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Superfund trainee awarded EPA fellowship

By Angela Spivey
September 2010

NIEHS Superfund Research Program trainee Alissa Cordner, Ph.D.
Cordner, above, can look forward to generous support from EPA as she completes her doctorate. (Photo courtesy of Alisa Cordner)

NIEHS Superfund Research Program trainee Alissa Cordner, a Ph.D., a student at Brown University, has been awarded a highly competitive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) STAR Graduate Fellowship. Cordner will receive up to $37,000 per year for up to three years for general support of her studies and research on the social implications of flame retardant chemicals.

Cordner is questioning scientists, activists, regulators and policy makers, participants in biomonitoring studies, and industry representatives to understand how these different stakeholders interpret and characterize the risks and hazards of flame retardants, and how those interpretations influence their actions, including any effects they may exert on chemical policy decisions.

"This fellowship will allow me to interview people working on flame retardant issues around the country, and to understand how all these different stakeholders perceive risk and incorporate those perceptions into their daily lives," Cordner said. "I think it's wonderful that the EPA acknowledges the importance of this type of work on the risks and hazards of emerging contaminants."

Cordner works with sociology and environmental studies professor Phil Brown, Ph.D., who directs the Community Outreach Core of Brown University's NIEHS Superfund Research Program.

Masters and doctoral candidates in environmental studies compete for the STAR fellowships through a rigorous review process. The fellowships help defray the ever-increasing costs associated with studies leading to advanced degrees in environmental sciences.

Since the program began in 1995, EPA has awarded approximately 1,500 STAR fellowships to students in every U.S. state and most territories pursuing degrees in traditionally recognized environmental disciplines, as well as other fields such as social anthropology, urban and regional planning, and decision sciences.

(Angela Spivey is a freelance writer for the NIEHS Superfund Research Program and Worker Education and Training Program.)

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