SUMR 2018's Upcoming Schuylkill River Rowing Challenge

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SUMR 2018's Upcoming Schuylkill River Rowing Challenge

Rowing Event to Kick Off 19th Year of Penn LDI's Summer Undergraduate Minority Research Program

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Photo: Marisa Fischetti/Visit Philadelphia

LDI's 19th annual Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) Program kicks off with an icebreaker and team-building "Rowing on the Schuylkill" event at Philadelphia's historic Boathouse Row.

The University of Pennsylvania's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) will kick off the 19th year of its Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) program with a "Rowing on the Schuylkill" challenge on May 29th at Philadelphia's historic Boathouse Row. The 23 new scholars from 17 different universities and colleges will be the first SUMR cohort to row its way into the three-month program.

"We try to begin each new SUMR program with an icebreaking and team-building event that also enables the scholars to experience some unique aspect of Philadelphia," said Joanne Levy, MBA, MCP, Founding Director of the SUMR program. "I think rowing on the Schuylkill is about as historic as it gets and certainly promises to encourage interaction and teamwork along with great fun in a very scenic location."

Established in 2000, the SUMR program offers students potentially interested in health care careers the opportunity to immerse themselves in Penn's Community of health services researchers.

Underrepresented minorities
One goal of the program is to be a pipeline for the development of more underrepresented minority researchers capable of bringing broader cultural sensitivities to the work of producing the evidence-based findings that underpin national health care policies and practices. 

This year's cohort of scholars come from Penn and sixteen other schools across the country, including Cornell, Boston, Morgan State, Georgetown, Spelman, and Swarthmore. A sense of their cultural diversity can be found in their areas of linguistic fluency: Arabic, Portuguese, French, Fulani, Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Four of them are also the first in their family to go to college.

For the next three months, an intense classroom curriculum will engage the Scholars in lectures by, and meetings with, Penn's top health services research scientists. The Scholars will also be working 40 hours a week on real research projects led by 40 faculty scientists, many of whom are leading national authorities in their fields of study.

Their research projects
Examples of the types of research teams this year's SUMR participants will join include:

- A qualitative analysis of race, racism, and psychological stress among VA patients living with chronic kidney disease.

- A study of the health burden of chronic pain on racial and ethic minorities.

- A project to integrate and use social media and statewide data to build and validate a tool for monitoring and predicting high morbidity health trends and real-time dynamic health events.

- A research effort to better understand the mechanisms underlying the transgenerational effects of early life stress on children.

- The design and evaluation of an emergency department decision support tool for physicians and patients involved in acute pain care that may require prescribed opioids.

A SUMR challenge on Boathouse Row
The SUMR kickoff Schuylkill sculling event will take place at the Bachelors Barge Club at #6 Boathouse Row. It is the country's oldest continously operated boathouse and home of the Drexel University Crew Teams. (The club's name comes from the fact that when it was formed in 1853, membership was limited to bachelors. Ironically, the majority of its current 150 members are women.)

The event will be managed by Team Concepts, Inc., a team building and leadership development firm staffed by Olympic rowing coaches. Scholars will be assigned to rowing teams and receive classroom training and dry-land practice on rowing machines before they go out in real boats on the water. 

Scholar teams' scull race
The day's finale occurs as the SUMR rowing teams race each other through a 500 meter course on the river.

The city's long history with this sport were recounted in a Philadelphia Inquirer story last week, published shortly after the end of the annual 80th Dad Vail Regatta in which 100 schools' rowing teams and 3,500 fans swarmed across the Schulykill River and its grassy banks.

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Sculling on the Schuylkill also plays a major role in the history of the arts in Philadelphia. Some of the best known works of the renowned 19th-century Philadelphia painter Thomas Eakins are Schuylkill River rowing scenes. Above is one of his most famous, the 1871 painting entitled "Max Schmitt in a Single Scull."