The specific aims of the training core are to: 1) provide high quality interdisciplinary biomedical and environmental science training, education and mentoring experiences to diverse trainees at the institutions participating in PROTECT;2) extend applicable PROTECT training experiences to the greater SRP community;and 3) serve as the coordination point for training activities with, and trainee participation in, the Community Engagement and Research Translation Cores (CEC and RTC, respectively). During the current program funding, the Core has developed an effective training core program that is providing opportunities/experiences for our trainees to: 1) understand and integrate the problems and concepts of health impacts assessment of contaminated systems, contaminant detection, fate and transport, exposure routes, remediation, and information management;2) develop competence in the applied methods underlying research core activities;and 3) advance their technical, professional and personal skills/knowledge/attitudes to motivate and prepare them for successful careers in these fields. For the renewal period, the Training Core will also: 4) provide opportunities for our trainees to participate in and contribute to CEC and RTC activities;5) promote the awareness of environmental health and environmental science/engineering fields as career pathways to underrepresented populations through recruitment activities;and 6) serve as a resource for the RTC for training opportunities for the greater SRP community. PROTECT has been successful in creating innovative training activities that extend to the greater SRP community, and the program has demonstrated its leadership in promoting more robust and meaningful training experiences. By using a differentiated training model, the Training Core impacts students across a wide spectrum of experience, discipline and educational levels. Senior research personnel (faculty, research scientists, etc.) contribute to this core via an advisory group to develop new activities and provide feedback on existing offerings, informal training opportunities, seminar and workshop offerings, field and laboratory experiences, and mentoring. A systematic assessment and evaluation program feeds into a continuous quality improvement process to help the project team to understand, and modify as necessary, the interactions between the education/training activities and the research cores. To date, PROTECT has recruited 72 trainees, 62% of whom are women and 57% of whom are Hispanic. Trainees have participated in 20 webinars, 5 skill-builder workshops, and 13 town meetings, which they broadly rated as "useful" or "very useful." In addition, trainees made a total of 95 presentations of their research at SRP meetings, a PROTECT retreat and at other research conferences (72 internal presentations and 23 external). Trainees have been authors on 38 refereed publications related to PROTECT research to date. Ten trainees have completed their degrees, and three have secured professorships.
By combining the trainees'focused disciplinary research and training with integrated, multidisciplinary training opportunities, the Training Core seeks to prepare the next generation of researchers and professionals who will be equipped to address the challenging, big science questions in the environmental health and related environmental science and engineering fields. In addition, through integration with the Research Translation and Community Engagement Cores, the Training Core will leverage its activities to benefit stakeholders beyond PROTECT, for ultimate better understanding and integrated efforts to address environmental health.
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