Kyle Vogel’s interest in industrial hygiene was homegrown.
His aunt died of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos working in a car-battery factory, and his father has significant hearing loss stemming from his job in a paper-printing machine shop.
“Employee safety hits close to home for me,” said Vogel, a St. Petersburg native who graduated in 2014 from the USF College of Public Health with an MSPH in industrial hygiene. “It feels good to be able to stop these things from happening to workers of this generation.”
Vogel is a safety and industrial hygienist with the city and county of Denver. He evaluates and mitigates hazards—everything from radiation and chemical exposure to noise and air pollution—city, county, and contracted workers may face.
“The work never gets boring,” commented Vogel; he’s also currently president of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. “There are so many emerging diseases, occupational hazards workers are exposed to, and industries you can work in. I like helping people, but the job is also really interesting.”
Much of Vogel’s work centers around city-owned Denver International Airport (DIA). With nearly 61.4 million passengers passing through it a year, DIA is now the fifth busiest airport in the nation and the eighteenth busiest in the world.
“I might look at chlorinated solvents used in the fleet shop,” he explained, “or silica that can become airborne during demolition of streets or airfields. Basically, I assess what employees might be exposed to on the job and then take steps to make sure they are safe.”
Vogel’s first foray into public health began when he was an undergrad at Florida State University, working as an intern for a toxicology consulting company that specializes in expert-witness testimony for people who became sick on the job.
He said he decided to pursue his master’s degree in industrial hygiene at the USF COPH because it is rated one of the top-20 public health programs in the country, while also being close to him home and family.
One of the highlights of his time at the COPH was winning an award for a poster he presented at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition (AIHce). The poster highlighted his thesis research, which investigated veterinarians’ exposure to anesthetic gases. “Basically we found that smaller veterinary clinics had gas exposure that was two to three times higher than the amount recommended by the National Institutes of Health,” remarked Vogel, who recently became certified in industrial hygiene.
Some of Vogel’s mentors at the COPH included Drs. Tom Bernard and Steven Mlynarek. “Not only were they excellent at shaping students and passionate about teaching,” he noted, “but they were also so respected in their fields. It was cool to go to a national conference and see them speak and have everyone know who they were. The professors have such great relationships with their students. I imagine that has to be harder to sustain as the program gets bigger, but they are still managing to do it. I really feel as though USF prepared me very well for a career I absolutely love.”
In the future Vogel hopes to secure a position as the manager of an environmental health program, pursue his doctorate, and ultimately become a professor in an industrial hygiene program.
“My practice is protecting workers. And that also happens to be my passion,” he said.
Alumni Fast Five
What did you dream of becoming when you were young?
A baseball player. I used to be a fan of the Atlanta Braves, but now I root for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Where would we find you on the weekend?
In the Rockies, snowboarding, hiking or camping.
What was the last book you read?
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot.
What superpower would you like to have?
What is your all-time favorite movie?
“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.”
Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health