George Byrns is retiring as a professor of environmental health at Illinois State University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1999. Prior to this, he worked for the a division of the U.S. Public Health Service, Indian Health Service, for 25 years managing the occupational health and safety program. He is a certified industrial hygienist (CIH) and holds a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in occupational and environmental health. He also has a master of public health from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. from Colorado State University in environmental health. He is a member and past chair of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Healthcare Working Group. In 2015, he was selected as an AIHA Fellow.
Some of his most memorable moments involve collaboration with other professionals or students. In 2004 and 2005, he did collaborative research with Glenn Reeder, a social psychologist, and several nurses from Mennonite College of Nursing on preventing low back pain in nurses. The collaboration resulted in several manuscripts.
Between 2010 and 2012, five undergraduate students (Jeff Bradbury, Angela Brown, Kelsey Frank, Alyssa Gustafson, and Anna Nelson) assisted Byrns in doing research on hazard communication compliance in hospitals. This resulted in two student research posters and a manuscript published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. For Byrns, the most memorable part of this was that when one of the posters was presented at the national AIHA conference in Indianapolis, it won first place in three separate divisions!
He notes that prior to global positioning systems and Garmin technology, club field trips were always an adventure due to what he describes as his “directional disability.” Even routine field trips could be memorable like some of the class trips to the McLean County Jail. He recalls jail staff was always welcoming and glad to see his students, but some years, some of the inmates were a little too expressive of their excitement regarding the visit!
Yang received the 2017 Outstanding Researcher award from the College of Applied Science and Technology as well as the 2017-2018 University Research Initiative Award. A number of his students have been involved in research—you can read more about them in the student accomplishments story. Yang’s current research focuses primarily on anaerobic digestion: a technology for recovering energy and nutrients from organic material while degrading pathogens and biomass. He is developing a method for performing continuous, high-solids (solid state) digestion. Yang teaches water and wastewater treatment, air quality and pollution control, occupational health, and renewable energy and agriculture. He holds a joint appointment with ISU’s Department of Agriculture.
Tom Bierma is working with Guang Jin on his reseach, which in the past year has focused primarily on glass recycling. They have developed prototype equipment for cleaning recycled glass, which typically becomes heavily contaminated during single-stream recycling operations. They are also working with Pranshoo Solanki from ISU’s Construction Management program on developing new local markets for the mixed-color glass from single-stream recycling. Both contamination and color-mixing are reasons why many communities have stopped recycling glass. They are in the final stages of securing a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate the use of mixed-color glass as a substitute for fly ash in certain concrete applications. Tom has also been active in the community, working with the Ecology Action Center to develop the new 20-Year Materials Recovery and Resource Management Plan for Bloomington/Normal and McLean County. One of the first outcomes of the new plan is an apartment recycling ordinance—students will finally have recycling services when they move off campus! Bierma is also a 1977 graduate of the environmental health program.
Christy teaches the food protection course and the summer sections of environmental health in the 21st century, although her primary responsibilities are in health promotion and education. Working with Tom Bierma and Guang Jin, Bazan’s research has focused on food safety in community food donation programs. Their work was presented at the 2017 Midwest Food Recovery Summit and an article is under review at the Journal of Environmental Health. Bazan is a 1993 graduate of the environmental health program.
Fuller’s normal teaching assignments are in the safety program, but he has agreed to take on the industrial hygiene course this year. He will also be the faculty advisor to the student AIHA group. Tom just finished a sabbatical that took him to 14 countries on four continents.
Jack Kaufmann returns to teach Environmental Health in the 21st Century
Kaufmann is teaching environmental health in the 21st century, a course he has taught at ISU in many previous years. Kaufmann has decades of experience as a multi-media environmental educator. You can learn more about his programs and performances online. Kaufmann received his B.S. in environmental health in 1986 and master’s in health education in 1989, both from ISU.
McDermott is teaching environmental health decision processes. He brings a wealth of environmental health experience to the program, including leadership positions in environmental health and safety with a number of companies throughout the Midwest. He is currently employed with ChemTreat, Inc. McDermott is a past president of the Prairie Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. David is a 1993 graduate of the environmental health program.
Keep in touch with faculty!
Program Director Guang Jin, gjin@IllinoisState.edu
LC Yang, lyang@IllinoisState.edu
Tom Bierma, tbierma@IllinoisState.edu
Christy Bazan, cnstath@IllinoisState.edu
Tom Fuller, tfulle2@IllinoisState.edu
Jack Kaufmann, jdkaufmn@IllinoisState.edu
David McDermott, dnmcder1@IllinoisState.edu
Health Sciences faculty, (309) 438-8329