The overarching goal of this R25 application is to provide training to diverse high school and undergraduate students who will work with supportive faculty mentors to understand how environmental chemical exposures contribute to non-communicable diseases, and how hazard and/or exposure mitigation can improve health. Program faculty come from a diverse range of disciplines: toxicology, endocrinology, cell and molecular biology, veterinary and animal sciences, chemistry, epidemiology, chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, and science communication. We will focus on recruiting women and individuals from underrepresented groups to participate in this summer program, which includes three aims: 1) To involve high school age young women in introductory summer research experiences and recruit those with an interest in participating in research projects or science communication projects. By partnering with the local Girls Inc. organization, we will offer week-long introductory training programs for 9th grade girls from diverse but underserved communities in Western MA. With 24-26 girls participating every year, we will use this program to recruit 10th and 11th grade girls to participate in Aims 2 and 3. 2) To create a learning community focused on understanding how environmental chemical exposures contribute to non-communicable diseases and develop scientific strategies to create solutions to these challenging problems. High school and undergraduate students will work with UMass faculty to understand how environmental chemical exposures contribute to non-communicable diseases, and how hazards and/or exposures can be mitigated. Research will focus on one of these areas: ? molecular and cellular models of diseases relevant to environmental chemical exposures; ? characterizing chemical exposures and their association with human diseases; ? understanding the effects of environmental chemicals on conditions such as cancer and metabolic diseases; ? creating solutions for exposures to hazardous environmental chemicals including use of green chemistry principles to avoid hazards entirely and pollution remediation when exposures cannot be avoided. 3) To train diverse participants in methods to communicate complex environmental health concepts in the context of our learning community and in broader communities. High school and undergraduate students will work to create science communication tools, aimed at educating a lay audience about one or more topic addressed in the laboratories in Aim 2. Communication tools could include static or animated infographics, informational videos, podcasts, or other social media tools.
This summer research program will provide training to diverse high school and undergraduate students interested in understanding how environmental chemical exposures contribute to non-communicable diseases, and how hazard and/or exposure mitigation can improve health.