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University of New Mexico

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Superfund Research Program

Research Experience and Training Coordination Core

Project Leader: Matthew Campen
Grant Number: P42ES025589
Funding Period: 2022-2027
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2022-2027)

Interdisciplinary research training is a vital component to the development of the next generation of environmental health science professionals. The Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC) of the University of New Mexico (UNM) Metal Exposure and Toxicity Assessment on Tribal Lands of the Southwest (METALS) Center has been established to coordinate graduate and postdoctoral level cross-disciplinary research experiences and training in fields related to biomedical research and environmental science and engineering research. The RETCC is designed to address gaps in the interdisciplinary training experiences of the various academic departments at UNM, to give trainees broader perspectives of their work in the context of regional environmental health issues. Major activities for the program include a cultural sensitivity workshop to help guide trainees as they conduct research in Native American communities. The core leaders have provided both practical research experiences/opportunities on tribal lands as well as provided experiences in written and oral research communication with regional communities.

In the next phase of the METALS Superfund program, the team is expanding on initiatives developed in the first phase. Beyond workshops and journal clubs, they promote tailored curricula development, innovative, cross-disciplinary, and cross-institutional laboratory experiences, engagement in seminar series, workshops and conferences related to professional development, and travel to scientific meetings. The UNM METALS program represents a vital resource in this regard, as their efforts already bring together trainees from diverse academic foci to execute interdisciplinary research.

The RETCC follows the specific aims:

  • Organize educational programs to promote effective research with indigenous communities. As a crucial aspect of scientific training in the UNM METALS Superfund Center, trainees have the opportunity to learn cultural sensitivity, advanced scientific communication modalities, and different approaches for effectively engaging communities, leadership, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders in environmental health research.
  • Provide interdisciplinary research education to bridge the gaps between vital academic disciplines to enhance environmental health research.
  • Promote the career development of a next generation of environmental health researchers. Through coordinated scientific exchange with other Superfund Research Program centers, grantsmanship training, attendance at regional, national, and international conferences, and nontraditional experiential training, the RETCC ensures that the UNM METALS trainees have exceptional long-term career opportunities in the field of environmental health research.
  • Provide all METALS members — trainees and faculty — access to resources to ensure quality scientific mentoring and career development tools.
  • Implement a comprehensive evaluation process with formative and summative components for assessment of UNM METALS trainees, their mentors, and the overall RETCC program.
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