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Vyom Sharma, a postdoctoral trainee in the Swenberg lab, shares information about her research with high school science teachers during a lab tour.

Sixteen UNC SRP postdoctoral and graduate student trainees improved their skills in communicating research to broad audiences, thanks to a supplemental grant from NIEHS. Trainees participated in three skill-building sessions this spring that allowed them to practice presentation skills, develop an elevator speech, and apply adult learning principles in an effort to improve their ability to using plain language when talking about their research.

Trainees were then given an opportunity to put their skills into action by actively engaging teachers at two science professional development workshops and the broader public at a large public science festival on the UNC campus. Both events featured the research of Dr. Rebecca Fry’s lab to better understand how North Carolinians can be exposed to toxic metals like arsenic, and how their bodies respond to that exposure.

Teachers examine the movement of contaminants through the environment using a groundwater model.
Teachers examine the movement of contaminants through the environment using a groundwater model during the March SRP workshops on arsenic exposure and biological response.

From arsenic exposure to biological response: a workshop for high school teachers

SRP researchers and trainees presented content and facilitated hands-on activities for twenty high school science teachers from across North Carolina in Chapel Hill on March 13 and 14 to learn about cutting-edge research from UNC SRP. The theme of the workshops was water quality and human health, and the content focused on toxic metals exposure and subsequent biological response. Activities and content presented during the workshop fostered a better understanding among teachers for how people can be exposed to metals like arsenic and the epigenetic effects resulting from that exposure.  Lessons developed by the RTC in conjunction with SRP investigators Dr. Rebecca Fry and Dr. Jim Swenberg were featured during the two days of programming.

Zhenyu Tian, an SRP trainee in the Aitken lab, engages young visitors to the UNC Science Expo in a serial dilution activity at the SRP exhibit.

Engaging the public to better understand risks of arsenic exposure in food and water 

Over 10,000 people gathered on the UNC Campus on April 11 to celebrate science at the University.  SRP trainees had a hand in developing and presenting an exhibit hosted by UNC SRP which examined the risks of exposure to arsenic through food and water. Visitors to the booth participated in hands-on activities to understand the role that metals play in our health, how metals like arsenic can be harmful to our health and how to prevent exposure to arsenic in food and water.