News & Resources

Faculty Profiles: Luke Naeher, Environmental Health

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage | Jan 26, 2015

As Au Sable courses go, Environmental Health (Pacific Rim, Summer Session II), may not be the offering with the most interesting or ear-grabbing name, but, under the instruction of University of Georgia’s Luke Naeher, it is one of Au Sable’s best educational offerings. A course of exceptional value to students considering overseas work in missions and development, as well as biology students intrigued by issues where policy issues of health and environment intersect, Environmental Health brings critical issues from multiple disciplines together in the hands of one of the nation’s leading environmental health experts, Luke Naeher.

As a faculty member of the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health, Luke lives out a mission to improve environmental health and working environments for all people through both research and teaching. An individual whose education took him through some of the Ivy League’s finest institutions including Cornell (BS in Biology), Harvard (MS in Environmental Health Sciences) and Yale (PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health), Luke has been with UGA’s College of Public Health since its inception in 2005, serving before that time in the University’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. With research that often intersects health and environmental science, Luke’s publications cover among the broadest spectrum of journals of any Au Sable faculty, including Science of the Total Environment, Environment International, and Environmental Health Perspectives, as well as more traditional journals in environmental and natural resource science like Forest Ecology and Management and Journal of Applied Forestry.

In Environmental Health, Luke shows students where environmental pollutants originate, how to control them, and how such control is affected by current law and policy. Students also learn the basics of environmental medicine, environmental epidemiology, and how to interact effectively with public health agencies. One student, recalling her experiences in Luke’s course, wrote, “Luke was one of the most fantastic professors I have ever had. He invested so much time in our class and took the time to get to know each of us and to help us think about and plan for the future.” Despite the pressing demands and high expectations of a major university, Luke returns each year to Whidbey Island to teach a new group of Au Sable students. A truly integrative and cross-disciplinary offering, Environmental Health brings students face to face with the truly complex and multi-dimensional nature of the interaction between environment and health, but with the understanding and insight that a scientist and teacher like Luke Naeher can uniquely provide.