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 through those offered by other EPID programs areas (for example, Cancer, CVD, Infectious Diseases, Reproductive/Perinatal/Pediatric), or departments outside of EPID (e.g., Geography, Environmental Sciences & 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 subspeciality 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, and findings to community groups, labor unions, health professionals, government agencies, and employers.

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 700b:Advanced Environmental Epid

Recommended Courses

  • EPID 786: Community-Driven Epidemiology and Environmental Justice
  • EPID 690: Integrating Biomarkers in Population-Based Research
  • EPID 780: Occupational Epidemiology
  • GEOG 541: GIS in Public Health
  • PUBH 785: Interdisciplinary Approaches in Occupational Health
  • ENVR 468: Advanced Functions of Temporal GIS
  • ENVR 575: Global Climate Change
  • ENVR 640: Environmental Exposure Assessment
  • TOXC 442: Molecular/Biochemical Toxicology

Core Faculty -Research Interests

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

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

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

Dr. Jessie Edwards, research assistant professor: measurement error; exposure mixtures; occupational exposures.

Dr. Michael Emch, professor and chair of the Department of Geography: 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, associate professor: environmental/occupational exposures; pesticides; persistent organic pollutants; petroleum-related exposures; cancer; molecular epidemiology.

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

Dr. Marilie Gammon, professor (program leader): environmental/nutritional exposures; cancer; biomarkers, environmental sampling, geographic modeling; molecular epidemiology.

Dr. Alexander Keil, research assistant professor: bias in occupational studies; effects of long term ambient exposures; occupational exposures; radiation; arsenic.

Dr. Stephen Marshall, professor: occupational injury; survival analysis.

Dr. Kari North, professor: genetic epidemiology; interactions with active/passive tobacco smoke.

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

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

Dr. David Richardson, associate professor: radiation; occupational exposures; cancer, risk modeling.

Dr. Shabbar Ranapurwala, research assistant professor: occupational injury and violence; epidemiologic methods.

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

Dr. Eric Whitsel, research associate professor: air/noise pollution; epigenetics; CVD; GIS; exposure measurement.

Dr. Karin Yeatts, research assistant professor: 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: