Virginia Tech® home

REH Program Overview

Insert your title here





The overall goal of the Rural Environmental Health (REH) predoctoral training program at Virginia Tech is to provide PhD students with training in environmental health sciences, with a focus on applications in rural landscapes. The program will equip a cohort of graduates with the knowledge and skills to pursue environmental health related careers across a variety of disciplines from investigations into the molecular mechanisms of environmentally-mediated diseases prevalent in rural areas, environmental engineering applications to exposures unique to low population areas, and community-engaged and epidemiology approaches to reduce environmentally-mediated disease burden in rural areas.



REH fellows will participate in graduate level courses in environmental health sciences. The curriculum will include a required two class series, with the first providing foundational skills and the second focusing on applications.  Additionally, trainees will complete their dissertation research within one of three focus areas and choose one additional course specific to their focal area within environmental health sciences.

The three focus areas are:

1. Molecular mechanisms of environmentally-mediated diseases.

2. Community-engaged and epidemiological approaches to address environmental health priorities in rural areas. 

3. Exposure science and risk assessment.

Students will participate in the Interfaces of Global Change IGEP that brings them together with other PhD students working within the broader global change research community across the university covering team science skills, science communication, science-policy interface, and career planning. As part of the Interfaces of Global Change Program teams of students will work together on a semester long capstone project guided by faculty mentors to build team science skills and complement their dissertation research within one of the 3 foci described in Aim 1.

Research undertaken by REH T32 trainees will build on Virginia Tech’s existing strong foundation of community-engaged and epidemiology research in rural areas, exposure science expertise, and mechanistic research on cardiopulmonary and nervous systems relevant to understanding environmentally mediated diseases prevalent in rural areas. A monthly journal club co-led by steering committee members will provide a forum for trainees and mentors to keep abreast of the latest research, apply learnings across REH disciplines, and provide opportunities for fostering new collaborations.


Incoming (first-year PhD student to begin in the Fall term) or current PhD students are eligible to apply. To apply, students must be in, or applying to, a degree granting program at Virginia Tech and should be advancing research at the nexus of environmental and health sciences in rural settings.

Trainees will complete their dissertation research within one of three focus areas which are:

  1. Molecular mechanisms of environmentally-mediated diseases.
  2. Community-engaged and epidemiological approaches to address environmental health priorities in rural areas. 
  3. Exposure science and risk assessment.

The T32 has restricted citizenship eligibility. Only U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, and permanent U.S. residents may be appointed to a T32.

  • Trainees who do not have this status must have a valid Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551).
  • Send a notarized statement verifying permanent residency status with the PHS-2271.
  • Anyone on a temporary or student visa is not eligible.


Students do not have to be working with an affiliated program or faculty member to apply.
1) Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health 
2) Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences 
3) Environmental and Water Resources Engineering 
4) Biological Systems Engineering 
5) Fish and Wildlife Conservation
6) Biological Sciences
Molecular mechanisms of environmentally mediated diseases 
Robert Gourdie (TBMH)
Austin Gray (BIOL)
William Hopkins (FWC)
Anthony LaMantia (TBMH)
Read Montague (TBMH)
Steve Poelzing (TBMH)
Sora Shin (TBMH)
James Smyth (TBMH)
Christopher Thompson (TBMH)
Hehuang Xie (TBMH, BMVS)
Community-engaged, implementation science, and epidemiological approaches 
Martha Ann Bell (TBMH)
Warren Bickel (TBMH)
Alasdair Cohen (BMVS, EWR)
Alexandra DiFeliceantonio (TBMH)
Julia Gohlke (TBMH, BMVS)
Alex Hanlon (TBMH)
Kimberly Horn (TBMH)
Kathy Hosig (TBMH, BMVS)
Brittany Howell (TBMH)
Exposure science and risk assessment 
Ryan Calder (TBMH, BMVS)
Marc Edwards (EWR)
Gabriel Isaacman-VanWertz (EWR)
Leigh-Anne Krometis (BSE)
Linsey Marr (EWR)
Amy Pruden (EWR)
Peter Vikesland (EWR)


If accepted, students will receive a T32 Training Grant to fund their first two years in the program. 

Each REH T32 traninee receives two years of graduate assistantship stipend and tuition funding. The stipend will follow NIH stipend levels. Trainees also receive $4,550 for training related expenses. The training grant also covers tuition and fees for the first two years of the program.

FLSI will support REH trainee/faculty mentor team research. Teams can request budgets up to $10,000 per year for two years.

The College of Veterinary Medicine Analytical Chemistry Research Laboratory will support REH trainees with access and training on qualitative and quantitative determination of the concentration of a variety of environmental toxicants (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides) as well as metabolism and pharmacokinetic studies. The lab will provide processing and analysis of up to 10 samples at no cost for REH trainee projects.

REH T32 Leadership:

Julia Gohlke, Co-Director REH T32

Population Health Sciences

Steve Poelzing, Co-Director REH T32

Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health Graduate Program

Bill Hopkins, Steering Committe REH T32

Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Peter Vikesland, Steering Committe REH T32

Civil and Environmental Engineering


QUESTIONS?  Contact Program Coordinator, with questions about the REH T32 Training Program.