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Duke University

Superfund Research Program

Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC)

Project Leader: Joel N. Meyer
Grant Number: P42ES010356
Funding Period: 2022-2027
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2022-2027)

Environmental health science problems posed by chemical exposure are complex; addressing these problems successfully requires expertise from diverse scientific fields. The Duke University Superfund Research Center (DUSRC) focuses on research and problem-solving in the context of early-life exposures and co-exposures, later-life consequences, environmental justice, and site remediation. Cross-disciplinary training can enable the transdisciplinary research required to solve such problems. 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. To support trainees in DUSRC work and in preparing themselves for future environmental science and health careers, the Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC) of the DUSRC provides cross-disciplinary training to trainees to enable them to carry out and communicate integrated, transdisciplinary, problem-oriented research.

The RETCC provides a flexible and rigorous program characterized by two complementary Aims. First, all trainees participate in a core set of activities that ensure proficiency in fundamental knowledge and skills (Aim 1). Second, all trainees are guided in choosing individually-tailored training activities to provide depth and specificity to career and research field development (Aim 2).

These components have been carefully designed to complement the training components of the other departments and programs with which trainees are associated, including social, biomedical, engineering, and statistical environmental sciences, thus ensuring that the cross-disciplinary training the Center provides is complemented by in-depth, focused disciplinary rigor.

  • Specific Aim 1. Provide training in common, fundamental cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills related to environmental health and environmental science and engineering. Required participation in these five activities creates a solid, broad base of cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills for all trainees, stimulates transdisciplinary research, and promotes community among all DUSRC members.
  • Specific Aim 2. Provide structure and activities that facilitate scientific depth and personalized career development. To complement the broad exposure and proficiencies that all trainees attain under Aim 1, the RETCC provides a flexible menu of opportunities that are tailored to the goals and needs of each trainee.

Of significance in this funding period is the redesign of the “mentored mentoring” program, now explicitly designed to promote collaboration of trainees with undergraduates of diverse backgrounds and encourage engagement of unrepresented minorities in DUSRC research and cores.

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