SW Ag Center Feasibility Studies

Assessing the Health and Climate Change Risk Perceptions of Small Farmers through Application of the Health Belief Model

Rachel Hale, MA

Purpose: By using a cross-sectional survey research design and the theoretical framework of the Health Belief Model, this study seeks to explore the overall health status of small farmers in Arkansas, their climate change and health beliefs, and risk perceptions. Understanding the current health status alongside beliefs and risk perceptions of climate change and health will inform future interventions to address adverse physical and emotional health outcomes and seeks to build their adaptive capacity. In addition, the survey will inquire what current agricultural practices the small farmer has implemented that may help their farm operation to adapt to climate change.

2022 – 2023

An Agricultural Navigator Program for Crisis Response in Southeast Louisiana

Devin Wright, BA

Purpose: The project aims to: 1) better understand the post-hurricane experiences and needs of agricultural producers in Southeast Louisiana, a frontline region and 2) assess the adequacy and sustainability of current disaster response programs for agricultural producers. Broadly, the objective of this research is to improve agricultural producer resiliency as climate impacts continue to worsen.

2022 – 2023

Using ROPS Rebate Program Waitlist Data to Garner Support for Funding in Texas

Shelbie Lambert, MPH, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: To determine if the Texas waitlist enrollees for the ROPS retrofit rebate program are clustered in hot spots for tractor incidents and if the enrollment took place near the time of an incident.

2022 – 2023

Needs Assessment of Total Worker Health Intervention Among Dairy Workers in West Texas

Anabel Rodriguez, PhD, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health

Purpose: To gather self-reported information concerning current health care services access and barriers as well as top five screenings, examinations, and programs most important to dairy workers employed in the region.

2021 – 2022

Organic Farmer COVID-19 Regional Survey

Daisy Rosero, MPH, University of New Mexico

Purpose: To conduct a cross-sectional survey of organic farmers related to COVID-19 as part of a larger study funded by the SW Ag Center.

2020 – 2021

Assessment of Wellness of School-based Agricultural Education Teachers: A Preliminary Study (OK)

Robert Terry, Oklahoma State University

Goal: To collect quantitative and qualitative data to assess the wellness and stress associated with teaching school-based agricultural education and compare various biometric measures to assess their effectiveness, practically and feasibility with our target population. The survey will also gather information on educators that are also involved in agricultural production.

2020 – 2021

Optimizing Text Messaging to Improve Occupational Health Outcomes Among Commercial Fishermen

Shannon Guillot-Wright, PhD, University of Texas Medical Branch

Purpose: To create a text messaging campaign based in the science and research of safety and injury prevention for commercial fishers.

2020 – 2021

Risk Perceptions and Safety Training in Agricultural Aviation

Nishita Sinha, PhD, Texas A&M Transportation Institute

Purpose: To identify demographic and work-related correlates of risk perceptions among Part 137 pilots and operators and the estimate the casual impact of Professional Aerial Applicators’ Support System (PAASS) program on risk perceptions.

2020 – 2021

Role of Protease from Poultry Organic Dust in Induction of Lung Inflammation (TX)

Shilpa Kusampudi, PhD, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: To identify the purified protease by mass spectrometry/amino-terminal sequencing and study its effects on inflammatory mediator production in airway epithelial and macrophage cells and in mouse lungs and determine the involvement of protease activated receptor pathway in the induction of inflammatory mediators by the protease.

2020 – 2021

Grow the Grower Safety and Health Training and Evaluation (NM)

Tammy Thomas, PhD, University of New Mexico

Purpose: To collaboratively develop and pilot a health and safety training module to address the specific health and safety needs of traditional farmers.

2020 – 2021

Agriculture Injury Surveillance Using a Regional Trauma Registry in East Texas – 2020

Allen Cook, MD, MS, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: To improve reporting and surveillance of injury and illness in the agriculture sub-sector.

2019 – 2020

Short-term Pilot Feasibility Study of Gulf Coast Fishers Health Outcomes – 2020

Shannon Guillot-Wright, PhD

Purpose: This project addresses a NIOSH priority goal (6.1H) and will ultimately result in reduced fatal and non-fatal injuries for commercial fishers in the US and throughout the world.

20129 – 2020

Understanding the Exposure and Hazard Risks Associated with Nanomaterial Enabled Agriculture Products – 2020

Christie Sayes, PhD, Baylor University

Purpose: To develop a framework to qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate the release of engineered nanomatierals from different stages of the product life cycle and second to apply the framework to sustainable agriculture practices.

2019 – 2020

Improvement of Current Medical Surveillance of Coumaphos Exposure in TAHC Fever Tick Eradicators – 2020

Dalia Nessim, MD, MPH, PhD, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: To improve the current medical surveillance of TAHC inspectors.

2019 – 2020

Role of Lung Epithelial Cell Exosomes in the Induction of Lung Inflammatory Mediators by Organic Dust – 2020

Vijay Boggaram, PhD, Biochemistry Research Faculty, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: To study the effects of treatment of airway epithelial cells with poultry dust extracts on the production of exosomes and their inflammatory potential. Additionally, to study proteomic profiles of exosomes from control and treated cells to identify deferentially expressed proteins.

2019 – 2020

Examining the Effects of Hurricane Harvey Among Farmers in South Texas (TX)

 Josie Rudolphi, PhD, National Farm Medicine Center

Purpose: To explore the relationship between resources loss and symptoms of psychological distress among agricultural producers in South Texas, while also examining the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the larger agricultural community.

2018 – 2019

NAAA Aerial Application Industry Survey: Pilots – 2019

Tim Struttmann, MSPH
Jackie Zawada

NAAA Aerial Application Industry Survey: Pilots- 2019

Purpose: The purpose of the survey was to: (a) gather data from the population of agricultural pilots on demographics, experience, scope of work operations, equipment, standard practices, and drift mitigation techniques: (b) gather data on risks, safety practices, risk perceptions and health for future training purposes; and (c) compare these data with data obtained from pilots surveyed in 2011 and to Operators where appropriate.

2018 – 2019

NAAA Aerial Application Industry Survey: Operators – 2019

Tim Struttmann, MSPH
Jackie Zawada

NAAA Aerial Application Industry Survey: Operators- 2019

Purpose: The purpose of the survey was to: (a) gather data from the population of Part 137 operators on demographics, experience, scope of work operations, equipment, standard practices, drift mitigation techniques, crops and acres treated: (b) gather data on risks, safety practices, risk perceptions and health for future training purposes: (c) compare these data with data obtained in prior surveys to identify trends; and (d) gather information on the aerial application of crop protection products and provide such data to the EPA and crop protection product manufacturers to aid in registration and reregistration, thereby increasing the availability of those products to the aerial application industry.

2018 – 2019

Assessing Readiness for Safety of Nanotechnology Application in Fisheries Industry (LA)

Ephraim Massawe, ScD, Southeastern Louisiana University

Purpose: To assess the readiness, in terms of the information and technological needs to support safe and sustainable handling of nanotechnology, including a toolbox of emergency preparedness protocols, exposure control measures, and training to better understand the existing regulatory framework.

2017 – 2018

Study Exposure to Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Antibiotic-Contaminated Soils – 2018

Itza Medoza-Sanchez, PhD from Texas A&M University Health Science Center

Purpose: The long term goal of this project is to contribute to the development of exposure predictive tools that can be used to understand and prevent the spread of infectious diseases among farmworkers.
2017 – 2018

Increase Residents’ Exposure to Agricultural Medical Knowledge and Delineating Factors – 2018

Melissa Fleegler, MD from the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

Purpose: This project will investigate the feasibility of increasing emergency medical (EM) residents’ exposure to agricultural medical knowledge and delineating factors that increase the likelihood EM residents would choose to participate in a rural agricultural community. It will also offer the opportunity for two senior residents to rotate in emergency departments located in agricultural communities in New Mexico.
2017 – 2018

A Comparison of Physical Risk Factors Among Tree Planters Using Mechanized and Hand Planting Methods – 2017

Mark Schall, PhD, AEP, Auburn University

Purpose: This project compares the trunk and upper arm postures, movement velocities, forceful muscular exertions, and intensity of occupational physical activity among reforestation planters using mechanized and hand planting methods.
2016 – 2017

The Relationship Between Work Hours and Chronic Disease Among Farm Workers – 2017

Sarai (Sadie) Conway, PhD, MA, UT School of Public Health

Purpose: This project employs innovative analytical methods to systematically describe the work hour patterns of hired farm workers of well as to assess the relationship between work hours and three cardio-metabolic conditions.
2016 – 2017

Assessment of Sun-Safety Behaviors and Knowledge in the Farmworker Population in South Texas – In Progress

Shaadi Khademi, MD, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: This project collects data that will assess the farmworker population in the Rio Grande Valley with respect to their ideas about sun safety, sun-protective behaviors, and their use of protective clothing/personal protective equipment. We will also assess their knowledge about skin cancer. The goal is to identify potential barriers to sun-protective behaviors and seeking medical care for new or worsening skin lesions. The PI will also determine the feasibility of using mobile technology in this population.
Status: In Progress

Improving Public Health Surveillance of Occupational Injuries in Agriculture – 2016

Victor Cardenas, MD, MPH, PhD, FACE, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Purpose: This project established a statewide surveillance system to assess the magnitude and characterize the occurrence and distribution of occupational injuries in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector in the State of Arkansas. The pilot will establish the collaboration required across state agencies to develop more effective occupational injury prevention programs in a mostly rural state.

2015 – 2016

Development of Guidelines to Conduct a MSFW Enumeration Profiles Study – 2016

Alice Larson, PhD

Purpose: This feasibility project documented research processes which have successfully been employed in a series of 18 state-specific reports which supply the localized denominator data necessary for conducting occupational health and safety research on the vulnerable population of MSFWs.
2015 – 2016

A Novel Diagnostic Approach to Traumatic Brain Injuries in Agricultural Workers – 2016

Joseph Neary, PhD, VetMD, Texas Tech University

Purpose: The goal of this project is to remove the guesswork from TBI diagnosis and recovery to ensure that AFF workers receive specialist medical attention as necessary and appropriate medical advice regarding their suitability to return to work, and if certain work-related activities should be avoided. This study will undertake a preliminary evaluation of visual pursuit technology as a clinical tool for the timely detection of TBI and monitoring during the recovery phase.
2015 – 2016

Heat and Health: Developing Vulnerability Indicators for Agricultural Workers along the Texas-Mexico Border – 2016

Kai Zhang, PhD, UT School of Public Health

Purpose: The objective of this project is to reduce temperature-related health effects for agricultural workers in Texas and across the U.S. The research team will utilize archived mortality and weather data to characterize heat exposures and evaluate potential vulnerability factors among agricultural workers along the Texas-Mexico border using a multi-disciplinary approach including statistics, epidemiology and Geographic Information System (GIS).
2015 – 2016

Pesticide Exposure Biomonitoring Using Sweat Patches: A Pilot Study – 2015

Joe Grzywacz, PhD, Department Chair, Florida State University Michael Merten, PhD, Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University

Purpose: The goal of this study is to determine the feasibility of using sweat patches for biomonitoring pesticide exposure among immigrant Latino farmworkers. The aims of this feasibility study are to: (1) develop and assess the accuracy and precision of laboratory techniques used to measure pesticide metabolites from sweat patches: (2) document challenges and problems experienced by Latino farmworkers in using (opening, applying, wearing removing, and storing) the sweat patches; and (3) determine the level of variance in concentrations of pesticide metabolites obtained from urine that is explained by concentrations of pesticide obtained from sweat.
2014 – 2015

Latino Youth Development in an Agricultural Context – 2015

Michael Merten, PhD, Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University

Purpose: The aims of the project will be achieved through a nested study design involving two components. The first component is a survey of Latino adolescents to determine the feasibility of collecting in-depth survey data from adolescents of immigrant Latinos, and whether youth development outcomes vary by their exposure to farm work. The second component is nested biomarker study wherein first-morning void urine specimens will be collected from a targeted subsample of youth.
2014 – 2015

Forces Experienced by the Body During Grain Entrapment and Rescue – 2015

Kevin Moore, ChE, MBA, Research Engineer, Oklahoma State University

Purpose: This project will measure the forces experienced by the body during grain entrapment in order to support the development of treatment guidelines for first responders.
2014 – 2015

Health and Safety Issues in Organic Farming – 2015

Francisco Soto Mas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, University of New Mexico

Purpose: This qualitative study will identify and typify health and safety risks in organic farming, specifically among small producers.
2014 – 2015

Reaching South Texas Agricultural Workers through Lower Rio Grande Valley FQHCs – 2015

Sharon Huff, MD, Assistant Professor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: This study will contribute to a better understanding of where the agricultural workers who reside in South Texas live, work and access medical care and will design a clinic-based data capture system that will effectively record the characteristics of this population.
2014 – 2015

Identification of Novel Pro-Inflammatory Small Molecules in Poultry Dust – 2014

Rena Saito, PhD, Assistant Professor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: The overall goal of this collaborative project between the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler and Colorado State University is to identify inflammatory agents in agricultural dust.
2013 – 2014

Tractor Seating for Paraplegia – 2013

Carla Wilhite, DOT, Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico

Purpose: This study will observe and compare the effect of seating pressure on individuals with paraplegia in New Mexico seated on a typical contour tractor seat and then on four intervention cushions.
2012 – 2013

Injury Risk Assessment among East Texas Forestry Workers – 2013

Dave Douphrate, PhD, Assistant Professor, UT School of Public Health San Antonio Campus

Purpose: This project will identify and compare physical exposures associated with different logging and forestry tasks.
2012 – 2013

Work Safety and Health Exposures Among Agricultural Aviators – 2011

Tim Struttmann, MSPH, Project Manager, SRA Constella Group, Durham, NC

Purpose: Working in partnership with the leaders of the National Agricultural Aviators Association (NAAA), a survey has been developed to assess work practices, emerging issues and educational needs identified by pilots to assist the NAAA with developing safety and health programs.
2010 – 2011

Disability Status & Impact on Oklahoma Farming & Ranching Families – 2011

Jan Johnston, PhD, Assistant Professor, Extension State Specialist-Gerontology, Oklahoma State University

Purpose: A self-report survey will be administered to a sample of farmers/ranchers to identify perceptions of barriers to information and rehabilitative services as well as injury prevention strategies by a gerontology specialist.
2010 – 2011

Investigation of the Effects of Poultry Dust Extract on Inflammatory Responses in Lung Epithelial Cells and Monocytic Cells – 2011

Vijay Boggaram, PhD, Biochemistry Research Faculty, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: This study by an established scientist explored whether poultry dust extracts (agricultural exposures) elicit inflammatory responses in lung epithelial cells and THP-1 monocytic cells. It also indicated that induction occurs at the transcriptional level.
2010 – 2011

Social Networking: Feasibility Study of Communication Patterns among Vietnamese Shrimp Fishermen – 2011

Ann Carruth, DNS, RN, Dean of Nursing, Southeastern Louisiana University

Purpose: This feasibility study evaluated the methods of communication used between and among commercial shrimp fishermen and preferred communication strategies (e.g. word of mouth, cell phones, internet access, ship to shore radio). This study provided formative exploration of use of social media for workplace safety in commercial fishing.
2010 – 2011

Evaluation of Novel Molecular DNA Techniques for the Characterization of Bioaerosols – 2010

Matt Nonnenmann, PhD, CIH, Assistant Professor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Evaluation of Novel Molecular DNA Techniques for the Characterization of BioaerosolsPurpose:Bacteria and fungi have been reported as components of the organic dust produced in poultry facilities. All previous investigations have utilized culture-based methods that identifyonlybiota cultured on selected media. Modern pyrosequencing offers a comprehensive approach to determinebiodiversityof microorganisms, it has not previously been used to characterize exposure to microorganisms in an occupational environment.
Nonnenmann MW, Bexstine B, Dowd SE, Gilmore KH, Levin JL, (2010) Culture-independent characterization of bacteria and fungi in a poultry bioaerosol using pyrosequencing: a new approach. J Occup Environ Hygiene. Dec; 7(12):693-9.
2009 – 2010


Animal Handling Safety for Dairy Workers – 2010

Molly Smith, Master’s Student, Dept of Agriculture and Home Economics, New Mexico State University

Purpose: This project is adapting content from a validated curriculum from Australia to create low literacy materials for Spanish-speaking dairy parlor workers. A short companion video addressing animal handling safety has been produced in Spanish and distribution has been initiated. Considering Human and Animal Safety, An instructional DVD in Spanish.
2009 – 2010

Dairy Parlor Worker Exposure to Organic Dust, Endotoxin and Bacteria – 2010

Aika Hussain, Master’s Candidate, Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Dairy ParlorPurpose:This study assessed occupational exposure to organic dust, endotoxinandbacteria exposure levels among dairy parlor workers and validation of exposure reduction when a parlor washing treatment was used.
2009 – 2010


Risk Factors for Musculoskeletal Symptoms Among Louisiana Crawfish Farmers – 2010

Matt Nonnenmann PhD, CIH, Assistant Professor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Boat on lakePurpose:The objective of this project was to determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms (MSS) among crawfish farmers in Southern Louisiana. MSS stress was measured during routine harvesting tasks in a sample of crawfish farmers. This feasibility study applied formal ergonomic methods toevaluationof an aquaculture worker population.
2009 – 2010


Analysis of Pesticide Exposure Among Mexican Immigrant Farmworkers – 2009

S. Amy Snipes, PhD, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Purpose: The PI is an anthropologist who used bio-cultural research techniques to document pesticide safety, cultural beliefs/behaviors in a cohort of Mexican immigrant farmworkers thereby applying her expertise to agricultural health research. She also tested the feasibility of collecting bio-specimens from migrating farmworkers Snipes SA, Thompson B, O’Connor K , et. al., (2009) Pesticides protect the fruit, but not the people: Using community-based ethnography to understand farmworker pesticide risk exposure. Am Journal of Public Health, 99(S3).
2008 – 2009

Agency Preparedness Response for AgroTerrorism Event – 2009

Randall Craig, MD, Occupational Medicine resident, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Purpose: Interviews were conducted with representatives from the FBI, State agencies and law enforcement, and a key informant meeting convened to assess preparedness status, clarity of reporting mechanisms and recognition of sentinel events for deliberate tampering with the food supply.
2008 – 2009

Nicholas Bingham

Farmers’ / Ranchers’ Perceptions on Disability – 2008

This study examined the perceptions of farmers and ranchers with regard to the experience of subjects who sought and followed advice from a healthcare professional with regard to their disability and work restrictions compared to that of subjects who did not.Nicholas Bingham, MD,MS

2007 – 2008


Environmental/Occupational Exposures & Parkinson’s Disease in East Texas – 2008

Amanpreet Dhillon, MD, MS

Purpose: This retrospective case-control observational study involved 100 cases and controls from an established Parkinson’s disease patient group that was routinely followed in a clinical neurology practice in East Texas with the aim of exploring the possible link between Parkinson’s disease and the use of pesticides and herbicides.
2007 – 2008

Analysis of Factors Contributing to Commercial Fishing Vessel Incidents in U.S. Coast Guard Region 8 – 2006Docked boat at a pier

Sacha St. Hill, MD, MS

Purpose: The U.S. Coast Guard Region 8 office in New Orleans, LA shared its database of information concerning commercial fishing vessel incidents in its jurisdictional waters for a two-year period.

2005 – 2006


Occupational Injury Reporting by Farmworkers – 2004

Cynthia Ball, DO, MS

Purpose: There is a paucity of research dealing with the prevalence of work injuries among immigrants working in the United States, both agricultural and non-agricultural, and the proportion of those injuries that are reported to employers. Most of the available studies look at the percentage of injured employees who file for workers’ compensation. Yet many of these workers are employed by smaller businesses that are not required to provide worker’s compensation insurance. This study aims to measure the proportion of injured workers who actually report their injury to their employer. The method of enrollment will control for socioeconomic status. We hypothesize that immigrants who are not U.S. citizens are less likely to report injuries than U.S. citizens. U.S. citizen includes naturalized and native-born persons. The study population includes parents of migrant and traditional Head Start programs in Louisiana and West Texas. A simple occupational injury history tool has been designed and translated into Spanish.
2003 – 2004

Integrating and Adapted Occupational Health Curriculum Into the Farmworker High School Equivalency Program in Brownsville, TX – 2004 M.

Soledad Vela-Acosta, MD, MS, PhD

Purpose: The aim of this study is to test the feasibility of incorporating occupational health and safety knowledge into the current High School Equivalency Program (HEP) sciences curricula for migrant farmworker students using an advisory partnership with Brownsville school district teachers’ team. An existing occupational health/safety curriculum will be adapted and translated into Spanish based on input from HEP teachers and current students. HEP teachers will participate in training sessions to learn innovative methods to teach occupational safety and health. The curriculum will be pilot tested with HEP students enrolled in the fall and spring of the 2004 school year. Student pre-post test time series and post course evaluations will be used to measure retention, applicability of course content. Teachers will provide feedback on ease of integrating material into overall coursework, challenges and successes and willingness to permanently incorporate materials into HEP.
2003 – 2004

Establishing Exposure Risk for Noise and Organic Solvents Among Farmers – 2004

Annette Hurley, MS, CCC-A

Purpose: It is estimated that nearly 20 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous levels of noise in the workplace. Further evidence has shown that as many as 30 million American workers may be exposed to hazardous noise and ototoxic chemicals. To date, no published studies have reported hearing loss among agricultural workers as it relates to the type and extent of concomitant pesticide exposure. This feasibility study seeks to assess the risk from both noise and organic solvent exposure from which a risk assessment tool can be developed. This tool will be used to establish methods of data collection for both noise dosimetry and organic solvent exposure in order to pursue future funding to evaluate the two exposures and their effect on threshold shifts.

2003 – 2004


The Use of Syndromic Surveillance to Detect Naturally Occurring or Intentionally Introduced Zoonotic Disease in Agricultural Workers – 2004

Laura Banks, DVM Cameron Crandall, MD

Purpose: To evaluate the feasibility of using syndromic surveillance in the agricultural setting to detect zoonotic diseases in agricultural workers. This surveillance could be conducted independently of, or in concert with, surveillance for diseases in animals. This study will entail structured interviews with key informants to answer the following questions: What are the possible sources of disease syndrome or symptom data? What is the utility of the currently available syndromic surveillance equipment and procedures in agricultural situations? What is the willingness of the agricultural community to support surveillance for diseases other than those mandated by health officials? What are the current methods of data analysis and the utility of the user feedback to the health of agricultural workers? What are the implications for joint human/animal disease surveillance?

2003 – 2004


Health and Safety Needs Assessment of Medically Uninsured and Underinsured Farm Workers in East Texas – 2003

Eva Doyle, PhD, MSEd, CHES Mr. Robin Rager, PhD, CHES

Purpose: Obtain data using a survey tool in English or Spanish per subject preference, by conducting face-to-face interviews with a convenience sample farm workers (300) in three counties in East Texas to determine work history, recognized work hazards, work-related injuries, health care access, and demographics. Findings will be compared to those reported for general U.S. farmworker and non-farmworker populations and shared with community leaders with assistance to seek funding for either additional data collection or targeted services.
2002 – 2003