Community Health & Sustainability


Faculty of the department are involved in a variety of interdisciplinary research projects, giving students the potential to be involved in real-world research. Descriptions include links to faculty contact information.

Promoting Healthy and Safe Employment in Healthcare (PHASE)

Dr. Craig Slatin is the principal investigator of the PHASE in Healthcare research project, a six-year study funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The PHASE project sought to understand health disparities among healthcare workers, studying, among other aspects, how healthcare system restructuring has shaped facility decision-making about employee health and safety and diversity support. Analysis is nearly complete and multiple publications have resulted from the project.  Departmental collaborators on this multidisciplinary project included Dr. Michael O'Sullivan, Dr. Patrick Scollin, Dr. Nicole Champagne, and Dr. Eduardo Siqueira.

Chemical Policy and Science Initiative, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production
Dr. Joel Tickner has led the Chemicals Policy and Science Initiative of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production since 2001. The mission of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production is to promote environmentally sound systems of production, healthy work environments, and economically viable work organizations.  Together with its sister institute, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), the Lowell Center has six faculty and some 25 professional staff with expertise in such fields as toxics use reduction, alternatives assessment, work environment policy, industrial hygiene, cleaner production, environmental management systems, and environmental health. The mission of the Chemicals Policy and Science Initiative (CPSI) is to support the development and adoption of safer chemicals and products through policy, marketplace, and science transformations. Through its Green Chemistry and Commerce Council, the CPSI has been able to engage a broad range of companies across sectors and supply chains in collaboration to overcome challenges to shifting the marketplace to safer chemistry. The initiative has played a critical role in advancing U.S. discussion on the problems of unsustainable chemicals management and the options and opportunities for reforms towards safer chemicals and products. For more information please visit:

Dr. Joel Tickner is a Program Director for the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, researches and promotes more sustainable forms of production and consumption. The Lowell Center is one of the world's leading academic centers in research, training, and outreach on safer chemicals and products; sustainable hospitals, cleaner production, and environmental health research. The Lowell Center's sister institute, the Toxic Use Production Institute (TURI), is an international leader in assisting firms in reducing their reliance on toxic substances. In collaboration with the Department of Community Health and Sustainability and the Department of Work Environment, the Lowell Center's faculty and research staff have a range of expertise from public policy, to industrial hygiene, chemistry, and epidemiology.

Health Communications Initiatives
Dr. Leland Ackerson is working on several related project related to communication and health. On one such project titled “Feasibility and effectiveness of a social networking site on increasing physical activity in adults”, he is collaborating with Dr. Cynthia Ferrara in the Physical Therapy Department. The project aims to deliver an intervention through face-to-face interaction and social media designed to encourage at-risk individuals to engage in exercise. The project has completed a series of initial qualitative data collection to determine what types of knowledge and support would be the most effective in encouraging positive physical activity outcomes. The program creation and implementation phases will be followed by a multi-faceted program evaluation that will include quantitative and qualitative aspects.

Dr. Leland Ackerson is also collecting pilot data regarding media use and health-related policies. The premise of these studies is that implementing health-related policies, such as mandating seat-belt regulations and taxing cigarettes, allows public health workers to prevent numerous premature deaths and illnesses. By determining the mass and electronic media channels and messages that are most effective for this purpose, community health workers can select the most efficient methods for educating the public about such measures.

Medicare Lifestyle Modification Demonstration
Dr. A. James Lee has been working for some time with Brandeis University to evaluate the Medicare Lifestyle Modification Demonstration.  The demonstration, which began in late 1999 and ended in early 2007, temporarily funded two enhanced lifestyle modification programs for cardiac patients:  The Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, and the Benson-Henry Mind/Body Medical Institute's Cardiac Wellness Program directed by Dr. Herbert Benson.  Both programs involved a 12-month program of multifactor intervention for patients with advanced, but stable coronary heart disease.  Dr. Lee is currently working to build research partnerships with Tewksbury State Hospital  and Lowell Community Health Center, and has written federal grant proposals with each—respectively, "Effects of an Evidence-Based Nursing Protocol on Lower Respiratory Infections," and "Establishment of a Community-Clinical Partnership for Primary Prevention of Type-2 Diabetes in Persons at High Risk."

Health Promotion and Occupational Health and Safety  Integration
Dr. Nicole Champagne is the Principal Investigator of a project being done through the Center for the Promotion of Health of the New England Workforce (CPH-NEW). The Center is under the direction of Laura Punnett from the Department of Work Environment and is a collaboration of UMass Lowell and the University of Connecticut. The Education, Translation, Communication and Dissemination Project has a public sector focus. Building on statewide Heart and Stroke Partnership plans developed by the Departments of Health in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Center will develop curriculum modules and assist in training sessions on 1) the definition and efficacy of health promotion-occupational health and safety integration, and 2) the relationship between work-related stress and the development of heart disease and stroke. In addition, the Partnership will collaborate with the state departments of public health to identify areas of public health activity that would benefit from the inclusion of an occupational health and safety perspective.

New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy
Dr. Slatin
, along with Dr. Beth Rosenberg of the Tufts Medical School, are the editorial team of New Solutions, A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. This quarterly journal distributed by Baywood Publishing, began in 1990 as a joint project between the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union and Professor Charles Levenstein at UMass Lowell. Dr. Levenstein now is Editor Emeritus. Information about the journal is available at

Worker Education and Training Program, The New England Consortium
Dr. Craig Slatin
 is the principal investigator of The New England Consortium (TNEC), a hazardous waste worker/emergency responder health and safety training program funded though the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' Worker Education and Training Program. TNEC is a partnership with five coalitions for occupational safety and health (COSH groups) in New England. Dr. Slatin is conducting evaluation research to better understand why firms send their employees for health and safety training and how and if they use the training in their firms.