USC Environmental Health Centers

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Environmental Health MethodologicAl, Training, and Teaching EnterpRiSe

2 year Undergraduate 
Research Internship Program

Program application deadline: November 4, 2020

Program Introduction

EH MATTERS offers USC undergraduate students from under-represented groups a paid, two-year, three-semester per year internship (Summer/Fall/Spring) to build capacity of diverse students to engage in environmental health sciences and community health disparities research. Freshmen, sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply.

This community-engaged environmental health research program will expand students’ understanding of fundamental concepts in environmental health, exposure, susceptibility, risk, and health disparities. This formal training will provide a basis for a firm academic understanding of community environmental health disparity issues and firsthand experiences that look at environmental health through the lens of environmental justice.

Program Objectives

• Students will understand how urban health disparities and environmental exposures intersect and interact in communities, and how to leverage action-oriented research;

• Students will develop the necessary skills to successfully engage in community-driven environmental health research to address environmental health disparities;

• Students will build skills and confidence to pursue graduate education and careers in environmental health sciences.


Each EH MATTERS participant will be paired with a faculty research mentor with whom they will work as a paid intern during their two-year program.

Program Highlights

• Students will receive an hourly wage for internship hours (10 hours/week Fall and Spring, 36 hours a week for Summer)

• Highly competitive research positions in environmental health research

• Faculty mentors in the Division of Environmental Health, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine

• Students will have the opportunity to be mentored by peers (graduate and post-graduate students)

• Community engaged research skill-building:
Through field trips, lectures, and in-person visits, students will gain exposure to community-based environmental justice organizations, public officials, and policy makers throughout Southern California

• Academic enrichment: 
Students will have access to course content in related course in undergrad and graduate programs including Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine to increase the ability to successfully compete for acceptance into a doctoral program.

• Research skill-building workshops focusing on:
• Developing and Designing a Research Question
• Understanding Health Disparities
• Epidemiological Study Designs and Analysis
• Approaches in Measuring Exposures, Health and Communities

Program Eligibility

The program aims to increase diversity of students in environmental health and prioritizes the following students:
1. All Native (American Indian or Alaskan Native), African-American, Hispanic, Hawaiian Native or Pacific Islander;

2. Students in at least one of the following categories (including international students and permanent residents);
a. A language other than English the primary language spoken at home
b. First Generation College
c. Identifying as LBGTQ
d. Identifying as multiracial
f. Immigrant students

3. Must have completed at least one year of undergraduate study to apply;

4. Minimum overall GPA of 3.0 or greater;

5. Students who qualify for Federal Work Study funding (students who do not qualify are also considered).
Selection will be based on:
• Student’s academic achievements
• Letters of recommendation
• Essay and completed application
The EH MATTERS program application is an online form. In addition to filling out the application form, you will need to upload the following documents in PDF format before submitting your application. Although it is recommended to try and fill out the application in one sitting, the application may be saved and worked on at a different time. If you choose to save and continue your application later, a unique web link will be sent to the email you indicate.

Short answer essay questions: Through answering a series of questions, you will address your fit for the program. 
Unofficial college transcripts: As part of your application, you will need to upload a copy of an unofficial transcript. An unofficial transcript will be issued by your university or college registrar’s office but may be accessed through a student portal. An unofficial transcript may also be a physical, official copy that you have opened and uploaded. Avoid uploading degree progress reports, grade audits, or similar printouts; these do not count as unofficial transcripts. 

Acceptable unofficial transcripts from U.S. institutions must: 
• Have the word “transcript” on the document
• Have the name of your institution attended or are attending
• Include the student’s name, program of study, and major of study
• Include a term-by-term breakdown of each completed course with its corresponding units and grade
• Be clearly legible

Two letters of recommendation: One letter from USC or other college faculty; and one letter from a former work or internship supervisor. 

Letters must be submitted by the person of reference through the recommendation portal. Students must send the link to the recommendation portal to their people of reference and indicate who they have sent the link to in the online application. 

Download program description and application information here.

Program Directors: Ed Avol and Jill Johnston
Program Manager: Wendy Gutschow
For more information, contact: Wendy Gutschow,

EH MATTERS is funded by NIEHS Grant #R25ES031867
USC Environmental Health Centers
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