Meet UNMC Distinguished Scientist Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D.

Image with caption: Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D.
Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D.
NOTE: This profile is part of a series to highlight the 16 researchers who will be honored April 30 at a ceremony for UNMC's 2012 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator Award recipients.

  • Name: Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D.
  • Title: Associate professor, director of Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Joined UNMC: September 2009
  • Hometown: Born in Lavia, Finland

Describe your research briefly in layman's terms.
My main research interest is health and safety in agriculture. Having grown up on a farm and seeing hazards that farmers deal with in their daily work, I got interested in research and prevention of injuries and health conditions among farmers and agricultural workers. My main focus is on injury prevention; learning how the injuries happen and using this information for prevention, mainly through education and outreach.

How does your research contribute to science and/or health care?
Through many intervention studies and systematic reviews of the literature, I can contribute to the understanding of what works and what does not in prevention of agricultural injury and disease. A lot more progress needs to be made, and through UNMC's Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, which I direct, we have a talented group of investigators and educators contributing to better health and safety among farmers in Nebraska and the region.

What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you, professional or personal?
"You are a young man; you need experiences." This was a comment from a farm organization leader in a meeting where I was recommending some fairly strong policy actions. This may have been a polite way of telling me not to try something that is "impossible." Not so young anymore, there have been many "experiences" since then, but I have not completely given up on pursuing 'impossible" ideas.

List three things few people know about you.

  • I play electric bass semi-professionally;
  • Our family has an acreage/hobby farm in the Iowa City area; and
  • I enjoy fixing all kinds of structures, machines and mechanical devices.


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Ketki Patel
April 29, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Congratulations! I am proud to be working such talented, humble and knowledgeable faculty. Wishing many more successes.

Michelle Ellermeier
April 29, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Several years ago Risto gave me some "impossible advice" about respiratory protection for farmers. I thought he was out of his mind at first, but have come to understand and appreciate how wise and pragmatic his advice was. He's a pretty amazing guy.

sherry martin
April 29, 2013 at 8:29 AM

I am privileged to be considered among the many who have gotten to know Risto outside of the workplace. He is a very talented musician, he's very "down to earth" and has a great sense of humor. UNMC and the College of Public Health are fortunate to have him as one of their faculty. Congratulations Dr. Rautianen!