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Texas A&M University

Superfund Research Program

Training Core

Project Leader: Ivan Rusyn
Co-Investigators: Weihsueh A. Chiu, Candice L. Brinkmeyer-Langford
Grant Number: P42ES027704
Funding Period: 2017-2022
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Project Summary (2017-2022)

The Texas A&M University Superfund Research Program (TAMU SRP) Center aims to characterize and manage both existing and environmental emergency-created hazardous waste sites through the development of tools that can be used by first responders, affected communities, and government bodies involved in site management and cleanup. The complexities of hazardous chemical exposures that occur as a result of environmental emergencies, their potential adverse health effects, and the need to rapidly and comprehensively evaluate and mitigate the potential hazards of exposures to complex mixtures call for a highly interdisciplinary and cohesive research program. The TAMU SRP Center brings together a team of scientists from biomedical, geosciences, data science, and engineering disciplines to design comprehensive solutions for complex exposure- and health hazard-related risk assessment and reduction challenges.

Given the diversity of the disciplines involved, the excellence of the investigators, and the tight integration of the fundamental and applied research, the TAMU SRP Center forms an outstanding training environment for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and will create ample opportunities for integration and professional development of their trainees.

The Training Core serves as a central hub for science and practice learning in the Center by focusing on the following objectives:

  • Recruiting motivated and qualified graduate students and postdoctoral fellows into projects and cores in the Center
  • Creating a cohesive environment for interdisciplinary learning through collaborative projects across multiple projects and cores
  • Augmenting existing graduate and postdoctoral training programs with targeted skill-building workshops on social, economic, scientific, legal, and practical aspects of emergency response, site cleanup, and regulatory decision-making
  • Facilitating trainee career development through exposure to career choices in academia, government, and industry

The Core works closely with existing training programs at participating institutions and is tightly integrated with the Interdisciplinary Faculty of Toxicology and a new T32 program, "Regulatory Science in Environmental Health and Toxicology," at TAMU. The Core coordinates research and learning of nine postdoctoral fellows and seven doctoral students; of these, 11 trainees are affiliated with TAMU. All four projects, all three research support cores, and the Community Engagement Core host trainees who select mentors and co-mentors from an interdisciplinary team of 14 outstanding investigators specializing in toxicology, genetics, public health, risk assessment, exposure science, geochemistry, cancer biology, epidemiology, and statistics.

A distinctive feature of the Core is a trainee exchange program across Center components or with outside stakeholders involved in emergency response to environmental disasters, modelled after the KC Donnelly Externship Award. It is expected that Center trainees are highly successful in academia, industry, governmental agencies, and other professional settings and improve public health protection through innovative and rigorous research and practice in support of decision-making.

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