Helen Poynton, PhD

University Of Massachusetts - Boston

University Of Massachusetts - Boston
Phone: (617) 287-7323
Fax: (617) 287-7474


Helen Poynton, PhD

University Of Massachusetts - Boston


  • Assistant Professor, Environmental, Earth and Ocean Sciences, University Of Massachusetts - Boston


Research Abstract

The present challenges facing our environment are often hidden threats that through long term or intermittent exposures reshape ecosystems often leading to decreased diversity and loss of important functions and services. Trying to understand the causes of an impaired ecosystem or the effects resulting from chronic exposure to a pollutant is not straight-forward and requires innovative approaches. Ecotoxicogenomics is an emerging field in ecotoxicology that applies genomic technologies such as DNA microarrays to understanding the effects of pollution at the molecular level.

My research focuses on applying genomics to better understand sub-lethal effects of environmental pollutants and uncover molecular biomarkers that can be used to detect environmental pollutants and understand their bioavailability. My focus areas include:

- Developing molecular biomarkers as detection tools for emerging contaminants including nanoparticles and use them to understand the bioavailability of nanoparticles in environmental matrices.

- Using genomics to understand the molecular pathways affected by environmental pollutants including metals, nanoparticles and pesticides and relate them to whole organism or population level effects.


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  • Poynton HC, Zuzow R, Loguinov AV, Perkins EJ, Vulpe CD. Gene expression profiling in Daphnia magna, part II: validation of a copper specific gene expression signature with effluent from two copper mines in California. Environ Sci Technol 2008; 42:6257-63. PubMed
  • Poynton HC, Loguinov AV, Varshavsky JR, Chan S, Perkins EJ, Vulpe CD. Gene expression profiling in Daphnia magna part I: concentration-dependent profiles provide support for the No Observed Transcriptional Effect Level. Environ Sci Technol 2008; 42:6250-6. PubMed
  • Poynton HC, Varshavsky JR, Chang B, Cavigiolio G, Chan S, Holman PS, Loguinov AV, Bauer DJ, Komachi K, Theil EC, Perkins EJ, Hughes O, Vulpe CD. Daphnia magna ecotoxicogenomics provides mechanistic insights into metal toxicity. Environ Sci Technol 2007; 41:1044-50. PubMed