Staff Spotlight: Dr. Sean Rice

Each month, we feature an Institute Staff member and share with the community a behind-the-scenes through a question and answer session to learn more about their research areas, career path and goals, but most importantly recognize their hard work. Today, we feature Sean Rice, Ph.D., the Institute’s Senior Biostatistician.

Tell us more about yourself (career path, goals, anything you want us to know, etc.)

“My career path has been variable and winding. When I was in college, I wanted to be a high school teacher. I majored in psychology and did not like math at the time, ironically, or even thought to go down a career path in statistics. I fell in love with statistics, particularly psychometrics, during my Experimental Psychology Ph.D. program at Washington State University Vancouver.

I became aware of the Institute through the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center Dissertation Awards, which gave me the opportunity to work to improve the health and well-being of workers by advancing measurements around well-being in workers. When I was about to graduate from my Ph.D. program, I was recruited for a post-doctorate position to work at the Institute in Dr. Ryan Olson’s Lab. After my post-doctorate opportunity, I was notified that the Institute was looking to hire a statistician with a dual appointment in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health Biostatistics & Design Program to support various research projects across the university.

You can have the best research study in the world, but the statistics are what tell us the intervention is effective and how we build the scientific knowledge. It is the backbone. That was always interesting to me. I wanted to work at the Institute because I have always wanted to help people behind-the-scenes. I am interested in a career that can make an impact on the health and well-being of people in some way.”

What current research projects are you working on?

“As a statistician, I support Principal Investigators (PIs) on their studies by helping develop analysis plans, conducting power analyses—which helps the researcher determine the smallest sample size (i.e. participants in a study) suitable to detect the effect of a given test or level of significance—as well as analyzing the data once it’s all done. Some of the research projects I support include:

  • Dr. Saurabh Thosar’s studies include evaluating sedentary behavior during COVID-19-related transition from office to remote work, and comparing validity of blood pressure measurements in the context of dipping/non-dipping.
  • Dr. Nicole Bowles studies on circadian cortisol awakening responses and trajectories of cannabis use and sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Dr. Emily Huang’s Safety Climate Lab’s grant proposals involving Oregon Tradeswomen and Key Drivers of Safety Climate.
  • Dr. Caren Weinhouse through supporting a grant proposal looking at the impacts and interaction of BPA or Bisphenol A, an industrial chemical that is used to make certain plastics and resins and how toxicity is impacted by factors like sex and age.
  • Dr. Ryan Olson’s Lab on both Shift On Board and Tech4Rest, studies that aim to safety, health and well-being of commercial drivers, which we are wrapping up data collection and in the process of publishing papers.

What do you like most about working for OHSU/Institute/occupational health research?

“The culture is very welcoming at OHSU. The Institute is very supportive, and holds value in high standards of scientific research. For example, when I was completing by post doctorate program here, I had a performance management and review with my manager, at which they showed a great interest in trying to help develop my career goals. The Institute is a very conscientious department supporting quality research studies. I love that our Institute has a Team for Inclusion and Diversity and Equity (TIDE).

What are your favorite hobbies outside of work? Home-life is very important to our health and well-being and is interconnected to our work-life.

“I love music. I am a drummer and I enjoy playing gigs locally. I have played drums for over 18 years. I enjoy having a creative outlet. In my home office, I have an electric drum set in the corner, which I practice daily. Also, I am an avid chess player and played competitively throughout my childhood. And I am a big movie buff. My favorite film genre is horror. My friends call me the human IMDB, since I know a lot movie trivia.”

Dr. Rice and Institute colleagues recently had a study featured in Safety+Health Magazine. Their study shows that texting toolbox talks to supervisors can help increase compliance with Oregon OSHA’s standards on safety meetings.

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We currently have faculty and research staff positions open at Institute. Visit our current job openings on the OHSU careers page.