Research in environmental/occupational epidemiology requires an interdisciplinary approach. To gain this perspective, students cross-train through coursework, research and other enrichment activities in ENVR/OCCUP EPID as well as in other EPID programs areas (for example, Cancer, CVD, Infectious Diseases, Reproductive/Perinatal/Pediatric), or departments outside of EPID (e.g., Geography, Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Toxicology and other departments within public health and medicine).

Program Objectives

The overall objectives of the program in Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology are to provide an interdisciplinary education that offers the students a solid foundation in environmental and occupational health, with practicum experiences to enhance applied learning and high-quality research experiences. The learning objectives for the environmental and occupational program area are the same as those for the Department of Epidemiology as a whole with the following additions.

  • Apply the competencies laid out in the epidemiology department’s overall learning objectives to the solution of problems in one of more of the program subspecialty areas;
  • Enumerate and discuss important health problems, with their descriptive epidemiology and determinants, for one or more of the program subspecialty areas of environmental/occupational epidemiology;
  • Identify key surveillance systems and other sources of data relevant to the problem;
  • Discuss study design and measurement issues particular to the subspecialty area;
  • Appreciate key concepts from such related disciplines as environmental sciences, toxicology and biostatistics;
  • Collaborate with experts in the preceding fields to conduct epidemiologic research;
  • Appreciate the uses of epidemiologic research in identifying hazardous agents, evaluating environmental injustice, and in setting health and safety standards; and
  • Communicate epidemiologic concepts, methods, findings, and recommendations to community groups, labor unions, health professionals, government agencies, employers and other stakeholders.

Students specializing in occupational or environmental epidemiology who satisfactorily complete the PhD also should be able to:

  • Understand the principles of exposure assessment and collaborate with specialists from the relevant fields to assess exposure for epidemiologic research;
  • Analyze and interpret exposure data in epidemiologic studies.

Required Courses

  • EPID785: Environmental Epidemiology
  • EPID 787: Advanced Environmental Epidemiology

Recommended Courses

  • EPID 742: Biomarkers in Population-Based Research
  • GEOG 541: GIS in Public Health
  • PUBH 785: Interdisciplinary Approaches in Occupational Health
  • ENVR 468: Temporal GIS and Space/Time Geostatistics for the Environment and Public Health
  • ENVR 784: Community-Driven Research and Environmental Justice
  • ENVR 575: Global Climate Change
  • ENVR 640: Environmental Exposure Assessment
  • TOXC 442: Molecular/Biochemical Toxicology

Core Faculty -Research Interests

Dr. Christy Avery: air pollution-CVD outcomes, gene*environment interactions, methods.

Dr. Jessie Buckley: environmental exposures, children’s health, exposure mixtures, endocrine disruptors, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, phthalates, emerging toxicants, bone health, growth.

Dr. Julie Daniels: flame retardants, persistent organic pollutants, pesticides, metals, and nutrition in relation to perinatal and pediatric outcomes, specifically neurodevelopment and growth.

Dr. Tania Desrosiers: employment and occupational exposures during pregnancy, environmental exposures, perinatal/pediatric outcomes.

Dr. Jessie Edwards: measurement error, exposure mixtures, occupational exposures.

Dr. Michael Emch: medical geography/spatial epidemiology, geographic information systems (GIS), satellite remote sensing, spatial modeling techniques, environmental modeling, and social network analysis to examine risk factors for infectious diseases.

Dr. Larry Engel: environmental/occupational exposures, pesticides, persistent organic pollutants, disaster epidemiology, petroleum-related exposures, cancer, molecular epidemiology.

Dr. Stephanie Engel: environmental pediatric and perinatal epidemiology, child development/maternal/reproductive health, endocrine disruptors, pesticides, molecular epidemiology.

Dr. Chantel Martin: health disparities, social/environmental exposures across life course, epigenetic mechanisms, maternal and child health, chronic disease risk

Dr. Libby McClure: environmental justice, community-engaged research, occupational exposures, structural racism.

Dr. Andrew Olshan: environmental/ occupational exposures, perinatal/pediatric/reproductive outcomes, cancer, molecular epidemiology, racial disparities.

Dr. Charles Poole: EMF, pesticides, cancer, perinatal/reproductive
outcomes, exposure measurement, and other methodologic issues.

Dr. Anne Starling: endocrine disrupting chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, air pollution, prenatal exposures, child growth, cardiometabolic disease, women’s health, epigenetics

Dr. Melissa Troester: biomarkers of exposure and response, molecular profiling, molecular epidemiology, cancer.

Dr. Eric Whitsel: air/noise pollution, epigenetics, CVD, GIS, exposure measurement.

Dr. Karin Yeatts: air pollution, asthma.

Selected Collaborators

Various research centers across campus also serve as significant resources for our program faculty and students. The UNC-affiliated centers with which program faculty are associated are the following:


For general questions about the department, the degree program, or admissions, contact us via email at epidemiology@unc.edu or call us at (919) 966-7430. Questions about employment should be directed to (919) 966-7460.

Main Department Contacts

Academic Coordinators

Mailing Address
Department of Epidemiology
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
135 Dauer Drive
2101 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, CB #7435
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7435

Our offices are located on the second floor of McGavran-Greenberg Hall.