2021 NORA Symposium

2021 NORA Online Symposium

April 22, 2021

The 2021 National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Online Symposium was held via online webinar on April 22, 2021. The theme was “COVID-19 in the Workplace: Creating Safe Workspaces.” The keynote for this year’s symposium was Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). Once again, the symposium was co-sponsored by the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (MCOHS) Education and Research Center and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH).

Though the ongoing pandemic has caused us to shift our practices and perspective, moving to the online format proved beneficial. Nearly 500 participants joined the webinar from around the world, making it the largest and most diverse NORA attendance to date. Live-tweeting of highlights and key points during the event reached an even larger audience, as MCOHS and UMASH posted the live social media updates.


The entire 2021 NORA Symposium is available as a YouTube playlist, with individual videos for each poster presentation, Dr. Osterholm’s keynote talk, and the panel presentation.




The symposium began with a virtual poster session. Students and partners from MCOHS and UMASH provided short video presentations on a variety of occupational health and safety research projects and topics. Following the videos, the presenters engaged with attendees in a live Q&A session, facilitated by Dr. Susan Arnold. This interactive exchange led to further discussion on the individual projects, as well as ideas for ongoing and future research.

  • Subjective and Objective Assessment of Pharmacist Fatigue
    Taylor Watterson, PharmD, MS
    Advisor: Michelle A. Chui, PharmD, PhD
    University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy
    MCOHS Pilot Project
  • Aging on the Farm: UMASH Community Forums
    Averi Olson, Occupational Therapy Student
    Advisors: Cindy Anderson, OTD, OTR/L; Jeff Bender, DVM, MS
    University of Mary
  • An Evaluation of the Minnesota Safe Patient Handling Act
    Christina Rosebush, PhD, MPH
    Advisors: Patricia McGovern, PhD; Katherine Schofield, PhD
    Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Minnesota
    MCOHS Pilot Project
  • Assessing Occupational Risks of Manure Applicators in the Upper Midwest
    Devon Charlier, Masters of Public Health Student
    Collaborators: Melissa Wilson, PhD; Chryseis Modderman, MS; Erin Cortus, PhD; Jeff Bender, DVM, MS; Kevin Janni, PhD
    University of Minnesota
  • Protecting Livestock Workers, their Families, and Animals from Zoonotic Disease
    Jenna Gibbs, PhD, MPH
    Ag Health and Safety Alliance
  • Predicting Trends in Hypertension for Black and White Healthcare Workers
    Tongtan (Bert) Chantarat, MPH
    Advisors: Eva A. Enns, PhD; Rachel R. Hardeman, PhD; Patricia McGovern, PhD
    Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota
    MCOHS Pilot Project


Following the virtual poster session, UMASH Director, Dr. Jeff Bender, joined Dr. Osterholm for a “fireside chat” style keynote presentation. In his talk, Dr. Osterholm addressed the current state and latest developments of the global COVID-19 pandemic; the emergence of variants, increased spread in other countries around the globe, ongoing health and safety efforts, occupational risks, and the advancements and challenges surrounding vaccination, including efficacy, hesitancy, and equitable access and distribution.

Following Dr. Osterholm’s talk, Dr. Bender moderated an interactive Q&A session, during which participants submitted questions for Dr. Osterholm. The response from attendees was overwhelming as questions flooded in. Though time did not allow for all questions to be answered, the level of participation was encouraging, and Drs. Bender and Osterholm addressed a variety of concerns surrounding COVID-19 and workplace safety.

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH
Director, Center for Infectious Disease
Research and Policy (CIDRAP)
Professor, Division of Environmental Health Sciences,
University of Minnesota, School of Public Health

Dr. Osterholm is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute, College of Science and Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the Medical School, all at the University of Minnesota.


The symposium was capped off with a panel presentation by experts representing healthcare, agriculture, retail, and community engagement organizations.  Following the presentations, Dr. Marizen Ramirez, MCOHS Director, moderated a live Q&A discussion with the panelists and attendees. During this discussion, Dr. Ramirez shared questions from the participants with the panelists, addressing the relevant challenges in each industry or area of expertise, and incorporating the panelists’ unique perspective and experiences.

The panelists were:

Amira Adawe, MPH
Founder and Executive Director, The Beautywell Project

Amira Adawe has over 14 years experience working in public health including local, state and community-based public health programs, research and policy. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Beautywell Project, a non-profit organization that aims to combat skin lightening and chemical exposures as well as addressing other environmental impacts and improving community health literacy in Minnesota and nationwide. She is the host of Beauty-Wellness Talk at KALY radio and podcast. She previously managed the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet of Governor Mark Dayton, where she worked on early childhood in all policies and systems using an equity lens.

Amira is an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. As a public health researcher, her research interests include women and children’s health in the areas of access to health care, skin-lightening practices and chemical exposures. Her work has been featured on local, national and international media.

Jonathan Sellman, MD, MPH
Occupational Environmental Medicine Consultant & Clinic Medical Director, HealthPartners
Medical Group; Medical Director, Regions Hospital Employee Health

Dr. Jonathan Sellman is an occupational and environmental medicine physician who is also board certified in infectious diseases and internal medicine. He is an Occupational Environmental Medicine Consultant and Clinic Medical Director with HealthPartners Medical Group, and Medical Director with Regions Hospital Employee Health.

Dr. Sellman previously worked as an infectious diseases doctor for 15 years. His interests include occupational infectious diseases, the “One Health” approach, which is the overlap of human, animal and environmental health, emerging infections and agricultural medicine.

Lourdes Villanueva
Director of Farmworker Advocacy, Redlands
Christian Migrant Association (RCMA)

Lourdes Villanueva is the Director of Farmworker Advocacy at Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), an organization that serves farmworker families in Florida. She held multiple positions with RMCA prior to her current role.

At the age of 11, Ms. Villanueva and her family came to the US to harvest fruit and vegetables. In the early 1980s, Ms. Villanueva, then the mother of three, came to RCMA because she wanted a safe place for her children to be cared for while she and her husband harvested tomatoes. She went on to become RCMA staff, got her GED, went to community college and eventually earned her bachelor’s degree.

Lourdes has received numerous awards for her advocacy and commitment to farmworkers and their families, including the prestigious Ohtli Award from the Mexican Consulate. Ms. Villanueva is proud to come from a migrant farmworker family and wants to ensure that today’s children and families receive the same opportunities she did.

MCOHS and UMASH were proud to once again co-sponsor this annual event.
We wish to thank the presenters, as well as the faculty and staff who work together each year to make it happen, even in challenging times! We look forward to future symposia as we continue the engaging and vital discussions on occupational health and safety.


The NORA Symposium was co-sponsored by the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Education and Research Center (MCOHS) and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH).