Summer better than others: Emerging Scholars Rise From the Oil Spill

EMERGING SCHOLARS RISE FROM THE OIL SPILL

Nine local high school students became environmental health scientists for the summer at Tulane University in an innovative program funded by the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, part of BP’s settlement of class action medical claims in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The inaugural class of Emerging Scholars in the Environmental Health Sciences Academy. Back row (l to r): Evan Turgeon, GEHS Chair Maureen Lichtveld, Tyson Moser. Center row: Sena Lyons, Lirelle Gardere, Tatyana Kimbrough, Tariona Gabriel. Front row: Rebecca Wang, Xiaoshu Zheng, Christy Nguyen.

The inaugural class of Emerging Scholars in the Environmental Health Sciences Academy. Back row (l to r): Evan Turgeon, GEHS Chair Maureen Lichtveld, Tyson Moser. Center row: Sena Lyons, Lirelle Gardere, Tatyana Kimbrough, Tariona Gabriel. Front row: Rebecca Wang, Xiaoshu Zheng, Christy Nguyen.

Jeffrey Wickliffe, assistant professor of global environmental health sciences in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, had the idea to turn the tragedy of the oil spill into something that could give back to the community. He drew on his experience with similar programs in Texas and worked with Maureen Lichtveld, Freeport McMoRan Chair of Environmental Policy, to flesh out the program.

Lynette Dupré Perrault, an educator with 18 years of experience, became the program director of the Emerging Scholars Environmental Health Sciences Academy. She developed the program to align with state academic science standards while also providing a rich, interactive experience for 11th- and 12th-grade students.

12-13 C Emerging Scholars

Xiaoshu Zheng tastes a freshly shucked oyster at P & J’s Oyster Company on an Emerging Scholars field trip. The scholars and faculty walked to the North Rampart St. location of P & J’s to talk about food safety and hygiene.

From more than 100 applications, nine students from Orleans, Jefferson, and Plaquemines Parishes were selected to spend eight weeks working alongside postdoctoral
fellows on projects as varied as screening the yeast genome for regulators of aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling to examining data on children’s health in post-Chernobyl Ukraine.

“They got a very good look into different aspects of what environmental health sciences can do and how it connects to their life,” Perrault says.

Christy Nguyen, Rebecca Wang, Lirelle Gardere, and Xiaoshu Zheng explore the marsh at the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station.

Christy Nguyen, Rebecca Wang, Lirelle Gardere, and Xiaoshu Zheng explore the marsh at the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station.

The mentor relationship between the students and postdocs was a significant component of the program. “Typically postdocs don’t get an opportunity to mentor or teach,” Wickliffe says. Participation in this program will make them more competitive in the academic marketplace, he says.

Both Wickliffe and Perrault consider their first year a tremendous success. “The students truly stepped up and met the mark we set and more,” Perrault says. “Everybody did.”

Photos by Lynette Dupré Perrault

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About Tulane University SPHTM

Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is the oldest school of public health in the country and the only American school of tropical medicine. Our mission is to advance public health knowledge, promote health and well-being, and prevent disease, disability, and premature mortality. This is accomplished through academic excellence in education of public health professionals, rigorous scientific research of public health problems, creative partnerships to advance the practice of public health, and innovative service to the local, national, and international public health community.
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One Response to Summer better than others: Emerging Scholars Rise From the Oil Spill

  1. Pingback: Summer better than others: From Farm to Table | Global Health Spring/Summer 2013

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