In January, COEH hosted a delegation of senior occupational health and safety (OHS) officials visiting from the People’s Republic of China. The aim of the group was to learn more about the Center and about OHS best practices in California. During two days of presentations, delegates were offered a detailed glimpse into COEH projects across disciplines.
The visit kicked off at the Ergonomics Laboratory at UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station. Director David Rempel led a tour for more than a dozen delegates while disseminating information about the program’s research. Ergonomics PhD student Peiyi Ko acted as an interpreter for the non-English speaking guests.
Later, founding COEH Director and Professor Emeritus Robert Spear told delegates about his first trip to China in 1991. His research program, focused on schistosomiasis in Sichuan Province in southwestern China, is still active twenty years later.
Spear explained the origins of COEH and its interdisciplinary approach, where students come from a wide variety of academic programs. “It means we are unusual because of this lack of disciplinary cohesion,” he said, “but it also our strength because we bring a multidisciplinary approach to problems in public health.”
Along with Rempel, presenters included Julia Faucett, Professor Emeritus from the UCSF School of Nursing and James Meyers, Occupational and Environmental Health Specialist, Ergonomics Program Manager at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Ira Janowitz, Industrial Hygienist Jackie Chan from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Health Educator Suzanne Teran from the Labor Occupational Health Program and Luoping Zhang, adjunct professor in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. “The message of these studies is an inspiration to us,” a delegate reported through a translator.
“We have a long tradition of working with colleagues in China, which we would like to continue,” said John Balmes, director of COEH, in his closing remarks before a reception in honor of the guests.
Special thanks to Peiyi Ko and to PhD students in Environmental Health Sciences at UC Berkeley Shuo Wang and Ruiling Liu for their invaluable help as interpreters.
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