Superfund Research Program
Research Experience and Training Coordination Core
Studies and Results
This year the Training Core recruited and provided partial support (5K plus ERE) for eight outstanding students. Due to budget cuts this year, the partial support was reduced from 11K plus ERE to 5K plus ERE and the Core eliminated one position. These students represent six of the nine SRP research projects. Our students are:
- Eric Ditzel / Camenisch Laboratory / Arsenic Impact on Cardiovascular Development and Disease
- Sahar Fathordoobadi / Ela Laboratory / Role of Mineral Genesis, Dissolution, and Sorption on Arsenic Fate
- Omar Felix / Betterton Laboratory / Characterization of Wind Blown Dust from Tailings and Other Mining Operations in the Southwestern United States
- Juliana Gil / Maier Laboratory / Phytostabilization of Mine Tailings in the Southwestern United States
- Zhilin Guo / Brusseau Laboratory / Mass-Transfer and Mass-Flux Dynamics of Chlorinated Solvents in Heterogeneous Systems
- Nazune Menka / Chorover Laboratory / Role of Mineral Genesis, Dissolution, and Sorption on Arsenic Fate
- Christopher Olivares / Field Laboratory / Role of Mineral Genesis, Dissolution, and Sorption on Arsenic Fate
- Anastasia Sugeng / Loh Laboratory / Metal Exposure Study in Homes
A cornerstone of the UA SRP is the monthly Colloquium which all PIs and Training Core students are required to attend. The first Colloquium of the year was a student orientation (August, 2013) where the students were informed of the privileges and requirements that are part of participating in the Training Core. Each student participant has or will present their research at one of the monthly colloquia (two students per Colloquium). In addition, the 2013-2014 invited speakers include: Dr. James Hopkins (UA College of Law) to speak about Indigenous People Law and Policy; Dr. Diana Meza (Universidad de Sonora, Mexico) to speak about her work on the geochemistry of mine waste dusts at the Nacozari Mine site; and Dr. Karen Bradham (US EPA) to speak about her work on bioaccessibility of metal(loid)s in mine waste. Immediate past and current Training Core students are given the opportunity to attend lunch or dinner with the invited speakers. Our Training Core students continue to participate in a Research Translation/Community Engagement activity. The feedback from last year's trainees indicated that this was a well received and worthwhile activity (see below). All current students are signed up for an activity and the Core will continue to assess the success and usefulness of thiws requirement at the end of the academic year. In addition, the Core encourages its students to participate in both local and national meetings. This year the Core piloted development of two short Trainee videos that describe their studies and the impact of their work with Christopher Olivares and Paul Severson. These videos were well-received but take a lot of time to produce. A real highlight for the UA SRP this year is that one of the Trainees, Corin Hammond, won the 2013 Karen Wetterhahn Memorial Award.
The Training Core requires that Trainees submit yearly reports describing their experiences in the UA SRP. The following is a list of excerpts from our Training Core student year end reports (May 2013):
- Michael Stovern: My community engagement included working with students from Mountain View High School on a phytostabilization of mine tailings using native vegetation types. This outreach was extremely satisfying as I was able to help the students setup, perform and report on an experiment that has real world implications. The students were so highly motivated by this project that they won two second place awards at the regional science fair competition and all three of them were awarded scholarships to college.
- Ana Sugeng: I really liked that the trainees were required to give presentations because that got us out there, promoting our projects, as well as ourselves. Even though I was nervous to give a talk, I felt like it gave me a little bit of exposure to higher-ups in Superfund, which I know will benefit me. For example, after giving a talking in the Colloquium, I was given an opportunity to present a poster ...at the Airborne Mineral Dust Contaminants Conference: Impact on Human Health and the Environment .... Given that there will be local, national, and international researchers there, this will be a great opportunity to do some networking, learn about important research, and talk about the work I am involved in.
- Christopher Olivares: I really enjoyed participating in the teleconferences with the SPAN committee and look forward to meeting fellow trainees and people involved in the Superfund programs across the US in the Annual Meeting this year. I believe that the teleconferences were a unique opportunity to be able to see an x-ray of how the Superfund programs are composed, and the individual flavors (activities and focus) that make each Superfund program unique.
- Candice Morrison: I believe the Superfund Program will help in my future career by giving me the opportunity to meet other great scientists who are doing research that is grounded in giving back through environmental work. These encounters may spark an interest in research that can lead to collaborations between departments, agencies and private sector.
- Linnea Herbertson: I also found the Community Engagement activity to be helpful. I attended the Tucson International Airport Superfund Site quarterly meeting which was very interesting to watch and informative. Connecting the research component of research to the community is very important and ultimately why we do what we do: to improve the health of the community. I would like to do more community engagement activities on my own, if I can find the time.
- Eric Ditzel: Colloquium provided a great place to learn about work done by others in the program and for me to present my own work to a group that could provide valuable feedback and provide insights into my work that may have been overlooked. The outside speakers also provided very interesting opportunities to talk to them about their work in a more informal setting that allowed me to learn more about their work and experiences when compared to other seminars.
- Nazune Menka: The SRP Colloquium was one of the highlights of the program as it allows for the fellows and PIs to interact and I felt that it fostered a collegial atmosphere.
- Sahar Fathordoobadi: What I liked the most about the program was the community engagement activity. It gives you a real taste of environmental issues/solutions outside university labs and how it could affects and help people's everyday life.
- Binod Chaudhary: It was wonderful to be the part of community engagement activity. For me, it was a very fulfilling experience to educate people about the SRP topics and associated risks in public health. However, communicating the science or research works across the diverse groups of people and education levels was not easy. Presenting the information in a simple and understandable language is the key.
The Training Core students receive broad interdisciplinary exposure to biomedical, engineering, educational and environmental aspects of science. The perspective and network that these students develop during their studies will serve them well into the next phase of their careers. The success of the UA SRP program in training excellent students is evidenced by the rapid and easy placement of our graduates.