A recent graduate of the UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health, Alan Chen is a recent recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award because of his contributions to the UCLA Office of Environment, Health & Safety. For nearly a year, Alan worked with EH&S as an intern dealing with health and safety standards. He has primarily tracked rodent populations to develop measures to help prevent their spread. Alan says, “People already have enough to worry about, they shouldn’t have to think about pests and their risk to their health.” He uses GIS mapping tools and crunches numbers to visualize reports of rodents on campus. Through his work, Alan now understands factors that contribute to the expansion of rodent populations, such as beds of ivy that can harbor rodents, and where rodent bait stations yield the most efficient reduction in the rodent population.
While Alan’s MPH program required 400 hours of service, he completed 720 hours because he wanted to see his research through to its conclusion. “I’ve seen many projects start with tremendous fanfare, only to peter out.” Alan made it a priority to see the Integrated Pest Management rodent prevention initiative through to the end. Volunteering his time, he accomplished his goals of completing a year of service and developing specialized advanced projects.
Alan has developed many transferable skills through his volunteer efforts at EH&S, such as how to collaborate with multiple campus departments to accomplish a goal. When Alan noticed that a campus building lacked a hydration station, he set out to change that. To do so required the input of over thirty individuals. Alan worked to mobilize a team of students to support the hydration station. Next, he determined the costs: $360 for filters, $5000 for installation, and $1500 for the unit itself. The hydration station is being funded by the “Healthy Campus Initiative” and “The Green Initiative Fund”. Alan sought out the proper approvals, and is finalizing the order and installation of the unit. Alan is proud of this accomplishment because generations of students to come will have easily accessible drinking water.
Alan set his mind on becoming a microbiologist in the seventh grade. While watching news coverage surrounding the Anthrax mail attacks, Alan noticed that much of the public hysteria stemmed from confusion and the lack of credible information being presented. He watched curiously as pundits discussed the effectiveness of duct taping windows, and ironing or microwaving mail to prevent exposure. Alan knew researching diseases would provide doctors with the necessary tools to help people.
A native of Yorba Linda, Alan credits his dad for instilling in him the importance of budgeting. He recalls how his dad would switch to energy efficient light bulbs for savings. This focus on the bottom line has served Alan well in his volunteer work. When he is able to quantify health risks in monetary terms, Alan finds people are more receptive to hearing his message than if it was only presented in terms of well-being.