Superfund Research Program
Research Experience and Training Coordination Core
Project Leader: Tammy R. Dugas
Grant Number: P42ES013648
Funding Period: 2011-2025
Project Summary (2020-2025)
The overall goal of the Louisiana State University Superfund Research Program (LSU SRP) is to understand how redox-active metal oxides and organic pollutants associated with particulate matter (PM) react to form environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) and secondary pollutants (e.g., dioxins), how EPFRs are stabilized and decay, and how EPFRs induce cardiovascular and pulmonary dysfunction. To solve these complex research questions, the LSU SRP brings together scientists from diverse areas, including chemistry, physics, environmental sciences, and toxicology. To date, the LSU SRP has trained more than 30 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in these diverse research disciplines. LSU SRP trainees receive their research training through work defined by the individual research projects but receive additional training through programs administered by the Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC). The Core has enhanced trainees’ training and professional development through unique programs meant to increase their appreciation of transdisciplinary collaboration; communicating to diverse audiences, including teachers, K - 12 students, and community groups; and ethical conduct of research. The RETCC continues to facilitate the professional development and training of all LSU SRP trainees through three Specific Aims:
- Cross-disciplinary education in the environmental and biomedical sciences is enhanced through innovative programs. For example, the RETCC continues to provide webinar-based biweekly meetings for cross-disciplinary discussion and dissemination of research findings. It also uses the webinar program for professional development activities (e.g., educating trainees in the ethical conduct of research). Moreover, the Core funds two externships per year in which trainees visit other institutions to learn techniques not available at the LSU SRP campuses.
- The RETCC supports the professional development of trainees by providing education programs in writing, presentation skills, interviewing, and leadership. In an innovative approach, trainees have now organized themselves into a Leadership Advisory Board with the vision that trainees will learn leadership skills by directing the activities of other trainees.
- Trainees mentor undergraduates completing a service-learning course at a local historically black university. Together, the trainees and their mentees play a key role in facilitating bidirectional communication between SRP researchers and a North Baton Rouge community, Alsen, affected by Superfund-related issues, ensuring that trainees become adept at communicating science to diverse audiences.
Finally, to enhance the impact and overall well-being of the program, in Aim 4, the Core works with other institutional programs to recruit a diverse population of high-quality trainees.