Ramon Lavado, Ph.D.
Dr. Ramon Lavado is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Baylor University. He is an environmental toxicologist specializing in the biotransformation of contaminants in aquatic wildlife. His research focuses on mechanistic insights into the chemical modifications made by an aquatic organism on a chemical compound and the development of animal alternatives for environmental toxicity studies.
Dr. Lavado has published environmental toxicology research for the last twenty-two years, with projects covering a wide variety of organisms and laboratory systems. Areas of ongoing research include A) The development of new in vitro bioassays to detect contaminants of emerging concern in the environment. B) Evaluation of mechanistic responses of cytochrome P450 - one of the most important enzyme systems involved in biological activation or detoxification of chemical compounds. C) Metabolomic studies to identify new biomarkers in human and wildlife systems. D) The study of interactions between multiple stressors (as climate change/pollutants exposure) and their effect on the biotransformation of pollutants.
Dr. Lavado serves as an Associate Editor of Toxics (MDPI), Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (Springer), and Ecotoxicology (Springer). He received his Ph.D. in Animal Physiology and earned his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Barcelona (Spain).
Office: BSB A430
Phone: +1 (254) 710-2468
Fax: +1 (254) 710-3409
Macarena Rojo, Ph.D.
Office: BSB A449R
Dr. Macarena Rojo joined the Lavado Lab as a Postdoc in July 2023; she is working on identifying significant alterations of biotransformation pathways associated with the chemical resistance to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), resulting from the rapid adaptation of Gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis). Dr. Rojo completed her studies at the National University of La Plata (UNLP) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was awarded a scholarship from the National Research Council Scientific and Technical of Argentina (CONICET) to do her Ph.D. (2016-2021). Her doctoral research was focused on the study of the bioaccumulation and effects of human pharmaceuticals on Neotropical fish. Through her doctoral study, she did a research stay at the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA) in Spain. From 2018 to 2022, she was a Member of the Board of Directors, in the category of student representative, in the Society for Environmental Chemistry and Technology (SETAC), Argentine Chapter.
During her experience as a Ph.D. student, she was the winner of the student travel award to attend the SETAC LATIN AMERICA- 2017 in Brazil and the Young Environmental Scientists Meeting (YES)-SETAC in Belgium in 2019.
As a Ph.D., in 2022, she was awarded the American Association of the University Women (AAUW) international postdoctoral fellowship, and in 2023, she was awarded the annual "Cozzarelli Prize” of the National Academy of Sciences/Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), for the international collaboration on the study of pharmaceuticals in rivers. At UNLP, she was a teaching assistant in the subject of Ecotoxicology and Risk Assessment (2020-2022) and an Assistant Professor at the University of San Antonio de Areco (UNSAdA) (2022). Dr. Rojo presented her work at more than 10 national and international conferences.
Alisha Michelle Janiga-MacNelly is from the Rio Grande Valley in Southern Texas. As an undergraduate at the University of Texas Austin, Alisha focused on the neurotoxicity of substances of abuse and how to train first responding medical professionals to identify and direct people suffering from substance dependence towards beneficial resources. After a gap-year, she switched her focus from substance abuse to the biodegradation of long-term pollutants. Following this, Alisha received her M.S. in Agriculture, Environmental and Sustainable Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley . During this time, Alisha characterized bacteria communities in a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) polluted reservoir in Donna, TX. This study included traditional culture methods, carbon metabolism preference testing, and PCB degrading gene detection. Interestingly, samples from Donna, TX had a high preference for polymer substances such as Tween 80, and both samples from Donna, TX and Edinburg, TX (a local source with no reported PCBs) contained genes for PCB degradation.
Currently, she is interested in characterizing and comparing microbial communities from the aeration tanks of local wastewater treatment plants in central Texas. Tentatively, plans for investigation include water chemistry trends, taxonomic profiling, extracellular polymer substances analysis, antibiotic resistance testing, and active sludge in vitro modeling.
Office: BSB A448R
Rafia Afroze Rifa
Rafia Afroze Rifa joined Lavado Lab in August 2022. She completed her DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) degree in 2018 from Bangladesh Agricultural University. Then, she did her MSc in ecotoxicology from the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany. Her master thesis topic was “Effects of the interaction between algae and microplastics on life-history traits of Daphnia pulex clones”. Her research interests are Environmental health and toxicology, public health, and one health.
She is working on a multidisciplinary research program that evaluates bisphenol analogs' effects on human health. In vitro research investigating the toxic effects of bisphenol analogs on human cells is a critical component of understanding the potential risks associated with these compounds. By subjecting human cells to controlled laboratory conditions, this research allows us to examine how bisphenol analogs, which are commonly found in plastics and consumer products, interact with cellular systems. Through a series of experiments and analyses, she will assess various endpoints, such as cell viability, proliferation, genotoxicity, and hormonal disruption, to determine how these analogs pose health risks. This research provides insights into the toxicity of bisphenol analogs and contributes to the development of safer alternatives in consumer products, helping protect human health and the environment from potentially harmful chemical exposures.
Office: BSB A448R
Gracen Collier joined the Lavado lab in August 2023. She attended Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she received a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Chinese. Her prior research at UTSW focused on cysteine mutants in the protein Fibulin-3 and resulting cellular changes related to retinal degeneration. She is interested in the in vitro effects of PFAS as well as continuing research into specific pathways and mechanisms involved within human cell lines.
She is working on evaluating the molecular effects of short-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on cellular transporters of human cells. The investigation of the effects of PFAS on cellular transporters represents a crucial facet of understanding the potential impacts of these persistent chemicals on human health. PFAS compounds are known to interact with various biological processes, including cellular transport mechanisms, which play a pivotal role in maintaining cellular homeostasis. By studying how PFAS affect cellular transporters, we aim to uncover the mechanisms through which these compounds may disrupt vital cellular functions and potentially contribute to adverse health outcomes. Her research endeavors to shed light on the intricate relationship between PFAS exposure and cellular transport processes, providing valuable insights that can inform risk assessments and mitigation strategies for these widespread environmental contaminants.
Office: BSB A448R
Maddison Vrazel joined the Lavado Lab in August 2021 and is studying Health Science on the Pre-Med track. She is from the small town of Danbury, TX. She is working with cell-based bioassays and developing new biosensors to detect viral pathogens in water. At Baylor, she is involved in First in Line as an ambassador which represents all first-generation college students as well as the American Medical Women’s Association which focuses on empowering women who plan to enter the medical field as a professional.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Baylor, Maddison plans to attend medical school to pursue her goal of becoming an Obstetrician-Gynecologist. As she joins the field of medicine she hopes to increase patient advocacy as well as health education.
Her research is based on the evaluation of the effects of gut bacteria metabolites, indole derivativess, on differen human cell lines representing different tissues, as lung, kidney, liver, and intestine.
Alec Mockros joined Lavado Lab in January 2022 and is currently a junior studying Environmental Science with a minor in Business Administration. He is from Kingwood, Texas, a suburb of Houston.
He is interested in ecological risk assessment and examining the effects of industrial chemicals on ecosystems. He hopes to bring more awareness to the impacts of industry on the environment. After graduating from Baylor, he plans on attending graduate school.
His research is focused on the effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on non-mammal in vitro models: selected fish cell lines reperesenting differenet tissues as liver, gills and brain.
Office: BSB A448R
Mackenna McGraw joined the Lavado Lab in January 2022 and is studying Honors Medical Humanities with a minor in Biology on the pre-med track. She is from Houston, TX. At Baylor, she is a learning assistant for the freshman Biology Lab and is a volunteer with Kindred Hospice.
After receiving her bachelor's degree she plans on attending medical school and pursuing a career in Pediatric Reconstructive Surgery.
She is doing research on the cytotoxic and proliferation effects of different parabens and their metabolites (esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid used in over 22,000 preservatives and are considered safe for use in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food in the United States) in normal human keratinocytes, used as a skin model for humans.
Office: BSB A448R