Oregon State Univ College of Public Health & Human Sciences  

Corvallis,  OR 
United States
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As Oregon’s first accredited College of Public Health and Human Sciences, we take on our greatest challenges to health, using science and community engagement to ensure health and well-being for individuals, families and communities in Oregon and beyond. We also train the next generation of public health and human sciences professionals in a world in which three times the number of current public health graduates is needed to meet the needs of the future. 

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 Press Releases

  • July 23, 2021

    By Molly Rosbach

    A new study from Oregon State University found that infants born within 3 kilometers of oil and natural gas drilling facilities in Texas had slightly lower birthweights than those born before drilling began in their vicinity.

    The study, published today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that the type of drilling or resource being extracted did not change the result.

    “Most studies to date focus exclusively on unconventional natural gas drilling, or fracking. That particular process is a small subset of the oil and natural gas industry. We find it doesn’t matter — where people are extracting oil and gas resources, we’re still seeing an impact on infant health,” says study author Mary Willis, a postdoctoral researcher in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “A lot of policy is exclusively focusing on fracking, but our study shows that’s a really limited view of how this industry may impact local populations.”

    Developing fetuses are highly sensitive to environmental pollution and contaminants, so to measure potential impact, this study examined birthweight and location data for 2,598,025 mother-infant pairs in Texas between 1996 and 2009 in which the mother was pregnant while living within 10 kilometers of a current or future oil or gas drilling site.

    Prior research estimates that 4.5 million Texans live within 1.6 kilometers (one mile) of at least one oil or gas drilling site. However, little work to date has focused on the population health impacts of living near an oil or gas drilling site in Texas, the state that produces the most oil and gas in the U.S.

    The potential exposures related to drilling are numerous: air pollution from drilling activities, flaring and increased traffic going to and from the drilling site; water contamination from hydraulic fracturing chemicals; noise pollution from industrial activity and increased traffic; and light pollution from new drilling facilities.

    After accounting for other potential factors influencing birthweight, Mary and the research team found that living within 3 kilometers of an active drilling site was associated with a birthweight 7 to 9 grams lower than the birthweight of babies born before drilling began.

    It’s a relatively small impact, Mary says, but a lot of women live near oil and gas wells and the impact at a population level could be significant.

    “So it’s concerning, but this magnitude of effect is smaller than similar papers because we take into account the economic benefits of drilling,” she says. The industrial boom of a new drilling site, particularly in rural areas, can bring new jobs, higher wages and better access to quality health care alongside the increased environmental pollution.

    There is also a lot of data that isn’t represented on birth certificates alone, Mary says: Researchers hypothesize that there may be more early-pregnancy losses and difficulty conceiving among families in the areas around drilling sites.

    With this study, Mary says the team hoped to give policymakers a standard safe distance for drilling, but they found the health impact doesn’t totally dissipate at 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles).

    “In the U.S., 17.6 million Americans live within 1.6 kilometers of at least one active oil or gas drilling site. That’s a lot of people residing really close to fossil fuel extraction,” Mary says.

    Ongoing and future studies Willis is involved in are examining the potential impact of oil and gas drilling sites on the rate of birth defects, preterm birth and maternal health, as well as specific exposures that may be responsible for potential health effects.

  • July 8, 2021

    By Molly Rosbach

    Recess quality, not just the amount of time spent away from the classroom, plays a major role in whether children experience the full physical, mental and social-emotional benefits of recess, a new study from Oregon State University found.

    “Not all recess is created equal,” says William Massey, study author and an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. With schools returning to full-time in-person classes this fall, he says, “Now is a good time to rethink, ‘How do we create schools that are more child-friendly?’ I think ensuring quality access to play time and space during the school day is a way we can do that.”

    William’s study, published this week in the Journal of School Health, involved in-person observation of third- and fifth-grade students at 25 schools across five states during the 2018-19 school year. The schools covered a wide range of socioeconomic status and racial and ethnic diversity.

    Researchers measured recess quality on a number of factors, including whether the schoolyard offered physical and environmental safety; whether kids had opportunities to play and had the requisite space and equipment; whether there were opportunities for inclusion; and if they had diverse options for play.

    A safe space with basic playground equipment might seem like a given, but that’s not always the case, William says.

    “I’ve been on playgrounds where the kids go outside, and it’s a parking lot with high fences, no play structure, no balls, no jump-ropes, no chalk — they’re literally outside, and there’s nothing to do,” he says. He has also seen large holes from construction, broken glass, used condoms and needles in play spaces.

    Researchers also looked at student behavior and the occurrence of verbal and physical conflict, as well as conflict resolution; and watched what adults on the playground were doing.

    “A lot of my previous research shows that adults are one of the most important entities on the playground,” William says. “One of the most important things is: Do adults model and encourage positive interactions with the students, and do they actually engage with the students themselves? The more adults engage with and play with students at recess, the more kids play, the more physical activity there is and the less conflict there is.”

    Schools that ranked highly on these measures saw associated positive outcomes in classroom behavior and socio-emotional markers. There was a significant correlation between high-quality recess and higher scores in student resilience, self-control, adaptive classroom behaviors and executive function, William says.

    Based on these findings and his previous research on recess, William argues that schools should look at recess as a critical part of the school day — which means investing adequate time and resources into it.

    Schools don’t need expensive play structures to accomplish that, he says. Simple, low-cost measures like having an adult do a safety sweep of the playground every morning, or making sure the soccer field is already set up so kids can maximize even 10- or 15-minute recess breaks, would make a big difference.

    As schools emerge from the pandemic, William says there’s a chance for teachers to recognize the importance of kids’ social and emotional development and need for play, but some may also think they need to cram all the missed content from the last year into as short a time as possible.

    “I would argue that’s a huge mistake. Kids don’t have the capacity to come in stressed and traumatized and out of the rhythm of school, and have all that dumped on them,” he says. “These findings show that recess is not detrimental to what we want to see in the classroom, but rather, it’s complementary.”

  • April 16, 2021

    By Molly Rosbach

    While Black, Hispanic, Latino, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander people are more likely to die of COVID-19 than white people nationwide, a recent study from Oregon State University found the risk was even greater for racial and ethnic minority groups living in rural areas compared with urban areas.

    To address the disparities, researchers say the health care response to COVID-19, including the vaccine rollout, needs to allocate additional resources to rural areas that have been hardest hit, especially those where minority populations are concentrated.

    Earlier studies throughout the U.S. have shown that social determinants of health like poverty, access to reliable health care, chronic health conditions and type of occupation contribute to increased risk of COVID-19 infection and fatality for racial and ethnic minorities.

    But living in a rural area on top of being a member of a racial minority group acts as a “double whammy,” says Kwadwo Boakye, co-author on the study and a doctoral student focusing on epidemiology in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

    “It would not be ideal to say that ‘rural versus urban’ is a standalone thing. It has to be intertwined with the racial and ethnic disparity as well,” to account for the disparate risk levels, Kwadwo says.

    The study, published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, examined case fatality ratios during the period of Jan. 1 through Dec. 18, 2020. Researchers found that in that time, people living in “mostly rural” and “completely rural” counties who contracted COVID-19 were 15-26% and 15-24%, respectively, more likely to die from it than people in “mostly urban” counties who contracted the virus.

    When researchers broke the results down by race, they found that the more rural a county was, as determined by census data, the higher the case-fatality ratio was for minority groups, especially for Black, Hispanic and Latino people. American Indian and Asian/Pacific Islander people also saw an increased case-fatality ratio in more rural counties.

    In rural areas around the country, researchers noted that counties with larger percentages of Black, Hispanic/Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander people had clusters of higher COVID-19 case fatality.

    “Generally, minorities are on the lower end of the spectrum for socioeconomic status. This may result in a need for them to work in occupations where they’re in contact with a lot of other people, which puts them in more circumstances that are more prone to the spread of the virus,” Kwadwo says.

    In rural areas, most blue collar jobs are in agriculture, which means workers can’t work from the safety of home during a pandemic, he says.

    This study highlighted the impact that socioeconomic disparities and structural racism have had on health outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities over the decades, Kwadwo says.

    “We are seeing with the COVID pandemic that minorities are at a larger risk of getting the disease, and also have a higher risk of mortality from the disease compared to other ethnic groups,” he says.

    “Compare living in a rural area, where you don’t have a state-of-the-art medical facility with plenty of ventilators, to someone who is living in the city, who has access to all those facilities. We need health care facilities in these rural areas,” Kwadwo says. “Policies should prioritize rural health and the adequate distribution of health resources to meet the needs of the minority populations, especially the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations.”

    The researchers added that they were limited by the census data available; if they had been able to parse the numbers on an individual level, rather than aggregate, they could have obtained more specific results.

    The study was co-authored by Ayodeji Iyanda and Yongmei Lu from Texas State University and Joseph Oppong from the University of North Texas.

  • June 28, 2021

    By Steve Lundeberg

    Oregon State University’s seventh round of door-to-door sampling throughout Corvallis by TRACE-COVID-19 field workers on June 5 and 6 suggested three people per 1,000 in the community carried the coronavirus on those days.

    Not quite three months earlier, the sixth weekend of Corvallis sampling yielded a prevalence estimate more than four times higher. When the groundbreaking public health project kicked off in Corvallis in April 2020, the first prevalence estimate was two cases per 1,000 and subsequent estimates were in the range of one to three people prior to a 13-per-1,000 estimate from sampling done March 13 and 14.

    “As we keep saying, everyone needs to remain vigilant and practice many of the same safety measures we’ve been urging for more than a year,” says TRACE project leader Ben Dalziel, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Science. “Even with a strong majority of the Corvallis community vaccinated, SARS-CoV-2 is still in the community at levels similar to the start of the pandemic.”

    During the latest round of door-to-door canvassing, TRACE field workers gathered nasal swab samples from 500 community members at 345 homes; 63% of the households visited agreed to participate. In addition, participants were invited, for the first time, to provide saliva samples for antibody testing; those results are pending.

    In addition, field workers offered vaccinations, administered by teams from Samaritan Health Services, to participants age 12 and older who had not yet received any vaccine doses. Five vaccine doses were given.

    “There were only 21 TRACE participants over the age of 12 who had not already received at least one dose prior to our survey,” Ben says. “Among the 16 who did not request a vaccine, some may have had factors that precluded them from getting one. If someone declined, we didn’t ask why.”

    TRACE’s community prevalence estimate for coronavirus infections is based on a variety of inputs including test sensitivity, number of people tested and where those testing positive live.

    Following policy set by the Oregon Health Authority, TRACE does not report the actual number of positive tests from the nasal swab samples if the number is greater than zero but less than 10. For June 5 and 6, there were zero positives.

    “It’s encouraging that the prevalence estimate is down from what it was in March but continued caution is clearly warranted,” says TRACE co-leader Jeff Bethel, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “As we approach the 70% statewide vaccination goal set by the governor and the Oregon Health Authority, we need to keep following the guidelines established by public health officials.”

    During door-to-door sampling, those who choose to take part are asked to provide information such as their name and date of birth; fill out a simple consent form; and answer a few confidential, health-related questions.

    Participants are given a test kit that they administer to themselves inside their home and to their minor children if they want them to take part. The field staff wait outside, and the participants leave the completed test kits outside their front door.

    The TRACE project is a collaboration of five OSU colleges – Science, Agricultural Sciences, the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, and Public Health and Human Sciences – plus the OSU Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing. The project, which has conducted 13 rounds of community sampling overall, works in partnership with the Benton County Health Department in Corvallis and other county health departments around the state.

    The diagnostic testing component of TRACE operates through a partnership between the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which is located at OSU, and Willamette Valley Toxicology.

    TRACE-COVID-19 has received funding from OSU, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, PacificSource Health Plans and the Oregon Health Authority and has been aided by work from the OSU Foundation and the OSU Alumni Association.

  • August 10, 2021

    By Molly Rosbach

     A team of Oregon State University researchers will use a new federal grant to study how different equipment configurations onboard crab vessels could help prevent injury to crabbers.

    The grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, totaling $895,000 over the next three years, will allow OSU professors Jay Kim and Laurel Kincl to build on existing research with the Dungeness crab fishing industry, where workers suffer high rates of both fatal and non-fatal injuries.

    The Dungeness crab fishery is an important economic driver throughout much of the West Coast of the United States. In Oregon, the purple-backed crustacean, prized for its delicate, sweet flavor, is usually the most valuable single-species fishery, bringing in $33 million to $75 million a year, according to the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission.

    For their upcoming study, Jay and Laurel will look specifically at the configuration of the “block,” the mechanized winch that pulls up the line of crab pots out of the water and swings them into the boat; and the crab sorting table, where crabs are sorted after being brought up from the water.

    Some crab fishing vessels have blocks that swing outwards, requiring workers to reach farther over the water to reach the line when they’re hauling in the crab pots. This can not only lead to shoulder and back injuries, but can also increase the risk of someone falling overboard.

    There is no industry standard for design specifications such as the height of the crab sorting table, so the researchers hope to learn if specific heights could help reduce musculoskeletal injuries to the lower back and shoulders.

    All of the configurations Jay and Laurel will be testing are ideas they have observed on different crab fishing boats during their previous and current NIOSH-funded studies, as individual vessels choose the setup that works best for them.

    “We’re taking the existing equipment that the fishermen use, and aim to provide them with relevant information so they can make informed decisions based on the impacts these different configurations can have,” says Laurel, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences who studies occupational health and safety.

    There are only around 3,200 workers in the Dungeness crab fleet in the Pacific Northwest. The most common injuries for crabbers affect the shoulders and arms: overexertion, sprains, strains, and traumatic injuries like breaks and fractures. Falls overboard and vessel disasters are rare, but due to the relatively small pool of workers, the fatality rate for Dungeness crab fishing is several times higher than the national rate for commercial fishing.

    Inspired by the insight of commercial fishermen in the research team’s previous projects, Jay and Laurel will more formally develop an expert pool of fishing stakeholders who can share real-life, firsthand knowledge of different boat designs and practices.

    “We invited the fishermen and the fabricators to the lab, and not only do we plan to provide information to help reduce injuries, but they in turn contribute to how we conduct the studies,” says Jay, an assistant professor who directs OSU’s Occupational Ergonomics and Biomechanics lab. “It has actually helped us to lower the barriers between researchers and fishermen.”

    Once Jay and Laurel have determined which block and sorting table configurations are most beneficial, they’ll be able to work with their expert pool on how best to convey that information back to vessel owners, captains, fabricators and workers in the crab fishing industry.

    “Dungeness crab is the highest-commodity fishery in Oregon; you can make a good living off it,” Laurel says. “We want to keep them fishing.”


  • Faculty Recruitment
    As part of the Oregon State University strategic plan, we are building on our existing strengths in the core disciplines of public health and human sciences by hiring multiple new faculty and instructors....

  • Come join us!   The Faculty Recruitment page lists current openings, and provides key highlights about the surrounding area.

  • Master of Public Health Program
    The Oregon State Master of Public Health program prepares students to create a meaningful difference in the lives of people, families and communities around the globe....

  • In the Oregon State Master of Public Health program, students learn alongside our faculty researchers, experts in the field who are re-imagining our approach to population health.

    Oregon State MPH students are paired with a faculty advisor who is invested in your success both in and outside of the classroom.

    Of the nation's 50-plus accredited schools of public health, we are the only one with outreach built in through the Oregon State Extension Service. Students have ample opportunity to learn beyond the classroom and apply science to current health challenges.

    Join us in creating a healthier, more equitable world.

  • Degree Programs
    We holistically address health across the lifespan and prepare you to be a globally minded public health and human sciences professional ready to take on our greatest challenges to health and well-being....

  • Degree programs offered in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences

  • Now recruiting for MPH Admin Director
    OSU CPHHS is seeking a MPH Administrative Director. This is a full-time 1.00 FTE, 12-month, professional faculty position. Consider joining us!!!...

  • Master of Public Health Administrative Director

    The College of Public Health and Human Sciences is seeking a Master of Public Health Administrative Director.  This is a full-time 1.00 FTE, 12-month, professional faculty position. The team is great, and the job offers a terrific opportunity to engage with lots of students, faculty and staff while helping to train the future public health workforce. 

    This position requires specialized knowledge and administrative, leadership, interpersonal, and organizational skills to ensure smooth, efficient, and effective operations of the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program. The position resides in the Dean’s Office, works under the direction of and reports to the Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs (ADAFA), is a primary point of contact for the MPH program and MPH students, and oversees and manages all administrative aspects of the MPH program. Responsibilities also include MPH student support, strategic initiatives and special projects, and support to the ADAFA as it relates to the MPH program. This position may supervise student employees. To review posting and apply, got to https://jobs.oregonstate.edu/postings/108668NEW Full Consideration date Oct 24, 2021OSU is an AA/EOE/Vets/Disabled.

  • Tenure Track Epidemiology Faculty Position

    The School of Biological Population Health Sciences, CPHHS, OSU invites applications for a full-time 1.00 FTE, 9-month, tenure track (annual) Assistant or Associate Professor of Epidemiology position.

  • The School of Biological Population Health Sciences, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University invites applications for a full-time 1.00 FTE, 9-month, tenure track (annual) Assistant or Associate Professor of Epidemiology position. Responsibilities include conducting independent and collaborative research, advancing the College’s research agenda in the area of epidemiology, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, mentoring graduate and undergraduate students, providing service to the community and the field of public health, and assisting the College in the strategic development and continuing accreditation of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

    Posting available at https://jobs.oregonstate.edu/postings/108784

  • Now recruiting for EOH Instructor
    The Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) Program is seeking a full-time (1.0 FTE), 9-month instructor to teach a range of undergraduate and graduate courses in EOH....

  • The Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) Program in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences (CPHHS) is looking for a full-time (1.0 FTE), 9-month instructor to teach a range of undergraduate and graduate courses in EOH, including:

    H344   Foundations of Environmental Health
    H448/H548 Public Health Toxicology
    H512  Intro to EOH
    H514  ESH seminar
    H540  Water and Human Health
    H541: AQ and Human Health
    H455:  Occupational Health

    Job Posting:  https://jobs.oregonstate.edu/postings/107054

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