Jeffrey L. Levin, MD, MSPH, FACOEM is the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at The University of Texas Health Northeast. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences and the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. He is a graduate of the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio. He completed his internal medicine training at the University of Missouri following which he pursued a Master of Science Degree in Public Health and post-graduate training in occupational medicine at the University of Kentucky.
He is board-certified in both internal medicine and occupational medicine. He has been in the field of occupational medicine for 25 years and has lectured widely on a variety of occupational health topics both nationally and internationally. His research interests include occupational respiratory disease and occupational health in the commercial fishing trades.
He is past-President of the Texas College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (formerly the Texas Occupational Medical Association), the Texas component of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Dr. Levin was awarded the Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professorship of Occupational Health Sciences in 1999. He is a member of the Texas Medical Association Council on Public Health. Currently, Dr. Levin serves as the PI for the SW Ag Center as a whole and the Planning and Evaluation Core. He is also Co-PI for the Feasibility/Pilot Studies Program and the Outreach Program.
Vijay Boggaram, PhD is Professor of Cellular and Molecular Biology Research at UT Health Science Center. He brings 30 years of successful bench science experience to bear on the investigation of gene expression and the mechanisms of induction of lung inflammation. His scope of work builds on findings from his recent five year study involving poultry dust as an etiologic agent, for which preliminary results have been published. In the five year comprehensive basic research project, Poultry Dust and Lung Inflammation, Dr. Boggaram will work with industrial hygienist, Dr. Rena Saito, to obtain poultry dust samples from broiler production facilities on that campus. Based on his experience and productivity, this project will inform further studies to refine knowledge of poultry dust components that contribute to lung inflammation and/or indicate the need for renewed emphasis on respiratory protection or other interventions among poultry workers to improve lung function.
Ann Carruth, DSN, RN is currently the Dean for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Southeastern Louisiana University. She has been PI for three innovative research projects with the Center with results widely published and translation materials disseminated across the country. Her long-standing relationship (12 years) with key opinion leaders within the commercial fishing industry will allow her to address The Impact of Thermal Load on PFD Use Among Shrimp Fishermen. Dr. Carruth’s work builds on her recent project of developing and testing safety messages with Vietnamese shrimp fishermen using social marketing theory. Meeting the project specific aims will likely lead to further research, additional translation strategies to encourage use of effective personal flotation devises (PFDs), and inclusion of new information about PFD use as part of U.S. Coast Guard training and dissemination through commercial fishing supply houses and dockside.
Vanessa Casanova, PhD joined the SW Ag Center as the Applied Research Manager in 2013. She is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Health Sciences at UTHSCT with research interests and social science training on health and safety exposures among forestry service workers. Her project, Occupational Exposures of Tree Planters in the Forestry Services Sector, builds on established relationships with the forestry trade associations in three states and other key informants who are able to provide access to the population in order to understand work exposures and risks. This two year project is a new area of investigation that seeks to characterize the work risks and perceptions among the largely immigrant and migratory forestry services workers in the Arklatex area.
David Douphrate, PhD, MPT, MBA, CPE, ASP is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston-San Antonio Regional Campus and holds a leadership position with the regional Education Research Center. Dr. Douphrate serves as the Deputy Director for the SW Ag Center. He is an established AFF occupational safety researcher, recognized nationally and internationally for his work in dairy safety practices. He has established key relationships with logging contractors in the Arklatex and completed a feasibility study that provides the foundation to successfully achieve his project, Prospective Study of Exposure to Physical Risk Factors and Musculoskeletal Symptoms among Logging Machine Operators. This five year comprehensive project is a new area of investigation and results will inform further research and/or interventions.
Michael J. Merten, PhD, was trained in psychology and human development and family studies and is a recognized expert in the interface of work, family, and health. Among his other research efforts, Dr. Merten directed two innovative pilot projects with the SW Ag Center which contributed to understanding the need and developing relationships for the implementation of the project, Reducing Pesticide Exposure Among Latino Adolescents through Promotora-based Interventions. This project will build on prior work demonstrating the effectiveness of promotores to deliver bi-lingual heat stress prevention among farmworkers and on Dr. Shipp’s study of dust wipes as a surrogate for pesticide exposure measurement among migrating farmworkers. Indicators of project success will include the benefits of widespread dissemination of the strategic approach and validity of the educational program materials. Relationships are already in place with prime dissemination channels.
Rena Saito, PhD, CIH is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Health Sciences at UT Health Science Center and Adjunct Professor at Stephen F Austin University, specializing in industrial hygiene. Her doctoral research at Colorado State University focused on variability of endotoxin measurements in agricultural environments. A fellowship completed with the NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies included experience with health hazard evaluations, sampling laboratory analyses of bioaerosols, and statistical analysis. In her study, Dr. Saito plans to apply her IH skills to a new population in order to document Contributing Factors to Slips, Trips and Falls Among Texas Shrimp Fishermen. This project builds on previous work led by Dr. Levin to address risks among Hispanic and Vietnamese fishermen in South Texas. Project specific aims achievement may inform future research and will include the testing and/or adoption of personal protective equipment (PPE). Results may be incorporated into U.S. Coast Guard training programs/materials and reported in trade periodicals.
Eva Shipp, Ph.D. Eva Shipp, PhD, Research Scientist with Texas A&M University Transportation Institute (TTI) and Adjunct Associate Professor at Texas A&M University School of Public Health, established her research career as an epidemiologist serving as project coordinator for two SW Ag Center sponsored projects with Sharon Cooper, PhD. Her surveillance research project entitled Leveraging Motor Vehicle Crash Data for Injury Surveillance and Research in AFF assembles a team of key partners to analyze the burden and risk factors associated with AFF highway fatality/injury events and create a searchable database for the region. This three year project represents a new area of investigation. This project is both novel and timely given NIOSH efforts to encourage alternative strategies and methods for surveillance in the agricultural workforce, particularly in light of the potential contribution of motor vehicle incidents to occupational injuries and fatalities.