Report from the NORA Young/New Investigators Symposium

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A dispatch from the Annual Regional National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Young/New Investigators Symposium by ERC-supported trainee, Janessa Graves, a doctoral student in Health Services.

Annual Regional National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Young/New Investigators Symposium

Co-Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health and the Department Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah

In April of both this year and last, I attended the Annual Regional National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Young/New Investigators Symposium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The conference offers a venue for undergraduate and graduate students to present their occupational health research in a formal, yet convivial atmosphere. This not only gives the students an opportunity to hone their presentation skills, but also to network with other occupational health students from around the mountain state region. Although Washington is not part of the mountain state region (Colorado, Montana, the Dakotas, Utah, and Wyoming), UW students have been welcomed at the symposium. Last year, Sarah Veele-Brice, a doctoral student in the Department of Health Services, presented on “Demographic and occupational characteristics associated with workplace violence victimization.” This year, I presented preliminary research for my dissertation.

What are the best things about attending the NORA Symposium? I can name a few (in no particular order):

Learning about cool research from other students and researchers, including industrial engineering to reduce noise hazards, musculoskeletal disorders in a variety of professions (including sewing machine operators), unique aerosol monitoring techniques, and impacts of stress on a variety of work-related conditions.

Fruitful conversations. It’s a chance to get outside the UW bubble and learn about new research ideas and approaches.

Visiting beautiful Salt Lake City in the spring. In April, you would be crazy to turn down the chance to trade out rainy Seattle for a weekend in Salt Lake, where it can be sunny and 60 degrees, yet there may be 2-3 feet of new Utah powder in the canyons. SLC marathon.

Experience. The NORA Symposium provides an encouraging, low stress environment for students to improve their presentation skills. It is also an experience that we can report on our CV’s or resumes.

Students and presenters are eligible for up to $600 reimbursement for all expenses associated with symposium attendance. So yes, you can attend this conference for free.

Interesting keynote speakers. In 2009, Maury Nussbaum, Professor at Virginia Tech, spoke about decision support systems for construction design. He and his team developed software to position wood panels to lessen ergonomic stresses. This year, David Deubner, Vice President of Occupational and Environmental Medicine for Brush Wellman, Inc (the worlds leading producer of beryllium containing materials), gave the keynote address. His lecture delved into the history of the protection of beryllium workers, both the struggles and successes.

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