Young Alumna Shares Wisdom With Current Students

Bianca Malouf, MScOEH alumnus

Bianca Malouf attributes much of her professional success to being at the right place at the right time. She says the MScOEH program at UBC provided her with a creative mindset for problem-solving and the opportunity to learn from the best hygienists, fueling her passion to become an Industrial Hygienist herself.

From the start of her undergraduate studies in biochemistry at McGill University in 2006, Bianca had doubts as to whether she had truly found her desired career path.

“Always follow what you’re interested in,” she advises other students, “you don’t notice your environment when you love your work.”

It wasn’t until her final year at McGill that Bianca first came across occupational and environmental hygienics. Instantly intrigued, she was advised during her field work with the National Air Pollution Station to go to Vancouver for an innovative occupational health program that had recently been implemented at UBC.

The Master of Science in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (MScOEH) offered by the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) provides students with the knowledge and practical skills necessary to control and evaluate hazards in the workplace and in community spaces. The role of Industrial Hygienist in particular deals with assuring that employees are not exposed to any physical, chemical, biological, or ergonomic stress factors.

Under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Carlsten and co-written with MSc-OEH program director Karen Bartlett, Bianca completed her thesis on airway oxidative stress due to diesel exhaust inhalation in humans, analyzing exhaled breath condensate. The project was awarded the WorkSafe BC Research Training Award in June of 2011.

At the SPPH’s Ten-Year Anniversary this past June, Bianca was among the three alumni presenters to share their outstanding work.

“We cannot be effective agents of change without a clear understanding of the basic concepts of hygiene,” she expressed on behalf of fellow Industrial Hygienists and to current students of the MScOEH program. When anticipating various risk factors like chemical exposure, Bianca contends that, “we have to be able to say ‘no’ to people” to ensure their safety, while still “allowing them to see the value in keeping themselves and others safe.”

Bianca stresses the importance of having strong leadership and communication skills when it comes to interacting with employees under high emotional stress. Through various job assignments in BC, Alberta, and Yellowknife, she has gained significant experience in dealing with potential work hazards.

In 2016, for example, she ensured the safety of hundreds of employees after a large fire broke out at the Ekati Diamond Mine. In the event of such an emergency, it becomes paramount for occupational and environmental health professionals to remain calm in order to perform risk assessment and respond efficiently to individuals who become panicked. The experience enabled Bianca to utilize her knowledge of hygienics to prevent any employee injuries.

In October of 2017, Bianca received her Industrial Hygiene Certification, and most recently became the Industrial Hygiene Manager of Seaspan, where she built the occupational health program from the ground up.

For more information on the OEH program at SPPH, visit the program website.