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 from the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management 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 the 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.
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 Deputy Director of Environmental Science at 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 to 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 to 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.
Associate Director for Program Development & Resourcingjpierson@hesiglobal.org
Jennifer Pierson received her BS in Biology in 2005 from Villanova University and her Master of Public Health in 2007 from Drexel University. She has been with HESI since 2012 and is currently the Associate Director for Program Development & Resourcing. In addition to committee management, Jennifer provides strategic leadership in identifying emerging science topics as well as providing management and insights into grant activities for the organization. Her prior experience includes working in research laboratories and at a local health department, where she focused on epidemiological investigations. She also has extensive experience in project management and has published numerous papers, reports, guidelines, and white papers on public health issues.
Senior Program Advisorrolone@hesiglobal.org
Raegan holds a PhD and a Master of Arts in Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, and Biochemistry from Boston University and earned Bachelors degrees in Biology and German from Drew University. Prior to joining HESI as a Senior Program Advisor, Raegan worked at the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She has previously worked in roles supporting research at several organizations. At HESI, Raegan has managed programs focused on biomonitoring, genomics, RISK21, biomarkers of nephrotoxicity, and immunotoxicology.
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 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 an 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.
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 Managercmitchell@hesiglobal.org
Connie Mitchell is a Senior Scientific Program Manager at HESI. Prior to joining HESI in early 2020, she was an ORISE Fellow at the US Environmental Protection Agency working on chemical prioritization under the Toxic Substances Control Act. She completed her graduate studies in Environmental Toxicology at the University of California Riverside. There she investigated flame retardant-induced developmental toxicity. As a Senior Scientific Program Manager, she provides scientific, strategic, and management support to collaborative scientific committees involving academic, government, nonprofit, and private sector scientists. She manages the Emerging Systems Toxicology for Assessment of Risk (eSTAR) Committee, Next Generation Ecological Risk Assessment Committee (Eco-Risk), and the Botanical Safety Consortium (BSC).
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 $18 million federal program geared toward increasing the participation and success of women in STEM academic careers.
Scientific Program Managerrpuglisi@hesiglobal.org
Raechel Puglisi joined HESI in 2019. She holds an MPH in Environmental Health Sciences and Policy from The George Washington University. Additionally, she holds a BA in Human Biology from The University of Kansas. She is interested in all aspects of environmental health, including human and ecological risk assessment, risk communication, toxicology, and special interests in both health equity and education outreach. At HESI she co-manages the Collaboration on Ototoxicity Risk Assessment (CORA), Genetic Toxicology (GTTC), and Transforming the Evaluation of Agrochemicals (TEA) committees and assists on various board and emerging issues initiatives.
Scientific Program Managerccrute@hesiglobal.org
Chrissy Crute is a human health toxicologist with expertise in reproductive toxicology and global maternal and child health. Dr. Crute received her PhD from Duke University in Environmental Health and Toxicology, where she studied the effects of exposure to environmental contaminants during pregnancy. Her research expertise spans novel stem cell models to rabbit pregnancy models, and she is practiced in science communication and outreach. She also holds a B.S. degree from George Mason University in Environmental Science and Biology. Prior to joining HESI, Dr. Crute was a Science Corps Fellow in Morocco.
Scientific Program Managerjkrzykwa@hesiglobal.org
Dr. Julie Krzykwa holds a PhD in Biology from Texas Christian University under the guidance of long-time HESI collaborator and advocate, Dr. Marlo Jeffries. Dr. Krzykwa’s dissertation research on fish embryo acute toxicity test (OECD 236) was awarded a SETAC/Procter & Gamble Fellowship for Doctoral Research in Environmental Science and received a STARS and Ida M. Green Fellowship awards from TCU. She brings post-graduate experience as a contractor to the USEPA working on aquatic toxicity testing methods and as Study Director (ecotox) for Smithers contract laboratory. Dr. Krzykwa will work on the Next Generation EcoRisk Project, UVCB Committee, and the Botanical Safety Consortium.
Scientific Program Managercobrien@hesiglobal.org
Dr. Claire O’Brien holds a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of California, Davis, and an MPH in Environmental Health from San Diego State University. She comes to HESI with experience a Regulatory Specialist at a biotech company where she helped to develop a regulatory strategy for bringing innovative infant nutrition products to market. She also has experience in safety assessment and toxicology of dietary supplements, educational outreach on environmental health topics within a community setting, and as a lead clinical trials coordinator for a major research study. Dr. O’Brien will work on the Cardiac Safety Committee, PBPK Committee, and the PATB program. She will start with HESI at the end of June.
Scientific Program Manager & Communications 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 part-time on HESI’s COMPARE Allergen Database and part-time as HESI’s Communications Manager.
Cyndi Nobles holds an Associate’s Degree in Office Administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and joined HESI in 1997. As Branch Administrator for HESI, Cyndi serves as primary staff administrator to the HESI Executive Director and senior staff on all activities regarding the HESI Board of Trustees, the HESI Assembly, and the Emerging Issues Committee (EIC). She also serves as the primary staff planner and organizer for the HESI Annual Meeting.