Training Core Colloquium Broadens Next Generation Scientists’ Awareness of PFAS Impacts

Bilott’s David and Goliath battle with chemical companies is depicted in “Dark Waters” starring Mark Ruffalo as the “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.”

STEEP’s Training Core successfully completed the first two-year cycle of the Colloquium on PFAS during the 2018 and 2019 Spring semesters. The main objective of the PFAS Colloquium is to provide trainees with the breadth of interdisciplinary touchstones to complement the “deep disciplinary dive” of their focused research. The colloquia provide trainees with unique opportunities to explore all aspects of PFAS in two sequential courses. PFAS Colloquium 1 focused on sharing PFAS knowledge and research, ranging from physicochemical properties, detection, and remediation, and toxicology, to community engagement and communicating science to affected communities as well as exploring the intersection of social and environmental justice and policy. Speakers included STEEP program faculty and core leads, as well as guests from the PFAS community.

Trainee Dunn shares lab validation studies at public event.

PFAS Colloquium 2 was established as a 2-credit course in the URI Colleges of Pharmacy, Engineering, and the Graduate School of Oceanography. Course content included trainee presentations on individual research progress and guest speakers as well as professional development, and responsible conduct of research workshops. Trainees coordinated the overall schedule of the Colloquium which included selecting external guest speakers, inviting the speakers, planning an agenda, coordinating travel, and day of visit logistics. Trainees have engaged year-round in various group meetings, community engagement activities, special seminars, and local and national meetings. Currently, the Training Core is organizing the next cycle of Colloquium 1 to run in Spring 2020 and also planning sessions at Harvard.  Trainees are hard at work, inviting speakers from the government, academia, and industry to speak on their PFAS research and bring new perspectives to the group.