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Denver NIOSH Expanding Research Partnerships: State of the Science Conference: June 21-23, 2017

Jun 26, 2017, 15:43 PM by User Not Found
The conference aimed to enhance and expand intramural and extramural partnership in occupational safety and health research and to launch the third decade of NORA (NORA3).

Written by: Bingbing Wu and Michael Benjamin

The conference aimed to enhance and expand intramural and extramural partnership in occupational safety and health research and to launch the third decade of NORA (NORA3). The conference included different forms of discussion: plenary presentations, poster sessions, and topic tables. The University of Cincinnati was represented by one professor and two graduate students. They were delighted to meet many UC alumni in the conference, see photo below.

Michael Benjamin reported the following:

I attended to learn more about the various aspects of NORA, but I left with much more than that, from both the various sessions and in talking with attendees between sessions. In fact, while the presentations and posters were informative to see what other groups have done, it was talking with people working on related projects that may have been most beneficial. For example, two groups have been working on home healthcare intervention projects, which is part of the focus of our current five-year project, and discussions with them will hopefully lead to collaborations in the future. In addition to healthcare topics, one of the topics I enjoyed learning about was heat stress in farm workers, since many people in my family work in agriculture. In the end, it was a good conference to attend, and I hope that NIOSH considers holding similar conferences on a regular basis in the future.

Impressions by Bingbing Wu:

The first thing I noticed was outreach education. Not only through specially designed education programs but also educating the research subjects and helping improve their work environment while conducting research. Researchers are the educators, from the observations during their study, they also provided the study subjects their professional suggestions and information to reduce the risk of workers getting ill or injured. For example, research from Emory University collaborated with Farmworker Association of Florida, and another team from the University of Washington, not only were they mapping the exposure of the workplace, but also helping farmers learn how to reduce heat stress and related risk during their study. Researchers from NIOSH and their many partners have been making a positive impact on the fishing crew in Alaska to proper use of PFD.

Another key concept I noticed was innovative multidisciplinary approach to solving the problems in OSH fields. For example, a researcher from NIOSH developed a computational simulation model to estimate the performance of a respirator. Also, the discussion topic on Big Data brought up the other important role of statisticians other than study design and data analysis in the research team. Researchers shared the challenges to work with Big Data; data quality control is one of them, but also the key to obtaining useful data. There’s also a call for sharing the database collected by agencies and research teams. Although the data confidentiality poses challenges, scientists shared the ideas of data suppression and adding noise techniques to protect sensitive information, therefore providing safe and useful resources for researchers. 

Lastly, I was very honored to present the research for my team at the Personal Protective Equipment presentation section. I enjoyed the discussion with other researchers about my research, they brought many valuable comments and suggestions, and those were very beneficial for our next phase study design.

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