The National Institutes of Health awarded Illinois State University Professor of Biological Sciences Rachel Bowden and post-doctoral researcher Ryan Paitz a $425,000 grant to study the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and its effects on turtles. The study will ultimately give researchers a better understanding of BPA’s impact on humans.

This grant will allow the pair to further their research on BPA – a chemical commonly found in plastic water bottles and other plastics – and its effects on the metabolism of estrogen and embryo development in turtles. Bowden and Paitz hypothesize that the chemical is interfering with the normal metabolism of estrogen by developing organisms.

Professor Rachel Bowden

Professor Rachel Bowden

“It is possible that the body sees it (BPA) as a form of estrogen,” said Bowden. “However, our study suggests that BPA may interfere with the normal metabolism, or breakdown, of estrogens, which could lead to prolonged exposure.” Results of the research will help facilitate additional theories concerning the effects of BPA on humans.

Bowden was awarded a University Research Initiative award and an Outstanding Teaching Initiative award in 2007 and was named an Outstanding College Researcher in 2012. In 2013, she was recognized as an Outstanding University Researcher.

This is the first grant co-written by Paitz and the fifth that Bowden has received. Bowden will be inducted into Illinois State University‘s Million Dollar Club for receiving more than $1 million in grants.