Introducing the Birkners

Lawrence (Larry) R. Birkner and Ruth McIntyre-Birkner, considered by many to be the perfect couple, were well known in the occupational health and safety community. Both were passionate educators who worked tirelessly to advance the field of industrial hygiene. Their shared commitment to the profession and life remains evident through their many accomplishments. Much of Larry’s industrial hygiene and safety career was at ARCO, where he managed the corporate-wide industry hygiene and safety. Larry was a Certified Industrial Hygienist and safety professional.

Ruth successfully built and managed adult learning departments for the University of Minnesota Medical School, St. Paul-Ramsey Hospital, the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Later, Ruth started her own training business that evolved into the successful consulting firm, McIntyre Birkner & Associates, which was run by the couple.

The Birkners met at an AIHF Fun Run and later married. The overall impact the couple made to the profession is incalculable. A few tangible contributions include co-writing the White Book chapter “Advancing and Evaluating Trends Influencing Occupational Hygiene.” They also co-authored several articles on management systems, communication, and business practices for the monthly publication Occupational Hazards magazine, where Larry was a member of the editorial advisory board and Ruth was a contributing editor.

Larry served as president of the Academy of Industrial Hygiene, a director on the board of AIHA, and secretary of the AIHF. Both Larry and Ruth were active in their AIHA Southern California Local Section, where they both served in the role of president.

As well as being generous with their time and energy, the Birkners were financially generous. They honored Dr. Mort Lippman, a New York University (NYU) professor, by endowing a scholarship in his name through the AIHF. This act paid tribute to the professor for being an influential force in the careers of both Larry and his brother, Jeff Birkner.

Larry and Ruth were also very active members of the Sedona, Arizona community in which they lived. They were members of the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, and played a large financial role in the completion of the community's new synagogue.

At the time of their untimely deaths, Larry was a candidate for AIHA vice president. As a testament to the wonderful legacy the Birkners left behind, each year a number of scholarships and other symbols of excellence are awarded in their names across the country. This scholarship is one of those awards.

Past recipients

Suzie So, University of California, Los Angeles

Jessica A. Trowbridge, University of California, Berkeley

Teniope Adewumi, University of California, Los Angeles

Charlene M. Nguyen, University of California, Los Angeles

Calvin C. Wong, University of California, Los Angeles

Michael Anh Tuan Nguyen, University of California, Los Angeles

Siavash Banaee, University of California, Los Angeles

Hamed Hafizi, University of California, Los Angeles

Saba Moshirvaziri, University of California, Los Angeles

Carina T. Kouyoumji, University of California, Los Angeles

Karen S. Hirakawa, University of California, Los Angeles

Phillip Clark, Colorado State University