The Nuclear Regulatory Commission
has awarded Colorado State University about $600,000 to develop a statistics courses and recruit a radiochemistry scientist who can track how radioactive materials move in the environment.
The grants are designed to help CSU faculty members prepare graduate students in radiological sciences careers for everything from the medical profession to geological sciences, said Dr. Thomas Johnson
, one of three faculty members in the Radiation Protection and Measurements section of the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences
Experts in the field are needed particularly in Colorado, which is known for large amounts of naturally occurring minerals that are radioactive, said Dr. Johnson.
“Colorado has high deposits of thorium, radium and potassium in the natural environment, and you’re working with elements that come in small amounts and literally disappear over time,” said Dr. Johnson. “Radiation is a paradox because it can cure cancer but it can also cause cancer.”
Under a separate grant, Dr. Johnson is developing a statistics course for his students that will help them distinguish man-made radioactivity from naturally occurring radioactivity. Radioactive elements such as potassium 40 were created when the earth was formed and continue to exist in the environment, Dr. Johnson said. The Department also is funded to develop a course on “Monte Carlo modeling;” a statistical method developed in the 1940s to calculate radiation doses.