Announcements News

December 3, 2020 at 3:08 pm

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health grant provides graduate-level opportunities in engineering and psychology

From Ohio University News

An expansion of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) training project grant at Ohio University means new opportunities for Ph.D.-level training in Occupational Health Psychology for psychology students and Occupational Safety for engineering students.

The $1.2 million grant renewal creates an interdisciplinary hub for Total Worker Health® at OHIO focused on training students to become the next generation of Occupational Health and Safety practitioners, researchers, and academics. These growing fields have an immediate need for more Ph.D.-level training, and OHIO students will focus their training and research on the holistic elements of preventing injury and promoting worker health exemplified by the NIOSH Total Worker Health® initiative.

Engineering Opportunities: The renewal builds on eight prior years of funding for the Occupational Safety master’s program housed in the Russ College of Engineering’s Industrial and Systems Engineering Department. Funding for that program is renewed, and additional funding now provides further Occupational Safety training at the Ph.D. level through the Mechanical and Systems Engineering Ph.D.

Psychology Opportunities: In the College of Arts & Sciences, students in the Experimental Psychology Ph.D. program specializing in Health Psychology or Industrial-Organizational Psychology can now add an Occupational Health Psychology training concentration.

For students in both programs, collaboration will include interdisciplinary coursework, research, and extra-curricular activities.

“The addition of funding for the Occupational Safety and Occupational Health Psychology Ph.D.s will allow for many synergistic activities that will improve both programs and enrich the educational experience of the trainees. Occupational Health Psychology and Occupational Safety are both essential elements to keeping our workers safe and healthy. Approaching the study and application of these fields together is a critical element of the NIOSH Total Worker Health initiative,” says Dr. Diana Schwerha, professor of industrial and systems engineering and the principal investigator on the grant.

“We believe that employee health and safety requires a holistic approach that involves complementary disciplines: 1) Occupational Safety engineers who create safe work environments and processes, and 2) professionals with Occupational Health Psychology training who provide the research and support framework for health promotion and prevention at both individual and organizational levels,” she adds.

“Instead of being trained in academic silos, the addition of these two Ph.D.-level training areas will allow all OHIO NIOSH trainees to have a truly interdisciplinary experience,” says Dr. Ryan Johnson, assistant professor of psychology, Occupational Health Psychology program director, and co-investigator on the grant. “This training model will better represent and prepare students for their future careers working on interdisciplinary teams to ensure worker health and safety.”

The grant, eligible for renewal in 2025, provides funding support for graduate stipends, conference travel for students and faculty, and support for faculty to recruit and mentor a diverse cohort of students into the program, including students from the underrepresented Appalachian region.

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