EPA Program to Engage Tennessee State University Students in Community-Based Environmental Health

epa_logoNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected Tennessee State University for a program that will actively engage its students in initiatives that protect local residents from toxic air releases.

A release from the agency named TSU and five other institutions nationwide as “academic partners” for the 2014 Toxic Release Inventory University Challenge. The Challenge is designed to find innovative ways to increase public awareness of industrial release of toxic chemicals in communities around the country.

Dr. David A. Padgett, associate professor of Geography, is TSU’s primary researcher on the TRI project. He was among 11 individuals who submitted applications for the 2014 Challenge.

He said his project, “An Instruction Manual for Visualizing and Analyzing Community-Based Air Quality Sample,” will give students the opportunity to be actively involved in service-learning research aimed at protecting human health and the environment.

“The University will also gain national recognition as a partner with the EPA in the development of a new approach to community-based environmental analysis using geospatial technology tools,” Padgett added.

He said TSU would train student teams in the use of GIS, GPS and TRI mapping tools in air quality assessment, as well as develop bucket brigade air sampling modules for community stakeholders.

Other institutions selected for 2014 TRI Challenge are Drew University, Southern Louisiana University, State University of New York at Pittsburgh, University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of South Carolina.

The selected projects, which are expected to conclude at the end of the 2015 academic year, will kick off in the fall of 2014.

While there is no financial award for the Challenge, academic partners or participating universities receive support from TRI program staff and national recognition by being feature on the TRI University Challenge website.

“Additionally, the EPA will support our faculty and students in presenting the result of our research at a professional conference,” said Padgett. “This experience will hopefully lead to graduate school, grant funding and employment opportunities.”



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With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.