Studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador, opened Laura Syron’s eyes to public health.
She soon followed that experience with a public health internship in Santiago, Chile, with Fundación Educación Popular en Salud. And to continue learning about international health, she entered the MPH program in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences (CPHHS), during which she interned for Environmental Alliance Worldwide.
“As a master’s student, I was most fascinated by the coursework on environmental and occupational health,” she says.
As a PhD student in the CPHHS, Laura focused her research on workers’ safety and health. During the last two years, she worked as a graduate research assistant with Assistant Professor Laurel Kincl and has been part of teams studying high-risk industries in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, including the commercial fishing industry.
The goal? Help prevent injuries and illnesses so that people can return home safe and healthy from their jobs.
The college, she says, “prepared me for my future career through rigorous coursework and hands-on experiences.”
The most rewarding aspect of her time at OSU was building relationships. “Professors, classmates and colleagues have all been inspirational in their dedication to improving public health.”
Associate Professor Viktor Bovbjerg says that Laura “has enormous compassion for people who are injured while working, and knows that prevention will come through rigorous and practical science. It’s a great combination.”
Laura is currently completing her dissertation while working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Anchorage, Alaska. “For my dissertation, I’ll be investigating Alaskan seafood processors’ safety and health,” she says. “My hope is to engage stakeholders in industry and government to identify practical strategies for preventing occupational injuries and illnesses.
“By focusing on our environment – including the workplace – we can improve entire populations’ quality of life. Preventing human suffering is a worthwhile pursuit.”
What advice does Laura have for current students?
“Be proactive in seeking opportunities for collaboration. Network with professionals and learn about the important work that OSU groups are doing on campus. Anyone who cares about workers’ safety and health should get in touch with OSU’s American Society of Safety Engineers Student Section. If you’re a graduate employee, then become involved with our union – the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE). Whether you love to write or dread it, everyone can use help with the writing process. Visit the Writing Center.”