NSF Grant Supports Undergraduate Research Experiences in Injury Science

05/16/2011

Children’s Hospital received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program to support active research participation by undergraduate students at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP).

Led by Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD, co-scientific director and founder of CIRP, and Meghan Marsac, PhD, training director of CIRP, the Injury Prevention REU grant will enable eight students to spend 10 weeks conducting research with a faculty mentor to gain sound child injury science research experience.

“Part of CIRP's mission is to grow the field of injury scientists and engineers,” says Dr. Winston. “We will be able to attract the best and the brightest students at an early enough phase in their academic development that we might inspire them to choose a career in research.”

Students studying engineering, behavioral science, education, population science, and statistics are eligible for the program. Confirming the demand for this training and how competitive the selection of students will be, 120 students submitted an application for the first year of the Injury Science REU and eight exceptionally talented applicants have been selected.

The goals of the grant are to increase CIRP’s ability to provide research experiences for underrepresented undergraduates, increase student knowledge and interest in science and engineering, and amplify student interest and knowledge in injury science. The program also strives to advance individual students’ professional development, and provide foundational, hands-on research experience to encourage students to pursue science degrees and careers that integrate injury science.

Students in the program will conduct fundamental research to identify the causes and consequences of injury in the young and translational research to apply the findings to evidence-based prevention products, programs, policy, and interventions. Additionally, they will learn about the value of interdisciplinary work, the practical application of research results to real-world prevention methods, and techniques on how to present research.

The complex factors that contribute to child injury, the leading cause of child death, are distinct from those that contribute to adults; yet adult males are the primary focus for injury prevention research and strategies. The need for increased injury prevention research training opportunities has been recognized as a major barrier for the development of the pediatric injury prevention research field. The Injury Science REU at CIRP will help combat this trend by developing a diverse, internationally competitive, and globally engaged science and engineering workforce with a focus on injury prevention.