CEC Trainee Nobel Hernández-Otero Receives NIEHS KC Donnelly Award

Jun 8, 2023 | Community Engagement Core, PROTECT Team, PROTECT Trainees

PROTECT trainee and doctoral student Nobel Hernández-Otero was named one of the recipients of the NIEHS SRP KC Donnelly Externship Award, which provides SRP-funded graduate students and postdoc researchers with opportunities to work with other SRP-funded centers, government labs, and agencies. With this award, Nobel will have the opportunity to travel to and work with the North Carolina State University SRP Center.

Nobel is a doctoral student at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus under the mentorship of Carmen Vélez Vega. As part of the Community Engagement Core (CEC), Nobel works very closely on the report back process with the goal of improving how study participants are provided their results and information about the impacts of chemical exposures and how to reduce exposures. Outside of report back, Nobel also works on planning and implementing community outreach and research activities, organizing meetings with study participants, community health centers, and other research collaborators, and developing presentations for the communities PROTECT works with. “My long-term goal is to understand the role of social determinants of health and exposure to hazardous substances in adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly within in Puerto Rico, where we have a much higher rate of preterm birth than the national average,” Nobel said.

Nobel’s externships will bring him to East Carolina University to study under the direction of North Carolina State University SRP Center Project Leader Jamie DeWitt. With Dr. DeWitt, Nobel will learn about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure and their health effects. He will also learn about the best practices regarding PFAS risk communication. These lessons will help him develop an educational program that enhances how results are reported back to PROTECT participants. “Although exposure to PFAS has been associated with low birth weight and other outcomes, the presence of PFAS in pregnant women in Puerto Rico is unknown. This externship will allow me to begin addressing this need for more exploratory research while also learning how to tailor messages about PFAS to our community,” Nobel said.

Congratulations, Nobel!