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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News May 2015

Volume 6, Issue 5: May 2015

PEPH E-News Header

NIEHS Grantee Goes Abroad to Increase International Interest in STEM

Cambodian students volunteering
Two of the university volunteers (center, in yellow shirts) who worked with Vandiver over the course of the four-day Festival guide young Cambodian students through the "Understanding Air" lesson.

Getting students interested and excited about science is a key step to increasing the number of youth who will pursue future careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. To generate interest in STEM at the international level, Kathleen Vandiver, Ph.D., Director of the Community Outreach Education and Engagement Core within the Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, packed up her environmental health teaching tools and traveled to Cambodia to participate in the first-ever Cambodian Science and Engineering Festival (CSEF). The Festival was a national initiative to advance STEM education and inspire the next generation of Cambodian scientists and engineers.

About 10,000 youth attended the festival, which was held March 12 - 15 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Festival organizers initially expected about 3,000 attendees, but a strong social media campaign with promotional videos generated excitement and drew large crowds. "The enormous success of the event was a tribute to the organizers and to the support of the Ministry of Education, but also to the Cambodian youth who demonstrated their eagerness to learn about careers in science and technology when given an opportunity to do so," noted Vandiver.

Geared toward students 11 - 17 years old, CSEF was built on the belief that the best way for students to learn science is by having fun. Vandiver saw the Festival as an opportunity to take her hands-on Atoms and Molecules Kits overseas to teach Cambodian youth about hard-to-grasp scientific concepts. In the Kits, different colored LEGO® bricks represent elements with atoms that students can snap together to build molecules. Guided by shapes outlined on activity placemats, students can model a chemical reaction, first building the reactant molecules and then reassembling the same atoms into new molecules, the products. "When students reconstruct the chemical products from the reactants using the bricks, they grasp the essential concept in a moment of self-discovery. This is a powerful way to learn," explained Vandiver, who began developing and using the Kits during her 16 years as a middle school science teacher.

Vandiver has created different lessons using the same Atoms and Molecules Kits to teach a number of abstract scientific concepts, including photosynthesis, but at her CSEF booth, she primarily used the "Understanding Air" lesson to help students make the connection between fuel combustion and environmental health issues of air pollution and climate change. To help bridge the language gap between herself and the Cambodian students, she teamed up with seven bilingual volunteers from surrounding Cambodian universities who helped teach the concepts. She also had all the "Understanding Air" instructional print materials translated into Khmer, the official language of Cambodia.

To encourage continued STEM learning after the festival, CEHS donated two classroom sets of the Atoms and Molecules Kits to local schools. Vandiver knew that for the Kits to be a useful gift, she would need to train the teachers on how to use them, so she organized and conducted a half-day training workshop for the teachers at the recipient schools. According to Vandiver, her teaching methods were seen as quite novel among the Cambodian science teachers, who rarely have access to such hands-on activities in the classroom.

To learn more about the Atoms and Molecules Kits and other tools to increase interest in STEM, watch the PEPH Webinar - Reaching our STEM Potential!

OSU SRP Creates Video to Explain Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

A new video from the Oregon State University (OSU) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center uses plain language to explain what polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are and why PAH exposure matters to our health. The seven-minute video is narrated by Dave Stone, Ph.D., co-lead of the OSU SRP Research Translation and Community Engagement Cores, and answers five questions about PAHs: What are they? Where do they come from? How are we exposed? What are their health effects? What can we do to reduce our exposure? The video is a great resource to help general audiences understand how they come in contact with PAHs in their everyday lives and ways to reduce their exposure.

CDC Releases Community Health Status Indicators 2015

Community Health Status Indicators 2015 (CHSI 2015) is an interactive Web application that produces health profiles for all 3,143 counties in the United States. Each profile includes key indicators of health outcomes, which describe the population health status of a county and factors that have the potential to influence health outcomes, such as social factors and the physical environment. CHSI 2015 includes new and enhanced features compared to earlier versions of the tool, including a feature that allows users to compare the value of each indicator with those of demographically similar counties, as well as to the U.S. as a whole, and a new summary comparison report which provides an "at a glance" view of how one county compares with its peers. Check out CHSI 2015 to see your county's health profile!

EPA is Seeking Input on Draft EJ 2020 Action Agenda Framework

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is asking for public comments on the draft EJ 2020 Action Agenda (EJ 2020) framework, the Agency's next overarching strategic plan for environmental justice. EJ 2020 is a strategy to advance environmental justice through EPA's programs, policies, and activities, and it will support the cross-agency strategy on making a visible difference in environmentally overburdened, underserved, and economically distressed communities. Stakeholders and the general public can review the framework and submit comments through June 15 by visiting the EJ 2020 Web page. EPA will conduct two national webinars about the new draft EJ 2020: the first will be held May 7 from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. EDT, and the second will be held May 14 from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. EDT. Registration for the webinars is now open.

Postdoc Announcement: UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) is seeking a postdoctoral scientist in environmental epidemiology and biostatistics. The successful candidate must have a Ph.D. in epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, risk assessment, or other environmental health related field. The candidate must have statistical experience and experience with R, Stata, or SAS. The position starts spring-summer 2015, and the initial appointment is for one year with an opportunity for extension. See the job announcement for more information and to apply.

RFI: Soliciting Input into the NIH Science Vision for Health Disparities Research

This Request for Information (RFI) seeks conceptual input regarding the science vision for health disparities research to ensure that the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the NIH remain global leaders in addressing health disparities. In particular, comments are being sought regarding key research areas that might address the complexity of the multiple, interacting factors that often generate and perpetuate health disparities. Responses are due by July 31, 2015; see the RFI for more details.

Webinar Series: Addressing Health Disparities through the National Prevention Strategy and Partnerships

This National Prevention Strategy (NPS) webinar series, presented by Region VIII federal partners, will highlight successful programs and initiatives from partner groups that are critical to the elimination of health disparities. The next webinar in the series - The Role of Schools, Colleges and Universities - will be held May 21, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. EDT. Register for the May webinar and be on the lookout for future announcements about the remaining three webinars in the series, scheduled for July, September, and November 2015. For more information or to be added to the mailing list, contact: RegionVIIIFedPartners@HHS.GOV.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

Environmental health chat logo

Do you want to help advance the understanding of how the environment affects health? Listen to the Careers in Environmental Health podcast to learn how you can contribute to environmental health whether you're interested in science, health care, engineering, communication, community leadership, or many other areas. This podcast also offers tips on how to take advantage of the training opportunities available at NIEHS.

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

PEPH Grantee Highlights

Marti Lindsey, Ph.D., is committed to helping people understand how the environment can affect their health. As Director of the Community Outreach and Education Program (COEC) of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona, she collaborates with basic and clinical scientists to integrate public health outreach and translational opportunities with environmental health research. She also leads the COEC's efforts to develop strong partnerships with tribal communities and to help them address their environmental health issues. Partnering with the COEC at the University of Washington, she helped create the new magazine, Indigenous Stewards, with the goal of providing tribal communities a platform to discuss environmental issues in their own communities. Read the Marti Lindsey PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about her efforts to make environmental health information meaningful to all!

Allan C. Just, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Environmental Health. Just's research focuses on how environmental exposures affect various child health outcomes, including asthma, autism, and obesity. Among other research projects, he is actively involved in collaborations to address concerns about exposure to air pollution and fine particulate matter in Mexico City. In November 2014, Just and his colleagues traveled to the National Institute of Public Health in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where they met with scientists and policy makers to discuss approaches to address air pollution concerns in Mexico City. Read the Allan C. Just PEPH Grantee Highlight to learn more about his efforts to address children's environmental health issues.

PEPH in the Environmental Factor

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

Upcoming PEPH-Related Meetings

May 21 - 22, 2015: Social Science - Environmental Health Interdisciplinary Collaborations Conference at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. The Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI) and Silent Spring Institute, with co-sponsorship from the Puerto Rico Test Site for Exploring Contamination Threats (PROTECT - Superfund Research Program) will hold a first-ever conference on "Social Science-Environmental Health Interdisciplinary Collaborations." Additional details and registration information are available on the conference website.

May 26 - 29, 2015: C2UExpo in Ottawa, Ontario. C2UExpo is an international conference designed to showcase best practices in community-campus partnerships; create space for collaboration around key issues; and foster ideas, connections, and frameworks with the purpose of strengthening communities.

June 8 - 9, 2015: HHS Climate Justice Meeting at the NIEHS main campus in Research Triangle Park. The HHS is hosting a one-and-a-half-day conference that will focus on public health issues and solutions related to climate change for disadvantaged populations. Registration closes Friday, May 22.

July 13 - 15, 2015: National Environmental Health Association Annual Educational Conference & Exhibition (NEHA AEC) in Orlando, Florida. NEHA's AEC is the nexus for environmental health training, education, networking, and advancement. This year's educational agenda highlights innovations in approaches, partnerships, research, and technology, as well as evidence-based practices with proven track records.

August 4 - 6, 2015: 2015 U.S. EPA Community Involvement Training Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This dynamic conference brings together more than 450 people from EPA and the Agency's partners and stakeholders who plan and implement environmental community involvement, partnership, stewardship, outreach, and education programs. The theme of this year's conference is "Making a Visible Difference in Communities." Registration is expected to open late May 2015.

August 10 - 13, 2015: 16th International Conference of the Pacific Basin Consortium (PBC) in Depok, Indonesia. Traditional areas covered by PBC conferences include hazardous waste management and remediation, e-waste, air pollution, persistent toxic substances, emerging pollutants, global climate change, and children's environmental health. Registration is now open!

October 18 - 22, 2015: International Society for Exposure Science (ISES) in Henderson, Nevada. The 25th Annual ISES Meeting theme is "Exposures in an Evolving Environment." Registration is open.

October 31 - November 4, 2015: Save the date for the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. This year's meeting theme is "Health in All Policies." Registration will open in June

Funding Opportunities

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

Infrastructure to Support Comprehensive Exposure Analysis for Children's Health Studies. NIEHS is establishing an infrastructure, the Children's Health Exposure Analysis Resource (CHEAR), to provide the extramural research community access to laboratory and statistical analyses to add or expand the inclusion of environmental exposures in their research. CHEAR is being solicited through three distinct but interrelated FOAs. Click the links below for more information about each FOA. Deadline: April 30, 2015.

Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement: NIMHD Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities Research Focused on Precision Medicine (U54). The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) intends to promote the first of several planned NIMHD Precision Medicine initiatives by publishing an FOA to solicit applications for new Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCCs) for health disparities research focused on examining the potential for integrative precision medicine approaches to help improve minority health and reduce or eliminate health disparities. This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects. This new TCC FOA is expected to be published spring 2015 with an expected application due date in late summer 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. Deadlines: May 12, 2015 (application); a letter of intent was due 30 days before the application due date.

National Workforce Diversity Pipeline Program. The Office of Minority Health's National Workforce Diversity Pipeline Program seeks to address health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities by supporting networks of institutions with demonstrated commitment and capacity to establish pipeline programs to increase minority and disadvantaged students' awareness and pursuit of careers in health care and behavioral health and to increase the availability of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs. Deadline: May 18, 2015.

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: June 5, 2015 (R01); June 16, 2015 (R03, R21). Learn more about NIEHS areas of interest.

Addressing Health Disparities in Maternal and Child Health through Community-Based Participatory Research (Limited Competition R03). This FOA supports community-based participatory research projects planned and developed by recipients of the Phase I Academic-Community Partnerships Conference Series awards under PAR-09-092 and PAR-12-102. Deadlines: November 20, 2015 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application due date.


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