What’s Your Poison? Toxicologist Marie Bourgeois joins Real Scientists

It’s time to say goodbye to the dazzling Adam Marcus of Emory University, whom we thank for a spectacular week’s curation at Real Scientists. Make sure you follow Adam on his regular twitter account, @notmadscientist, for more on cancer research and awesome cellular imaging!


And now we travel a little way away from Adam to Florida, to meet our next curator: Dr Marie Bourgeois/@mmbtox. Marie is a Research Assistant Professor at theUniversity of South Florida College of Public Health in the Environmental and Occupational Health department. Marie trained in the field of Toxicology and risk assessment and now works in a number of public health research projects, from clinical research to the environmental toxicity of pesticides in freshwater. She also communicates science and engages with school students on issue around toxicology. 




As always, we asked Marie our usual set of questions. Here she is, in her own words:


I am convinced I was born a geek. I soon discovered that the things that most people found interesting were things I found unutterably boring – clothes, makeup, etc. I grew up spending as much time outside as humanly possible. If it was alive, I wanted to understand it. If it was mechanical, I’d pretend it was broken so I could take it apart.

I started off in biochemistry and had to change to clinical chemistry when I transferred during undergrad. I briefly interned at Smith Kline as part of my clinical chemistry course work. We tested for everything, level 1 – level 5. I found that I was more interested in the mechanisms of the chemicals on biological systems than I was in the actual test results. I especially liked ones with terrifying warning labels. It made me wonder exactly how these chemicals were classified. That led me straight to toxicology.



I split my time between research and teaching (undergrad and grad) at USF College of Public Health. I work with a great bunch of scientists and academicians. My research interests are pretty diverse but I need to narrow things down at some point! I look at everything from the modulation of nuclear repair enzymes in cellular and mouse models to the potential for lactational transfer of pesticides in diverse/underrepresented populations.

Most people don’t have a really clear idea of what constitutes public health. The short answer is everything. Public health refers to all organized measures to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases. So your doctor may be concerned with you but we are concerned with you and your community.

I am actively involved in all things STEM outreach and sci comm. I have ongoing partnerships with local schools and USF COPH colleagues that allows me to place undergrads in classrooms throughout the year to talk about public health topics. I’m the adviser for the toxicology student association and I am starting a stealth undergrad tox program 🙂

If it lives, I’ll adopt it. If it’s sci fi, I’ve probably watched it. And if it’s geeky, my children have made fun of me for enjoying it 🙂


And the answer to the question of what would you do on your ideal day off?

What’s a day off????


Please welcome Marie Bourgeois to Real Scientists!





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