OIPRT Student Profiles | Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Education and Research Center

OIPRT Student Profiles


Doug DeMoulin, MS, GSP

PhD Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the OIPRT program?

Before enrolling in the OIPRT program, I received my B.S. and M.S. in Occupational Safety and Health with an Environmental Concentration at Murray State University. During my studies, I completed two professional safety intern positions which secured me a position as an EHS Manager for a Fortune 500 company.

During my time as a safety professional, my goal was to protect the safety and well-being of my employees which was integrated into my everyday life—by pursuing to be proactive instead of reactive. The safety and well-being of individuals is paramount in industry, the community, and to me.

What made you interested in the field of occupational injury prevention?

My Father has always been my inspiration, a role-model, and a person whom I look up to. He received his Doctorate at Mississippi State University—which motivated me to want to pursue my Doctorate and follow in his footsteps. I have always wanted to get my PhD, but I did not know what to pursue, where to pursue it, and what to invest my time and be an expert in. With the support and strong relationships with my professors at Murray State University, they opened this opportunity for me to pursue and secure a clear direction for my future. The field of occupational injury prevention is the best fit for me—because it integrates with my interests and experience in occupation safety and health.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

The University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health offers the top research programs. The faculty representing this division come from prestigious backgrounds and are highly respected in their field of expertise, research, and willingness to bring the best learning experiences for students. The faculty in the OIPRT department are true leaders—ones whom will provide you with the best research experience and provide the best knowledge and support during the time here and become better researchers. In addition, upon acceptance, I personally developed a connection instantly with the professors in the OIPRT department and instantly built that comforting relationship.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

After completing the OIPRT Program, my goal is to secure an academic or research position at an institution and conduct high quality research in relation to the field of injury prevention, epidemiology, and occupational health and safety—while representing the University of Minnesota SPH-OIPRT Program at conference proceedings. I also plan to consult with companies to improve emergency preparedness and response, as well as improve their safety program.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

After experiencing my first year here, I could not have asked for a better place to be with the support and opportunities available. The advisor to advisee relationship is what truly makes the experience throughout any PhD program the best experience—which this program offers that experience. The professors here will help students explore their research interests and provide a window of opportunities to advance in this research.

Sam JacobsSam Jacobs, MPH

PhD Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the OIPRT program?

During my time in the Epidemiology MPH program at the University of Minnesota School Of Public Health, I got involved with Dr. Hyun Kim and his work with the mental wellness of firefighters. During my time working on the project, I gained a base knowledge into how Epidemiology is applied to occupational safety.

I conducted interviews and focus groups with firefighters and learned about not only the physical stress of their work, but the psychological toll that it takes on them on not only individual calls but cumulatively over the course of their career.

Due to the introduction to occupational injury and safety during my master’s program, my master’s project revolved around the characterization of the risk of bone fracture in retired astronauts due to spaceflight-induced bone loss.

What made you interested in the field of occupational injury prevention?

I initially became interested in injury prevention due to my history as a college rugby player at the University of Wyoming and time as a football player growing up. CTE and concussion prevention was what initially brought injury epidemiology to my attention, as previously my background was in infectious disease and microbiology but when I found injury prevention, and was shown the expansiveness of its applications. I was hooked.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

I initially chose the University of Minnesota for my Epidemiology MPH as it is one of the top Public Health Schools in the country. As I worked with Dr. Kim and was introduced to the rest of the OIPR program and other faculty within the Division of Environmental Health, I knew there was a great diversity of expertise that would be largely beneficial as I progress through the program and find my way in the field.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

The ideal job upon completion would be to work with NASA in their Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health (LSAH) program, or any other part of their Crew Health and Safety programs. As we are at the precipice of a resurgence in space travel and progress, the health of space crews is of great importance.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

The program, school, and faculty will push you to be the best you can be as a researcher in the field. There is a lot of work, but the amount of support and openness to help you is easily felt from the faculty and other students alike.

Matt McFallsMatt McFalls, MPH

PhD Student

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the OIPRT program?

Prior to enrolling in the OIPRTP program, I received a B.A. in Biology from Northern Michigan University. I initially worked in a genetics lab, through which I found a connection to the work of epidemiologists, leading me to study in the Master of Public Health program at the University of Minnesota. During this time, I interned in healthcare research with a small company and was a student worker in surveillance at the Minnesota Department of Health. This led into work at the University of Minnesota at the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC), developing experience with large administrative data sets.

What made you interested in the field of occupational injury prevention?

The sudden, disruptive nature of injury is what draws me to injury prevention. Occupational injury threatens all that people work for. Injuries are preventable and should be seen as something worth preventing in any occupation. There is a lot of complex work to be done to understand and prevent injury, but I am drawn to how injury topics can be accessible to many audiences, as most people have some awareness of injury and the elements of safety around them.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

I have found the University of Minnesota to be a great place to study and work over the years. After meeting with faculty and students in the OIPRT program, there was no question of whether I would want to continue my education here. Everyone was articulate and honest about the program, and there was pride in the work here, similar to my other experiences at the University.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

I would like to be part of a research team with a topic I am passionate about in the injury field, in a role where I can work carefully with research methods and data. I am using my time in the program to really consider the types of organizations and work that I align with. There is a lot of interesting work going on in occupational injury, and my goals become more focused with time spent in the program.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

Take some time to learn about occupational injury research in the program, connect with faculty, and talk to the students. Keep an open mind to opportunities, but also keep a clear idea of where you stand in your education and career goals. Above all, ask what you need to know to help with your decision – whether about research topics you’re interested in, potential jobs afterward, or life in the Twin Cities.

Yoon-Sung (Teddy) Nam, MPH

PhD Candidate

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the OIPRT program?

Most of my exposure to the field of occupational injury originated from my time working at the speciality eye care clinic. The large majority of the patient referrals were industry workers who suffered from some type work-related corneal trauma covered under Worker’s Compensation. Some of the injuries I’ve seen ranged from metal shards lodged deep in the epithelial tissue to sudden retinal tears from lifting heavy objects.

Being exposed to work-related trauma and injuries shaped the way I designed my master’s program which focused heavily on occupational epidemiology. My course load included classes in toxicology to field work in large industrial manufacturing plants.

What made you interested in the field of occupational injury prevention?

The field of occupational injury never crossed my mind until I over-heard a conversation that spilled over into the hallway – “injuries are not accidents.” This simple concept suggesting that all injuries are preventable is what sparked my attraction to the field of occupational injury prevention.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

The sole reason why I chose the University of Minnesota is the faculty. To be the type of researcher I want be and to accomplish the professional goals I have envisioned for myself, I knew that I couldn’t do it alone. The University of Minnesota not only has some of the most accomplished researchers in the field of occupational injury, but operates in an environment where one like myself can grow under the guidance of real-world experts who truly are invested in my future success.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

I envision myself as an academic researcher that focuses on people. Some of the activities I hope to participate in are community interventions and policy change. More specifically, I hope to make full use of my experience here as a PhD student as an injury epidemiologist that utilizes prevention science methods while creating human-cantered solutions that are both sustainable and feasible.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

The truth is very clear. You can’t do this alone, so you need to have your personal ambitions align with the type of support you’ll receive from whatever program you apply to.

Remember, it’s okay to be completely selfish at this time of your life.

The sole reason why I’m here is because of the support I have received from this division, but also from support I received from the other PhD students. This experience was never meant to be done alone, and if you’re looking for a place where you can grow and learn from others, then I suggest you starting working on your application now!

Disi-TianDisi Tian, MS

PhD Candidate

What was your educational and relevant work experience prior to enrolling in the OIPRT program?

Before enrolling in the OIPRTP program, I received my BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Jilin University, China. My research interest was to improve transportation safety as well as prevent the drivers and occupants from fatal physical injuries.

What made you interested in the field of occupational injury prevention?

Injury prevention has always been my major interest back from my undergraduate days. After participating in several research projects, I came to realize that a variety of factors may affect injuries and that the mental injuries are as critical as the physical ones. Therefore, I was motivated to pursue a further in-depth understanding of occupational injury prevention, especially with an emphasis on transportation-associated injuries.

What made you choose the University of Minnesota?

The School of Public Health in University of Minnesota offers top research programs and advanced research facilities to graduate students for their professional careers. It’s a great opportunity to be instructed by the world-class faculties and to experience the rigorous training here. Especially in the OIPRTP, the development of students has always been a priority and it’s very pleasant and inspiring to work with people from different backgrounds.

What type of job would you like to find upon completion of the program?

After completing the program, my career goal is to find an academic research position where I can make full use of my experiences and specialties as an injury epidemiologist and a safety engineer.

What would you say to a student considering the program?

Join in the OIPRTP and you will love it! This program will provide you with comprehensive perspectives of occupational injury prevention as well as exposure to different interesting topics in environmental health. Students are able to explore their research interests with full support from the faculty and there are plenty of research resources/facilities for you to invest in!

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