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Center Leadership

Emily Ahonen, PhD

Emily Ahonen, PhD

Emily Ahonen, PhD is the PI and Center Director of the Utah Center for Promotion of Work Equity Research (U-POWER). She is Associate Professor in the division of Occupational and Environmental Health within Department of Family and Preventive Medicine (DFPM) at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Her research contributes to the promotion of health equity and social and environmental justice through improved environments and policies. Her primary focus is on the quality of employment and work, and the broader legal, social, economic, and political forces that shape work to support health to a greater or lesser degree. She uses qualitative and mixed methods in her work. 

Dr. Ahonen is also Utah's PI for the project Discourses in Occupational Health about the Role of Power in Work Equity.

Camie Schaefer, PhD

Camie Schaefer, PhD

Associate Director

Camie Schaefer, PhD, is Associate Director of the Center and has day-to-day responsibility for operations. She acts as the hub for communications among stakeholders, investigators, and partners. She brings to the Center expertise in research development, technical writing, and research administration, which she leverages to manage the Research Pilot Project Program and Center communications. In addition, she offers technical writing assistance and writing group facilitation along with other Center support services. 

Dr. Schaefer also serves as a Co-I on Discourses in Occupational Health about the Role of Power in Work Equity.

Email:  camie.schaefer@utah.edu

Outreach Core

Lisa Gren, PhD

Outreach Core Lead

Lisa Gren, PhD is Associate Professor in Public Health and director of the Center for Research on Migration and Refugee Integration and for the University of Utah Primary Care Research Network. She is involved in a variety of academic-community partnerships and brings to U-POWER her expertise in adult learning methods, having developed content for in-person and online learning in her education roles with the DFPM and School of Medicine, and has authored a manuscript on experiential learning for adult learners. 

Dr. Gren also serves PI on Incorporating Worksite Interventions in Safety and Health: Building Capacity for Total Worker Health and is on the Center Internal Advisory Committee. 

Ivette López, PhD, MPH

Ivette López, PhD, MPH

Outreach Core Lead

Ivette López, PhD, MPH is Professor in Public Health and Deputy Director of the Utah Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). Her research and service have focused on engaging minority communities in finding solutions to their health burdens, including AIDS, diabetes, and obesity, as well as health assessments of Latino populations. Dr. López brings to the Outreach Core her extensive experience in community-based participatory research and expertise in collaboration with Community Health Workers (CHWs) and organizations with a focus on underserved populations. 

Dr. López also serves as a member of the Center Internal Advisory Committee. 

Internal Advisory Committee

Rachael Jones, PhD, CIH

Rachael Jones, PhD, CIH

Center Director

Rachael Jones, PhD, CIH is a member of the IAC, Lead of the Research Pilot Project Program (RPPP), and the founding director of U-POWER. She is Professor and Chair of the Environmental Health Sciences Department at the University of California – Los Angeles, and Director of the Southern California Education and Research Center. Dr. Jones is an industrial hygienist and an internationally recognized expert in exposure science, particularly in the area of infectious diseases. 

Dr. Jones also serves as MPI of the research projects Towards Total Worker Health for Environmental Service Workers and Discourses in Occupational Health about the Role of Power in Work Equity. 

Frank Drews, PhD

Frank Drews, PhD

Frank Drews, PhD is Professor in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Utah and heads the Behavior Centered Safety Lab (BCSL). Dr. Drews brings to the Center his expertise in applied cognitive psychology and human factors in safety. He has spent considerable time investigating human factors issues such as the limits of human performance and the impact of performance breakdowns on provider performance using mixed-methods research. 

Dr. Drews also serves as Co-I on Towards Total Worker Health for Environmental Service Workers

Angela Fraser, PhD

Angela Fraser, PhD

Internal Advisory Committee, Research Project PI

Angela Fraser, PhD is a Professor of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences at Clemson University. She has over 27 years of experience in the area of food safety/infectious disease control prevention. Much of her work centers around developing and evaluating food safety and infection control practices in commercial and institutional settings, including long-term care facilities. Her goal is to develop detailed procedures that inform practices that are grounded in high-quality evidence generated through well-designed, rigorously executed research studies.

Dr. Fraser also serves as PI on Towards Total Worker Health for Environmental Service Workers.

Center Investigators

Jeremy Biggs, MD, MSPH, FACOEM

Jeremy Biggs, MD, MSPH, FACOEM

Jeremy J. Biggs, MD, MSPH, FACOEM is PI of Incorporating Worksite Interventions in Safety and Health (IWISH): Building Capacity for Total Worker Health. In addition, he is Division Chief of Occupational and Environmental Health, Associate Professor, and board-certified occupational medicine physician. Dr. Biggs' involvement in the project draws from his experience working with various entities to ensure safety in the transition back to work, which has included engineering and administrative controls as well as the best practices for personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Caren Frost, PhD, MPH

Caren Frost, PhD, MPH

Caren Frost, MPH, PhD is a Co-I on Incorporating Worksite Interventions in Safety and Health (IWISH): Building Capacity for Total Worker Health. She is a Research Professor at the University of Utah's College of Social Work and the Director of the Office of Research Integrity & Compliance at the University of Utah. Her research emphasis is on women's health, specifically maternal and child health, cancer risk, and personalized genomics, as well as the health of women and youth from refugee backgrounds. She is dedicated to interdisciplinary research and will bring to the project her expertise in qualitative and mixed methods research. 

Scott Benson, PhD, MD

Scott Benson, PhD, MD

Scott Benson, PhD, MD is Co-I on Incorporating Worksite Interventions in Safety and Health (IWISH): Building Capacity for Total Worker Health. He is Associate Professor in the Division of Public Health and the Division of Infectious Diseases in the School of Medicine at the University of Utah. Dr. Benson is a clinician, scientist, and educator who has expertise in infectious diseases and global health. He leverages this experience to provide guidance on the development and operations of screening programs for COVID-19, as well as the design of engineering control systems.

Rod Handy, PhD, CIH, MBA

Rod Handy, PhD, CIH, MBA

Scott Benson, PhD, MD is Co-I on Incorporating Worksite Interventions in Safety and Health (IWISH): Building Capacity for Total Worker Health. He is Associate Professor in the Division of Public Health and the Division of Infectious Diseases in the School of Medicine at the University of Utah. Dr. Benson is a clinician, scientist, and educator who has expertise in infectious diseases and global health. He leverages this experience to provide guidance on the development and operations of screening programs for COVID-19, as well as the design of engineering control systems.

Center Evaluation

Andrea Rorrer, PhD

Andrea Rorrer, PhD

Evaluation Director

Andrea Rorrer, PhD, director of the University of Utah Education Policy Center (UEPC) is the Evaluation Director of U-POWER. The UEPC is an independent, not-for-profit research center that is part of the University of Utah College of Education, and is a recognized leader in providing rigorous research and evaluation services and evidence-based support to leaders, K-12 and higher education organizations, policy makers, and affiliate agencies to inform decisions, policies, practices and programs. Dr. Rorrer and her team have developed a tailored evaluation plan that will use multiple methods for formative and summative assessment. 

Ellen Altermatt, PhD

Ellen Altermatt, PhD

Ellen Altermatt, PhD, is a Senior Research Associate at the UEPC and the primary evaluator of U-POWER. Dr. Altermatt has over 20 years of experience conducting basic and applied educational research and teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.