Welcome from the Chair

Welcome – to a field and a job that many students with whom I speak for the first time say they never realized existed. Yet, after they learn more, they admit it was something they had always wanted to do.

The reason for the paradox is that when we do our jobs well, our success stays hidden behind the ordinary – catastrophes are averted, no one is injured, no one becomes ill. Everyone is protected. Health and well-being are maintained. But our job may take us to the ends of the earth (and, in fact, even beyond – we’ve helped assess the potential hazards of moon dust exposure). Our job may take us down in a coalmine or out to a gas well. Our job may be to stop an epidemic by finding its source. Our job may be to run toward a disaster when others are running away.

Our students learn these skills and many others from our faculty who are at the center of a number of current, regional and national issues in occupational and environmental health sciences, assuring the students that they will be exposed to the most salient issues from a real life standpoint. Our location in West Virginia gives us nearby access to one of the largest and most serious sets of environmental and occupational problems of any place in the Unites States and on a par with some developing countries.

Opportunities for experience in the field are unique and close at hand. We are close to opportunities for advancement, as well. Both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are on or close to campus. Students have the opportunity to visit and even do research at these two major government laboratories dealing with workplace and ambient environmental issues.

So, if you have a background in science, care about the environment, are concerned about the health of workers, like to get out in the field or be in the lab, this is the program where you belong!

Michael McCawley, PhD
Associate Professor and Interim Chair