Faculty Highlight – Risto Rautiainen, PhD, MS, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health; Director, Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health
Dr. Rautiainen grew up on a farm in Finland. After mandatory military training, he completed a master’s degree in agriculture, majoring in agricultural engineering at the University of Helsinki. His thesis work involved safety of agricultural machinery, which initiated his interest in research and prevention of agricultural injuries. He joined the Finnish Farmers Social Insurance Institution, where he developed outreach programs and coordinated research funding. In 1994, Dr. Rautiainen joined the University of Iowa as coordinator of the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health, and in 2002, he received a PhD in occupational and environmental health from the University of Iowa. His thesis work involved agricultural injuries and intervention effectiveness research using large administrative databases. He served on the faculty at the University of Iowa from 2003 to 2009, contributing to several agricultural health and safety initiatives, intervention effectiveness research, and investigation of occupational fatalities.
Dr. Rautiainen joined the UNMC College of Public Health in September 2009. His duties in the Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health focus on developing teaching, research, and service activities related to agricultural health and safety. He teaches an online version of the Public Health, Environment, and Society course in the spring semester and the Agricultural Medicine course in the summer semester. His research interests include identifying risk factors for agricultural injuries and occupational diseases, and developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions to reduce injuries, illnesses, and related costs among agricultural and rural populations.
Since October 2011, Dr. Rautiainen has directed the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. This center serves a seven-state region that has nearly half a million farms. The center conducts research and outreach projects aiming to reduce injury and illness among farmers, their family members, and agricultural workers.
Dr. Rautiainen contributes to editorial boards and professional associations nationally and internationally. In particular, he collaborates with students and colleagues in Finland and the Nordic countries, which have advanced public health programs and low rates of occupational injury and illness.