Thomas to receive William H. Weems lifetime achievement award

Published: Aug 11, 2014 9:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Gail Riese,, 334-844-3447


Robert Thomas, professor emeritus in Auburn University’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, will be honored with the William H. Weems Lifetime Achievement award at the 27th Annual Alabama Governor’s Safety and Health Conference Aug. 24 in Orange Beach, Ala. Thomas will be recognized for his dedicated service to the occupational safety and health industry.

“I am honored and grateful for this recognition,” said Thomas. “I am especially appreciative in light of the person for whom the award is named. I have admired Bill Weems. He is well known throughout the United States for his significant contributions to occupational health and safety programs.”

Thomas’ professional career includes more than 25 years of industry experience as a safety consultant, evaluator and systems and equipment designer. A faculty member at Auburn since 1989, he has taught undergraduate and graduate-level occupational safety courses. In addition, he has served as the primary ergonomics instructor for more than 1,400 graduate students in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Deep South Education and Research Center, including students from Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the Schools of Public Health, Nursing and Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

His research interests include ergonomic design, office ergonomics, workplace design, assessment and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders. His research efforts have led to authoring or co-authoring more than 50 publications.

Thomas earned a doctorate in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University. He has served as director of the Occupational Safety and Ergonomics program and co-director of the Occupational Injury Prevention Research Training program of the NIOSH Deep South Education and Research Center for Occupational Health and Safety. He is a fellow of the American Industrial Hygiene Association and a long-time member of the ergonomics committee.  He is also a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the Institute of Industrial Engineers, the American Society of Safety Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education.

“Dr. Thomas’ nomination is well deserved,” said Elizabeth Maples, deputy director for the Deep South Center for Occupational Health and Safety and assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. “I have had the privilege of witnessing Dr. Thomas' mentoring of students. He encourages them to do their best to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses through implementing strong safety and ergonomic programs and he is admired by his former students who are now in leadership positions across the state and the nation.”