Pilot Project Research Training Program

The Pilot Project Research Training (PPRT) Program facilitates specialized research training of graduate students, junior faculty or new investigators, and promotes the development of multi-disciplinary research addressing NORA–related topics in the areas of occupational health or safety. The Southern California NIOSH Education and Research Center (ERC) awards for one-year pilot projects to support occupational health and safety research training for students (including ERC trainees), new investigators, and new faculty (within 6 years of initial appointment). Funding is provided for small research projects or pilot studies to explore feasibility, to collect preliminary data, and to enable investigators to seek external, longer-term funding. Applications need to address topics relevant to NORA research areas, including cross sector goals.

Applications are due January 20, 2024.

Who Should Apply

Students and young investigators are particularly encouraged to apply, and with all other factors equal, will receive funding priority. Non-faculty must have a full-time faculty member to sponsor their project. Faculty sponsors and students must be identified in the proposal. Projects involving human subjects should apply for human subject approval from their IRB at the earliest opportunity and attach their submitted human subject protocol to the research proposal. All pilot project grantees are required to submit quarterly progress reports and to present their research results, if selected, in the Fall of the following year at an ERC-wide meeting. Grantees are also expected to present their research at a scientific conference and to submit a manuscript based on their research results to a peer-reviewed journal.

How to Apply

A letter of intent is strongly recommended, as it will facilitate pre-submission consultation with the applicant. The letter of intent should be submitted by December 20, 2023 and include the name and contact information of the applicant and faculty sponsor, if applicable, study title, and a short description of the study aims or goals (≤ 300 words). Full applications are due January 20, 2024, and must include:

• Cover page with study title and applicant and faculty sponsor contact information
• An unstructured study abstract (≤ 250 words)
• Specific aims and research approach (≤ 6 pages, plus references)

• Human subjects information consistent with NIH requirements, and IRB status (pending, approved, exempt)
• Budget and budget justification that includes the following categories, if applicable: salary, travel, supplies,
equipment, participant incentives. Indirect costs are limited to 8%. Total costs limited to $10,000.
• NIH format biosketch for the applicant and faculty sponsor, if applicable

Applicants may be required to respond to reviewers’ comments before a final decision is made. Awardees must submit quarterly progress reports, present their research results the following year at an SCERC meeting, and to disseminate their research through publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Funding may begin as early as July 1, 2024. Awards are contingent on receipt of funds from NIOSH.

Submit all materials and direct questions to:

Dr. Jian Li
PPRT Program Director




Applications will be subjected to peer review. The primary review criteria are:

  1. Relevance to workplace health and safety and NORA research areas
  2. Scientific merit / methodological quality
  3. Qualification of applicant, institutional environment, and feasibility
  4. Stimulation of interdisciplinary research and translation into practice
  5. Likelihood of resulting in publication in a peer-reviewed journal
  6. Likelihood of leading to future external funding
  7. Novelty of ideas, methods, or application in a new occupational context
  8. Appropriateness of budget and evidence that the proposed work is not otherwise funded
Charlene Nguyen, UCLA Industrial Hygiene PhD, presents on Pilot Project Research Training work, "E-Cigarette Aerosol Exposure: Select BioMarkers in Vape Shop Workers."
Travis Cribbs, UCLA Industrial Hygiene PhD Student, presents on Pilot Project Research Training work, "Permeation Through Disposable Nitrile Gloves: Gun Cleaning Solvents and Gunshot Residue."


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Nilufer AkbulutMining & Geological Engineering / University of ArizonaDoctoral Student"A technological framework for monitoring and visualizing rock displacement in underground mines"
Heejin JeongThe Polytechnic School / Arizona State UniversityAssistant Professor"Automated risk assessment of repetitive occupational tasks"
Xiang LiEpidemiology / UCLADoctoral Student"Long working hours, healthy diets, and cardiovascular disease in U.S. workers"
Juan Carlos Ruiz MalagonPublic Health / UC IrvineDoctoral Student"Invisible suffering and the fight to prosper: Farmworkers’ intersectional experiences with structural violence"
Sung ParkGerontology / University of Massachusetts, BostonAssistant Professor"Examining interactions between non-standard work arrangements and occupational requirements on the risk of ambulatory disability: A population-level analysis"


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Lizbeth DiazEnvironmental Health Sciences / UCLADoctoral Student“Occupational respiratory exposures among mobile car wash workers in Los Angeles”
Minjung KyungNursing / UC San Francisco“Reporting Attitude and Behavior for Musculoskeletal Symptoms Among Nursing Assistants in Long-Term Care Facility”
Rachel OdesNursing / UC San Francisco“Measurement and regulation of workplace violence in healthcare settings”
Priyanka RaviHealth Promotion Sciences / U of ArizonaDoctoral Student“The occupational health risk among the women working in the beedi industry in Mysore, India”
Tong XiaEpidemiology / UCLADoctoral Student“Associations of occupational physical activity (OPA) with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) mortality and CVD risk factors using nationally representative data among workers in the United States"


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Amanda WilsonCOEH/ U of ArizonaAssistant Professor“Infectious disease occupational risks for elementary school teachers (K-5) with a focus on current COVID-19 guidelines for in-person learning"
Jennifer Nicole NewmanHealth Sciences/ CSU NorthridgeAssistant Professor"A merger of environmental and occupational health in the health administration curriculum to best prepare students for inevitable crisis management"
Michele WongSocial Welfare/ UCLADoctoral Student "Workplace experiences of Gendered Racial Microaggressions (GRM) among Asian American women"
Mohamed AwadaCivil & Environmental Engineering/ USCDoctoral Student"Automated detection of stress in offices using machine learning"
Rachel OdesNursing/ UC San FranciscoDoctoral Student"Measurement and regulation of workplace violence in healthcare settings"
Xinyue LiuEpidemiology/ UCLADoctoral Student"Pre-conceptional and maternal occupational physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk factors and biomarkers among pregnant women: a longitudinal study"
Xiwen HuangEpidemiology/ UCLADoctoral Student"The effect of maternal occupational physical activity (OPA) on childhood cancer risk"


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Miriam MarlierEHS/ UCLAAssistant Professor“Exposure of Agricultural Workers in California to Wildfire Smoke"
Raymond HernandezOccupational Science/ USCDoctoral Student“Cumulative Strain, Activity Engagement, and Psychological State"
Tim MatthewsEHS/ UCLADoctoral Student "Increased job strain and cardiovascular disease mortality: a prospective cohort study in U.S. workers"
Travis CribbsEHS-IH/ UCLADoctoral Student"Permeation of Inorganic Gunshot Residues Disolved in Commerical Gun Cleaning Solvent Through Disposable Nitrile Gloves"


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Rietta WagonerEHS/ U of ArizonaDoctoral Student“Seasonal Comparisons of Acute Kidney Injury, Heat Exposure, and Heavy MEtal Exposure in a Sonoran Agricultural Population"
Charlene NguyenEHS-IH/ UCLADoctoral Student"Assessing Workplace Exposure to E-cigarette Aerosols among Vape Shop Workers in Southern California"
Stephanie PavonNursing/ UCLADoctoral Student “Work and Family Demands on Latina T2DM Management”
Ivy TorresPopulation Health & Disease Prevention/ UC IrvineDoctoral Student"Occupational health within the bounds of primary care: Factors shaping the health of Latina/o immigrant workers in federally qualified health centers"


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Jisung Park EHS/ UCLA Assistant Professor“The Connections Between Extreme Heat and Occupational Safety and Health Using Worker's Compensation Data for the State of California"


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Teni Adewumi-GunnEHS-IH/ UCLADoctoral Student“Development and Implementation of a Personal Protective Equipment Training Program for Cosmetologists"
Nathan PoonMechanical Engineering/ UC BerkeleyDoctoral Student“Evaluation of a Trunk Supporting Exoskeleton for reducing risk for back injury due to fatigue"
Logan Thomas Van EngelhovenMechanical Engineering/ UC BerkeleyDoctoral Student “Evaluation of a Shoulder Support Exoskeleton on Static and Dynamic Overhead Tasks”
Robert Canales Community, Environment & Policy Department/ U. of ArizonaNew Investigator“Methodologies for Analysis of continuous time series measurements relevant for occupational health"
Vikram HaridassEpidemiology/ UCIDoctoral Student“Occupational cancer risk in California teachers and risk modification by history of anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, anti-cholesterol medication use”


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Abdullah Khafagy OEM/ UCSFOEM resident"Evaluation of the occupational cardiovascular strain of the hotel housekeepers resulting from high levels of physical activity while making beds and cleaning hotel rooms"
Jonah Lipsitt EHS/ UCLADoctoral student"Physical Activity Through Sustainable Transport Activities (PASTA) in Los Angeles"
Vahe Khachadourian Epidemiology/ UCLADoctoral student"Back pain burden and its determinants among vulnerable farmers: from empirical analysis to simulated policies"
Venkat Venkatasubramanian Business Administration/ UC BerkeleyMaster student"Force, repetition and posture estimations of the distal upper extremity using surface electromyography and inertial measurement units"
Rania Sabty-Daily Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH)/ UCLANew Investigator"Design a Heat App (for use with smart phone technology), as a tool for heat illness intervention, training and data collection among construction day laborers in California"


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Charlene NguyenUCLAMaster Student, EHS, IH ProgramA New Indoor Air Mitigation Strategy for Nail Salons Based on Correlations Between Indoor Air Quality and Occupancy
Teofilia AcheampongUC IrvineDoctoral Student, EpidemiologyOccupational Exposures and Risk of Breast Cancer: The Singapore Chinese Health Study
Javier Garcia-RivasUC IrvineDoctoral Student, Public HealthExploring working conditions and injury among Day Laborers in Orange County
Negar OmidakhshUCLADoctoral Student, EpidemiologyPaternal occupational exposures and risk of sporadic retinoblastoma among offspring.
Nicolas Lopez-GalvezU. ArizonaDoctoral Student, EHSAn Observational Pilot Study of the Effect of Heat Stress on Pesticide Exposure in Migrant Farmworkers in Sonora, Mexico
Deborah CurtisUCLADoctoral Student, OEHNThe association between work place racism obesity and shiftwork among African American nurses
Dal Lae ChinUCSFPost-doctoral Researcher, OEHNAssociation of Occupational Noise Exposure with Cardiovascular Diseases
among Career Firefighters


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Shi Shu EHS/ UCLAPost-doctoral researcher"Exploratory investigation on chemical reactions initiated by indoor ultraviolet light: Evidence of reaction and UFP Generation"
Eon Lee EHS/ UCLAPost-doctoral researcher"Application of low-cost sensor air quality instruments to monitor school bus driver’s exposure to vehicle-emitted particulate pollutants"
Zeyan Liew Epidemiology/ UCLAPost-doctoral researcher"Occupational pesticide exposure and depression"
BongKyoo ChoiCenter of Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH)/ UC Irvine Junior Faculty"Exploring occupational and behavioral risk factors for obesity in urban bus drivers"


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Katherine McNamara EHS-IH/ UCLADoctoral Student"Shift work, fatigue and health in south bay refinery workers"
Carisa Harris- AdamsonPhysical Therapy/ Samuel Merrit UniversityJunior Faculty"Biomechanical evaluation of hotel room cleaners while making luxury beds with and without a mattress lift tool"
Nu Yu EHS-IH/ UCLADoctoral student"Los Angeles taxi drivers’ occupational exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon: Biomarkers for exposure and health effects. "
Heidi Fisher Biostatistics/ UCLADoctoral Student"Case-control study of occupational exposure to electric shocks and magnetic fields and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis using the Swedish patient register from 1987 to 2009 with bias analysis"
Michele Wargo-SuglerisOEHN/ UCLADoctoral Student"Job satisfaction, work environment, and successful aging: determinants to remain in older acute care nurses"


Awardee NameInstitute StatusResearch Project Title
Citadel CabasagEpidemiology/ UC Irvine Doctoral Student"Evaluating the association between occupational agents and cancer risks in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard Cohort"
Linda Lee Social Welfare/UCLADoctoral Student"Home care workers’ health"
Soo-Jeong Lee OEHN/ UCSFJunior Faculty"LMusculoskeletal disorders among California nurses: impact of safe patient handling law"