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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News December 2014

Volume 5, Issue 12: December 2014

PEPH E-News Header

PEPH at APHA Highlight: Roles of Gulf Coast Communities in Post-Disaster Research

The PEPH network had a strong presence at the annual American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting held last month in New Orleans, Louisiana. Several PEPH sessions and posters at APHA focused on communication in the aftermath of disasters. While all of the highlights from APHA are too numerous to share, take a moment to read about the community-academic partnership between the Mary Queen of Vietnam-Community Development Corporation (MQVN-CDC), Tulane University, and Washington State University that is working with a Vietnamese-American community to examine the potential health risks from shrimp consumption after the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. In his presentation, MQVN-CDC project manager Daniel Nguyen emphasized the value of local knowledge and the importance of language in post-disaster research. He noted that including the community throughout the research process, as well as framing messages to meet the cultural needs of the Vietnamese community, is essential to successful outcomes

To overcome survey fatigue and a general distrust of past research, the project team used a community-based participatory research approach, which began with a series of meetings with community organizers, shrimpers, and the larger Vietnamese community. These meetings helped determine the objective of the study and methods for harvesting shrimp and preparing the samples. Community input led to the researchers’ decision to focus on Gulf white shrimp – the primary type of seafood consumed in this community – and informed where they would collect the shrimp.

Not only did the researchers use community input to help design the study, they also empowered residents by adjusting how they communicated with the Vietnamese-American population. Initially, interactions between residents and researchers were translated from English into Vietnamese. However, the model soon shifted to where the discussions of study results were in Vietnamese and translated into English for the university researchers.

“Involving our community and community partners in the research process from the beginning and having meaningful, respectful discussions, face to face, about what our mutual partnership could do significantly affected and improved what our team accomplished,” said Jeff Wickliffe, Ph.D., co-principal investigator on the project. “Together we were much more capable of producing results that were relevant, understandable, and useful to everyone involved,” he explained.

Moving forward, the researchers will examine the long-term effects of the oil spill on seafood safety. They would also like to apply their community-based model to study other local environmental concerns, including soil, water, and air quality and agricultural contamination.

This project was supported in part by the Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia. In addition to Nguyen and Wickliffe, Scott Frickel, Ph.D., from Washington State University at the time of the project and Tap Bui, MQVN, were also key contributors to the study. For more information, you can also see Tap Bui’s APHA presentation on the importance of community engagement in risk communication.

EHL Meeting Report Recently Released!

We are excited to announce the recent release of the 2014 PEPH Annual Meeting report! As many of you already know, the meeting focused on advancing the field of Environmental Health Literacy (EHL). The report provides an overview of the meeting’s main topics – defining EHL, diverse audiences, tools and technologies, and next steps – and common themes emerging from the presentations and group discussions. For those who were unable to attend the meeting, the report summarizes the diverse presentations and provides some new ways you can incorporate EHL into your work. For meeting participants, the report is a great way to reflect on the discussions, strategies, and collaborations you fostered over the 3-day event. Check out the meeting report on the 2014 PEPH Annual Meeting Web page.

PEPH Grantee Highlights

This month, we are pleased to share with you the stories of two of our PEPH colleagues, Neasha Graves and Viola “Vi” Waghiyi. Read a brief overview of their work below and visit the PEPH Grantee Highlights Web page to learn more about Graves, Waghiyi, and other PEPH colleagues.

  • Neasha Graves, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC)
    Graves combines her past experiences in high school teaching and adult literacy education with a passion for providing people the tools they need to understand environmental health issues. With her UNC COEC colleagues, she has designed training workshops and materials about lead poisoning and environmental asthma triggers for health professionals, lay people, and parents. She also coordinates outreach activities for the UNC BCERP, most recently helping develop and launch an interactive website designed to help young black women understand their risk for breast cancer. Read the Neasha Graves PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about her environmental health education efforts.
  • Viola “Vi” Waghiyi, Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT)
    Waghiyi serves as ACAT’s Environmental Health and Justice Program Director, working to illuminate the potential health risks associated with environmental chemicals left behind at former military sites on St. Lawrence Island (SLI), Alaska. She examines SLI residents’ exposure to these chemicals and offers trainings so that residents can take action to protect themselves from contamination. Waghiyi is also an advocate for policies that protect human health and the environment, and she has played a role in international decisions to ban the use and release of certain persistent organic pollutants. See the Vi Waghiyi PEPH Grantee Highlight for more on her work to fight for environmental justice in the Arctic.

PEPH in the Environmental Factor

The latest issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor features several stories highlighting our PEPH colleagues. Take a moment to catch up with some of the latest projects, events, and activities happening in the PEPH network: 

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

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In our latest podcast, we consider how our understanding of the impacts of fracking has evolved since we last tackled the issue in 2013. Despite continued debate over the potential public health risks of fracking, many research questions remain unanswered. However, one thing seems clear: community members have an important role to play in research on the impacts of fracking. Listen to A Second Look at the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing to learn more.

You can find past podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat Web page, or subscribe to the series on iTunes.

Harvard JPB Fellows

We are pleased to announce that two more of our PEPH colleagues – Sara Wylie, Ph.D., from Northeastern University and Madeleine Scammell, D.Sc., from Boston University – were recently named Harvard JPB Environmental Health Fellows! As we noted in last month's newsletter, the multi-year fellowship program supports junior faculty engaged in research to address environmental health disparities in disadvantaged communities. Wylie's areas of interest include science and technology, the anthropology of science, environmental health, environmental justice, and new media. She seeks to develop new modes of studying and intervening in large-scale social issues, such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, through a fusion of social scientific, scientific, and art/design practices. Scammell's areas of research include the use of qualitative methods in the area of community-driven environmental health and epidemiologic studies, mapping and monitoring community-identified environmental health hazards, and analyzing cumulative exposures to chemical and non-chemical stressors. Congratulations Sara, Madeleine, and Annie!

CDC Launches New Infographic-Style Tool

CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network) just launched a new and improved Info by Location tool. This infographic-style tool allows you to enter your zip code or county name and view environmental health data and information specific to your county, such as data on demographics, asthma, air quality, smoking, and health insurance coverage. The tool also provides state and national statistics, so you can see how your county measures up in these public and environmental health categories. Visit the Tracking Network to explore the new tool!

Northeastern University Job Openings

  • Associate/Full Professor – Interdisciplinary Environmental Health and Community-Engaged Research – The Northeastern Department of Health Sciences seeks an Associate/Full professor and Environmental Health Scientist with a strong background in community-based participatory research, environmental justice, and social science-environmental health collaborations. The faculty member will be part of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI), which specializes in collaborative research at the intersection of social science and environmental health science. This will be a joint appointment between the Department of Health Sciences of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, which will be the tenure home, and the appropriate department or school in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. It may be possible for the joint appointment to be in a different college of the university. Applicants must have a doctoral degree in Environmental Health, Environmental Science, Exposure Science, or a related field. Evaluation of candidates will begin December 1, 2014, and applications will be accepted until the position is filled. See the job posting for full details.

  • Northeastern SRP Senior Research Scientist/Engineer – The Northeastern University Superfund Research Program (SRP) PROTECT Center is seeking a senior research scientist/engineer with experience and focus on environmental health, specifically in one or more of the following areas: health informatics, geospatial informatics, or environmental epidemiology. This position requires a Ph.D. or equivalent in environmental engineering, epidemiology, biostatistics, geology, biomedical, or other related quantitative fields with 3-6 years of experience including progressively more responsible, independent research work evidenced by publications, inventions, or equivalent efforts. See the job posting for more information.

NEHA Job Opening

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) invites members to apply for its Executive Director position. No particular professional background is presupposed; while a background and record of success in environmental health is welcome, the primary selection criteria are service at the key executive level in larger not-for-profit organizations or some combination of similar professional background. The position requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in a field related to business, public administration, not-for-profit management, or a similar field and a minimum of ten years of experience in managing complex organizations and relationships. A graduate degree in business, not-for-profit management or public administration, or a related discipline is preferred. The Board of Directors may consider a combination of work experience and education on a case-by-case basis, assuming an appropriate demonstration of professional success and achievement. While NEHA recommended submitting applications by November 21, they will accept all applications until the position is filled. See the job posting for full details.

The BUILD Health Challenge: Improving Health through Innovative Collaborations

The BUILD Health Challenge is designed to encourage communities to build meaningful partnerships to improve the overall health of local residents. BUILD – Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local, and Data-driven – is a collaborative program created in a partnership of the Advisory Board Company, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation. Funding partners will award up to $7.5 million to support initiatives in as many as 14 low-income urban neighborhoods across the United States. Specifically, the BUILD Health Challenge will give planning and implementation awards to strengthen partnerships among hospitals, nonprofits, local health departments, and other community organizations to improve the health of low-income neighborhoods within cities with populations greater than 150,000. A Web conference for potential applicants will be held December 2, 4, and 9; applications are due January 16, 2015. See the funding announcement for more information, other key dates, and to register for one of the Q&A Web conferences.

EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar

The December EPA/NIEHS Children’s Centers Webinar will focus on windows of exposure and vulnerabilities during adolescence. The webinar will take place Wednesday, December 10, 1:00-2:30 p.m. EST.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Meetings

December 1-3, 2014: 2014 National Institute on Minority Health & Health Disparities Grantees’ Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

December 6-7, 2014: Third Annual Symposium on Environmental Justice and Environmental Health Disparities, at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. The goal of the symposium is to expand the discussion on the Chesapeake Bay to include environmental justice and health issues with a focus on vulnerable and at-risk populations who live in the region and rely on the ecological goods and services of the Chesapeake Bay and rivers and streams in the watershed. The symposium is sponsored by the Initiative on Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH) and the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH) and is free and open to the public.

February 4-6, 2015: Children's Environmental Health Network 2015 Research Conference in Austin, Texas. The conference will explore how the interaction between food and environmental factors affects children’s health.

February 11-12, 2015: Citizen Science 2015 in San Jose, California. This is the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association (CSA). Citizen science participants, researchers, project leaders, educators, technology specialists, evaluators, and others will gather to help move the field forward.

March 12-14, 2015: Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy’s Eighth Health Disparities Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference will focus on replicable interprofessional collaborative models and approaches from the clinical, research, and community arenas that integrate all levels of providers to improve health outcomes, eliminate health disparities, and achieve health equity. Submit an abstract for a poster or oral presentation by January 16, 2015.

Funding Opportunities

Visit the PEPH Funding Opportunity Announcements page for more PEPH-related funding opportunities.

Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research (P50). This Funding Opportunity Announcement encourages grant applications to support Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research to stimulate basic and applied research on environmental health disparities. The proposed research is expected to develop innovative approaches to understand environmentally-driven health disparities and improve access to healthy environments for vulnerable populations and communities. The proposed Centers are expected to support research efforts, mentoring, research translation, and information dissemination. Deadlines: December 13, 2014 (letter of intent); January 13, 2015 (application).

EPA/NIEHS Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers (P50) This FOA encourages grant applications to support a transdisciplinary program of basic and applied research to examine the effects of environmental factors on children’s health and well-being. Research conducted through the Centers should include substantive areas of science in children’s health while incorporating innovative technologies and approaches and links to the environment. Strong links between disciplines to prevent disease and promote children’s health is encouraged. Deadline: November 22, 2014

Environmental Influences during Windows of Susceptibility in Breast Cancer Risk (U01). This funding opportunity will support transdisciplinary research projects to investigate the influence of environmental exposures during specific time windows of susceptibility on breast cancer risk. In addition to a transdisciplinary research project, applications must also include community-academic partnerships with defined community engagement activities. Deadlines: December 28, 2014 (letter of intent); January 28, 2015 (application).

Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award (R01). The Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award is intended to identify the most talented Early Stage Investigators who intend to make a long-term commitment to research in the Environmental Health Sciences and assist them in launching an innovative research program focused on the understanding of environmental exposure effects on people’s health. Deadlines: January 27, 2015 (letter of intent); February 27, 2015 (application).

Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy (R01, R03, R21). The goal of this program announcement is to encourage methodological, intervention, and dissemination research for understanding and promoting health literacy. Deadlines: February 5, 2015 (R01); February 16, 2015 (R03, R21).

CDC’s Summer Program in Environmental Health (SUPEH). SUPEH is a paid 10-week internship program for undergraduate students majoring in environmental health. Interns participate in activities with the Environmental Health Services Branch of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, where they gain environmental health experience and an understanding of environmental health work at the local, state, tribal, and federal levels. Deadline: February 11, 2015.

Interventions for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Native American Populations (R01). The purpose of this FOA is to develop, adapt, and test the effectiveness of health promotion and disease prevention interventions in Native American populations. Deadline: May 12, 2015 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application due date.


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