2018 award winners

May 1, 2018 | Jolayne Houtz

DEOHS students, staff and faculty recognized for their contributions


In 2018, 11 students, staff and faculty members in the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) were honored by their colleagues in the department and in the UW School of Public Health (SPH) for their contributions to scientific research, education and community service.

Headshot of Glen Abel.  Photo by Sarah Fish.

Distinguished Staff Award (DEOHS)

Glen Abel is a research scientist investigating how exposure to environmental pollutants, including heavy metals, affects the nervous system and cognitive function of children and adults. Abel provides staffing support for other researchers in Professor Zhengui Xia’s lab and essential continuity on complex experiments, research grants, safety compliance and animal welfare.






Headshot of Hannah Curtis.  Photo by Sarah Fish.

Staff Community Service Award (SPH)

Hannah Curtis is a DEOHS research coordinator who co-leads a study documenting the risks faced by women working in construction and pilot-testing a mentorship program to help women in trades advocate for themselves on the job. The award recognizes her volunteer service addressing health issues, reproductive health rights and ending violence against girls and women.





Headshot of Tania Busch Isaksen. Photo: Sarah Fish.

Outstanding Faculty Mentor (DEOHS)

Tania Busch Isaksen, lecturer in the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, was named the 2018 outstanding faculty mentor by the Graduate Student Advisory Committee for her approachability and dedication to her students’ research and career goals. Busch Isaksen serves as the DEOHS undergraduate program coordinator. She is also a clinical assistant professor in the UW Department of Health Services.






Headshot of Miriam Calkins. Photo by Sarah Fish.

Gilbert S. Omenn Award for Academic Excellence (SPH)

Miriam Calkins, who received her PhD in Environmental and Occupational Hygiene, studies occupational heat exposure and injury risk in construction workers and the health effects of climate change. A study she led found increased risk for heat illness and dehydration on hotter days for people of working ages. This schoolwide honor is based on academic contributions to public health, community engagement and leadership potential.






Headshot of Joseph Dempsey.  Photo by Sarah Fish.

Distinguished Teaching Award (SPH)

Joseph Dempsey, a DEOHS doctoral student, serves as a teaching assistant who is lauded by his students for his creative instructional style. He is known for using environmental themes from popular culture, including Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax,” to illustrate classroom lessons.






Headshot of Graeme Carvlin.  Photo by Sarah Fish.

Outstanding PhD Student (DEOHS)

Graeme Carvlin worked with DEOHS faculty and undergraduate students to build a system of 40 air monitors installed at the US-Mexico border to gather data about pollution in areas where idling cars wait to cross. The air-quality monitors he designed cost significantly less than existing sensors, and Carvlin’s work played an important role in recent legislation in California that uses revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program to fund air monitoring across the state.






Headshot of Meagan Jackson.  Photo by Kristin Caldwell.

Outstanding Master’s Student (DEOHS)

Meagan Jackson worked with the Washington State Department of Health to evaluate the effectiveness of disinfecting septic systems with ultraviolet light. Her work produced several research publications and conference presentations and is likely to influence revised state policies on the disinfection of septic systems located near sensitive waterways and aquifers.






Headshot of Ali Everhart.  Photo by Sarah Fish.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student (DEOHS)

Ali Everhart, an Environmental Health major, participated in an internship in Arizona, where she worked with the Indian Health Service on food safety and mosquito control. The experience helped pave the way for her new job as a field environmental health officer serving tribal communities in remote western Alaska.






Headshot of Vy Nguyen.  Photo courtesy of Vy Nguyen.

Jack Hatlen Scholar (DEOHS)

Vy Nguyen is an undergraduate student in the department’s Occupational and Environmental Health program interested in how environmental exposures affect young children. As part of an internship with the Snohomish Health District, she will work with a team to help develop a health assessment protocol for use in child care settings.






Headshot of Rachel Shaffer.  Photo courtesy of Rachel Shaffer.

Russell L. Castner Endowed Student Research Fund, PhD Level (DEOHS)

Rachel Shaffer is a PhD student in Environmental Toxicology studying the links between exposure to pollutants and human health. Her focus is on driving policies that can reduce health risks and prevent disease while also protecting the environment.






Headshot of Kori VanDerGeest.  Photo by Sarah Fish.

Russell L. Castner Endowed Student Research Fund, Master’s Level (DEOHS)

Kori VanDerGeest, a Master of Public Health student, focuses on the intersection between environmental health, environmental justice and policy. With support from the Castner fund, she is designing and implementing a well water contamination workshop for community leaders in Washington's lower Yakima Valley.