As environmental health scientists, we here at HEI have dedicated our careers to understanding the role that the environment plays in all of us living healthy lives. However, the field has not always provided equitable opportunities for all to have equal access to a career in environmental health sciences.
To open doors to these careers, this past year we developed a paid summer fellowship program for undergraduate students, in collaboration with the International Society of Exposure Science (ISES) and the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) and with generous support from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. This fellowship program seeks to encourage and support undergraduate students from backgrounds underrepresented in the environmental health sciences to complete summer research with an expert mentor.
The inaugural cohort of seven fellows was chosen out of more than 50 applicants from 30 institutions located in 16 states. Applicants represented a diverse range of academic backgrounds, including economics, cognitive science, engineering, and public health. Each fellow worked within their mentor’s lab for a 10–12-week period, producing excellent research alongside graduate students and post-docs. As we move into a new academic year, we celebrate their successes and contributions to impactful research.
"Beyond just learning about environmental health, the HEI summer fellowship left me with a better grasp of research methods, project execution, data visualization, and a network of other similarly passionate individuals that I can continue connecting with throughout my career."
-2023 Summer Fellow
One of the goals of this fellowship was to serve as an early experience in environmental health research, so that the summer experience is just a beginning to each fellow’s path in environmental health sciences. Throughout the summer, fellows connected with one another to begin creating a network of students with this shared interest. We encourage them to continue building this network with each other, our colleagues at ISEE and ISES, and HEI staff as they finish their undergraduate studies and start their careers.
This summer offered lessons in:
- the desire of students to learn and grow;
- the value of creating a network of peers and colleagues;
- the commitment of mentors to ensuring the success of the fellows; and
- the need for more opportunities to enter the field of environmental health sciences.
The desire of students to learn and grow was apparent in their work. During the final summer presentations, one student noted: “I feel like the lesson I’m walking away with this summer is [that] it’s not how much I accomplished but how much I learned. And I learned a lot.” The collaboration between the fellows and their mentors created an environment for this growth to take place, leading to a successful outcome for all.
Many people came together to make this inaugural year a success, and we recognize the value of multi-disciplinary collaborations in environmental health to ensure the success of the next generation of environmental health scientists.
We offer our sincerest gratitude to all who contributed to establishing and building this program, and we look forward to seeing it grow in the future. Applications for mentors in the program's second year are now closed, but student applications will be open from December 4th, 2023 to February 2nd, 2024.
You can learn more about the program at our website. If you have any questions, please send them to email@example.com.