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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Occupational Epidemiology


Occupational Epidemiology Doctoral Training Program

occ-epiWith its focus on disease and injury causation and prevention, epidemiology is a fundamental science of public health; occupational epidemiology is a fundamental science of occupational health and safety.

Occupational epidemiologists are commonly employed in government, academia, corporate settings, or as private consultants. In these capacities, they provide key scientific information in: the assessment of health and safety risks from occupational exposures, disease outbreak investigations, data to support the scientific basis for regulation, and control of chemical and physical agents. Increasingly, occupational epidemiologists are being asked to extend their reach to the community to address public health concerns arising from occupational exposures.

Choosing a career in occupational health and safety (OHS) promises to be a professionally exciting and personally rewarding field of public health that includes all other aspects of public health such as health promotion, management, policy, global health and wellness, and other disciplines. Being an OHS practitioner helps to save lives of working people and promotes a grounded quality of life for their families and communities.


The interdisciplinary curriculum includes acquiring an understanding of the principles of both epidemiology and occupational health, as well as their integration. The curriculum includes biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, epidemiology, as well as electives offered within the School of Public Health.

The most updated curriculum is available online here.

Stipends, Tuition Support, and Benefits

The Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at UTHealth School of Public Health is one of 18 CDC/NIOSH Education and Research Centers in the United States, supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). SWCOEH is comprised of academic degree programs in occupational medicine, industrial hygiene, occupational epidemiology and total worker health, and supports active continuing education, outreach and pilot project research training programs.

Traineeships are available (Full tuition and fees support and a generous monthly stipend) are available to full-time students on a competitive basis as part of our NIOSH-funded Education and Research Center (ERC) (trainees must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents). Requirements for the traineeships include acceptance into the Epidemiology academic program, maintenance of a minimum course workload, and satisfactory academic progress.

How to Apply

How to apply for the programs, admission requirements and application deadlines can be found online.

Students should apply for the appropriate degree within the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences.

For More Information

David Gimeno Ruiz de Porras, Ph.D.
Professor and Program Director
Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health
UTHealth School of Public Health
7411 John Smith Drive, Suite 1100
San Antonio, TX 78229
Phone: 210.276.9011
Fax: 210.276.9028

SWCOEH Homepage


David Gimeno Ruiz de Porras, MSc, PhD, is tenured Professor within the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health (UTSPH) in San Antonio. He is also Director of the Occupational Epidemiology Doctoral Training Program, part of the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center at the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH). Dr. Gimeno is a trained psychologist (Universitat de Barcelona [UB], 1997) and social and occupational epidemiologist with a PhD in Public Health (Universitat Pompeu Fabra [UPF], 2003) and a Master in Occupational Hazards Prevention (UPF and UB, 1999). Before joining the UTHealth School in Public Health in 2008, Dr. Gimeno was Senior Research Fellow on the Whitehall II study in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London (UCL) Medical School, where he further developed his research expertise in occupational health with particular experience in the social and cultural determinants of occupational injuries and illnesses. Dr. Gimeno’s research focuses on the impact of work on a range of health outcomes, particularly workplace injuries, work-related lost productivity, sickness absence and return-to-work. Dr. Gimeno is the Principal Investigator of the II Central American Survey of Working Conditions and Health and of a grant studying the associations between occupational exposures and asthma among Texas healthcare workers. In addition, with Dr. Douphrate, Dr. Gimeno is also involved in research on physiological workloads related to musculoskeletal injuries among workers performing milking tasks and other research regarding the relationship of safety management and leadership with injuries and fatalities among logging workers. At the doctoral level, Dr. Gimeno teaches Applied Epidemiological Analysis in Environmental and Occupational Health and Introduction to Research Methods in Environmental and Occupational Health. He also teaches the MPH Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) in EHGES, the capstone for students in the MPH programs of Epidemiology and Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

PubMed citations (search for: “Gimeno-D” or “Gimeno Ruiz de Porras”) at PubMed My Bibliography URL:


Occupational Epidemiology Trainees

BAlcauterBethany Alcauter, MPH
Bethany Boggess Alcauter, MPH is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in occupational epidemiology. Her research interests are centered on improving working conditions for immigrant workers in the construction and agriculture sectors. She is especially interested in examining associations between occupational health outcomes and structural injustices in the workplace. She is currently the manager of evaluation and special projects at the National Center for Farmworker Health, where she is leading a national strategy to prevent COVID-19 transmission among agricultural workers, and has previously worked in workers centers and on community-based participatory research projects. She has been acknowledged for her work in promoting health and safety for low-wage workers in receiving the Lorin Kerr Award from the Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association and the Health and Safety Innovation Award from the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health.
Aro Choi, MS

Aro Choi, MS, is a first-year PhD student in Epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health. She earned a Master of Science in Biostatistics at Duke University. She has been working as a statistician in the division of infectious disease at UTHealth San Antonio. Aro has extensive experience of data analytics from her previous roles at Duke Clinical Research Institute, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS), and the Center for Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH). Her research interest is to develop measurement for occupational determinants of health.
CCrispCarolyn Crisp, MPH
Carolyn Crisp received her MPH from Columbia University and is currently a third year PhD candidate in epidemiology as well as an occupational epidemiology trainee with the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. Her public health career began in global health, where she conducted research on HIV and STIs among adolescents in South Africa. In recent years, however, Carolyn has worked domestically in Native American public health. Many of her Native American public health projects have been on a variety of health related issues including: establishing a Hepatitis C telemedicine model for tribes in the Northern Plains, conducting qualitative research to examine opioid use among American Indian injection drug users throughout the United States, and bringing awareness to the impact of conflicting laws and policies on pregnant American Indian women with substance use disorders. Since moving to Texas in 2018, Carolyn's research interests have deviated to  better understanding the impact of high stress occupations on health outcomes. Her dissertation research is focused on exploring mental and lifestyle behavioral health outcomes among firefighters.
JishJennifer Ish, MS
Jennifer Ish, MS is a third-year PhD student and occupational epidemiology trainee at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in San Antonio, where she also earned her Master of Science in Epidemiology in 2018. Jennifer’s current research activities involve investigating the role of early-life exposures to occupational and environmental hazards on fetal and child development. Broadly, her research interests focus on occupational and environmental health among vulnerable populations. Upon graduation in 2021, Jennifer will join the Environment & Cancer Epidemiology Group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow.
Kelly Oyer-Peterson, JD, MPH, RN
Kelly Oyer-Peterson, JD, MPH, RN, is an epidemiology PhD student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health. Ms. Oyer-Peterson is an occupational epidemiology trainee with the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH). Her research interests include occupational and environmental exposures, military worker populations, mental health in the workplace, and workplace violence. She earned degrees in psychology and nursing before earning her law degree.
SWuSusan Wu, MPH Susan Wu, MPH is a second year doctoral student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health and an occupational epidemiology program trainee.  Susan received her Masters of Public Health degree in Biostatistics at UTHealth and her Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at The University of California - Santa Cruz.  Her research interests include sustainability and resource management as it pertains to climate change, the effects of loneliness, social isolation and mental health and social inequalities.