Science to the People

Tufts Institute for Innovation

Tufts Institute for Innovation symposium for students links research to community engagement

When Doug Brugge, professor of public health and community medicine, learned a few years ago that the city of Boston had plans to build a new high school adjacent to a highway exit ramp in Chinatown, he had concerns. Brugge and his colleagues had been among the first to show an association between ultrafine particles found in highway pollution and blood markers of inflammation in the systems of people who live nearby, and he knew the high school students might be at risk. The city redesigned the proposed school building’s ventilation system based on the researchers’ concerns.

“The point here is not just the science, but how we translate it into policy and practice,” Brugge said at the Tufts Institute for Innovation’s first student symposium last month. Entitled “Research, Innovation and Community Engagement,” the symposium gave undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to hear from Tufts researchers who are already engaging with the communities they serve. It also gave students the chance to consider ways they can follow in the researchers’ footsteps.

As part of their ongoing community-based research, for example, Brugge’s group takes care to write reports that are accessible not just to career scientists, but also to politicians, developers and the public. His team offers those same groups an array of options that can mitigate the health effects of pollution.

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