This Pan-American Advanced Studies Institutes (PASI) award, jointly supported by the NSF and the Department of Energy (DOE), will take place in July 1-10, 2013 at the School of Public Health at University of SÃ£o Paulo (USP), Brazil. The principal investigator, Dr. Joan Rose (Michigan State University) will be joined on the organizing committee by scientists from the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela. This PASI will engage 25 post-doctoral scientists, advanced graduate students and junior scientists and engineers from a diverse set of fields including environmental engineering, microbiology, environmental science, epidemiology, environmental health, veterinary medicine, and emergency preparedness. Participants will gain hands-on experience with mathematical software and statistical approaches for addressing water pollution and control. Additionally, the participants will attend lectures from top scientists in the field of quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA), engage in specific exercises, and become familiar with probabilistic methodology.
This PASI will build upon the World Health Organization's recent publication that recommended that QMRA be used to implement the water safety plans by engaging more scientists and engineers from across the globe to gain experience with QMRA. In addition, countries such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico are in a position to construct their water service systems implementing the new technologies that will be discussed and assessed in the institute. Global access to program materials will be created via a website and contributions to the QMRA wiki. Additionally, an environmental science and engineering career program will be developed to discuss post-doctoral scientists' pathways for engaging in water research, particularly in Central and South America.
The QMRA Innovation Institute was an 11-day intensive workshop intended to provide training in quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) for doctoral students and recent post-doctorates from a variety of fields and countries. Participants learned how to integrate information from a multiple disciplines using mathematical computer programming and probabilistic analysis to provide a comprehensive assessment which can feed into decision science. International collaboration was a focus of this institute, a significant portion of the participants consisted of scientists and engineers from Latin-American countries. Participants were from the United States of America (12), Brazil (9), Mexico (3), Venezuela (2) and Columbia (1). The Institute was held at the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil. The curriculum was designed to stimulate training and cooperation among researchers of the Americas working to enhance water science and technology. Expert lecturers and mentors (total of 10) from the Americas provided the content. Lectures and hands-on exercises were given during the workshop on relevant subjects including microbiological techniques, dose-response, exposure assessment, disease transmission modeling, and decision science. In addition, participants were assigned to interdisciplinary teams to work on a case study scenario throughout the week to apply their new knowledge of the subject. Each team worked on one of the following case studies during the workshop: Safe Drinking Water Biosolids Emerging and Zoonotic Pathogens Recreational Waters Reclaimed Water These case studies were chosen to explore health risks related to waterborne pathogens in an international context. In exploring the questions given to the groups, members determined risk scenarios within multiple North and South American countries. At the end of the workshop, participants were responsible for reporting their case study work to the other participants and instructors as well as uploading them to the interactive QMRA wiki. All case studies are available for reading at http://qmrawiki.msu.edu/index.php?title=Case_Studies Participants also received mentoring through a one-day mentoring field trip and by working with their case study mentors. The field trip and following discussion session covered topics regarding work-life balance, keys to success as a new scientist, and tips for establishing successful collaborations. Overall the participants were satisfied with the experience. Upon our exit survey 94.7% of responding participants reported being either "Very satisfied" or "Somewhat satisfied" with their experience at the workshop.