PhD student Michael Ierardi receives prestigious AIHA award

May. 15, 2024
Michael Ierardi

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), through the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation (AIHF), has recognized PhD student Michael Ierardi with its highest scholarship and professional development honor, the President’s Leadership Award, which includes a $10,000 stipend to use toward his continuing research and career development.

To qualify for the President’s Leadership Award, applicants must demonstrate scientific, literary, and research acumen in industrial hygiene, environmental, and occupational health disciplines. They must also demonstrate a strong propensity toward leadership, volunteerism, and problem-solving, and they must show a genuine passion for using their knowledge, experience, and talents to make a tangible and positive impact on worker health and safety.

Ierardi exceeds these qualifications. He has been engaged in studying the complex relationship between the environment and human health for more than a decade. He began publishing peer-reviewed articles while a master’s student in industrial hygiene at CUNY SPH and a full-time human health risk assessment consultant. He has led the local AIHA student group section at CUNY SPH as president and served as a teaching assistant for various courses, guiding and mentoring the next generation of industrial hygienists. Working with Associate Professor Brian Pavilonis and others, he developed and co-taught EOHS 625: Hazard Evaluation and Instrumentation and various lectures for EOHS 623: Principles of Industrial Hygiene. He has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences and other events. He has also been an active volunteer within AIHA in various forums, including the Metro New York Chapter, the Social Concerns Committee, and the Minority Special Interest Group as a member, and the PR(IH)DE Special Interest Group as the founding member and chair since July 2022.

Over the course of his master’s and now doctoral education, Ierardi has come to recognize that psychological stressors in the workplace are just as important as the “more traditional” chemical, biological, and physical hazards he has studied and addressed. Moreover, he has recognized that the mitigation of psychological hazards such in the workplace as incivility and excessive job demands has historically not received equal attention from industrial hygiene/occupational and environmental health and safety (IH/OEHS) professionals. He is committed to ensuring the integration of occupational health psychology more fully into industrial hygiene and safety through his research and advocacy. And he’s starting at the educational level: with Pavilonis, he is working to create an interdisciplinary curriculum, including courses in qualitative research methods, epidemiology, and exposure/risk assessment, that will lead to the design and implementation of control measures to safeguard mental health and well-being in real-world workplaces.

“I want to acknowledge the people who have come before me in this field and paved the way,” says Ierardi. “And I’m deeply appreciative of the support I’ve gotten from CUNY SPH and in particular, from my mentor, Professor Pavilonis, as well as from my ChemRisk and Integral colleagues over the years.”

“One more thing,” he says. “I’ve been working full time and pursuing my graduate education part-time since 2017. I would really like to thank the friends and family who continue to be there for me all this time.”