The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler
Vanessa Casanova is a broadly trained social scientist. Her graduate education was focused on rural sociology, geography and social forestry. Her postgraduate training is in the fields of labor studies and public health. Vanessa joined the faculty of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler in 2013 as Assistant Professor of Occupational Health Sciences. An addition to teaching in her home department and the College of Forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University, Vanessa is the Applied Research Manager for the NIOSH funded Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education. The SW Ag Center has an established record of conducting comprehensive research that addresses the needs of workers in the agricultural, fisheries, and forestry workers in Public Health Region 6. The SW Ag Center has an extensive network of strategic partners throughout the region, and collaborates with producers and associations in commercial fishing, forestry, and logging; as well as agriculture to provide research, education and outreach. Vanessa is the principal investigator and supervisor of a community-based research project focused on safety climate on logging sites across the Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Her research interests are organized around the organization of work and its impact on health and safety outcomes and health disparities in the workplace.
The overall goal of this project is to identify gaps in workplace participation and completion rates in Fit City Tyler’s Lighten Up East Texas initiative. The project will serve to aid in the development of strategies to increase participation and rates of completion from all sectors, business sizes, employment categories and job classifications throughout the catchment area. The long-term goal of this project is to provide evidence to support continued and expanded workplace involvement in a healthy community initiative. The aims of the project are, 1) Characterize workplace participation Fit City Tyler’s Lighten Up East Texas Initiative; and, 2) Evaluate participating worksites for services that support individualized behavior changes, social supports, management buy-in, and environmental supports.
My New Connections Experience
An award from New Connections will allow me to expand the breadth of my research to include a broader population of the workforce and to pursue my interest in health promotion in the workplace. More importantly, New Connections will allow me with to interact with mentors and a diverse group of scholars with similar interests and experiences.
My research activities are centered on labor, the organization of work and its impact on health and safety. I have worked extensively with vulnerable populations in the forestry and logging sector using both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore workplace exposures in this population. My current research is focused on safety climate and safety management on logging sites. The methods developed in this study will be applied in future research in other workplace settings to assess disparities in injuries and fatalities between majority and minority workers. Beyond health protection I am also interested in workplace health promotion and am pursuing a research agenda targeting disparities in workplace wellness program participation to identify gaps in access as well as contextual and cultural appropriateness of workplace wellness initiatives.
- New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
- Award Year: 2015
- RWJF Team/Portfolio: Healthy Communities
- Project Name: Examining worksite participation in a community-wide wellness