This is a competitive renewal application for funding to support a summer program for undergraduates that introduces them to the field of environmental health sciences as part of the existing Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program at Rutgers University. The SURF program provides undergraduates with 10-week basic science and translational hands-on research experiences; this application proposes the continuation of 10 fellowships for students to conduct interdisciplinary research in toxicology and environmental sciences. Strong applications from interested students will be identified by scholastic achievement, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. Recruitment strategies are in place to continue to attract students from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds into the SURF program. Under the guidance and instruction of NIH-funded investigators, SURF students will conduct individual hands-on research projects in laboratories focused on environmental health sciences, as well as an innovative team-based field study that focuses on NJ's history of environmental contamination. Students will meet with mentors weekly to receive one-on-one training, ensure continued development of research skills, and evaluate progress of scientific projects. The SURF program draws upon the resources, infrastructure, and expertise of faculty who are members of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and part of our NIEHS T32 training grant and NIEHS P30 Center for Environmental Exposures and Disease at Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and School of Public Health. Students will also participate in weekly seminars and workshops on topics of career development, responsible conduct of research training, laboratory safety training, and environmental research. In addition, students will discuss topics in the news that are related to environmental sciences, which will promote overall science literacy. They will also tour core facilities established as part of our NIEHS Center and be instructed in state-of-the-art technology for biomedical research. Students will make a 20-minute oral presentation of their research at the end of the summer. The SURF Program Directors have developed a formal evaluation plan to ensure the continued development and improvement of the fellowship program over subsequent years.
The structured hands-on research, didactic, and career activities in this proposal are designed to enhance scientific literacy and prepare undergraduate students for graduate and professional education in toxicology and environmental health sciences.
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