Targeted Research Training (TRT)

The mission of the TRT Program is to train the next generation of occupational health researchers. This mission will be achieved by 1) providing mentorship and training opportunities through which predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees build research, teaching, and professional skills, and 2) building learning communities of scholars that employ multi-disciplinary approaches to perform research that address an occupational health need.

The TRT Program mission will be attained through implementation of the following five specific objectives:

  • Recruit a diverse group of trainees
  • Provide training in critical academic and professional skills to enable trainees to become successful researchers in the area of occupational safety and health
  • Involve trainees in occupational safety and health research mentored by experienced investigators from multiple disciplines
  • Generate new knowledge about the occupational safety and health needs of workers engaged in the TRT Program theme that supports effective interventions
  • Build professional networks of TRT trainees with UIC alumni, employers and researchers

Currently, the TRT Program is focused on the theme of precarious and high-risk employment. Precarious employment is characterized by employment conditions that are unstable, unpredictable, and often exploitative, resulting in social and economic vulnerability for workers. High-risk employment involves a high risk of adverse impacts on workers’ health and safety. Precarious employment and high-risk or hazardous employment often overlap.


All TRT trainees will be required to engage in self-assessment and goal setting, including creation of an Individual Development Plan. Competencies to be developed include expectations for integrity and ethical conduct in research, experience with interdisciplinary aspects of research in occupational health and safety. Training will focus on skills to lead and manage research projects, communicate with teams to conduct research, and disseminate research findings. Additional competencies for postdoctoral trainees emphasize the transition to independent researcher, including engagement with funding agencies, the scientific community, and students.

The TRT Program does not require students to take any specific courses, though it is anticipated that many trainees may enroll in courses to develop skills and knowledge in research methods or occupational health and safety.  In particular, trainees without previous formal education in occupational health and safety will likely need to take courses to ensure competency with principles in occupational health and safety practice.

All TRT trainees will participate in research-focused learning communities. Learning community participation will enable individuals to come together to achieve learning goals. Learning communities are characterized by collaborative experiences in which participants have meaningful interactions with others; diversity of expertise and experience among members is valued, and each is given support to develop.  Learning communities are sometimes referred to as communities of practice, which reflects the value and experience of learning from one’s peers, not just through apprenticeship.

Program Contact:

Kathy Rospenda, PhD