Introducing CEC/RTC Intern Lindsay Holsen


  -“My attempts to blend in with the Green Roof and Orchard Workforce (GROW) garden  on top of Environment Hall at the Nicholas School of the Environment.  I’ve already taken advantage of the amazing perks of fresh herbs and bitter sorrel from the roof and Temis’s (the GROW intern) delicious lavender cookies!!” – Lindsay

The Community Engagement and Research Translation Cores are thrilled to welcome our summer intern, Lindsay Holsen. Lindsay is a student at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and is a biochemistry major with a minor in Spanish. She is also on the tennis team at Lawrence and plays oboe for the school conservatory in her “spare” time. Here are some reflections on her first week with us.

Toxic flame retardants in my furniture, heavy metals in my fresh picked garden vegetables, and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctyl sulfonate (PFOS) possibly in my bloodstream from cookware or carpeting and airfields, oh my!  What is an intern to do?
 
My first week here at the Duke University Superfund Research Center has exposed me to a variety of toxicological concerns for communities in North Carolina, with broader implications across the country.  By exposure, I thankfully mean lots of background reading about the five current Superfund research projects addressing those toxicological exposure risks and the interaction of those projects with the  Community Engagement Core (CEC) and the Research Translation Core (RTC).  Thus far, I have been able to piece together some ways that the CEC and the RTC help those five Superfund research projects communicate their research effectively, in simple language, and facilitate the bidirectional cooperation of research aims with community needs.
 
With the Community Engagement Core, I am excited for the opportunity to learn more about community gardens in the area, potential risks of heavy metal exposure in soils, and about exposures related to consumption of fish from contaminated watersheds.  With the help of the incredible team, Bryan and Catherine, my fearless leaders, we plan to attend the Composting Council Meeting in Raleigh, begin plans for a community soil testing workshop , and help with an outreach event to help increase awareness of the importance of healthy waterways for a healthy population led by one of the Center’s trainees, Casey Lindberg. 
 
Thanks to Tess Leuthner, a PhD student in Dr. Joel Meyer’s lab, I also get the opportunity to experience lab work here at the Nicholas School of the Environment and connect our community garden work to the research!  This week yielded the opportunity to feed some poor, hungry C.elegans (soil nematodes) a delicious dose of E.coli and get oriented in the labHowever, in the coming weeks we aim to to test the nematodes’ stress responses to heavy metals in various soil samples from community gardens in the Raleigh and Durham areas. The cool thing about these nematodes is that, in the presence of heavy metals, our lab nematode strain will glow green!
 
Research is an important component for addressing the various issues of concern at Superfund sites.   However, the folks here at the Duke Superfund Research Center also know that communicating research effectively is what makes it applicable outside the research community.  The Research Translation Core helps provide training for Duke researchers with the ultimate goal of crafting simple, approachable messages to make each of the projects more easily utilized by policy makers and the community.  Government agencies, local officials and organizations, and community members all have vital roles in remediation efforts and improving environmental and public health in communities. Effective research translation promotes informed decision-making and allows these audiences to be actively involved in the Superfund projects and remediation efforts through conservation, education, feedback, and decision-making.
The combined efforts of research translation and community engagement help foster effective bidirectional communication for an equal plane of community needs and concerns with research focuses, to create effective educational and feedback strategies. 
 
Its only been a week, but it shall indubitably be a great summer of turning my initial shock of learning about sneaky PCB, PAH, lead, exposure, and other toxicological fears, into engaging actions for the betterment of community and environmental health!  
 
 
-Lindsay (CEC and RTC Summer Intern 2017)