Research by Junwei Jia, a doctoral candidate, is aimed at addressing growing public concerns about radiation contamination in the environment. Jia studied honeybee hives to create a computational model that could help determine the percentage of biota in a specific contaminated area.
By studying the bees’ daily movement pattern (landing on flowers, collecting pollen, going back to their hives), Jia can understand better how radiological contamination spreads throughout the environment.
“It is very efficient, because the bees go everywher,” he said.
Honeybees and other organisms may be more sensitive to radiation than humans, so Jia’s system promises to detect radiation at lower levels. He uses the converted codes to calculate radiation absorption in humans.
Jia came to Oregon State from China because of its top-10 ranked Radiation Health Physics program and because his advisor, Kathryn Higley, is known for her ecology-related research.
Master’s student Steven Czyz is developing a system that can detect radio isotopes from nuclear explosions at extremely low concentrations. This will be useful in determining if underground nuclear testing has being carried out, Czyz said.
“My design improves upon other systems,” said Czyz who came to Oregon State from Michigan and hopes to pursue a doctorate at Oregon State following completion of his master’s degree. “With this system, we can say without a doubt whether or not there was a nuclear detonation.”
Another distinguishing characteristic of this detection system is that it operates at room temperature, eliminating the need for cooling.