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Your Environment. Your Health.

K.C. Donnelly Externship Guidelines

Superfund Research Program

This webpage contains Externship Guidelines, background information, and links to the announcement for the KC Donnelly Externship NOT-ES-22-003.

Annual K.C. Donnelly Externship - Promotion of Translational/Transdisciplinary Efforts in Graduate and Post-Doctoral Research (Guidelines for Applicants)

What is the K.C. Donnelly Externship?

The Superfund Research Program (SRP) announces administrative supplements named in honor of K.C. Donnelly, Ph.D., Department Head of Environmental and Occupational Health, Texas A&M University, who passed away on July 1, 2009. Donnelly's research consisted of studying environmental exposure and genotoxicity of complex chemical mixtures. He was also a dedicated mentor to his students and post-doctoral researchers, instilling in them the importance of applying their knowledge and findings to communities exposed to environmental contaminants.

The SRP recognizes a compelling need to promote transdisciplinary and translational research among early investigators (e.g., graduate students/post-doctoral researchers) which includes the recruitment of talented researchers and improving the quality of the educational and training environment. The purpose of these supplements is to provide current SRP-funded graduate students/post-doctoral researchers with translational/transdisciplinary opportunities and experiences within other SRP-funded grants, government laboratories (EPA, ATSDR, NIEHS), or other agencies (state, local, Tribal). Examples of these types of externship experiences include:

  • A graduate student performing laboratory research would like to learn a novel analytical technique at another SRP funded center to enhance his/her research project.
  • A post-doctoral researcher conducting epidemiology research would like to understand how their results may apply to risk assessment at a federal agency.
  • A graduate student conducting remediation research would like to participate in a community engagement activity at another SRP funded center.

Who is eligible for an Externship?

To be eligible, an applicant must be:

  • A graduate student (Master's or Ph.D.) or a postdoctoral researcher (status must be maintained for duration of externship).
  • Conducting research/activities in any SRP R01 grant or project/core within an SRP Center.
    (Note: Grants in a no-cost extension are not permitted to submit K.C. Donnelly applications.)

What does the recipient of the Externship receive?

  • Support for up to three (3) months consisting of supplies, travel, and housing costs for the duration of the externship (amount not to exceed $10,000 direct costs).
  • Travel funds to attend the SRP Annual Meeting where the recipient is invited to present their research. These costs should be included in the application budget.

What are the steps in the submission process?

SRP highly encourages the student/post-doctoral researcher to develop and write the application, but the official application must be submitted by the Center Director (for P42s) or the Principal Investigator (for R01s) from the parent institution. The applicant and Principal Investigator are strongly encouraged to contact their respective Program Administrator (listed on the Notice of Award; see contacts below) to discuss their application. They should also consult with their university's business official for guidance on developing budget pages. Applicants should also consult with their university's business official to determine that acceptance of the K.C. Donnelly Externship Award does not conflict with the terms and conditions of fellowships or other salary support held by the applicant.

A letter of intent must be submitted prior to submitting a supplement application. Letters should not exceed one page and the deadline for 2023 letters is January 20. The letter of intent must include:

  1. Name and school of applicant
  2. Phone number and email of applicant
  3. Title and grant number of the parent grant
  4. Proposed hosting institution, hosting mentor, and hosting mentor's affiliation with either a Superfund Research Program-funded grant, government laboratory, or a state, local, or Tribal agency
  5. Brief description of proposed project and project objectives

Please send the letter to Brittany A. Trottier and copy your respective Program Administrator and Center Director. In the subject line, include "Intent to submit SRP K.C. Donnelly Supplement"

All supplement applications must contain the following:

  1. PHS 398 Face page that includes:
    • The title and grant number of the parent grant
    • The name "K.C. Donnelly Externship - Promotion of Translational/Transdisciplinary Efforts in Graduate and Post-Doctoral Research"
    • Signature of the Business Official
  2. Project Description (abstract).
  3. A detailed budget (using SF424 R&R budget sheet) and budget justification. The justification should contain details of supplies, travel, housing costs, travel to the annual meeting, etc.
  4. A Research Strategy (limited to 6 pages). The Research Strategy should include:
    • A brief summary of the applicant's current research in the context of the currently funded SRP Project (limited to 1 paragraph).
    • A description of the proposed externship project, the project’s objectives (divided into specific aims), how the proposed project will enhance the applicant's current research (limited to 2 pages).
    • A clear description of how the translational/transdisciplinary opportunity is within the scope of the parent grant (limited to 1 paragraph).
    • A description of how this supplement will enhance the applicant’s skills, knowledge, and professional goals; as well as anticipated outcomes of the externship (e.g., publication, new protocols, new tools and technologies, techniques learned, etc.) (limited to 2 pages).
    • A description of the mentorship plan during the externship period (e.g., frequency of communication among the applicant, the applicant’s mentor, and the hosting mentor; limited to 1 page).
    • A timeline (generally a small table noting the duration of the project, including activities undertaken before, during, and after the actual externship period). Please include in the timeline participation in the subsequent year's SRP Annual Meeting.
  5. References Cited (if applicable).
  6. NIH Biosketch. Graduate students are encouraged to complete the "Scholastic Performance" section, in Part D of the Biosketch.
  7. Letters of Support, which should include signed statements from the Principal Investigators from the parent institution and from the hosting institution where the project is to be conducted, establishing the eligibility of the candidate for support by this supplement. These statements should indicate 1) The capacity/duration for which applicant has been known by referrer. 2) The applicant's ability to perform the proposed externship - in particular, how the externship relates to and will further the student/postdoctoral researcher's academic/professional goals; the quality of his/her current work. 3) Likelihood of a productive externship. It is also recommended that the mentor letters provide insight into their mentoring plan.
  8. Description of the use of human subjects and/or vertebrate animals (if none, please state “Not Applicable”; limited to 1 page).
    • If applicable, the applicant should state if human subjects research will be conducted as a part of this application and provide a description of the aspects of the study that will require human subjects. The applicant should provide documentation regarding the Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval date for the application and documentation showing that required training for conducting human subjects research has been completed. Applicants should also work with their mentor (from the parent grant) to ensure that their human subjects research is added to the NIH Human Subjects System (HSS);
      Please note the HSS has replaced the NIH Inclusion Management System (IMS).
      For more information about what constitutes a study with human subjects, please see: Protection of Human Subjects
    • If additional human subjects or vertebrate animals will be added to the already existing human subject or vertebrate animal studies in the parent grant or by the hosting institution, applicants and PIs should notify their PO prior to submission of the application.
    • Any studies with the use of additional animal models (i.e., beyond those used in the parent grant) should have the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval number and date of study approval listed in this section and provide a description of the aspects of the study that will require animals.  The applicant should state that required training for conducting animal research has been completed (i.e., provide date of completion).

Note: (1) These administrative supplements must support the scope of the active SRP parent grant; (2) Laptops and computers cannot be purchased with supplement money.

How many graduate students/post-doctoral researchers can apply from each institution?

Institutions with Center grants (i.e., P42) are limited to two applications per cycle; R01 investigators are limited to one application.

When is the application deadline?

Applications are due February 28, 2023, and may be submitted up to 30 days prior to the due date.

When will the externship announcement be made?

Review and funding decisions will occur on or about May 1st of that year.

How many externships will be awarded?

SRP expects the number of awarded supplements to be 8-10 per year.

How will the recipient be selected?

SRP will bring together a small ad hoc group of reviewers from within the institute to critically evaluate the submitted applications. It is important that the applicant present his/her material in a manner readily understood by scientifically literate colleagues; however, applicants should not assume that all reviewers are experts in their area of research.

What is the review criteria?

Applications will be reviewed using the following criteria:

          • Evidence that the proposed translational/transdisciplinary opportunity will enhance the graduate student/post-doctoral researcher's current research/activities and will benefit the applicant's professional development.
          • Evidence that the proposed experience will enhance the knowledge, and/or skills of the candidate, and that the candidate will play an integral role in the activities of the project.
          • Likelihood of success:
            • The qualifications of the graduate student/post-doctoral researcher, including career goals, prior research training, research potential, and any relevant experience.
            • Evidence of interest in environmental science.
            • A plan and timeline for the research and career development experiences proposed by the candidate.
          • Evidence that adequate mentorship will be provided to the graduate student/post-doctoral researcher (i.e., letters from the Principal Investigator and any other mentors involved in the proposed externship opportunity).
          • Evidence that if the study involves human subjects and/or an NIH-defined clinical research, that the plans to address the following are justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed in the application:
            1. The protection of human subjects from research risks, and
            2. Inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children.
          • Evidence that if the application involves vertebrate animals, that the plans to address the following are justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed in the application:  
            1. The proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used;
            2. Justification for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed;
            3. Procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research; and
            4. Methods of euthanasia.

To whom do I submit my application?

Applications should be submitted electronically by the Authorized Organizational Representative through using NIH ASSIST, Workspace, or an institutional system-to-system solution. For more information on submission guidelines, see NOT-ES-22-003.

Whom do I contact if I have questions about the externship?

Applicants should contact the assigned Program Administrator listed on their Center Director’s Notice of Award (see below for a listing of the SRP Program Administrators).

SRP Program Administrators:

Danielle J. Carlin, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
530 Davis Dr
530 Davis Drive (Keystone Bldg)
Durham, NC 27713
Tel 984-287-3244
Michelle L. Heacock, Ph.D.
Branch Chief, Superfund Research Program
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-04
Durham, N.C. 27709

Tel 984-287-3267
Heather Henry, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator, Superfund Research Program
530 Davis Dr
530 Davis Drive (Keystone Bldg)
Durham, NC 27713
Tel 984-287-3268
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