Colorado State University Professor Lorann Stallones has been recognized for her outstanding contribution to agricultural health and safety research by the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health.
“I would like to see more signs that say: ‘No farmers, no food,’” said Stallones who is in the Department of Psychology and also serves as the director of the Colorado Injury Control Research Center at CSU. “I view supporting farmers and farm workers as a central issue for public health. Many years ago, I was told that each farmer provided food and fiber for 130 people. That seems like a central thing that is missed when we talk about our food system as though it were not totally dependent on those boots on the ground workers.”
The Human Animal Interactions Research Coordinator at the One Health Institute at Colorado State University, Stallones received the ISASH Research Achievement Award in June for her ground-breaking work in injury prevention and global health research that has shaped the field in areas of suicide prevention and agricultural health and safety.
“It is an honor to be recognized by ISASH,” said Stallones. “The organization is dedicated to professional development of agricultural safety and health leaders and provides opportunities to share research and intervention programs and networking. I was particularly honored because two of the four people who nominated me for this award are former Ph.D. students, so I feel that their nomination reflects what I hope will be a lasting contribution to developing researchers who are committed to supporting the health and well-being of people who work in agriculture.”
Stallones’ early work focused on agricultural injuries and contributed to the body of evidence that farmers and their families experienced unprecedented levels of both fatal and nonfatal injuries and illnesses due to the hazards encountered related to farm work. In response to this finding, Stallones collaborated with an extensive global network of researchers across multiple disciplines and countries to bring attention to the unique and previously under-researched environmental risks to agricultural workers including youth and migrant workers.
Her research investigated the possible explanations for the high suicide rates found among farmers in Kentucky, specifically the role of pesticides in the pathway leading to suicidal behavior.
“In one of the first studies I conducted in Kentucky, we found that about one-third of deaths related to injuries was due to suicide,” she explained. “That took me down a long search to better understand what might be contributing to that increased risk. One thing I have worked on for many years is linking the use of pesticides on farms to suicide, suicide attempts, and mental disorders. Our work has now been cited in multiple systematic reviews of the topic and I am pleased that the notion that exogenous chemical exposures can contribute to suicide risk is no longer viewed as farfetched.”
Stallones’ research has been included in over 190 peer-reviewed publications, numerous book chapters, and countless presentations at national and international conferences. She also launched and directed the CDC-funded Colorado Injury Control Research Center in 1998.
Through the Center, she continued to conduct her research and support other researchers as they addressed ways to reduce injuries. The Center had a specific focus on injury reduction within underserved and under-resourced communities, including agricultural communities.
When Stallones started her work studying health and safety among dairy farmers in upstate New York, there was very little money available to fund the research.
“Farmers were not recognized by the people working in occupational safety and health, perhaps because the assumption was that this was the role of the United States Department of Agriculture,” she said. “I was among a small group of researchers who partnered with our Extension colleagues to raise the importance of supporting farmers and farm workers. Now there is research and resources dedicated to keeping agricultural workers safe and healthy. That is groundbreaking.”
High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety
Stallones also serves as deputy director at High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary with continuous funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
At HICAHS, Stallones ensures the continued support of regional innovative research that addresses injury and illness among agricultural workers as well as the effective dissemination of research findings to strengthen research-to-practice efforts in the field. “It is a rather remarkable accomplishment in my experience for a group to be so successful in receiving renewed funding every five years for 30 years,” she says.
For more information about HICAHS, visit vetmedbiosci.colostate.edu/hicahs.
International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health
ISASH is an organization dedicated to the professional development of agricultural safety and health professionals, providing national and international leadership in preventing agricultural injuries and illnesses in the agricultural community. ISASH provides opportunities for sharing information about research and intervention programs, improving professional skills and knowledge, networking, and other supportive activities.
For more information about ISASH, visit isash.org.