Physics & Astronomy Department
2401 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-1807
For decades, ionizing radiation has been used in beneficial applications, from treating cancer to generating electrical power. "Health physics" is the profession devoted to protecting people and their environment from potential radiation hazards, while making it possible to enjoy these beneficial applications. Many industries, medical facilities, defense plants, and research laboratories need professionals who understand radiation hazards and their prevention and control. The health physics profession is an interesting and rewarding field of scientific endeavor and incorporates an understanding of many disciplines. It has common scientific interests with many areas of specialization: physics, biology, biophysics, engineering (nuclear, civil, mechanical, or electrical), chemistry, genetics, ecology, environmental sciences, metallurgy, medicine, physiology, and toxicology. Health physicists work in a variety of disciplines, including research, industry, education, environmental protection, and enforcement of government regulations. The Health Physics Society has more detailed information.
The program allows students to fulfill course requirements and then choose a research project plan consistent with the student’s desired area of professional development. A minimum of 33 semester credits in course work and research is required (14 credits of required core plus 13 hours of specialty electives plus 6 project/thesis hours). Various opportunities for research are available through the Departments of Radiology/Radiological Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, and Radiation Oncology, as well as through cooperative programs with nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other local and regional facilities. In addition to a core curriculum, a master’s thesis or project report thus must be submitted and approved.
A core curriculum consisting of six courses (listed below), covering fundamental concepts of health physics, is required of all students. Students may then exercise a Medical or Environmental Engineering specialty. Courses in Physics and Astronomy, Environmental Engineering, Biology, Mathematics, Meteorology, Chemistry, and others may be selected for graduate credit with the explicit approval of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
|PHYS 243, Health Physics||3|
|PHYS 285, Radiation Detection and Measurement, with Laboratory||3|
|PHYS 307, Radiation Dose Assessment||3|
|PHYS 248, Radiation Biophysics (Radiation Biology)||2|
|PHYS 300, Seminar in Radiological Sciences||1|
|PHYS 228, Physics of Medical Imaging||3|
|PHYS 313, Clinical Diagnostic Physics||3|
|PHYS 311, Clinical Therapy Physics||3|
|BME 260, Analysis of Biomedical Data||3|
|PHYS 301, Seminar in Medical Radiological Physics||1|
|ENVE 269, Radiological Aspects of Environmental Engineering||3|
|ENVE 275, Environmental Risk Management||3|
|CE 247, Probabilistic Methods in Engineering Design||3|
|CE 355, Advanced Transportation Design||3|
|CE 252, Seminar in Environmental Engineering||1|
Project/Thesis - 6 cr
The master’s thesis generally will consist of a scholarly laboratory or theoretical investigation in the field of Health Physics. Proposed research must be approved by the Program Graduate Committee. The format for the final written thesis shall conform to the requirements of the Graduate School. A thesis committee is appointed to read a student’s thesis and to listen to an oral presentation and defense presented by the student. In general, the committee will include the thesis adviser and two additional members chosen from the Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty and other departments in which the candidate has taken graduate classes or in the area of their research emphasis.
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