Small Grant Program

Symposium Poster Session

The Small Grant Program provides small grants to graduate student and faculty researchers for research taking place across the region, including in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada. The primary goal of the WCAHS Small Grant Program is to encourage the development of creative research and intervention projects while nurturing researchers - particularly junior researchers - interested in agricultural health and safety research. An annual call for proposals is released each October and following a competitive review process, selected projects are funded. 

Small Grant Program Objectives

  • Fund short-term research projects to support the collection of preliminary data
  • Attract new investigators to work with the Center in the field of agricultural health and safety
  • Facilitate the exploration of innovative research
  • Engage and mentor graduate students across multiple disciplines

See the 2018-2019 Call for Proposals


Current Projects


Organizational Risk Factors for Sexual Harassment and the Consequences for Agricultural Work Teams

Monica Cooper, DPM - UCCE Napa

Female farm workers in the US are at risk of sexual harassment; workers witnessing sexual harassment are also affected, contributing to dysfunctional work teams. Subsequently, poorly functioning teams pose other safety risks in agricultural workplaces where hazardous materials and machinery are used. Using vineyard companies as a model, this project examines sexual harassment risk factors, with an emphasis on organizational structure, and the consequences for all vineyard crew member teams. We intend to develop predictive measures identifying when workers are at greatest risk of sexual harassment, and investigate its potential role on wider health and safety issues. From these models we intend to provide agricultural companies with information to proactively structure their organization to foster a work environment that reduces the probability of sexual harassment and benefits wider health and safety issues.


The Correlation of Metal-Specific Dusts to Lung Pathology in California Agricultural Workers

Katie Edwards, Graduate Student – Forensic Science, UC Davis

Agricultural workers in the Central Valley are exposed to a wide variety of airborne toxicants that place these workers at increased risk for respiratory disease compared to the general population. This research will examine whether metals present in the dust inhaled by farmworkers contributes to the observed lung damage.


Farm-Incubator Agricultural Safety Training Program

Nathan Harkleroad, MS - Agriculture and Land-based Training Association

The Agriculture and Land-based Training Association’s project will provide agricultural safety education to 60 participants, the majority of whom are immigrant farmworkers. Project materials, including new tools, newsletter articles, webpage, and social media, will reach an additional 300 farmers in a tri-county area, as well as a network of farm educators nationally. We aim to provide a series of 10 worker-safety workshops; technical assistance to 30 individual farmers on worker-safety compliance; knowledge to 60 aspiring farmers; implementation of new worker-safety practices by 30 farmers; establishment or update of worker-safety compliance plan by 25 farmers; and the creation of a bilingual worker safety resource page on ALBA’s website.


Developing and Implementing an Outreach Program to Improve Cannabis Worker Safety and Health in California

Farzaneh Khorsandi, PhD – UC Davis

Cannabis in California is a rapidly growing industry and will continue to expand with the 2018 legalization of recreational use and issuance of commercial cannabis producer licenses. The increase in cannabis employees and the demand for worker-training intensifies the need for an assessment to detect safety hazards of working in the industry and for the development of a health and safety outreach program. We aim to conduct such an assessment an develop an outreach program to educate workers and supervisors about the potential hazards and accidents in this field, and the appropriate prevention methods and protection equipment.


Leptospirosis Among California Agricultural Workers: A Silent Epidemic?

Alvaro Medel-Herrero, PhD, MBA - UC Davis

Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that affects humans and animals, is primarily an occupational disease, disproportionally affecting farmers. Leptospirosis is a reemerging infection in California and a serious threat to farmwokers. No studies on Leptospira seroprevalence have been conducted in California agriculture workers. The goal of this proposal is to estimate the prevalence of leptospirosis among agriculture workers in the Central Valley of California and its relation to main exposure factors. We plan to use a questionnaire to collect information on exposure factors. To estimate leptospirosis prevalence, biological samples will be collected. We expect to find a relatively high prevalence and close relationships between leptospirosis and occupation, environment and poverty.Results are expected to fill knowledge gaps and contribute to a better understanding of leptospirosis epidemiology and occupational exposure risks in California. Ultimately, we hope that our scientific findings will be translated to educational and outreach programs, as well as new health policies to prevent and control leptospirosis reemergence in the US.


A Water Quality Assessment in a Farm Worker Community

Marc Verhougstraete, PhD - University of Arizona

The community of Winchester Heights, Arizona is a nearly 600-resident community is made up of farm workers. Additionally, water in the community is suspected to be contaminated from decades of extensive agriculture in the watershed. Thus, this project proposes to understand Winchester Heights community member’s risk perception of their local water and quantify bacteria and heavy metal concentrations in household drinking waters by using a community-based participatory approach. This method involves training community health workers to collect, analyze, and interpret bacteria and trace metals from water then present the results to their community. We intend to establish a strategic action plan with input from the community residents and community stakeholders focused on improving water quality.