CPH launches new Executive-in-Residence Program with John Deere

Executive-in-Residence Laurie Zelnio (left) with CPH Dean Sue Curry
Executive-in-Residence Laurie Zelnio (left) with CPH Dean Sue Curry

On April 21, the UI College of Public Health launched a new Executive-in-Residence Program designed to integrate senior business leaders into the life of the college; provide opportunities for these executives to interact closely with students, faculty, and staff; and help shape future strategic directions.

The inaugural business leader in the Executive-in-Residence Program was Laurie Zelnio, Director of Environment, Health, Safety, Standards, and Sustainability for Deere & Company of Moline, Ill. Zelnio leads initiatives and programs to assure the company’s products and global operations are in compliance and focused on safeguarding customers, employees, and the environment while also reducing the company’s use of natural resources.

During the day-long experience, Zelnio held a series of individual and small-group meetings with faculty, students, and staff. She presented an overview of Deere’s global business operations, was a guest speaker in two classes, and held a college-wide seminar focused on global ethics and the challenges of managing environment, health, and safety issues in different cultures.

Executive-in-Residence Laurie Zelnio talking with seminar participants
Laurie Zelnio talks with seminar participants

Zelnio outlined several factors that fueled Deere’s interest in the Executive-in-Residence concept, including enhancing the number and quality of potential employees, collaborating on projects and research, and informing the company’s position on policies, standards, and regulations.

“So much that happens in the college has tremendous value for Deere and others in industry,” said Zelnio. “There are huge benefits to maturing our relationship with the College of Public Health. There are benefits for Deere, for the agricultural and construction industries, and we think for the college as well, whether you are trying to find locations for your graduates or partners for your projects and research.”

College of Public Health Dean Sue Curry highlighted the long-term benefits of strengthening connections with industry partners.

“The College of Public Health hosts many visitors as lecturers and conference participants, but the Executive-in-Residence program is designed to foster long-term relationships between the executives and our college,” said Curry. “These relationships will help guide new strategic initiatives.”

 

Global ethics topic of April 21 executive-in-residence seminar

Global Ethics: How a Global Company Ethically Manages
Environment, Health and Safety in Different Cultures

EXECUTIVE-IN-RESIDENCE

Zelnio Photo

Laurie Zelnio, MBA

Director, Environment, Health, Safety, Standards & Sustainability
John Deere & Company

Thursday, April 21, 2016
11:30am-12:30pm
C217 CPHB

Lunch Provided

RSVP by accepting the email invitation via Outlook.

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to join Laurie for a presentation and interactive discussion on Global Ethics.

 

Ms. Zelnio provides global leadership, strategy and governance for John Deere’s environment, health, safety, standards and sustainability functions. She leads initiatives and programs to assure the company’s products and global operations are in compliance and are further focused on safeguarding John Deere’s customers, employees, and the environment while also reducing the company’s use of natural resources. In this position Laurie has led a transformation of the environment, health and safety functions for the company developing a regional structure that provides technical oversight, professional development, and programs that align with country and cultural differences.

Laurie is kicking off the College of Public Health’s new Executive-in-Residence (XIR) program offered through the Institute of Public Health Research and Policy.  The XIR integrates senior business leaders into the life of the college and provides unique opportunities for experts to interact closely with students and faculty. While the college hosts many external practitioners as visiting lecturers and conference participants, Executives-in-Residence foster long-term relationships with the college and help to shape and execute new strategic initiatives.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events.  If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Ryan Bell in advance at ryan-a-bell@uiowa.edu or 319-384-1500

Iowa Superfund Research Program funding renewed through 2020

The Superfund Research Program at the University of Iowa (isrp) has received a five-year renewal of funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health. Based at the UI College of Public Health since 2005, the isrp is a joint endeavor involving basic, mechanistic, and applied research projects in biomedical and environmental research areas addressing semivolatile polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The program is a multidisciplinary collaboration of 17 researchers representing several departments and colleges on the UI campus. Researchers from the College of Public Health include occupational and environmental health faculty Larry Robertson, Gabriele Ludewig, Hans-Joachim Lehmler, David Osterberg, Peter Thorne, and biostatistics faculty Kai Wang and Michael Jones.

The overall goal of the isrp is to identify atmospheric sources, exposures, and potential consequences to human health of semi-volatile PCBs. To achieve this goal, the isrp addresses volatilization, transport and resultant exposure of lower halogenated PCBs, especially those PCBs that are associated with contaminated waters, former industrial sites, and buildings (especially school buildings). The program identifies routes of exposure with an eye to preventing or limiting exposure and ameliorating the effects.

Proposed studies include a community-based participatory research project-an assessment of exposures to citizens who live or work in the vicinity of sources of lower chlorinated PCBs in the Chicago Metropolitan area.

The isrp works closely with citizen groups in Chicago, Ill., and East Chicago, Ind., where many ethnic-minority citizens are living below the poverty line near deindustrialized sites. A Training Core and the research projects provide for the training of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars each year (70 have been trained in the previous funding period). Overall this multidisciplinary program brings a broad range of experience and expertise, and institutional resources, to bear on problems associated with Superfund chemicals that are critical to the Midwest and the nation.

New funding for the period 2015 – 2020 brings the total of NIH support for this effort centered at the University of Iowa to a sum in excess of $40 million.

 

 

UI researchers study public health impact of Iowa City landfill fire

An aerial view of the 2012 Iowa City landfill fire, with smoke primarily from the burning shredded tire drainage layer.
An aerial view of the 2012 Iowa City landfill fire, with smoke primarily from the burning shredded tire drainage layer.

On May 26, 2012, a fire broke out at Iowa City’s municipal landfill. While more than 8,000 landfill fires occur annually in the United States, the Iowa City fire was unusual in that the ignition involved the landfill’s lining system, a three-foot layer of shredded tires designed to protect underlying soil and water.

Over the next 18 days, while fire fighters and contractors worked to extinguish the blaze, a column of black smoke was visible for miles as an estimated 1.3 million tires burned.

Researchers at the University of Iowa, including associate professor of occupational and environmental health Tom Peters, an expert in inhalation exposures, joined the Johnson County Department of Public Health and state agencies in responding to the crisis.

UI researchers monitored emissions from the fire at two stationary sites located 6.5 miles east and 2.5 miles northeast of the landfill. A mobile sampling trailer was also moved as needed to capture the tire fire smoke. The investigators created models of how pollutants were likely to disperse and affect local air quality, and made measurements available to the incident command group so they could advise the public on necessary safety precautions.

A portrait of Thomas Peters of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
Tom Peters

“Tire fires are relatively rare, and there is not a consensus as to what compounds should be monitored for the best public health response,” says Peters.

The UI team took the opportunity to determine potential improvements to the air quality response in terms of how to monitor such fires. They developed a unique tire fire irritant air quality index to interpret the measured pollutants and rank them by acute and cancer hazard ratios. These measures help responders determine when they should take precautions such as closing schools and canceling outdoor events.

Fortunately, the impact of the 2012 fire was episodic, and much of the smoke plume was dispersed by winds. However, all locations within one mile of the fire experienced at least one hour of unhealthy air during the 18-day period. Unhealthy conditions extended up to 11 miles downwind for short periods of time. While several toxic substances had been measured in laboratory simulations of tire fires, the UI results determined their strength under real-world burn conditions.

One UI recommendation from the tire fire is to shift focus away from the most-commonly recognized tire fire emissions, which include metals and the toxic gas benzene. Instead, overall levels of smoke particles, the gas sulfur dioxide, and the chemical components of the smoke particles may be more important in terms of health effects.

The UI team concluded that the landfill fire constituted a serious public health concern. They offered recommendations for future emergency air quality responses, including better preparation, monitoring, modeling, and interpretation of results. The team’s findings were published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

 

 

Thorne to chair EPA Scientific Advisory Board

A portrait of Peter Thorne of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
Peter Thorne, professor and head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health

Peter Thorne, University of Iowa professor and head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, has been appointed chair of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB). He will serve for the next two years.

The SAB was created by Congress in 1978 to ensure that the EPA applies the best science in its decision making. It provides scientific advice to the EPA Administrator by reviewing the quality and relevance of scientific and technical information being used by the EPA as the basis for regulations; it reviews EPA research programs and plans; and advises the EPA Administrator on broad scientific matters.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Thorne as chair of the Science Advisory Board,” said Chris Zarba, Director of SAB Staff. “In the days ahead we have a number of very important reviews that the SAB will be engaging in. We look forward to his leadership on these topics.”

Working with agency staff designated to support the SAB and the 47 members of the Board, Thorne will be responsible for setting agendas and presiding at SAB meetings, guiding discussions and seeking consensus on committee reports, and serving as spokesperson for the panel.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve with other Scientific Advisory Board members, who are the nation’s top scholars in environmental health sciences and engineering,” said Thorne. “Together, our work will help ensure that the EPA uses the highest quality and most up to date science available in pursuing its mission to protect human health and the environment.”

Thorne also directs the UI Environmental Health Sciences Research Center and is associate director of the UI Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Human Toxicology. His research interests include toxicology, exposure science and environmental lung disease and he is recognized internationally for his work on the adverse effects of bioaerosols and their relationship to asthma. He also serves on the National Research Council’s Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology.

Bill Field, UI professor of occupational and environmental health, also is a member of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board.