Promoted, Julie Sorensen Succeeds
Dr. John May As NYCAMH Director
FLY CREEK – Julie Sorensen, Ph.D., MA, BA, has been named director of Bassett’s New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, succeeding Dr. John May. Sorensen is also director of the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety, which works out of the same offices as NYCAMH.
Dr. May co-founded NYCAMH with Dr. David Pratt in the early 1980s. Since its founding, NYCAMH has grown and developed into a nationally recognized leader in agricultural and rural health and safety. In addition to his work at NYCAMH, May has also been serving as director of the Bassett Research Institute and is now reducing his time at both as he transitions toward retirement.
“Julie Sorensen has done a remarkable job of developing and leading NYCAMH’s very successful ROPS Retrofit Program that has partnered with the New York Legislature in assisting the state’s farmers to install life-saving rollbars on their older tractors,” notes Dr. May. “In recent years NYCAMH’s Northeast Center activities have blossomed under her leadership. She has the full support of NYCAMH’s staff as she assumes the leadership role. We all feel blessed to have someone of Julie’s capabilities lead the team.”
In response to the announcement, Sorensen noted, “Dr. May has become an icon in the field of agricultural health and safety and is nationally recognized for his dedication and passion for improving the health and safety of farmers. He is also greatly admired by the staff at NYCAMH; we appreciate his balance, intellect, diplomacy and great sense of humor. Suffice it to say, it will be impossible to replace John, but with the very talented and experienced staff we are blessed with at NYCAMH, I am confident we can continue John’s legacy of providing excellent service to the NY farm community.”
Over the past decade, Sorensen’s research efforts for NYCAMH have focused on exploring the application of innovative behavior change strategies to increase the use of safety technologies in worker populations. Sorensen has assisted with the development of programs to increase the use of tractor rollover protective structures or ROPS, the most frequent cause of death on U.S. farms. The initial program, which was launched in NYS in 2006, has since been exported to six additional states and will be expanded nationally in several years. To date, nearly 1,400 highly effective rollbar systems have been installed in NYS. The project has been adopted in Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, and four additional Midwestern states are targeted next. Sorensen is now leading a similar initiative aimed at increasing the use of tractor power takeoff shields – another cause of serious mechanical injury. Also under her leadership, the Northeast Center has become increasingly involved in safety issues affecting commercial fishermen – a group at even higher risk than farmers.
Sorensen has also led efforts to develop an online migrant farmworker clinician’s resource that identifies the most frequent occupational injuries and illnesses for migrant farmworkers, methods of diagnosis and treatment, and provides patient education materials related to reducing exposure to hazardous materials.
NYCAMH’s mission is to enhance agricultural and rural health by preventing and treating occupational injury and illness. NYCAMH received its formal designation from the New York State Legislature in 1988; it’s mostly funded through a series of federal and state grants that allow the Center to carry out the research, education and outreach activities directed toward promoting safer farmsteads and healthier farm families working in agriculture in New York and other Northeastern states.
In 1992, NYCAMH became one of seven agricultural centers designated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), to be known as the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety: Agriculture – Forestry – Fishing (NEC). There are now 10 NIOSH Centers around the country that act by cooperative agreement to address pertinent and emerging problems related to occupational safety and health in agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
Sorensen obtained her bachelor’s in communication from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, her master’s in medical anthropology from Binghamton University and her doctorate in social epidemiology from Umea University in Sweden. She is a member of the American Public Health Association and New York Farm Bureau.
Learn more about NYCAMH at www.nycamh.com