Core E: Training
The objective of this program is to provide training that improves the ability of researchers and/or practitioners to apply scientific knowledge to prevent and mitigate environmental degradation and exposures to adverse environmental conditions. The training program emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of environmental health issues and problems, the importance of considering preventive strategies in addition to remedial ones, and the application and translation of scientific knowledge in settings where it can make a difference to protect public health. The specific goals are to:
- Train graduate students to understand the interdisciplinary context for assessing, solving, and preventing environmental health problems. Trainees complete a program of study that provides a breadth of background in biomedical and non-biomedical disciplines, as well as depth in their particular disciplines.
- Train graduate students and post-doctoral scholars to apply technical knowledge to address and prevent real world problems. Trainees enroll in an interdisciplinary course (PH 271 E) on the application of scientific knowledge in policy and intervention contexts that also teaches communications skills needed to translate technical information for diverse audiences.
- Engage graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and investigators in interdisciplinary discussions of how current findings in science and technology innovations can be translated into terms that can be useful to those who can adopt or influence policies or take actions to prevent or remediate contamination and promote public health. This is done through a colloquium series.
- Provide opportunities for trainees to participate in projects of the Research Translation Core that synthesizes and assesses scientific knowledge on key areas and to interact with audiences for translation relevant to the SBRP.
- Provide support for intensive training in translation for three graduate students per year, two engaged in the translation of innovative technologies between laboratories and field applications
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Training and mentoring activities during 2010 directed graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to explore environmental fate and transport data from hazardous waste sites. The context for the training was both the analysis of field data collected at hazardous waste disposal sites and the development of improved monitoring technology for the assessment of human exposure to environmental mercury.
Though assigned primarily to a single Project or Core, trainees continue to be encouraged to communicate with their peers in the program. Where possible, trainees rotate between laboratories to gain additional experience, to work with different methodologies, and to better understand the work of the program across fields of study.
One Graduate Student Researcher studying Molecular Toxicology, recipient of a Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-related Research, continued her research splitting lab time between Projects 1 and 2. In addition to her research work, this student is actively involved, as both a member and an invited speaker, in groups geared toward encouraging minority students to pursue higher education.
Our trainees have been actively involved in the development of peer-reviewed manuscripts and presentations. Trainees are invited to speak about their work at regular lab meetings, where they can practice and gain confidence in their presentation skills and discuss their findings with peers and mentors. Our trainees have also been invited to present talks and posters at scientific meetings.
The 25 plus years of superfund remediation has generated a database of pre- and post-remediation monitoring that can be used to assess the field-scale transport of contaminants and the effectiveness of implemented remediation activities. Monitoring data from hazardous waste sites are extensive but not necessarily logically organized and not always in digital format or compatible with geospatial information. Thus, activities involved extensive analysis of data from a selected hazardous waste site at the Savannah River Site to quantify source terms, natural transport, and how remediation altered the migration of tracers and achieved contaminant recovery. An additional graduate student trainee continued to make advances on the development of isotopic mercury analysis for understanding the sources of mercury found in the food chain.
We are in the process of connecting all our trainees with the Superfund Research Program SPAN initiative.
- Koshland, Catherine P. and S.L. Fisher. 2002. Diagnostic Requirements for Toxic Emission Control. Chapter 24 in: Applied Combustion Diagnostics. Taylor and Frances, NY. pp.606-626.