Superfund Research Program
Research Experiences and Training Coordination Core
PROTECT’s RETCC has continued to provide a broad range of opportunities to its 28 trainees and responded to the COVID-19 disruption by applying its longstanding expertise and innovation in remote delivery. To maintain trainee community connection during the initial months of the pandemic, the research team coordinated a bi-weekly Virtual Coffee Chat series from April 22, 2020 to June 24, 2020. Trainees shared experiences and concerns around the pandemic, and there was a professional development talk by trainee Luisa Feliciano-Cruz (Effect of Extreme Weather on Potential Exposure of Contaminant Mixtures in Karst Water Systems, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus) on "Visual Design Considerations When Preparing Media" (June 17, 2020). For other Coffee Chat sessions, PROTECT investigators were interviewed about their pandemic challenges, both professional and personal. The series finale featured SRP program managers as guests to talk about their own experiences during the pandemic. Intensive planning occurred throughout the summer related to the annual fall orientation, and revisions to their Individual Development Plan (IDP) program and the submission process. The RETCC assessment and evaluation team developed a new baseline survey as a first step to support continuous improvement and dissemination of RETCC impacts. A trainee short course coordinated with PROTECT’s DMAC, “Computational Tools and Their Applications for Environmental Health Data Sets,” is being planned for January-February 2021. Planning is also underway to transition all trainees to a new learning management system, CanvasFree, to facilitate administrative tasks and promote trainee interactions and community. The Core met with its advisory boards (External, Researcher, and Trainee) in July 2020 for feedback to support its continuous improvement process and planning initiatives for the coming academic year.