Superfund Research Program
NIEHS SRP Staff Member Attends EPA’s International Environmental Youth Symposium
Alicia Lawson, NIEHS Superfund Research Program Health Specialist, participated in the first International Environmental Youth Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia. It was hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 and global partners in early October 2015.
The two-day symposium, “One World, One Environment,” facilitated networking among students, academia, administrators, and environmental and sustainability stakeholders at the domestic and international level. Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, provided the keynote address.
The symposium featured invited presentations, workshops, and plenary sessions for networking, panels, and posters. Lawson also served as a judge during the collegiate scientific poster session. Participants discussed several pressing environmental challenges and potential solutions. Some of the main topics included climate change, sustainability, and adaptation.
SRP Grantee Moderates Smartphone Apps for Citizen Scientists Workshop
Smartphones are revolutionizing the collection and sharing of environmental data, but their potential as tools for citizen science is vastly under-utilized. To help promote and optimize use of mobile applications, the Earth Institute at Columbia University is hosting a series of workshops, which began October 13, looking at Smartphone Apps for Citizen Scientists.
The associate director of the Columbia SRP, Alexander van Geen, Ph.D., and the co-director of Columbia University's Urban Design Lab, Patricia Culligan, Ph.D., are moderating the workshops.
The series examines a range of topics, including the underlying science and technical development, the legal and privacy concerns of data collection and dissemination, and the implications for environmental justice and regulations enforcement. Workshops successively explore airborne, water, and soil contaminants. Featured speakers range from the researchers behind the science to the users in communities.
The first workshop focused on airborne contaminants and featured presentations by five panelists: Michael Heimbinder, Executive Director of HabitatMap; Darby Jack, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health; Lindsay Mollineaux, Deputy Chief Analytics Officer for New York City; Nicholas Masson, an independent engineering contractor; and Richard Witten, Special Advisor to the President of Columbia University.
The next two workshops, scheduled for December 1, 2015 and February 16, 2016, will address water and soil contaminants. For more information, please visit the Earth Institute Web page. For further information, please e-mail Pamela Vreeland at email@example.com.
SRP Grantees Share Cutting Edge Research at EMGS
At the 46th Annual Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society (EMGS) meeting September 26-30, Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantees and staff gathered to discuss research aimed at understanding and mitigating environmental threats to the genome and to the epigenome.
The theme of the meeting focused on integrating research, education, and policy. The scientific program consisted of symposia, platform and poster sessions, Saturday workshops, and internationally recognized speakers. There was also a focus on cutting-edge technologies, including a Plenary Symposium on sequencing, genome editing, and what they promise as we look ahead.
SRP grantees from the University of California (UC) Berkeley and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) gave presentations on their innovative SRP research related to environmental mutagenesis. SRP Health Scientist Administrator Michelle Heacock, Ph.D., also attended the meeting.
UNC SRP Center Director Rebecca Fry, Ph.D., gave two presentations. She discussed oral exposure to arsenic and health risks for children during the Health Risk Assessment of Oral Exposure to Arsenic session. She presented “Toxic Metals and the Epigenome” during the Environmental Epigenomics and Disease Susceptibility session.
UC Berkeley SRP Center researcher Luoping Zhang, Ph.D., also spoke during the Environmental Epigenomics and Disease Susceptibility session, presenting on, “Applying Biomarkers, Systems Biology, and Exposome Approaches to Study Environmental and Occupational Exposures to Toxic Chemicals.” A UC Berkeley SRP Center trainee Sarah Daniels gave a presentation, “Toward Exposomics,” at the Emerging Technologies workshop on the first day of the meeting.
Kelly Pennell Receives NSF CAREER Award
Kelly Pennell, Ph.D., an University of Kentucky assistant professor and Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantee, was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award for her project “Vapor Intrusion, Knowledge Brokers, and Environmental Health—A Three Dimensional Perspective.” The CAREER Award, one of the NSF’s highest awards, supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.
Pennell, a former Brown University SRP member, credits her experience with two SRP centers in helping her achieve this major accomplishment. Her work is focusing on how to predict vapor intrusion, the transport of below-surface vapors into indoor air spaces, which is an important but often overlooked source of indoor air contamination. An SRP supplement at Brown was her first involvement with vapor intrusion, and her new NSF project will build on these early SRP experiences.
“The research I am conducting through my NSF CAREER grant will extend my previous research to investigate how natural and mechanical building ventilation systems, as well as utility infrastructure and atmospheric effects can influence inhalation exposures at vapor intrusion sites,” Pennell said.
This research project will bridge the gap between air transport modeling of above ground spaces and below-surface spaces. The research introduces a novel approach—a volatile organic chemical (VOC) vapor intrusion model—that incorporates atmospheric, indoor, and below-surface domains in an effort to address preliminary field data and field observations in the literature that has previously been unexplained. Pennell is currently collecting field data at the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman Superfund site in Mountain View, California for vapor intrusion related sewer gas exposures. She is also leading community engagement and consultation activities at a contaminated site in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
As part of the award, Pennell will also train undergraduate and graduate students as knowledge brokers to build bridges between academic researchers and key stakeholders, such as regulators, professionals, legislators and community members. Pennell and her students will organize and host a training workshop to provide professional stakeholders (e.g. regulators and practitioners) access to cutting edge research related to vapor intrusion.