Pilot project funding


Grants for research on worker health and safety

Applications for 2021-22 awards are now closed. Next application cycle will open in May/June 2022.


The Professional Training Opportunities Program (PTOP) through the Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety offers small grants for research projects and activities that address worker health or safety.

Applicants are welcome from any discipline or field of study, including students earning associate’s degrees as well as undergraduate, graduate or post-doctorate degrees. Applications are also welcome from nonprofit staff and employees at organizations interested in developing expertise in occupational health and safety.

Grants of no more than $10,000 (including direct and indirect costs) will be made to support:

(1) A research project or demonstration.

(2) An internship or other learning experience.

(3) An activity or program.

All proposals must address health and/or safety issues in the workplace or for working populations.

2020-2021 Projects

Sex Differences in Acute Pesticide Poisoning Among Agricultural Workers in the Pacific Northwest
Boise State University
Awardee: Meredith Spivak
Mentor: Dr. Cynthia Curl

This project will analyze sex-specific risks of occupational acute pesticide poisonings among agricultural workers in the Pacific Northwest. Specific aims: 1) to analyze and compare the incidence of acute pesticide poisonings for women and men working in agriculture in Oregon and Washington and analyze factors contributing to these exposures; 2) to summarize data on acute pesticide poisonings among women working in agriculture in Idaho; and 3) to gain knowledge and skills in occupational health and safety research.

Enhancing Vital Practice in a School of Nursing
University of Portland School of Nursing
Awardee: Amber Vermeesch
Mentor: Dr. Barb Braband

The purpose of our study is to increase the overall wellbeing of workers (staff, nursing faculty and leadership) in the University of Portland School of Nursing by decreasing individual- and institutional-level contributing factors to compassion fatigue and burnout. This is a multi-pronged, multi-year project. The current proposal comprises the first phase, in which we will develop our own relevant expertise and develop a feasibility pilot study for a wellness intervention.

A Qualitative Analysis of Decision Making and Research Utilization Among Firefighters
Oregon Health & Science University

Awardee: Shelby Watkins
Mentor: Dr. Nicole Bowles

This project aims to evaluate the efficacy of dissemination of study outcomes from a cross-sectional comparison of two fire department's work schedules; the traditional 24h on 48h off (24/48) schedule and a 1 day on, 3 days off, 2 days on, 3 days off (1/3/2/3). Knowledge gained from this study will be used to inform dissemination methods and the identification of project champions for an upcoming longitudinal assessment of Portland Fire & Rescue's one-year trial period of a 1/3/2/3 schedule with a culminating vote on schedule adoption.

Seattle COVID-19 Oral History Project
University of Washington
Awardee: Wendi Zhou
Mentor: Dr. Yasmin Ahmed

The creation of an oral history archive documenting the lives of workers impacted by COVID-19, with an emphasis on occupational health and safety and spanning Seattle and the Western Washington area.

2019-2020 Projects

Assessing Worker Satisfaction with PFDs in the Bristol Bay Salmon Gillnet Fishery
Alaska Marine Safety Education Association
Awardee: Heather Brandon
Mentor: Jerry Dzugan

Vocational Health Internships at Iḷisaġvik College
Iḷisaġvik College
Awardee: Caitlin Walls
Mentor: Emily Gueco

Policy Analysis of Worker Health and Safety: Best Practices for Public Sector Employees Exposed to Wildfire Smoke During Work
University of Washington
Awardee: Alexa Yadama
Mentor: Dr. Tania Busch Isaksen

Examining Psychological Health Among Oregon Migrant & Seasonal Farm Workers
Portland State University
Awardee: Megan Snoeyink
Mentor: Dr. Larry Martinez

The proposed research aims to identify the work and health outcomes among migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFW). Semi-structured interviews will be conducted in collaboration with a local community partner to determine mental health outcomes resulting from working in a dangerous occupation. Results are expected to benefit the target population and a local organization, and inform future research efforts.

2018-2019 Projects

Characterizing and Communicating Lessons Learned from Agricultural Pesticide Misuse Investigations in Idaho
Boise State University
Student: Rachel Phinney
Mentor: Dr. Cynthia Curl

Assessment of Whole-Body Vibration and Work-Related Injury Burden Within a Public Works Department
Oregon State University
Student: Stephanie Fitch
Mentor: Dr. Jay Kim

Rural Alaska Native Utility and Construction Worker Injury Prevention Project
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Student: Chris Fish
Mentor: Dr. Noah Seixas

Rethinking Rural: Seed. Root. Work
Rural American Digital Lab (RADLab)
Student: Aurora Martin
Mentor: Nancy Simcox, MS

Check out the video developed for this project: Seed. Root. Work

Strategies for Addressing Occupational Health Hazards at the Workplace for Formerly Incarcerated Workers
FIGHT (Formerly Incarcerated Group Health Together)
Student: Jamie Wong
Mentor: Dr. Bill Daniell