Mentor Name:
Scott Collingwood

Mentor Position:
Research Assistant Professor




Project Description:

**This project is a part of the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR), which provides undergraduate students with an intensive 10-week research experience under the mentorship of a University of Utah faculty member. SPUR 2022 begins on May 25 and ends on August 4. If you are interested in this project, please review all program information on the SPUR site. If you wish to apply to this project, you must apply using the SPUR 2022 application.**

** This project is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (PIs: Sara Grineski and Tim Collins). In addition to being part of SPUR, it is also part of the HAPPIEST programApplicants must be University of Utah students who identify in one or more of the following ways (defined by the National Institutes of Health): Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinxs, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. Two students will be selected to work on this project together.**

I have been involved in exposure assessment and specifically, environmental influences on the development of health and disease among families for more than a decade. I have ongoing projects where we utilize a variety of air quality monitoring platforms to assess indoor and outdoor air quality at the dwelling unit(home) level of families. Primary pollutants of interest are Particulate Matter of 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) and Radon. We’re currently adding ozone sensors to the suite of monitoring capabilities we offer. The end goal of my research activities is to relate environmental influences to health and disease—identifying any protective factors that may be present and certainly increasing our understanding of the contributions that pollutants and exposures have on the development of adverse health outcomes. Specifically, the student will contribute to an air quality evaluation of a Healthy Homes intervention program administered by Salt Lake County. This will involve the coordination of activities to obtain outdoor and indoor air quality measurements for a period of at least two weeks prior to the program’s interventions (aimed at improving the air quality in the home) and a post-intervention assessment. The evaluation will capture PM2.5 measures just outside the home, in the most used room of the home, and the primary participant’s bedroom. At the same time, Radon will be measured in the home per standard assessment protocol. Participants in the program are socioeconomically challenged community members with a health malady that may benefit from an improvement in air quality and other home-derived environmental exposures.

Opportunity Type:

This is a paid research position

Student Role:

I would expect the student to: Gain an understanding of the overall project and its aims. Appreciate the special nature of human participant research and the privileged position researchers are in when working with research participants and their sensitive information and data. Recognize the role of the different stakeholders actively involved in and participating in the execution of the project. Observe and then experience community-based participatory research engaging underserved communities. Actively contribute to many facets of the research project including environmental sensor maintenance and calibration (laboratory-based). Coordinate home visits and sensor deployment in homes. Engage in on-site data collection. Manage and clean data. Analyze data and write summary reports. Students will undergo formal and informal training to equip them with the skills necessary to be successful in their research role. In addition, due to the mature and ongoing nature of this existing project, with experienced and trained project staff on hand, student contributors will have the opportunity to observe and then actively take on the facets of research noted as their training and mastery of the subject matter deem appropriate.

Student Benefits:

By working with myself and research staff, at the conclusion of this mentorship experience, students should have a detailed perspective of the many activities a research coordinator engages in for the execution of community-based participatory research. Similarly, the mentee should have an appreciation for the projects efforts as they relate to the scientific aims driving the research activities. Mentees considering graduate school training and/or careers in environmental measurement, public health and/or research will have obtained some detailed experiences and observations to help inform their career development decisions. A successful mentee will depart the project with appropriate training and certification pertinent to human research; they will have an understanding of air quality pollution parameters, how to measure it and the associations with adverse health; skills in research coordination, participant interaction, data quality management/assurance, elementary data analysis and summary report writing. Besides observing and then subsequently participating in a variety of research activities, motivated mentees that master specific skill sets will get the opportunity to train others—a full-circle demonstration of their mastery of subject matter.

Project Duration:

35-40 hours per week on research and program-related activities, begins May 25, 2022, and ends August 4, 2022

Minimum Requirements:

Admission to the program is competitive. Applicants must meet all of the following criteria: 1) be a matriculated, degree-seeking undergraduate student in the Fall 2022 semester (beginning or continuing college career in Fall 2022 and not graduating before December 2022; concurrent enrollment while in high school does not meet this eligibility requirement). Applicants do not need to be a University of Utah student. 2) eligible to work in the United States: If you are a University of Utah Dreamer (with or without DACA), you are eligible to participate. U Dreamers with DACA will be hired and paid through U payroll. U Dreamers without DACA who graduated from a Utah high school will be compensated via a different mechanism. If you are a Dreamer from a different institution: If you have DACA, you are eligible to participate and will be hired and paid though U payroll. If you do not have DACA, you are able to participate and gain research experience, but we do not currently have a mechanism that allows us to compensate you. For more information, please contact Megan Shannahan at megan.shannahan@utah.edu or 801-581-2478. If you are an international student or scholar, you must either a) be a degree-seeking undergraduate student at the University of Utah, OR b) possess documentation that establishes your eligibility to work in the United States (if you hold US citizenship, it is likely you have these documents). 3) able to commit to approximately 35-40 hours per week of employment at the University of Utah for the entire duration of the program (May 25-August 4, 2022). 4) at least 18 years old by May 23, 2022 (required if you wish to use on-campus housing; preferred if you will not be using on-campus housing).