Dr. Dave Stone, co-leader of the Research Translation Core, paddled in the Portland Harbor Superfund Site as part of an innovative educational event designed for Preventative Medicine students at Oregon Health and Science University.
Approximately fifteen MD/MPH and Medical Toxicology students attended the tour in which Dr. Stone and representatives from the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, discussed issues related to Portland Harbor and environmental health. Dr. Stone highlighted risks associated with PAHs in the sediment, as well as persistent pollutants in fish tissue.
The tour began at the iconic St. John’s Bridge and continued to some of the most PAH polluted PAH in the Harbor. Dr. Stone discussed the on-going research and activities of OSU’s Superfund Research Program and how it relates to Portland Harbor and public health.
The UC Davis Entrepreneurship Academy was a unique learning experience that teaches the basics of intellectual property as well as marketing and launching a new business. While I am not currently interested in launching a company, this experience provided valuable information on how to maintain flexibility with intellectual property.
As scientists, especially in the SRP, we are always developing new methods and systems to answer our specific questions. Many of those techniques or systems are patentable. Our goal as a federally funded program supported by tax payers is to provide accurate data that can be used to develop environmental policy for a better society. I was not aware that technology used to generate that data is patentable, only in the instance that it was not described in the public domain prior to applying for a patent. Additionally, once a patent has been applied for, the specifics of the technology can be presented in the public domain as a paper, or a presentation.
Also attending the academy were several prior SRP students from UC Davis and UC Berkeley who were able to patent technologies with their respective universities as students and are now launching companies with the technology licensed through the university.
It was an interesting experience to see the traditional binary of industry or academic lines blurred.
NIEHS-funded Centers are experimenting and beginning to leverage social media platforms to promote research and activities, expand networks and partnerships, improve relationships with stakeholders, and foster community engagement. [Here is a list of individuals and groups tied to NIEHS on Twitter.]
We’ve come a long way in the last couple of years.
The OSU Superfund Research Center began social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter in August of 2011. In November of 2011, Naomi Hirsch, Research Translation Coordinator, headed to the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Expo to facilitate a roundtable discussion on how our Centers’ can harness web technologies and social media. The discussions led to a desire to gather resources, case studies, and articles that would help move our scientists and social media efforts forward. The Web and Emerging Tech Resources for Scientists and Partners page began.
2012 was a year of internal education as we grew our network and supported our colleagues at other NIEHS Centers. We facilitated a web and social media session at the NIEHS PEPH Meeting in March, presented an NIEHS SRP CEC/RTC webinar in July, and later that year, a social media overview presentation for administrators at the SRP Annual Meeting in October.
We recently hosted and tweeted the 2013 International Symposium on Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds (#ISPAC13). Although 75 tweets came from just 10 people during the conference of about 150 total people, it was still worthwhile and brought exposure to PAHs, the organization, OSU, the research, and the individual researchers. It starts small, but it must start somewhere and become part of the culture.
Now the education is turning to grad students. We are excited to contribute to and co-instruct a Grad Seminar on Science and Risk Communication, which will include using social media tools. In addition, at the end of the term in December, Naomi Hirsch will host a Twitter Basics webinar designed for scientists, grad students, and professionals communicating science.
There are now papers (and numerous articles) presenting a case for more scientists to engage with one another and the public through social media like Twitter. Several studies have shown that tweeting and blogging about scientific findings can increase their impact (“It’s Time for Scientists to Tweet“).
So, what is ahead for us in 2014? So much! Stay connected so you can find out.
The Superfund Research Program is federally funded and administered by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS grant #P42 ES016465), an institute of the National Institutes of Health.