Superfund Research Program
Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC)
Project Summary (2020-2025)
The Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC) is organized around the principle that the skills needed for productive careers in environmental science include the ability to think creatively in a crossdisciplinary context, communicate effectively with a range of audiences, and appreciate the role of communities and their concerns as both motivators and beneficiaries of environmental research. The Metals and Metals Mixtures: Cognitive Aging, Remediation, and Exposure Sources (MEMCARE) Superfund Research Center (SRC) is studying metal mixtures in multiple interrelated contexts:
- Their impact on cognitive aging (as well as mechanisms of association) in both human and experimental models;
- Identification of critical exposure windows for-later life cognitive decline;
- Characterization of exposure variability; and
- Development of innovative technologies for exposure remediation.
In this context, RETCC is developing resources to supplement research activities within individual projects to promote trainee:
- Crossdisciplinary experience in environmental science;
- Development of communication and leadership skills; and
- Understanding of the wide-ranging impact of Superfund research and the implications of this context on professional and intellectual development.
The key resource developed by the RETCC, in collaboration with the research projects, is a series of crossdisciplinary lab exchanges (externships) and practicums. Other resources developed by the RETCC include seminars and, in conjunction with the Community Engagement Core (CEC) and the research translation (RT) coordinator, community engagement and research translation opportunities to complement research activities. CEC and RT activities are designed to enhance trainee communication skills, not only among scientific peers but also among constituencies for which SRC activities resonate — for example, communities impacted by contaminants and government agencies tasked with contaminant remediation and regulation. In collaboration with the Data Management and Analysis Core (DMAC), RETCC also facilitates opportunities for data science training. The core facilitates trainee participation in grantee and professional meetings and associated leadership and professional networking opportunities. Finally, the RETCC facilitates trainee access to professional development resources and nominates qualified trainees for NIEHS SRP-sponsored honors. The RETCC anticipates more than 20 trainees participating in the MEMCARE SRC (about 2/3 predoctoral and 1/3 postdoctoral), each working on SRC research for two to four years. RETCC is a central component of the MEMCARE SRC, uniting all trainees and their mentors with common goals and shared activities, both inside and outside of the classroom and laboratory. Every project has trainees, and every trainee interfaces with RETCC-sponsored training opportunities. In this context, RETCC fosters development of scientists with the skills needed to engage in impactful future environmental science research.