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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Total Worker Health®


Total Worker Health® Track

The Total Worker Health (TWH) doctoral program was established in 2018 and it is the first and only in the world, graduate-level program in TWH.  The TWH approach was originally conceived by NIOSH to include “policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness-prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.”

The TWH program is a track available for students enrolling in the PhD degree in Environmental Sciences. The TWH program builds upon occupational safety and health efforts to prevent workplace injury and illness with policies, programs and practices to promote worker well-being. For more information, contact Dr. David Gimeno Ruiz de Porras.

After completing this program, you will be a degreed TWH professional. Graduates will be able to conduct research characterizing worker well-being, as well as implement policies and practices improving worker health. In addition to research opportunities, key elements of the TWH track involve practice-based training and interdisciplinary interactions with trainees in occupational epidemiology, industrial hygiene and occupational medicine. Specifically, the curriculum trains students to identify, characterize, and integrate risk factors of worker well-being and safety, as well as develop, implement, and evaluate strategies, policies and programs to improve workers’ health and well-being.

The following are the learning objectives of the Total Worker Health Track:

  1. Describe applications of the Total Worker Health framework in workplace settings to improve worker well-being.

  2. Evaluate research relevant to Total Worker Health and worker well-being.

  3. Identify sources and pathways of exposure to risk factors influencing worker well-being.

  4. Identify potential modifiers (e.g., aging, addictions, outdoor air pollution, built environment, lifestyle behaviors, health policies and health care) of occupational factors influencing worker well-being.

  5. Integrate behavioral, organizational, and policy theories as needed in plans to improve worker well-being.

  6. Develop, implement, or evaluate a Total Worker Health strategy or intervention to improve worker well-being.

Campuses: Houston, El Paso, San Antonio

Fall 2022 to Summer 2023 PhD EOHS TWH Track Degree Planner

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 consisting of full tuition, fees support and a generous monthly stipend are available to full-time students on a competitive basis.  Trainees must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Requirements for the traineeships include acceptance into the PhD Environmental Sciences academic program (TWH track), maintenance of a minimum course workload and satisfactory academic progress.

How to Apply

Admission requirements and application deadlines can be found online.

Students should apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Environmental Sciences within the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Program.

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

Meet our team here

Total Worker Health® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Participation by the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) does not imply endorsement by HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

SWCOEH Homepage


Total Worker Health® Trainees

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Paul Carey, MD, MPH
SWCOEH Trainee

Paul Carey, MD, MPH completed both his residency training in Occupational & Environmental Medicine and Master of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston.  He served as chief resident and was inducted to the Alpha Iota Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health in August 2019.  Dr. Carey was the Occupational Medicine resident representative on the residency advisory committee and the program evaluation committee.  He was selected as a NIOSH Trainee in Total Worker Health and plans to advance his career as an academic clinician engaged in research interests that include occupational chemical exposure, nanomaterial risk identification and biomarker surveillance.

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Jennifer Cerecero, MS

SWCOEH Trainee

Jennifer Cerecero, MS is a second-year PhD student in the Environmental Sciences - Total Worker Health track.  She completed her Bachelors in Radiological Health Engineering from Texas A&M College Station and a Master's in Medical Health Physics from UT Health San Antonio.  She is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Environmental Health & Safety Office at UT Health San Antonio and the Radiation Safety Officer for the Broad Scope License, X-ray Registrations, Laser Certifications, and Mammography Certifications for our institution.  Additionally, she assisted with COVID-19 contact tracing for UT Health San Antonio during the height of the pandemic.  She plans to utilize the degree in her career in Environmental Health & Safety and total worker health at the UT Health San Antonio campus.

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Rosandra Daywalker, MD
SWCOEH Trainee

Rosandra "Røs" Daywalker, MD is a physician completing a combined PhD in Environmental & Occupational Health and residency in Occupational & Environmental Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. The first Total Worker Health® track doctoral student in the nation, Dr. Daywalker was granted a competitive traineeship by the CDC NIOSH through the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. Dr. Daywalker is currently coordinating research regarding the effects of COVID-19 on patient care gaps and healthcare worker well-being, in collaboration with the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, Inc.-- the federally designated primary care association for the state of Texas. She attended medical school at Morehouse School of Medicine, an institution recognized for its social mission and commitment to health equity. As a medical student, she was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, the only national medical honor society in the world. Dr. Daywalker's global experience includes having led medical professionals in a community health program in Haiti, as well as humanitarian medical and educational service in Vietnam. As a recipient of the AAO-HNS Resident Leadership Grant, Nathan Sostrin Unbeatable Mind Scholarship, and University of Texas Medical Branch Quality Improvement Research Award, Dr. Daywalker is dedicated to improving population well-being through collaboration. Her vision is to use her expertise in medicine, research, coaching, and leadership to continue to drive innovations in wellness, health promotion, leadership development, and organizational/community transformation.

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Muinat Idris, MPH

TWH Student

Muinat Abolore Idris, MPH, COHC is a second-year PhD student at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in the Environmental and Occupational Health Science (Total Worker Health Track). She earned her Master of Public Health in Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2018. Before Muinat Abolore transitioned to the doctoral degree program at UTHealth, she served as the Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Her research interest includes work-related injury and illness prevention, cancer prevention, noise pollution, air quality.

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Linette Leadon, MS
TWH Student

Linette Leadon, MS, CIH, CSP, SM (NRCM) is a first year PhD student at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health) School of Public Health.  She is enrolled in the Total Worker Health Track in the Environmental Sciences department.  Linette holds a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Houston – Clear Lake and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin.  She holds the Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), and Specialist Microbiology National Registry of Certified Microbiologists (NRCM) certifications. Linette currently serves as director of the laboratory safety, waste, air and water emissions, and pest control programs in Environmental Health and Safety, Sustainability and Emergency Management (EHSSEM) at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.  Linette has worked for MD Anderson for 21 years in EHSSEM, beginning her career in safety in the Occupational Health and Safety group as a Safety Specialist. She is very interested in worker exposure to hazardous drugs and the impacts of employee activity on environmental sampling in pharmacies.

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César Pinzón Gómez, MD, MPH
TWH Student

César Leonardo Pinzón Gómez, MD, MPH is a PhD student in Environmental Sciences, Total Worker Health Track at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health. He is a physician from the National University of Colombia, recognized as one of the top medical schools in his country, and completed his residency in Occupational Medicine at the Manuela Beltran University of Colombia. He carried out activities as an Occupational Physician for 6 years focusing on work-related rehabilitation processes and return-to-work with modified duties. Later he performed in multiple companies in the private sector as director of Health-Safety and Environment, generating and developing corporate strategies for the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases, promoting healthy lifestyles, and facilitating return-to-work in workers with disabilities. Subsequently, he completed his MPH in Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center where he was chosen to obtain the Outstanding New Student scholarship and also earned a graduate certificate in Data Science. He was also elected to receive the Jack Killian Memorial Scholarship, and was introduced to the Alpha Iota chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health.

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Flor Puentes, MPH
NIOSH Trainee

Flor Puentes, MPH, is a first-year PhD student in the Environmental Health - Total Worker Health track. Ms. Puentes attended the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and received a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health-El Paso Campus. Her experience and interests have been in Border Health research and infectious diseases. She has worked with government agencies from local, state, and federal levels on different infectious disease outbreaks such as H1N1, Zika, Measles and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Puentes was the Lead Epidemiologist at the City of El Paso Department of Public Health, for which she assisted in leading Emergency Operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently the Regional Director of Epidemiology-Southwest Region at Compass Connections, where she provides public health guidance, assists with outbreak investigations, and conducts public health surveillance to the Residential Services Division with unaccompanied migrant children. Her motivation is to be able to expand her experience in border health research and integrate it with Environmental Science and Total Worker Health.

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Valerie Valenzuela, MBA
SWCOEH Trainee

Valerie Valenzuela, MBA, is a second-year PhD student at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health) School of Public Health in the Environmental Science: Total Worker Health track. She completed her MBA in 2018 and has many years working in both local and state government agencies serving to aid in worker health from various environmental hazards from asbestos to lead. Additionally, she served as an epidemiologist for the city health department Covid-19 response team. Her interests include migrant worker health and promoting data analysis frameworks for occupations with vulnerable populations.