Research Areas

The Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences is developing three primary areas of research: health effects of air pollution, environmental health and prevention of workplace injuries and illness. Among the highest research priorities will be the investigation of health impacts on susceptible populations, such as children, the elderly and asthmatics, and a better understanding of the specific pollutants that pose the most serious health risks. Children and the elderly represent particularly vulnerable populations for a variety of adverse environmental health effects, including cancer. Through research and education, department faculty will develop and implement strategies to better protect these sensitive members of our community. At present, a number of ongoing research projects are focused on investigation and prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses.

The department has a laboratory and faculty researcher with a focus on pulmonary effects of nanoparticles and the direct effect of ultrafine particles (one of the important components of particulate matter) on vascular endothelial cells.

Robert J. Jacobs, PhD

Professor and Director of MPH Program

·         Health effects associated with indoor air and exposures to organic dust in agricultural and industrial environments

·         Inhalation toxicology

·         International environmental and occupational health practice

Qunwei, Zhang, MD, MPH, PhD


·         Pulmonary toxicology

·         Metals toxicology, genotoxicology and carcinogenesis

·         Lung ischemia and ion channel

·         Free radicals and pulmonary diseases

·         Gene expression and function

·         Shear stress and NADPH oxidase

·         Signal transduction involved in tumor promotion, prevention and cellular function

Gary Hoyle, PhD 

Professor and Acting Department Chair

  • Mechanisms of lung injury and inflammation
  • G protein signaling
  • Sensory nerves and inflammation
  • Air pollution and asthma
  • Nerve growth factor and airway disease

Rachel Neal, PhD

Assistant Professor

  • Impact of childhood environmental toxicant exposures on vascular and sensory function in adults
  • Pb and microbial contaminants in water, alterations in protein post-translational modifications as a function of age and tissue spatial location
  • Plasma biomarkers of neurodegeneration/neurotoxicity

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