Native Americans have a long history of being under-represented in higher education. Currently, only 5% of Native American high school graduates go directly into a four-year college and a small percentage of those major in STEM-related degrees. In an effort to increase participation of Native American students in college programs, and introduce them to biomedical sciences, Oregon State Superfund Research Center holds several activities to bring Native Youth to campus to increase their awareness of opportunities in College and scientific careers.

On May 20, over 20 tribal youth and chaperones came to Oregon State University for a campus tour, student panel and the 41st annual Klatowa Eena Powwow. (Klatowa Eena is Chinook Wawa for ‘Go Beavers.’) SRP trainee Sydelle Harrison, who is part of the Community Engagement Core (CEC), worked with the Research Translation Core, the Training Core and SRP Administration to procure funding and organize the daylong event. For the second year in a row, Sydelle worked with youth organizations to bring students from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

The 20+ students started at Callahan Hall, where SRP trainee Amelia Allee, (CEC), and University Housing and Dining Services staff took the students through the freshman dormitory, highlighting the shared lounges and kitchenettes, and showing the students a dorm room.

Following the dorm tour, Athletics staff took students on a tour of Reser stadium, including a tour of President Ed Ray’s box, and provided them an opportunity to run on the field. Up next, was the OSU Basketball Center where the students (and chaperones) took to the court. After working up an appetite, the dining halls were next, followed by the Powwow. To finish off the day, SRP trainees hosted a pizza dinner. Here, students had the opportunity to ask trainees questions about college, graduate school and SRP research. Two tribal elders attended, giving the youth their perspective regarding the importance of college. SRP trainees and faculty answered questions about the value of community college, the typical length of a college degree as well as opportunities for distance learning at the OSU satellite campuses. Many thanks to Sydelle Harrison; without her these tours would not be possible. In addition, many thanks to Amber Kramer, Carolyn Poutasse, Alix Robel, Amelia Allee and Drs. Molly Kile, Diana Rohlman, Craig Marcus and Robyn Tanguay for their help.

On May 20, 2015, Dr. Staci Simonich and Dr. Kim Anderson presented to the Oregon State Air Toxics Science Advisory Committee (ATSAC). This committee is part of State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Air Quality Division Environmental/Technical Services.clouds

ATSAC is currently setting ambient air benchmarks for PAHs, as well as diesel and particulate matter.

Dr. Simonich (Project 5 Leader) presented on”Monitoring PAHs in Ambient Air, the Big Picture.”  Dr. Anderson (Project 4 Leader) presented on “Challenges of PAH Analysis and Availability of Standards”.  Both provided an overview of their research programs, as well as addressed specific technical issues for the Committee.

Dr. Dave Stone (RTC Co-Leader), who is a member of ATSAC,  reiterated the value of both presentations, as well as the overall contribution of the Superfund Research Program at OSU in assisting the State on important public health and environmental issues.

The SRP Training Core is pleased to support externship opportunities for SRP trainees to provide added experiential training specifically benefiting the trainee’s career goals. This new funding opportunity began in 2014.

Blair Paulik, a Trainee with Project 4, is the first to receive an Externship Award. Blair is receiving travel and lodging support to attend SETAC Europe 25th Annual Meeting, which will be held in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, from May 3-7 2015.  

Blair Paulik
Blair Paulik

Attending this meeting will build her leadership and networking skills. She will also have the opportunity to present a part of her PhD research at this international meeting. Blair will be presenting about the impact of unconventional natural gas extraction on air quality.

Blair was elected to be the Vice Chair of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America Student Advisory Council (NASAC) for a 3-year term beginning fall 2014. She will be one of only a few students from North America to formally represent NASAC and SETAC North America on this global stage.

Blair will come back and share her experience with other SRP Trainees through the upcoming OSU SRP-led quarterly “brown-bag” web conferences with other SRP programs. She also plans to write about her experience to support other students. This opportunity will help Blair become a stronger mentor and bring visibility to our NIEHS SRP Trainee network.

Blair Paulik photo credit: Tyler Moss, Oregon State University
SRP Trainee Blair Paulik
photo credit: Tyler Moss, Oregon State University

Oregon State University Superfund Research Program trainees Blair Paulik and Lane Tidwell were selected to represent the College of Agricultural Science at the annual State of the University Address 2015 held in Portland Oregon on January 30th.

 Only one department from each college was selected to represent important work and trainee development that occurs in the college. PhD candidates Paulik and Tidwell highlighted the research the Food Safety and Environmental Stewardship Program in the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology has been conducting for last 15 years in the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

Lane Tidwell photo credit: Hannah O’Leary, Oregon State University
SRP Trainee Lane Tidwell
photo credit: Hannah O’Leary, Oregon State University

While at the event the trainees were able to talk with many OSU alumni, stakeholders and supporters. Conversation topics ranged from current research occurring in the EMT department, the FSES program and the College of Agricultural Sciences to what the individual trainees hoped to do after graduation. Trainees Paulik and Tidwell were proud to represent the FSES program, the EMT Department and the College of Agriculture at this important outreach and engagement event with about 800 attendees.

State of the University Ballroom photo credit: Tyler Moss, Oregon State University
State of the University Address Ballroom
photo credit: Tyler Moss, Oregon State University