Our Center uses multiple approaches to support the career development of environmental health scientists at UNC-CH. We support investigators at all career stages who are pursuing research questions on environmental health, particularly multi-disciplinary questions, through a Pilot Projects Program, a seminar series, scientific retreats, and Facility Cores. We supplement these activities with mentoring and training grant opportunities that are primarily directed towards junior investigators. We specifically encourage development of community engagement skills for environmental researchers.
The two major curricular components of the CEHS Faculty Development program are the CEHS monthly seminar series and the annual CEHS Symposium.
Monthly seminar series
The CEHS monthly seminar series highlights the research of nationally recognized environmental scientists from within and outside the UNC campus.
Annual CEHS Symposium
CEHS sponsors a day-long scientific retreat or symposium annually. Its goal is to foster scientific and intellectual exchange of ideas among Center members at multiple career stages. The format of the symposium includes research presentations by the FIRGs, a keynote address, a poster session, and meetings of the Internal and External Advisory Committees. Each year the theme of the CEHS scientific retreat is determined by the CEHS Director in conjunction with the Internal Advisory Committee.
Notice of the symposium and requests for abstract submission will be sent out to the CEHS listserv. It is expected that CEHS-funded investigators, including from the Pilot Projects grant program, will present their research.
Translating environmental science for the public requires skillful communication. Through an integrated approach with the CEHS Community Outreach and Engagement Core, our goal is to enhance the ability of CEHS researchers to communicate their environmental health science results effectively with public audiences.
Watch for community engagement topics as part of the monthly CEHS seminars. Additionally, we will collaborate with the School of Medicine’s North Carolina Translational and Clinical Science Institute’s Community Academic Exchange program to integrate CEHS members into their extensive curriculum and workshops, where appropriate.
Effective academic mentoring involves multiple, distinct activities and skills, requires periodic reassessment or evaluation, and may be more reliably accomplished by groups than by single individuals. CEHS has a structured mentoring program with the establishment of mentor committees for junior faculty supported either directly by CEHS funds, or through CEHS Pilot Project awards.
Each committee is comprised of at least two senior CEHS faculty, one of whom is in the same department as the mentee, and the committee is required to meet formally at least once a year to review progress and help problem-solve for any impediments to the mentee’s success. A mentoring committee report form has been developed to organize and document the committee’s mentoring input and help track progress. This report should be submitted to the core director at least annually.
Investigators at the Assistant Professor rank supported by CEHS funds will be expected to participate in the program, as a condition of their funding; investigators at more senior ranks are also encouraged to participate.
Pilot Projects Program
The CEHS Pilot Projects Program awards 1-year pilot grants to investigators across campus who are either junior investigators in environmental research fields or established investigators in other fields who are exploring a new direction in environmental health science. The Pilot Projects Program has successfully led to extramural funding.
Requests for applications are generally sent out to the CEHS listserv and posted on the CEHS website. The application process includes two stages.
Stage 1: Submit a 1-page description of the goals of the project and outline the proposed methods and study team.
Stage 2: Submit a 5-page proposal, using an abbreviated NIH 398 format, including specifications about the methods and whether they are planning to use the CEHS Facility Cores.
Each stage 2 application (and Reviewer’s Guidelines) is sent to two ad hoc reviewers, who submit their critiques and scores, using an NIH-like scale. The results are tabulated and discussed by the CEHS Executive Committee, which recommends the proposals that should be funded. Each applicant receives blind copies of the critiques presented by the reviewers.
For additional details about pilot funds and the application process, please contact Melissa Troester.
To read about previously awarded pilot projects, visit the Pilot Projects Program page.
Multiple leadership training resources are available on the UNC campus and elsewhere, for faculty seeking to develop skills in preparation for leading labs or academic groups. The Center for Faculty Excellence provides leadership development seminars and programs here on the UNC campus, and there are many additional resources for interested faculty members.
Timely and successful promotion requires planning and organization, in addition to academic accomplishments. It is important that faculty and their mentors are familiar with promotions criteria, guidelines and timelines for their home academic unit.
CEHS investigators may enhance their research skills and productivity through collaboration with the Center’s Facility cores. These cores are designed to provide Center investigators with techniques, services, or instrumentation in a manner that will enhance the research in progress, consolidate effort, and contribute to cost effectiveness by providing a service at less cost and possibly higher quality than if each investigator were to attempt it individually.