The Deep South ERC is the only NIOSH ERC in our region and is a critical resource to business, labor and industry in preventing work-related injury and illness. The Center provides strong academic programs of study for its students, which includes interdisciplinary and field work experiences. ERC graduates have rewarding and challenging careers in businesses, federal agencies, academia and industries. Through the ERC, information is shared on emerging occupational health and safety issues to other educational institutions, public agencies, businesses, workers, minorities, youths and non-profits.The faculty of the Deep South ERC has varied research interests from long haul truck driver safety to respirator fit testing.

Click here to read news stories from our program.
The Deep South Center ERC is pleased to share our recent activities. Research, awards, events and changes in our ERC and Programs from January 2023 through the end of summer 2023. Each of our programs are growing! We are excited to welcome incoming students in Industrial Hygiene (IH). In the MSPH program: Darkeya Rowe, Maxwell Costlow, Kaleb Hanvey and Maya Van Houten and Precious Olaniran in the PhD program. In the Occupational Health Nursing (OHN) program, we welcome PhD students: Maria Lanzi, Katie Wells, Jennifer Ware and Stacey Mitchell. At Auburn the Occupational Safety and Engineering Program (OSE): welcomes 3 new students in the MS program: Abby Walden, Yen-Ting Gao and Chelsea McMeen and Lucie Outlaw is a new PhD student in the Occupational Injury Prevention Program (OIP).

The Occupational Health Nursing (OHN) Program welcomes Allison Jones, PhD, RN, CNS, CNE as the new Program Director of OHN upon Dr. Karen Heaton’s retirement this summer. Dr. Jones is an Assistant Professor in the UAB School of Nursing with more than 17 years of nursing experience and a background in emergency and trauma nursing. She is a Certified Nurse Educator, holds certification in Patient Blood Management, and has served as a certified instructor for the Stop the Bleed campaign since 2017. Dr. Jones’s research focuses on bleeding control in the pre-hospital setting and patient blood management following traumatic injury.

Uncontrolled bleeding is the primary preventable cause of death among patients with major trauma. Rates of injury and mortality due to bleeding are higher in rural areas compared to urban areas. To promote patient care in rural settings, faculty members from the Occupational Health Nursing program, including Drs. Stephanie Hammond, Karen Heaton, and Allison Jones, provided Stop the Bleed® training at the International Rural Nursing Conference in Johnson City, TN on July 26-27, 2023. The conference focused on, “bringing together rural and remote nurses, other healthcare professionals, educators, and researchers to address the unique and varied health aspects of rural and remote communities.” Training included a 30-minute slide presentation on the identification of life-threatening bleeding and the application of bleeding control methods. All participants demonstrated bleeding control methods of wound packing, use of manual pressure, and application of military-grade tourniquets. Eleven nurses from six states and one from Canada (total 12) were certified in Stop the Bleed® over two sessions.
Our 7th Annual SERRS will be held in conjunction with SouthON in Kentucky in Spring 2024…please keep an eye out for more information. We are looking forward to sharing emerging research from each of our ERCs and Ag Centers! It’s not too late to register…we are holding several CE courses this fall: Audiometric Testing and Hearing Conservation (in person, October 4-6), (via Zoom, December 4-8) Qualitative and Quantitative Respiratory Fit Test (in person, November 3) Spirometry Initial Course, (in person, December 11-12) For more information and to register please visit our website:

The Deep South Center is proud to be a part of the Southeast Mine Safety and Health Conference. The conference is held each fall and provides two days of safety-focused keynote speakers and numerous professional development tracks. There are also two pre-conference specialty programs: NIOSH Research to Practice and Contractors and Maintenance Safety and Health. This year’s conference will be held October 31-November 3, at Ross Bridge. For more information and to register: Visit to register! Early bird rate is available until September 19!

In June, the DSC was welcomed back to Puerto Rico to provide Spirometry training.  Jerry King, RRT from the Deep South Center was the Course Director.  He was joined by Practicums, Helga Llavona, COHC, Elga Padilla, RN, COHN, and Jose Llavona, COHC all of Occupational Health Services in Caguas, Puerto Rico.

The course provided training to 24 people in Initial Spirometry.  Jerry is excited to be returning later this fall for another visit!

Several of our trainees received recognition at conferences and meetings this spring:
At the Southeast Regional Research Symposium in Tampa, FL held February 27 through March 1, 2023 :

  • Nathan Chen, PhD student in the IH program was awarded, 2nd Place Doctoral Poster Presentation: N. Chen, S. Yang, J. Oh. Evaluation of Hand-Arm Vibration (HAV) Exposure among Groundskeepers in the Southeastern United States.

At the 100th Annual Alabama Academy of Science in Birmingham, AL, held in February 2023:
David McMahan, IH PhD student was awarded 2nd Place Poster Presentation of Section VIII Environmental and Earth Science, 100th Annual Alabama Academy of Science (AAS) Meeting:  D. McMahan, R. Pillai, J. Oh, C. T. Lungu. Dual-Air Purifying Activated Carbon Face Piece Respirator Development: Filtration Efficiency Testing.

In April, Auburn University recognized one of our OSE PhD students for her accomplishments:
Victoria Ballard (OSE) was doubly recognized for her enthusiasm for both teaching and research in industrial and systems engineering.  She was awarded as one of this year’s
Samuel Ginn College of Engineering’s 100+ Women Strong Outstanding Departmental Annual Graduate Award and she was awarded the Dr. Saeed Maghsoodloo Assistantship.  The assistantship recognizes and rewards the valuable teaching role that teaching assistants play in the department.

For more about Victoria:

At AIHce EXP 2023 held in Phoenix, AZ May 22 through 24, 2023:

  • Three IH PhD students, Nathan Chen, David McMahan, and Seunghyeon Yang, and Drs. Lungu and Oh participated in the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce).
  •  Nathan Chen’s poster, N. Chen, S. Yang, J. Oh. Occupational Exposure to Hand-arm

Vibration (HAV) in US Groundskeepers, received two poster awards: Best in Show Student Poster Silver and Best Student Poster Award from the AIHA Social Concerns Committee. Seunghyeon Yang’s poster, S. Yang, N. Chen, J. Oh. Evaluation of Hand-transmitted Vibration (HTV) and Noise Exposure from Electric-powered Grounds Maintenance Equipment, received Best Student Poster Award from the AIHA Noise Committee.

For more about The Best in Show Award interview:
AIHA Healthier Workplaces Episode 20: Leadership Lessons on Vimeo

Three students received Scholarships from American Industrial Hygiene Foundation:

  • Nathan Chen: The George and Florence Clayton Scholarship
  • David K. McMahan: The Pengfei Gao Memorial Scholarship
  • Seunghyeon Yang: The Amazon "Invent and Simplify" Scholarship

Trainees at Auburn partnered with the Auto Industry in a Workshop:
This summer, Dr. Yadrianna Acosta-Sojo, Dr. Mark Schall Jr., and several OSE and OIP Students (Abby Walden, Lucie Outlaw, and Savannah Maples) helped to lead a workshop in Industry 4.0 technologies in June.
For more of the story:
OSE doctoral student, Murray Gibson participated in a podcast (#GINNing Podcast) to talk about how some of his work is impacting ergonomists on an international scale:
“Dr. Sesek and I being invited to Toronto to train Ontario’s Provincial Ergonomists in the science and application of these new techniques is proof positive of that,” he said.  “It also indicates that Auburn University faculty and students are making an impact, at the international level, in the field of ergonomics.”
To hear the podcast and read about Murray and Dr. Sesek’s visit to Canada: