August 15, 2017 / Brigette Polmar

#IAmIH: Third-generation IH Student Relies on AIHA to Help Navigate the Challenges of being a Woman in a Scientific Field

For AIHA member Christine Uebel-Niemeier, entering her second year as an IH graduate student isn’t just a career choice. It’s a family tradition. Her grandfather worked as a toxicologist for 35 years. Her uncle has a master’s in industrial hygiene. Now they are classmates—both working toward a PhD in IH in the same program at the University of Cincinnati.

“Workplace and environmental exposures was something we talked about around the dinner table, so it was just a very natural fit for me to end up studying [IH] for my career,” Uebel-Niemeier says.

Another natural fit? Her AIHA student membership. “The benefits you get from joining [AIHA]—especially at the low student rate—are well worth the money. You’d spend more on a night out,” says Uebel-Niemeier, who used her AIHA student discount to purchase the White Book (The Occupational Environment: Its Evaluation, Control, and Management), necessary for all IH students. “To get that at a discounted rate, that is amazing because it helps me through my studies. I’m going to need that book for almost every class that I take as a graduate student.”

But family traditions and discounts aside, Uebel-Niemeier says the greatest benefit of her student membership has been the AIHA mentorship program. “You can sign up, give them your interests, what you’re looking for and what your ideal career path will look like, and they try to match you up with someone who would be a good fit.” Uebel-Niemeier’s mentor is a woman. “I think it’s really important that women in the field help each other navigate the challenges of being a woman in a science field.”

In addition, she’s looking to AIHA to help her launch and shape and her career. “Being a member of AIHA looks good on your resume. It gives you more opportunities to get involved in things that can build your resume. It’s really essential for someone starting out in the field as an early career industrial hygienist. This is one of the most important times to be a part of that community.”

AIHA meets Uebel-Niemeier’s need for quality industry insights and her passion for helping others. “They’re really helpful in providing guidance and providing the latest information in the field,” she says. “That way I’m as prepared as I can be when I actually hit the ground in the workplace trying to protect workers from exposure. It’s great to be surrounded by like-minded people, and having that sense of community really fosters that passion.”

And then there’s AIHce EXP. The conference is Uebel-Niemeier’s favorite AIHA offering. “I love going to the Expo. I love going to the sessions and learning. It’s just industrial hygiene nerd heaven!”

For more information about AIHA membership, visit the AIHA website.

Brigette Polmar

Brigette Polmar is a professional brand journalist who covers the industrial hygiene profession, AIHA member news, AIHce EXP, and more. A former Washington correspondent and broadcast journalist, Polmar is the founder of Brand Spoken, which specializes in industry-specific coverage on paper, online, and on the air. ​


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