UW SRP hosts the 2019 annual Superfund Research Program meeting in Seattle

UW SRP Director, Evan Gallagher stands in front of a slide reading "Superfund Research Program 2019 Annual Meeting: Data to Knowledge to Action"

UW SRP Director, Evan Gallagher welcomes 408 attendees to Seattle

Recently, the University of Washington Superfund Research Program (UW SRP) hosted the 2019 annual SRP meeting in Seattle on the theme of "Data to Knowledge to Action." From November 18th-20th, 408 attendees convened at the downtown Hyatt Regency to hear talks, peruse posters, attend special sessions, and interact face-to-face with colleagues from across the country.

Twenty SRP centers funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) were represented by 24 directors, 24 administrators, 72 research translation and community engagement (RT/CE) staff, and 167 trainees, among others. Nineteen government representatives also attended the meeting as well as two industry representatives and two local science writers.

Traditionally, the annual meeting includes separate break-out sessions for trainees, RT/CE staff, and administrators. This year, one highlight for trainees was learning about the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund site as a case study for population health disparities and environmental justice (EJ). Speakers on the panel included Millie Piazza, EJ Coordinator for Washington State Department of Ecology; Linn Gould, Executive Director of Just Health Action; and James Rasmussen, Superfund Manager for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC).

"The EJ panel was great, the panelists discussed the Duwamish river and local EJ issues as well as putting them into a broader context of equity. The main take-aways from the panel were to listen to the communities you serve, involve them in the research process, and don't swoop in with a savior complex and tell them what their problems are," said Jacqueline Garrick, a trainee on UW SRP project three and the session's organizer.

A highlight for RT/CE staff was an interactive workshop designed to provide help from Christie Drew, Program Analysis Branch Chief with NIEHS, mapping center activities onto a research translation framework developed by Kristi Pettibone, Health Science Administrator of NIEHS. Tables in the main hallway showcased products created by RT/CE groups during the first day of the meeting.

According to Wendy Lucht, STEEP Coordinator with the University of Rhode Island SRP, "administrators were thrilled to meet Jenny Greer, NIEHS Branch Chief, Grants Management Officer. They also greatly benefited from a presentation by Lisa Archer Edwards covering NIEHS policy updates and carryover."  

The meeting's main session kicked off with a welcome from UW SRP Director Evan Gallagher followed by a blessing from Ken Workman, a member of the Duwamish Tribe and direct descendant of the man we know as "Chief Seattle." After short speeches by Hilary Godwin, Dean of the UW School of Public Health and Rik Woychik, NIEHS Acting Director, the first session featured talks by four recipients of the KC Donnelly Externship Award- a supplement to support trainee travel and collaboration with partner SRPs across the country.

Keynote addresses were delivered by Julia Cui of UW and Andrew Whitehead of the University of California-Davis. Other presentations were given by trainees. The 2019 Wetterhahn Award went to Elana Elkin of the PROTECT SRP of Puerto Rico and Northeastern University.

After all the talks had been given, posters presented and shared meals, poster award announcements and closing remarks were made by William Suk, Director of NIEHS. We look forward to getting together again next year with the Texas A & M SRP as our hosts.

Photos of the event can be seen on twitter under the hashtag #NIEHS19.