Current Doctoral Candidate Interview: Linda F. Martin
Why Choose Capitol Tech’s PhD in Occupational Health and Safety?
Current Capitol Tech doctoral candidate Linda F. Martin, MS, CSP, CIH, works as a consultant, course curriculum designer, and professor in the occupational health and safety (OHS) industry. Linda is also President of the Board of Directors at the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) and the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the BCSP Foundation.
Linda is currently working on finalizing her dissertation at Capitol Tech and has found the university to be the perfect place for her to explore her passion for the OHS industry while expanding her education.
What was your undergraduate degree/master’s degree?
My undergraduate is in geology. I have two master’s degrees. I have an MBA and a master’s in occupational safety and health management.
How did you go from geology to OHS?
When I got out of school with a geology degree, it was something I was interested in but there were only jobs in environmental consulting, which is not something I really wanted to do. I still took a job, and was making good money, but didn’t really like my career. Over the years, I witnessed that there were a lot of employees that were being exposed to hazardous materials, which made me more interested in the occupational health side of the business. My practice naturally swung toward safety and less toward environmental consulting. I made that into a career in corporate safety, teaching, and safety/industrial hygiene consulting.
Why did you pursue a PhD in Occupational Health and Safety?
I actually never really considered teaching, but I met a mentor who was teaching who thought I would be good at it. I found a couple of jobs teaching online and found I really liked it, especially the aspect of helping other professionals to become better at what they do. As I taught undergraduate and graduate-level occupational health and safety courses, I thought I should get my PhD: if I’m going to do it, I should do it. Once I earn my degree, my plan is to continue to build a curriculum, teach and provide consulting services to the industry.
How do you see the OHS PhD helping those in your industry?
I think that Capitol Tech has a good model, which is researched-based. The core curriculum in this program and attention to expanding the body of knowledge in occupational safety and health is more of an emphasis in other programs. What we need is real solid research in workplace safety and occupational health and experts in innovative practice areas, and that is something Capitol Tech offers.
How has Capitol supported your PhD program?
I’ve received really good support from both Dr. Brad Sims, Capitol Tech President, and Dr. Ian McAndrew, dean of doctoral programs. Dr. McAndrew, as a mentor and someone who supports student success, was a huge draw for me. From the second I met him I knew he would mentor me to successful completion. I think that means a lot to anyone pursuing a PhD. You really need a partner in someone who will lead you through the process. The committee and your chair should be aligned with how to bring this person into the academic discipline. A system that supports you with foundational pieces should allow you to be creative enough to solve a unique problem, and Capitol Tech has that foundation in place.
What opportunities are there for those who pursue a PhD in OHS?
I think there are a lot of opportunities for people who want to teach; which is something you can do with a PhD, or consulting, or work with government agencies and private industry. I want to be a part of that solution where we build better professionals, and we can’t do that without supporting each other to grow and continually learn.
Why is Capitol Tech’s OHS PhD program different?
There aren’t any other programs that are completely online in this field. There are a few hybrid programs, but they make you go to campus for a set amount of time or require a residency. With the research-based idea and the fact that you can do it completely online it opens the program up to more people in the field to achieve a PhD. Even though the program is online, I still feel connected. Dr. McAndrew is responsive; he spends a lot of time encouraging me even when I feel like I can’t do it.