Department of Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health


Name  Summary / Research Interest
Chandran Achutan, PhD
Associate Professor
Overall research interests are in evaluating occupational and environmental health exposures, and controlling or reducing these exposures.  My specific interests include occupational noise exposures and hearing loss, indoor air quality, dust and pesticide exposures among farm workers, heat stress, physical and chemical environmental exposures, environmental tobacco smoke exposure, international health, and occupational stress.
Shawn Gibbs, PhD
Research area is environmental exposure assessment, including environmental microbiology.  My focus is on environmental bioaerosols (bacterial, antibiotic resistant bacteria, fungal, viral) from both the indoor and ambient environments. This includes source evaluation, source tracking, and methods to reduce exposure.  Exposure reduction includes both the source reduction of bioaerosol generation, as well as, evaluation of personal protective equipment (such as the N95 respirator and surgical masks) and decontamination procedures to reduce exposure. I have ongoing projects in a wide range of environmental health topics from decontamination, pesticide exposure, pregnancy outcomes, and health disparities.
Alan S. Kolok, PhD
The development of assessment tools to evaluate waterborne environmental exposures to chemical contaminants; the role of citizen scientists and crowdsourcing in environmental assessment; strategic deployment of sentinel organisms.

John-Martin Lowe, PhD
Assistant Professor

Research areas are infectious disease microbiology, disaster preparedness, and environmental exposure assessment.  My focus is on remediation of biological weapon contamination, highly infectious patient transport, nosocomial environmental contamination, environmental sampling, and gaseous decontamination.  This includes source evaluation, source tracking, and decontamination methods to reduce exposure.  My research utilizes a wide array of research techniques including molecular biology, environmental microbiology, bioinformatics, and training assessment.  I have previously done work and I have ongoing projects in a wide range of environmental health topics from decontamination, highly infectious patient care, community-acquired pneumonia, as well as public health and healthcare disaster preparedness.
JoEllyn M. McMillan, PhD
Assistant Professor
Research interests and training are in the field of toxicology.  Past research areas have involved the use of cell and whole animal models to study mechanisms of liver toxicity of drugs and environmental chemicals.  My present research interests lie in developing nanoformulations of antiretroviral drugs and testing these in cell-based and animal model systems.  Preclinical pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics studies and toxicity screening further advance the translation of these formulations to clinical use. 
Risto Rautiainen, PhD
Research interests include the following: agricultural and occupational health and safety; intervention effectiveness research; injury epidemiology; agricultural safety engineering; health and safety training, education, and outreach; economics of occupational health and safety; and risk management.
Eleanor Rogan, PhD
Research centers around elucidating mechanisms of activation of carcinogens, identifying carcinogen-DNA adducts, and correlating adducts with oncogenic mutations.  From our previous study of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) metabolism and DNA adducts, we have demonstrated that the predominant adducts are lost by depurination, leaving mutagenic apurinic sites in the DNA.  We have extended our studies to endogenous catechol estrogen metabolites and found that the carcinogenic metabolites form depurinating N3Ade and N7Gua adducts in DNA. We hypothesize that this is the pathway of initiation for human breast, prostate, ovarian, thyroid and other cancers.  Studies in test tubes, laboratory animal models, cell culture models and human subjects have demonstrated the validity of this hypothesis.  Now we are working on the early detection of cancer risk and prevention of cancer by selected natural compounds.
Terry Stentz, PhD, MPH, CPE, CPC
Associate Professor
Occupational safety and health for general industry, construction, and transportation; industrial engineering and organizational psychology; ergonomics in food processing, manufacturing, construction, and transportation; fall injury risk modelling and prevention using wireless remote sensing; physical/cognitive work simulation and human performance testing; aging workforce; work-related soft-tissue injury analysis and prevention; human sleep and shift-work scheduling for systems performance and safety.
Nick Stergiou, PhD
Human movement variability; biomechanics; motor control; occupational biomechanics; ergonomics; biomedical engineering; biotechnology; bioengineering; occupational health; movement disorders rehabilitation; forensic biomechanics; and, slips-trips-falls.
Susanna Von Essen, MD, MPH
Agricultural medicine and occupational pulmonary disease.
Todd Wyatt, PhD
Research is directed toward the understanding of airway epithelial cell function under physiologic and disease conditions.  We are interested in the mechanistic signal transduction pathways that define ciliary beating, pro-inflammatory cytokine production, remodeling and wound repair, and cell adhesion under conditions of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption.  Our studies aim to define the role of serine-threonine protein kinases and the second messengers that regulate these enzymes in lung epithelial function.

Aaron Yoder, PhD
Assistant Professor

Research interest is to improve the health of workers in agriculture and related industries through science based research, product development and outreach.  My specific interests are in the research and development of sound ergonomic and human factors principles and technologies that will lead to healthier and safer workers in agriculture and related industries through the reduction of hazards associated with these types of injuries.
Muhammad Zahid, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Interdisciplinary chemical and biochemical approaches and techniques to focus on the etiology of human cancers, leukemia and Parkinson’s disease with a major focus to understand the mechanism of cancer initiating steps by natural and synthetic estrogens; the development of chemopreventive agents to block cancer initiating steps; development of biomarkers by applying target/profile oriented metabolomic methods; and, the modulation of metabolic profile by using nutritional antioxidants and phytochemicals. 

Adjunct/Courtesy Faculty

Name Summary/Research Interests
Ercole Cavalieri, D.Sc Molecular mechanisms of tumor initiation by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and estrogens.  Origin of human cancer at the molecular level.  Research on the etiology and prevention of estrogen-initiated human cancers.
Debra Romberger, MD Agriculture and environmental lung disease; airway repair mechanism; clinical pulmonary problems including smoking cessation and pulmonary rehabilitation/airway disease including bronchiolitis obliterans.
Patrick Shea, PhD Activities broadly encompass the environmental chemistry and toxicology of xenobiotics in soil-water-biotic systems, with specific research in surface and groundwater contamination, environmental remediation, chemical mobility and bioavailability, exposures and impacts, and detoxification processes.  Research interests are both disciplinary and interdisciplinary and include protection and management of natural resources and ecosystems, ecological and environmental toxicology, chemicals in agricultural production systems, remediation and restoration of contaminated environments, health and environmental impacts, and protecting and improving public health. Outreach and extension activities involve guiding and educating practitioners and the public in assessment and management of pesticides and other xenobiotics in the environment, as well as mitigating adverse impacts and remediating contaminated soil and water.


Ellen Duysen, MPH Coordinator for the Central States-Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, which includes assisting the Center Director in planning, coordinating and monitoring the 23 projects funded by the Center. These projects encompass research, prevention/intervention, education/translation, outreach, evaluation, and cross-disciplinary efforts.

Administrative Staff

Sherry Cherek Provides administrative support to department faculty and coordinates the Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Toxicology graduate program.
Jenelle Pomicter Provides cost accounting, financial and analytical resources to the department.


Contact us
Department of Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health and
Center for Environmental Health and Toxicology

UNMC College of Public Health
984388 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-4388

Sherry Cherek, Program Associate
Office: 402-559-8924
Fax:     402-559-7259