NSERC CREATE Program in Human and Ecological Risk Assessment (HERA)
Summary: For Ph.D. students in toxicology or public health, this NSERC CREATE HERA program will train you to become a professional assessor of ecological and human risk. For doctoral students in law, it will equip you to work at an advanced level at the interface of law and science in law and policy relating to ecological and human risk. Five specific graduate courses are offered as well as a work placement with industry and government agencies that routinely perform risk assessment. At the conclusion of your Ph.D. program, you not only will have a Ph.D. in your chosen discipline but also an advanced understanding of risk assessment.
Description: The CREATE HERA program is composed of four distinct components: (1) advanced specialized course work, (2) Summer Institute of Risk, (3) work placement and (4) professional development.
Advanced Course Work
Human Health Risk Assessment - Covering theory and case studies, this course trains students to identify, collect, and critically analyze data pertinent to assessing human health risks posed by contaminants in the environment.
Wildlife Toxicology and Risk Assessment - This course gives students working knowledge of current processes and techniques for toxicological risk characterization.
Environmental Chemodynamics - This course will supply an understanding of the process that control the movement of organic and inorganic contaminants in atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere and to monitor environmental behavior of some potentially toxic contaminants in biotic and abiotic matrices.
Risk Assessment and Negotiation of Environmental Issues - The aim of the course is to expose individuals to the different view-points and approaches used by the different stakeholders typically involved with the negotiation and assessment of environmental issues.
Risk and Regulatory Law - Its purpose is to introduce students to the legal approaches to the concept of risk and to the legal assessment and regulation of risks to human and environmental health in Canada.
Summer Institute of Risk Each year in early May, in association with a Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) chapter for the participating university (i.e., the Northern Prairie, Laurentian, and North Atlantic chapters), we will host a Summer Institute on Risk Assessment and Management. Students will attend courses on risk communication, first-year students will present their case study results, and senior students will present research results to SETAC chapter members and the other students
Cooperative Work Placement Over a four- to six-month work placement term, students will gain private and public sector experience in applying environmental quality data to public health decisions.
Professional Development Course The professional development course will help students explore the role of communication, ethics, and leadership in a professional setting.
The CREATE HERA program is not a Ph.D. or J.S.D. program. It is a value added component to your graduate program. The CREATE HERA courses may be counted towards your Ph.D. or J.S.D. course requirements at the discretion of your advisory committee in your home university. If you are required to discontinue your CREATE HERA program, it does not impact your standing in your Ph.D. or J.S.D. program. However, students required to discontinue their Ph.D. or J.S.D. program will also be required to discontinue their CREATE HERA program.
You must be accepted into a Ph.D. or J.S.D. program in your home university with a first class standing. Outstanding M.Sc. or M.A. candidates will be considered on a case by case basis. Your academic background must have prepared you to appreciate the risk posed to human and ecological receptors from chemicals or, in the case of doctoral students in law, of the role of science in law and policy that seeks to address the risk posed to human and ecological receptors from chemicals. This background will be assessed in your application package.
CREATE HERA Financial Benefits
CREATE HERA will pay your Ph.D. stipend of $21,500 plus 8.17% benefits. In addition, CREATE HERA will provide you with $1073 to attend the Summer Institute of Risk as well as $1430 to attend the Human Health Risk Assessment course in August.
Students, who already receive a NSERC/CIHR/SSHRC stipend support, will not receive CREATE HERA stipend support but will receive the travel grants to attend the Summer Institute of Risk and the Human Health Risk Assessment course.
To apply to CREATE HERA please send:
- a copy of your official graduate transcripts,
- a letter of acceptance into a Ph.D. program,
- a letter of support from your Ph.D. supervisor indicating that (a) the research project you are working on is financially supported by sources other than CREATE HERA and (b) that the supervisor will attend the Summer Institute of Risk at least once during your tenure in CREATE HERA.
- a letter indicating why you wish to enrol in CREATE HERA and how your academic background has prepared you to understand the risk posed to human and ecological receptors from chemicals or, in the case of doctoral students in law, of the role of science in law and policy that seeks to address the risk posed to human and ecological receptors from chemicals.
Please send your application by June 1st to:
Attention Fiona Price (firstname.lastname@example.org)
University of Saskatchewan, 44 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B3 CANADA
CREATE HERA Students
Reflections in Toxicology
As part of CREATE Human and Ecological Risk Assessment programs, graduate colleagues (who are largely doctoral candidates), are required to take a course in Human Health Chemical Risk Assessment which focussed on how one assesses the risk to humans from chemical exposures. During this course, students select a toxicological topic of interest and then reflect on this topic in light of the following key issues:
a) Uncertainty associated with the data and interpretation.
b) Differing viewpoints on the risks and benefits of the toxicological topic.
In my opinion, reflections are a key component of a professional’s practice. Reflecting on a subject and integrating with one’s own practice, not only improves one professional practice but also improves ones ethical decision making. Toxicologists and risk assessors are continuous asked to make decisions based on the best available science. Often there is not nearly enough information as one would like but nevertheless, decisions have to be made. These reflections provide a forum for graduate colleagues to explore an issue and hear from their peers about issues in toxicology that are controversial.
As a Director of CREATE HERA, I invite you to read these reflections. I found them to be of the highest quality and provide a nuanced viewpoint on controversial issues. Finally, I would like to thank my colleague, Professor Kleefeld, who introduced me to reflections and their importance in the training of legal professionals. Until I met Professor Kleefeld, I would never have expected reflections to be so effective in training scientists as well.