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Duke University

Superfund Research Program

Training Core

Project Leader: Joel N. Meyer
Grant Number: P42ES010356
Funding Period: 2000-2022

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Project Summary (2017-2022)

Environmental health science problems posed by chemical exposure are complex; addressing these problems successfully requires expertise from diverse scientific fields. Likewise, communicating science is challenging for many scientists, and historically much environmental health science work has been done in the absence of interaction with affected communities. The Duke University Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center focuses on research and problem-solving in the context of early-life exposures, later-life consequences, and site remediation.

The Training Core of the Duke SRP Center is dedicated to providing cross-disciplinary training to scientists who will be capable of carrying out and communicating integrated, problem-oriented research. The Training Core provides resources and structures to support cross-disciplinary training for trainees (graduate students and postdoctoral researchers) involved with all projects and cores of the SRP Center. At the same time, individual trainee needs can vary, with both research requirements and individual career goals. To accommodate these needs, the Training Core is a flexible and rigorous program characterized by two complementary objectives. First, all trainees participate in a core set of activities that ensure proficiency in fundamental knowledge and skills. Second, all trainees are guided in the development of an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that facilitates a personally tailored and scientifically focused training experience. These components are carefully designed to complement the training components of the other departments and programs with which the trainees are associated, and to ensure that the cross-disciplinary training they provide is complemented by in-depth, focused disciplinary rigor. These components include mini-internships for trainees who wish to further develop these skills.

The Training Core provides training in common, fundamental cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills related to environmental health and environmental science and engineering. The researchers organize five types of activities in which all trainees participate. Universal participation in these activities creates a solid, general base of cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills for all trainees, stimulates interdisciplinary research, and promotes community among all DUSRC members. The Training Core also provides structure and activities that facilitate the development of a personalized IDP. To complement the broad exposure and proficiencies that all trainees will attain, the Training Core provides a flexible menu of opportunities that is tailored to the goals and needs of each trainee via an IDP.

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