Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Summer Update: Ambereen Khan's internship at SRMC

Summer Update: Ambereen Khan's summer internship at SRMC

Ambereen Khan, BS, is a SWCOEH Trainee in Industrial Hygiene at the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH). Ms. Khan earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of Houston. Her research interests include exposure to airborne particulates and other physical, chemical, and biological agents. She hopes to work as a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). As a former science teacher, Ms. Khan is excited to communicate about worker safety with workers and the public.

Ms. Khan recently completed a summer internship at the Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC) in Aiken, S.C. Ms. Khan shared insight on his internship with SWCOEH.org.

SWCOEH.org: How did you land this internship?

Khan: I learned about SRMC from a former UTHealth Houston IH student, Mr. Casey Bozenski, MPH. He interned at SRMC last summer and had a great experience, so he recommended it to me. He even wrote me a recommendation letter after I expressed interest! An industrial hygienist contacted me after I sent in my resume. I had a chance to get to know the industrial hygienist and ask questions about what to expect. I was offered a position that day and decided it was a great opportunity.

SWCOEH.org: What was a typical day like for you at the internship?

Ms. Khan: I enjoyed working at SRMC because every day was different. The work was extremely varied. Some days, I was in the field sampling for something like VOCs or mercury exposure, and other days, I monitored heat stress conditions or conducted a noise level survey. Some days, I helped my mentor interpret and analyze data. I had opportunities to shadow industrial hygienists who worked in various parts of the facility.

SWCOEH.org: What are the most interesting things you were able to do?

Ms. Khan: Participating in radiation safety and confined space trainings was interesting. These training sessions were integral in understanding how safety and health are done at SRMC. The radiation worker training was given over the course of 3 days and culminated in a practical assessment. I also enjoyed being a part of pre-job meetings highlighting worker safety and responsibilities.

SWCOEH.org: Who were your mentors during this internship?

Ms. Khan: My mentor, Dana Cocchi, helped guide me through a typical day as an industrial hygienist at SRMC. For the first few weeks, I shadowed and assisted her as she conducted surveys, interacted with workers, and analyzed data. Aside from my mentor, there were many other industrial hygienists and other professionals that I learned from. Industrial hygienists worked closely with safety and management to ensure the well-being of all workers.

SWCOEH.org: How do you think this experience will help your career in Industrial Hygiene?

Ms. Khan: This experience helped me understand and be exposed to various devices and equipment and apply what I learned at UTHealth. I learned the most from observing how industrial hygienists and industrial hygiene technicians communicate with workers. Learning how important it is to build rapport and trust with workers was helpful. 

SWCOEH.org: How did you enjoy your time in South Carolina?

Ms. Khan: I did enjoy my time in South Carolina! I worked in Aiken, South Carolina, but lived nearby in Augusta, Georgia, for the summer. With 3-day weekends, we had much time to explore the surrounding cities and natural spaces. We traveled to the beach and the mountains and even took a couple of camping trips! It definitely was a memorable summer.

SWCOEH.org: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Ms. Khan: This experience was a great chance to develop further important skills I will need for my profession. A practicum is a great opportunity to network and apply everything we have learned at UTHealth. Take initiative! Learn as much as possible from the experienced people at your workplace and leave a mark.


The SWCOEH provides graduate-level training opportunities for occupational and environmental health professionals through our industrial hygiene, occupational and environmental medicine, occupational epidemiology, and Total Worker Health® programs.