Environmental health challenges require a well-trained workforce that possesses the skills and analytical acumen to confront emerging threats. As such, it is crucial that we train the next generation of environmental health scientists. To fulfill this need, undergraduate students should be made aware of the rewarding personal and professional opportunities that await them in a career involving environmental health research or policy development. We propose to establish an R25 Summer Research Experience in Environmental Health (SREEH) program that will introduce a diverse group of undergraduate students in Connecticut (CT) to research involving five innovative topics: climate and energy impacts on health, the developmental origins of human disease, green chemistry solutions, understanding and overcoming health disparities, and novel approaches to assessing environmental exposures and early markers of effect. Exposing students to these exciting and challenging areas will give them the opportunity to go beyond the typical undergraduate curriculum in a dynamic summer experience that will show them how they can be a part of critical research in the environmental health sciences (EHS). This experience will motivate them to pursue higher education, and inspire and prepare them for careers in EHS. The program will leverage the unique expertise of the faculty of Yale University, and provide a 10-week mentored, hands-on introductory research experience that has five main objectives: 1) to provide an engaging and intensive learning experience in hypothesis-directed research in EHS; 2) to provide classroom instruction focused on emerging topics and tools in EHS research; 3) to enhance scientific communication skills; 4) to nurture and provide support for pursuing higher education and careers in the EHS; and 5) to disseminate student accomplishments and assessment metrics within the scientific community to encourage more students to pursue a career in EHS. The program will draw upon the unique resources, infrastructure, and expertise of faculty members from the Yale Schools of Public Health, Forestry & Environmental Studies, Medicine, and Engineering & Applied Science. Students will also benefit from meetings with state government officials who will bring practical risk assessment and policy perspectives to the summer experience. Students will be recruited from CT universities, with a focus on attracting students from under-represented backgrounds. The program will involve weekly meetings with an assigned faculty mentor to receive one-on-one training, weekly seminars, workshops on a broad range of skill-building and career development topics, field visits, and daily research activities. The program will culminate with student oral presentations of their research efforts. Program graduates will be enrolled in the Yale SREEH alumni network to facilitate graduate school applications and career development. Achievement of program outcomes will be monitored continuously by an independent educational evaluator to ensure that the program meets its objectives, maintains a high level of excellence and continues to improve in subsequent years.
We propose a summer research training program that will introduce a diverse group of undergraduate students in Connecticut (CT) to five major emerging topics and tools in environmental health research: climate and energy impacts on health, the developmental origin of disease, green chemistry, environmental health disparities, and novel approaches to assessing environmental exposures and early markers of effect. Introducing students to these exciting areas of environmental health and allowing them to gain insights to the application of environmental health research will motivate them to pursue higher education, and inspire and prepare them for careers in the environmental health sciences.