Inspiring a new generation of industrial hygienists

Mt. Rainier and field of flowers
NWCOHS welcomes Assistant Professor Diana Ceballos

March 27, 2023

In fall 2022, the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) welcomed Assistant Professor Diana Ceballos to the University of Washington (UW). Dr. Ceballos serves as the Assistant Director for the Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (NWCOHS) Industrial Hygiene Program.

Dr. Ceballos received her PhD in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences from UW and stayed for an additional year of postdoctoral training before joining to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as an Associate Industrial Hygienist Fellow in 2010.

Traveling to worksites

For five years, she worked for the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Program in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her team traveled around the country addressing health hazards in workplaces. She visited workplaces in big cities such a New York airline catering business and rural areas like a New Mexico dairy production plant. Her most memorable field experiences were visiting the FBI headquarters in Washington DC where she learned about hazards during forensic finger printing processes, and visiting a lead-acid-battery recycling facility in Puerto Rico to help workers reduce their exposures to lead during the processing of batteries.

Path to industrial hygiene and current research interests

Dr. Ceballos is a chemical engineer by training. She was attracted to the field of industrial hygiene because she wanted to protect the environment and human health. She explains, “Industrial hygiene was just the perfect blend where my skills and interests fused together to work towards creating safer and healthier workplaces; for workers and their families.”

Her research focuses on high-risk, understudied workers populations including workers in small businesses such as nail salons, electronics recycling facilities, dry cleaning facilities, and construction firms.  More specifically, through her research program she aims to:

  • Perform exposure assessment to complex chemical mixtures to determine effects on human health, especially as they pertain to vulnerable populations and emerging technologies while considering social determinants of health
  • Develop innovative techniques and approaches in exposure assessment
  • Translate research to practice by developing education and environmental interventions in public health

Guiding UW students

Ceballos looks forward to mentoring students in the Industrial Hygiene program. She acknowledges that industrial hygiene professionals “need to be versed in technical strengths to face the future of workplaces, decision on safer processes and products, and unanticipated issues such as a pandemic or a climatic-related emergency response situation.” While the technical skills are essential, she also emphasizes the importance of soft skills “to drive interdisciplinary, and often interinstitutional, teams to accomplish goals.” Her goal is that students graduate with the essential skills to navigate the challenges of working in occupational health and safety positions.

On a personal note

Deciding to return the Pacific Northwest and UW was an easy one for Dr. Ceballos. Not only does the UW School of Public Health and DEOHS have an excellent reputation, she enjoys the natural beauty of the area. Outside of the office, she loves spending time with her 14-year-old daughter, hiking, dancing, yoga, and traveling.

Learn more about Dr. Diana Ceballos on her DEOHS faculty bio page.