h3>DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS
The Medical and Nuclear Physics Laboratory is a faculty research lab and also and a training facility for student researchers. This laboratory focuses on low energy nuclear physics, in which fundamental techniques are applied that are effective for detection and analysis of radiation levels impacting people in many workplace environments including nuclear power plants, medical diagnostic and treatment facilities, food processing plants, homeland security checkpoints, etc.
This Laboratory is also concerned with basic and applied research in nuclear physics. The “applied” thrust pertains to understanding related issues in the context of (1) medically related, radiation physics based, therapy and diagnostic applications impacting diseases; and (2) understanding the radiation thresholds in various workplace settings impacting organisms and the environment.
Selected students will participate in fundamental research projects emphasizing these two areas specified above. In addition, students will have an opportunity to participate in (1) high energy nuclear physics research at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and (2) nuclear astrophysics at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) on the campus of Michigan State University. Besides mastering basic dosimetry and radiation detection skills developed within the curriculum, participating students will get to apply these skills in the prosecution of basic and applied research. Additional capabilities in Monte Carlo simulation studies in nuclear collision physics, radiation biophysics, radiation shielding and therapeutic applications of radiation will also be developed.
The objective is to develop a strong cohort of students that can pursue these studies at high powered facilities, eventually transitioning into professionals in the diverse areas of nuclear physics; e.g., heavy ion collision physics, nuclear astrophysics, radiation safety and protection, radiation therapy, diagnostic imaging and radiation biophysics. The advanced training received by selected students, developed within the context of prosecuting basic and applied research in medical, health, and nuclear physics, respectively will produce uniquely trained students able to enter the workforce in diverse areas such as nuclear facilities, government laboratories, medical treatment and diagnostic facilities, food processing plants, etc. Students can also pursue advanced training in health physics as a stepping stone to careers as radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, etc., within the medical profession. Houston hosts the world’s largest medical facility, the Texas Medical Center, with tremendous employment opportunities for such students. Some students can also elect to pursue a Ph.D. in medical physics or health physics – or even fundamental nuclear physics, in which the smallest constituents of matter are probed at the world’s most elite high energy physics facilities. In all cases, our physics students will have an abundance of career opportunities.