Durham, NC
Mar 06, 2018
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

diversity employer


Summer Research InternshipThe Superfund Research Program (SRP) is a network of grants funded bythe National Institute of EnvironmentalHealthSciences (NIEHS) designed to seek solutions to complex health andenvironmental issues associated with toxicchemicals found at the nation's hazardous waste sites. The DukeUniversity NIEHS-funded Superfund ResearchCenter(SRC) focuses on early, low-dose exposures to toxins and theirdevelopmental impacts that are usually onlyevidentduring later life stages.Project 1: Cholinergic & Monoaminergic Mechanisms of PersistentNeurobehavioral Toxicity. This project focusesonwhat happens in the brain when someone who is already being exposed toone chemical (nicotine from cigarettesmokeor dexamethasone from preterm labor therapy) is exposed to chemicalssuch as organophosphate pesticides,PAHs, andpolybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).Project 2: Altering the Balance of Adipogenic & Osteogenic RegulatoryPathways from Early Life Exposure toHPCs andAOPEs. This project focuses on two groups of hazardous chemicals,halogenated phenolic compounds (HPCs)and arylorganophosphate esters (AOPEs), chemicals of interest to the Superfundprogram and our stakeholders. Thesecompounds are commonly used as flame retardants and in other industrialapplications. Compounds from bothgroupsare detected in human tissues, and higher levels are reported in youngchildren compared to adults. Research inthisproject will help identify the mechanisms by which these compoundsinterfere with thyroid hormone regulationandultimately alter growth and skeletal development.Project 3: Persistent Mitochondrial & Epigenetic Effects of Early LifeToxicant Exposure. Growing evidencesuggests thatchemicals of interest to Superfund stakeholders can have persistent,toxic effects on the mitochondria, and thatsomeindividuals may be moresensitive to the effects due to geneticdifferences. Thisproject aims to test whichimportantSuperfund chemicals and chemicals of emerging concern are mitochondrialtoxicants; whether effects fromexposure arepersistent throughout life and into subsequent generations; and whetherthe effects are stronger for individualsfromsome genetic backgrounds.Project 4: Mechanisms & Consequences of Evolved Adaptation toEnvironmental Pollution. This projectcontinues theDuke SRC's long-standing research in the Elizabeth River in Virginia.For years, polycyclic aromatichydrocarbons(PAHs) were discharged into the river from several wood treatmentfacilities that employed creosote. Duke SRCresearchers study a fish species native to the area, the killifish(Fundulus heteroclitus) and its response to livingincontaminated environments. Their research has found that killifish atcontaminated sites exhibit pollution-drivenadaptation to high levels of PAHs at these sites. Current research isexamining fitness costs associated with thisevolvedresistance, and with the killifish and zebrafish models, mechanisms ofPAH developmental toxicity and later lifeconsequences of embryonic exposures to low levels of PAHs.Project 5: Engineering the Physico-Chemical Environment to Enhance theBioremediation of DevelopmentalToxicants inSediment Fungal-Bacterial Biofilms. Bioremediation is the use ofspecific microorganisms to remediatecontaminatedsites. This project investigates bioremediation as an alternative tocommon remediation techniques that can havenegative effects on ecosystems. Such approaches, including excavationor dredging, allow the contaminants toremain inthe sediment, which must then be moved to a storage or impoundmentlocation. This project aims to remediatethecontaminants on site to limit the long-term impacts of toxic waste.Neurobehavioral Toxicity Core. This core supports the Center's projectsby providing information concerningneurobehavioral consequences of exposure to toxicants, includingpesticides, flame retardants, and polycyclicaromatichydrocarbons. Neurotoxicant impacts are evaluated using in vivo modelswith rats, zebrafish and killifish.Neurobehavioral functions investigated include sensorimotor function,learning, memory, attention, and emotionalresponse. This core connects the findings of mechanistic studies tofunctional consequences in living organisms.Research Translation Core. The Research Translation Core (RTC) usesscience communication techniquestoshare theCenter's research results with critical members of the scientific,governmental, and lay community. The RTCworksclosely with the Community Engagement Core to support their mission ofengaging communities aroundenvironmentalhealth. Interns with this core will support research translationprojects and activities to communicate researchfindings to scientists, policy-makers, and interested/affectedcommunity stakeholders; they will work on a varietyof projects, buttypically focus on one project central to their time at Duke. In thepast, work has focused on the effectiveness offishconsumption advisories and communicating information about soilcontamination to community gardeners.Community Engagement Core. This core works with communities across NCaffected by environmentalcontaminants.Communities contact Duke SRC with short-term requests for informationrelated to environmental contaminationor withproposals for longer-term engagement through participatory researchprojects and/or education and outreachactivities.By "community engagement," we mean working in an ongoing way with acommunity, listening closely to theirneeds andlearning from their experiences.Analytical Chemistry Core. This core fosters the evaluation ofcontaminant exposure to humans and wildlife andthedetermination of contaminant distribution in the environment. The coreprovides routine quantitative andqualitativeanalysis of organic and metal contaminants on a routine basis toinvestigators in support of Duke SRC researchprojects.The ACC also develops novel methods for emerging contaminants ofconcern in environmental and biologicalsampleson an as-needed basis. Finally, the ACC serves as a consulting andtraining resource for cutting-edge analyticalchemistry needs within the Duke SRC.Positions are open to students currently enrolled as an undergraduateor master's student. All summer traineeswill bepaid a competitive hourly wage and are expected to work full-time for amaximum of 35 hours/week (start/enddates areflexible between May-August). Students will be expected toparticipatein weekly research discussions and labmeetings,present their research, etc.In addition to applying through Duke HR, applicants should email a (1)cover letter explaining their educationalbackground/interest in research and specifying the project of interest,and (2) resume addressed to: SarahPhillips,sarah.anne.phillips@duke.eduEmail questions to Sarah Phillips (see above). Do not directly contactindividual PIs. More information about theDukeUniversity Superfund Research Center can be found here:

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Essential Physical Job Functions:Certain jobs at Duke University and Duke University Health System mayinclude essential job functions that require specific physical and/ormental abilities. Additional information and provision for requests forreasonable accommodation will be provided by each hiring department.





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Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual's age, color, disability, genetic information, gender, gender expression, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Essential Physical Job Functions: Certain jobs at Duke University and Duke University Health System may include essential job functions that require specific physical and/or mental abilities. Additional information and provision for requests for reasonable accommodation will be provided by each hiring department.


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