Community Engagement Core

teacher and students in labObjective

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) works to address environmental concerns through measurements of airborne PCBs in affected communities, integration of activities with ongoing educational programs, and dissemination of the findings to the communities at large.

Aims

  • Engage East Chicago and Columbus Junction junior high students with health science and engineering education programs that highlight the sources, remediation, and human impacts of PCBS
  • Address community needs regarding the impacts of dredging in East Chicago, Indiana, in terms of potential airborne PCB sources, remediation strategies, human impacts, and relative health risk
  • Facilitate engagement activities with the town of Altavista, Virginia, and the environmental remediation firm, Ecolotree, Inc.

Activities

A key output of our education efforts is our inquiry based airborne PCB learning materials. These materials have been developed and tested in several junior high school classrooms in each of our partner communities and a high school summer camp. Every spring we host the Columbus Community Schools 7th grade students on the University of Iowa campus for a 2.5-hour interactive tour of our science and engineering laboratories.

The Community Advisory Board in East Chicago, IN, was created in 2014. Updates about the dredging process are shared, information about the school education program is exchanged, and thoughts for future engagement areas are brainstormed. A superfund site nearby was identified as one area/topic that the community would like more information.

student at microscope

A relatively new collaboration between the Town of Altavista, Ecolotree, Inc., the Iowa Superfund Research Program (isrp) Projects 4 and 5, and the isrp CEC and RTC has been expanded. A workshop titled Altavista’s 6-acre Petri Dish: Testing Sustainable Solutions for PCB Contaminated Sediments was held in June of 2015 in Danville, VA. The workshop highlighted lab and field work results from 3 years of in-situ PCB degradation and containment in Altavista.

For more information about PCBs and schools, please visit our Links page.

Personnel

  • Core Leader: Craig Just, PhD, Core Co-Leader

    Adjunct Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Associate Research Scientist, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, The University of Iowa. Dr. Just has a broad and long-standing experience in engagement. He guided the development of the Public Engagement Grant Program that commenced at the University of Iowa in 2011. His commitment to engagement was acknowledged in 2010 with the David Skorton Award for Staff Excellence in Public Service. He co-directs the UI Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement.

  • Scott Spak, PhD, The University of Iowa

     Dr. Scott Spak is an Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa- holding joint appointments with Urban and Regional Planning, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Environmental Policy Program at the Public Policy Center.

  • Ashlee Johannes, M.S., The University of Iowa

          Ashlee completed a Master of Sciences degree from the Department of Occupational

and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa. She learned extensively about the effects of environmental exposures on human health. She is very skilled in engaging communities in learning about how they can protect themselves from environmental hazards.

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Program and Research Support Cores

The Program and Research Support Cores communicate with all projects, thus fostering regular communication and interaction among all components (projects and cores) of the isrp.

Program Support Cores

Research Support Cores