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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of Kentucky

Superfund Research Program

Research Experience and Training Coordination Core

Project Leader: James Zach Hilt
Co-Investigator: Bernhard Hennig
Grant Number: P42ES007380
Funding Period: 2000-2025

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Project Summary (2020-2025)

The University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center (UK SRC) is addressing a major environmental issue: halogenated organics that occur at Superfund sites and persist in the ground and water sources in many other locations nationwide. The Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC) aims to prepare students to investigate these issues by exposing them to interdisciplinary training, providing opportunities to enhance their professional career development, and through an extensive outside-the-laboratory program that coordinates opportunities for engagement with the Community Engagement Core (CEC), the Administrative Core's research translation function, and the Data Management and Analysis Core (DMAC). These diverse activities give the trainees broad exposure to environmental issues that affect their surroundings and equip them with a unique toolset to make disruptive impacts to the field. Addressing environmental challenges requires an integrative approach that leverages knowledge from disparate disciplines and perspectives. A combination of knowledge and scientific methods from biomedical and environmental science and engineering-based disciplines are required, while also considering the social impact of these issues on the surrounding communities. While the RETCC promotes strong cross-disciplinary training, it also encourages the interdisciplinary thinking needed to develop problem-solving skills and to become effective environmental communicators. The specific aims are:

  1. To introduce innovative training components designed to spur disruptive impacts and spark creative solutions to complex environmental problems (the RETCC funds trainee-developed pilot grants that necessitate cross-disciplinary collaborations (e.g., data science/bioinformatics) among the projects and cores);
  2. To integrate career development training activities critical for academic and nonacademic interests, developed through interactions with the Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science and the newly developed DMAC, and to offer specific skills training (e.g., responsible conduct of research, grantsmanship) that prepare students for success in academic, governmental, and industrial research careers; and
  3. To increase integration of the trainees throughout all aspects of the Center to enhance overall productivity and expand training opportunities, from recruitment of the next generation of trainees to reporting the Center's activities and trainee outcomes to the SRP.
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