Chan brings NIEHS experience to SIUE

SIUE’s College of Arts and Sciences added a skilled researcher to the Environmental Sciences ranks last semester. Pui-Ling ‘Melissa’ Chan, assistant professor of environmental sciences, came onboard last semester.

Chan, originally from Malaysia, spent a number of years at the Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan, pursuing her doctoral degree, as well as two years of post-doctoral work. Chan stated that she received the ‘Japanese Scholarship’ to pursue her Ph.D. From the Kyoto University, Chan moved on to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in The Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. She continued her post-doctoral work with another four years of work at NIEHS, studying mortality rates.

Pui-Ling ‘Melissa’ Chan. photo courtesy of Chan.

“I did modeling work trying to see whether mortality rates of different diseases associated with different variables–like pollutants in the environments or social-economic standards–and whether these are associated with things like poverty and their occupation,” said Chan.

Chan then moved within NIEHS to work in the National Toxicology Program.

“After that, I switched to the National Toxicology program for a year. It is also under NIEHS. At NTP, I tried to see the extrapolation from the in vitro to the in vivo for neurotoxicants,” said Chan. “I wanted to see how I can use those tools and models for extrapolation from the in-vitro–in-vitro is a kind of cell system–to animal system to human system without using the animal experiments.”

Chan stated that most of her time is spent looking at mathematical models.

“I focus on the development of the mathematical and engineering of frameworks to assess human health work in the context of the system of environmental health. I use modeling a lot,” said Chan. “I need the experimental data to do the computational modeling, the mathematical modeling.”

This semester, Chan is teaching two courses, Environmental Health and Waste Management, a 300 level course, and Environmental Statistics, a graduate level course.

“I think it is fun to teach these courses because of the interaction with the students. I hope the knowledge that I have I can use it to teach them and share it with other students and have collaborations with other colleagues,” said Chan.

Chan stated that her family is still in Malaysia so she spends a great deal of time with her research. When she is not researching, Chan spends time reading fiction novels, going to the gym, and playing piano.

“I play piano. I’m not a professional, but kind of an amateur,” said Chan.

Chan stated that she is looking forward to continuing the research she did at NIEHS at SIUE.

“I think my preference would be to continue what I have been doing with my post-doc research,” said Chan. “So I will be working on some computational modeling, besides all of the in vitro experiments, those extrapolations from in vitro to in vivo using the cell systems.”

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