risk Assessment in the 21st Century (RISK21) Committee, which developed a scientific, transparent, and efficient approach for human health risk assessment, including a web-based tool that has led to outreach and training activities on risk assessment approaches worldwide. In addition, she works with HESI staff and partners on project development related to chemical risk assessment issues.
Dr. Embry is an elected member of the SETAC North America Board of Directors (2014-present), chair of the SETAC Global Partners Advisory Committee, and a member of the SETAC Bioaccumulation and Animal Alternatives Advisory Group Steering Teams. She is a full member of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) and a member of the SOT Risk Assessment and Mixtures Specialty Sections. She was a member of the ECETOC Task Force on Information to be Considered in a Weight-of-Evidence-Based PBT/vPvB Assessment of Chemicals (Annex XIII of REACH) in 2013-2014 and was a steering team member of the SETAC Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) Pellston Workshop (Spring 2017). Dr. Embry is also one of the founding partners on the “eco data hub” initiative, started in Fall 2016.
Senior Scientific Program Managercchen@hesiglobal.org
Connie Chen received her BS in Psychobiology from UCLA in 2001. She also received her Master of Public Health in 2003 and her PhD in Environmental Health Sciences with a focus on Molecular Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 2007 from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. As a Senior Scientific Program Manager at HESI, Dr. Chen manages the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology (DART) Committee. Prior to joining HESI, Dr. Chen worked as a Health Scientist at ChemRisk, LLC in California providing expertise to clients from the public and private sectors on toxicology and epidemiology, exposure, risk assessment, industrial hygiene, and consumer product risk assessment.
Senior Scientific Program Managerlmouries@hesiglobal.org
Lucilia Mouriès holds an MS in Aquatic Sciences from the University of Porto, Portugal, and a PhD in Biochemistry and Applied Biology completed in Paris, France. She was also a Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow at the NIH National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Dr. Mouriès has extensive medical writing experience, and she has worked in a variety of scientific fields (marine, bone and cartilage regeneration, stem cells, devices, etc.) in addition to managing her own business. She is fluent in English, Portuguese, and French. Dr. Mouriès manages the Protein Allergens, Toxins, and Bioinformatics (PATB) Committee and the Cell Therapy – TRAcking, Circulation, & Safety (CT-TRACS) Committee.
Senior Scientific Program Managerjpierson@hesiglobal.org
Jennifer Pierson received her Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2005 from Villanova University and her Master of Public Health in 2007 from Drexel University. Her experience includes working in research laboratories and at a local health department, where she focused on epidemiological investigations. In her previous role at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, Jennifer managed committees comprised of public health laboratory experts and published numerous reports, guidelines, and white papers on environmental public health issues.
Scientific Program Managersdeglin@hesiglobal.org
Sandrine Deglin joined HESI in 2018 as a Scientific Program Manager. Prior to joining HESI, she worked with the Environmental Public Health Program at the State of Alaska Division of Public Health for four years, where she managed the program for nearly two years. Prior to that time, Dr. Deglin spent seven years as a consultant in the Toxicology and Mechanistic Biology Group of Exponent, Inc.
Dr. Deglin holds a PhD in Applied Chemistry and a MS in Environmental Sciences and Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. While studying in France, she also received a MS in Chemistry and a postgraduate degree in Public Health. Dr. Deglin is interested in all aspects of environmental health, including chemical fate and transport, toxicology, epidemiology, risk assessment, food safety and food security, and risk communication. She is currently involved in the HESI Bioaccumulation, Environmental Epidemiology, RISK21, UVCB, and Transforming the Evaluation of Agrochemicals (TEA) Committees.
Scientific Program Managereflores@hesiglobal.org
E’Lissa Flores joined HESI in 2020 as a Scientific Program Manager. She currently co-manages several HESI committees, including the Cardiac Safety Committee, the Genetic Toxicology Technical Committee (GTTC), and the Immuno-Safety Technical Committee (ITC). Prior to joining HESI, she worked at the Milken Institute’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy where she advised philanthropists and non-profit foundations to help manage several neurology-related disease projects, including overseeing a $12 million grant program and developing a novel fellowship award. Dr. Flores received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Stony Brook University and her PhD in Translational Biomedical Science from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Her thesis work focused on immunotoxicology, investigating the mechanism(s) of how environmental chemicals alter the human immune system, and how they contribute to the obesity epidemic. While at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Dr. Flores was a Science Outreach Coordinator funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and served on the Executive Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is also an advocate for women and underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields.
Scientific Program Managercmitchell@hesiglobal.org
Connie Mitchell joined HESI in 2020 as a Scientific Program Manager. She received her BS in Biochemistry at West Virginia University and her MS in Environmental Toxicology at the University of California, Riverside. During graduate school, Connie’s research focused on developmental toxicity induced by organophosphate flame retardants. Before joining HESI, she was an ORISE Fellow at the US EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), using her toxicology background to assist with the prioritization of existing chemicals under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). At HESI, Connie works on the Botanical Safety Consortium and the Animal Alternatives in Environmental Risk Assessment Committee.
Scientific Program Managersmitchellemail@example.com
Shermaine Mitchell-Ryan is a native Washingtonian and a product of the District of Columbia public school system. She holds a BA in Biology with a minor in Theater Arts from St. Mary’s Public Honor’s College in St. Mary’s City of Maryland, a Master’s Degree in Cancer Biology Prevention and Control from a dual-institution program at the University of the District of Columbia and Georgetown University, and a PhD in Cancer Biology and Pharmacology from the Department of Developmental Therapeutics at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Prior to joining HESI, Dr. Mitchell-Ryan served as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program office, where she assisted in managing an $18M federal program geared toward increasing the participation and success of women in STEM academic careers.
Scientific Program Managercmperez@hesiglobal.org
Carolina Morell-Pérez received her Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico and her Master of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She brings a strong background in drug development, 3D cellular systems, microbiology, and molecular and cellular biology to HESI. Prior to joining HESI, Carolina worked as a Scientist at Merck Research Labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she launched novel research collaborations and founded a high impact “Mentoring Through Science” program that engaged minority STEM students at a local community college. Carolina is a native Spanish speaker and is passionate about community service. She is a certified EMT-B and in her spare time, she serves as a first responder with the Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. Carolina currently works with HESI’s eSTAR, GTTC, and PATB Committees.
Scientific Project Managerlkoski@hesiglobal.org
Liisa Koski received her BS in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Guelph and her MS in Biology from McMaster University (Canada). During graduate school, her research focused on using bioinformatics to identify horizontally transferred genes. Liisa’s career as a Bioinformatician has spanned over 17 years in both academic and commercial settings in Germany, Canada, and the United States, involving many international collaborations in the areas of RNAi, Functional Annotation, and NGS Analysis. Liisa currently works on HESI’s COMPARE Allergen Database.
Scientific Program Associaterpuglisi@hesiglobal.org
Raechel Puglisi received her BA in Human Biology from the University of Kansas and her MPH with a focus on Environmental Health Science and Policy from the George Washington University. She joined HESI in 2019 as an intern in order to fulfill her MPH practicum requirement. Raechel was then hired on full-time at HESI in 2020 as a Scientific Program Associate, supporting staff on a broad range of HESI programs, with most of her work focused on the RISK21 Committee.