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Lab research, field trips teach teens science basics

July 31, 2014 8:45 AM

Arthur Nead
anead@tulane.edu

East Jefferson High School student Chengjia Yu, right, shares his work with Erik Svendsen

Funded by the Deepwater Horizon Medical Settlement, the Emerging Scholars Academy concludes with a poster presentation on Friday (July 25) in the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. East Jefferson High School student Chengjia Yu, right, shares his work with associate professor Erik Svendsen. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)


Nine high school students from Greater New Orleans spent eight weeks this summer at the Tulane University Emerging Scholars Environmental Health Sciences Academy. Hosted by the Department of Global Environmental Health Sciences in the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, the academy immerses highly motivated students in the basics of environmental health sciences research.

Each of the scholars worked throughout the session on an individual research project in areas such as environmental toxicology, environmental epidemiology and industrial hygiene.

The academy, which completed its second year with a poster presentation on Friday (July 25), was developed by faculty lead Jeffrey Wickliffe, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences, and program director Lynette Perrault. 

“I wanted it to be a well-rounded program including lab research and field experience that connects research back to the community,” Perrault says.

The students’ intensive lab work alternated each week with field trips to a wide range of environmental settings. They went to the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station and the Hammond Assimilation Wetlands in Manchac, Louisiana. They visited Port Fourchon, touring a deep-sea ship to learn about industrial environmental practices. For the academy’s last tour of the summer, the scholars visited P&J Oyster Co. in the French Quarter to learn about food safety.

Postdoctoral students, graduate students and faculty members of the Department of Global Environmental Health Sciences closely guided the students’ efforts.

“This mentoring provides our postdoctoral fellows with an opportunity to be involved in education,” Wycliffe says. “This experience will make them more competitive when they are ready to advance to the next stage of their careers, becoming assistant professors.”

Funded by the Deepwater Horizon Medical Settlement, the Emerging Scholars Academy awards each scholar $4,000 for future college expenses.

“The students in the program are really interested in seeing what science is like,” says Wickliffe. “I think most of them will go on and work in some STEM field —science, technology, engineering or math.”

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu