PhD in Environmental Health, Occupational Health & Toxicology

PhD In Environmental Health, Occupational Health & Toxicology

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The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Public Health (CoPH) has created an intercampus, multidisciplinary graduate program leading to a PhD degree in environmental health, occupational health, and toxicology. It is a revision and expansion of the previous Toxicology graduate program to accommodate the broader graduate education goals of the College. The program provides students with the knowledge base, laboratory skills, and problem-solving abilities to become independent, innovative investigators using state-of-the-art approaches to address scientific problems in the fields of environmental health, ecological health, occupational health and safety, and toxicology. 

A unique aspect of the program will be a focus on the impact of agricultural practices on human and environmental health. In states, such as Nebraska, where the economy is primarily based on agriculture, this focus will provide effective training for students interested in agricultural issues. 

Specific objectives of the graduate education and training program are to provide students with: 1) basic knowledge in ecological, environmental, agricultural and occupational health, as well as toxicology; 2) broad understanding of relevant problems in the various areas of ecological health (effects of contaminants and practices on air, water, soil and ecosystems), environmental health (effects of environmental contaminants and practices on human health), occupational health and safety or toxicology, with particular emphasis on agriculture; and 3) the ability to apply this information to important scientific questions and solve problems in these areas. Graduates of this program will be well equipped to pursue careers in public health, environmental health, occupational health, toxicology and related fields. 

Applications for enrollment are being accepted. Contact Sherry Cherek at 559-8924 or email scherek@unmc.edu  

Degree Program Information

Why get a degree in Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Toxicology?

Need for Trained Professionals

Public awareness of environmental hazards has grown tremendously over the past four decades. Toxicologists and other environmental and population scientists play an essential role in ensuring that we are not endangering our health or the environment with the products and by-products of modern and comfortable living. This is especially true in states such as Nebraska, where production agriculture dominates the economy, but the potential impacts of such intense agricultural production on human health and environment are unclear. As a consequence, there are increased demands for new and better ways to determine the potential harmful effects of chemical agents, development of conditions under which toxic chemicals can be used safely, assessment of the probability that particular chemicals present a significant risk to human health and/or the environment, and the establishment of rules and regulations aimed at protecting and preserving human health and the environment.

In 1997 the University of Nebraska Center for Environmental Toxicology was established with faculty from UNMC and UNL. Its main function was to administer the Toxicology Graduate Program, which is now the Environmental Health, Occupational Health, and Toxicology Graduate Program, administered by the Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health (DEAOH), College of Public Health. A major focus of the graduate program will be scientific issues related to production agriculture. 

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Why get a degree in Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Toxicology?

Employment and educational advancement opportunities for graduates
With the increase in health consciousness, as well as concern for our environment, a wide and growing variety of career opportunities exists in environmental health, ecological health, occupational health and safety, and toxicology. Professionals with advanced degrees in these areas participate in basic research using the most advanced techniques in molecular biology, chemistry, and biomedical sciences; work with chemical, pharmaceutical, agrichemical and many other industries to test and ensure that their products and workplaces are safe; work for local and federal governments and agencies to develop and enforce laws to ensure that chemicals are produced, used and disposed of safely or to ensure that natural watersheds and local air quality criteria are maintained at appropriate levels; and work in academic institutions to teach others about the safe use of chemicals and to train future scientists. 

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Why get a degree in Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Toxicology?

Partnerships with Business
Agriculture is the backbone of the regional economy. There are many health and safety concerns associated with work in production agriculture in food processing, such as meat packing plants and the growing biofuels sector. Contacts faculty have with corporations in these industries provide strong partners in our effort to provide educational opportunities and training for our students. Giving students access to their businesses for research projects will be critical to the success of our program. Collaborations currently exist with several businesses addressing occupational health and safety issues. Additional potential collaborators include pharmaceutical and other medical research and service companies, construction and trucking companies, environmental consulting and engineering firms in the Lincoln and Omaha area involved in site assessments and remediation and local, state and federal agencies. 

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Partnerships within the University
Faculty participating in the degree program are drawn from various departments and colleges listed below: 

UNMC College/Institute School/Department 
College of Public Health Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health
Biostatistics
College of Medicine Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy
Internal Medicine
Pathology & Microbiology
Pharmacology and Experimental Neurosciences
Neurological Sciences
School of Allied Health Professions
College of Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences
Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer  

 

UNL College/Institute School/Department 
Arts & Sciences School of Biological Sciences
Chemistry
Psychology
Engineering Civil Engineering
Construction Management
Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources Entomology
Food Science & Technology
Agronomy and Horticulture
School of Natural Resources
Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources / Engineering Biological Systems Engineering

 

UNO College/Institute School/Department 
Arts & Sciences Biology
Chemistry
Education School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

 

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Collaborations with Higher Education Institutions and Agencies External to the University 
A strong effort is being made to build on existing collaborations with other universities, particularly those in adjoining states.  Specific collaborations are anticipated, for example with the University of Iowa College of Public Health, which has collaborative arrangements with the Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health.  Extramural support for students and their research projects will be sought through programs of the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal agencies. State agencies with expected collaborations include Health and Human Services, the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture, and the Game and Parks Commission. 

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Program of Study - Ph.D. requirements
The Ph.D. degree in each of the three tracks includes satisfactory completion of required and elective courses,  completion of a grant proposal outside the student’s area of dissertation research with oral defense, submission of at least one article from the dissertation research for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and completion of a dissertation with oral defense. 

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Environmental  and Occupational Hygiene Track (An academic degree designed to prepare students for future academic work and research)
Required courses  

Courses Required for PhD Degree:

Environmental and Occupational Hygiene Track 

Required Courses

Environmental HPRO 830 Foundations of Public Health 3 credit hours/UNMC
  ENV 810 Principles of Occupational & Environmental Health 3 credit hours/UNMC
  ENV 816 Environmental Exposure Assessment 3 credit hours/UNMC
  ENV 970 Seminar 1 credit hours/UNMC
Epidemiology EPI 820 Epidemiology Theory and Practice 3 credit hours/UNMC
  EPI 821 Epidemiology Advanced Design and Methods 3 credit hours/UNMC
Biostatistics BIOS 806 or 816 Biostatistics l 3 credit hours/UNMC
  BIOS 808
or
STAT 801

Biostatistics ll
or
Statistical Methods in Research

3 Credit hours/UNMC
or
4 Credit hours/UNL
  STAT 802 Experimental Design 4 credit hours/UNL
Research ENV 999 Doctoral Dissertation 10-16 credit hours/UNMC 
Electives   Graduate level 800/900 courses
At least 2 courses
3-6 credit hours/UNMC



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Occupational Biomechanics Track
Required courses
  

Courses Required for PhD Degree:

Occupational Biomechanics Track

Required Courses

Environmental HPRO 830 Foundations of Public Health 3 credit hours/UNMC
  ENV 850 Occupational Biomechanics 3 credit hours/UNMC
  ENV 970 Seminar 1 credit hour/UNMC
Epidemiology EPI 820 Epidemiology Theory and Practice 3 credit hours/UNMC
Ergonomics PE 8400 Motor Learning 3 credit hours/UNMC
  PE 8410 Motor Control 3 credit hours/UNMC
  PE 8450 Advanced Biomechanics 3 credit hours/UNMC
Biostatistics BIOS 806 or 816 Biostatistics I 3 credit hours/UNMC
  BIOS 808
or
STAT 801
Biostatistics II
or
Statistical Methods in Research
3 credit hours/UNMC
or
4 credit hours/UNL
  STAT 802 Experimental Design 4 credit hours/UNL
Research ENV 999 Doctoral Dissertation 10-16 credit hours/UNMC
Elective   Graduate level 800/900 course
At least 1 course
3-6 credit hours/UNMC



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Toxicology Track
Required courses

Courses Required for PhD Degree:

Toxicology Track

Required Courses

Environmental HPRO 830 Foundations of Public Health 3 credit hours/UNMC
  ENV 888 Principles of Toxicology 3 credit hours/UNMC
  ENV 950 Advanced Toxicology 3 credit hours/UNMC
  ENV 970 Seminar 1 credit hour/UNMC
Epidemiology BRTP 821
plus one of the following
Macromolecular Structure & Function 3 credit hours/UNMC
  BRTP 822 or The Cell and Gene Regulation  2 credit hours/UNMC
  BRTP 823 or  Molecular Cell Biology 2 credit hours/UNMC
  BRTP 824
or
BIOC 831
Cell Signaling
or
Biomolecules & Metabolism
3 credit hours/UNMC 
or
4 credit hours/UNL
  BIOC 832
or
CHEM 8656
Gene Expression and Rep
or
Biochemistry I
2 credit hours/UNL
or
3 credit hours/UNO
  CHEM 8666 Biochemistry II 3 credit hours/UNO
Biostatistics BIOS 806 or 816 Biostatistics I 3 credit hours/UNMC
  BIOS 808
or
STAT 801
Biostatistics II 
or
Statistical Methods in Research
3 credit hours/UNMC
or
4 credit hours/UNL
  STAT 802 Experimental Design 4 credit hours/UNL
Research ENV 999 Doctoral Dissertation   10-16 credit hours/UNMC
Elective(s)   Graduate level 800/900   

 

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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:  

Sherry Cherek
Department of Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health
College of Public Health
University of Nebraska Medical Center
402-559-8924
scherek@unmc.edu  

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contact eaoh
Department of Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health and
Center for Environmental Health and Toxicology
984388 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-4388
Administrative: Sherry Cherek
Office: 402-559-8924
Fax: 402-559-7259
Email: scherek@unmc.edu

UNMC Graduate Studies Office
Phone Number: 402-559-6531
Email: unmcgraduatestudies@unmc.edu

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