The University of Georgia has been awarded a $518,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to create a new graduate training program. Faculty in the College of Public Health will partner with researchers from multiple agencies to train program participants how to investigate applications to human health and health policy related to aquatic and ocean sciences.
The goals of the initiative are to develop doctoral-level scientists who are trained in fundamental laboratory and field skills in marine and environmental sciences and engaged in human health applications of ocean science through exposure and involvement in public health policy.
UGA’s principal investigator for the program is Erin Lipp, an associate professor of environmental health science. Co-principal investigators are Patricia Yager, marine science; Marsha Black, environmental health science; Aaron Peck, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography; James T. Hollibaugh, marine science; Monica Gaughan, health policy and management; and Dana Cole, Georgia Division of Public Health.
Oceanic and coastal waters harbor and transport microorganisms and chemicals that cause disease or otherwise affect humans and other animals. As modulators of climate, the oceans indirectly influence disease patterns and the distribution of many pathogens. The oceans are changing as a result of human activities: sea surface temperature is rising, the fresh water supply to estuaries and coasts is being altered, and chemical and microbial contamination is increasing.
The training program will support three Ph.D. students throughout their graduate career. Additionally, two students per year from multiple science-based degree programs will have the opportunity to diverge from their primary research to explore policy and research associated with oceans and human health, thereby expanding exposure to the topic.