Bachelor of Science in Physics — Health Physics concentration

Introduction
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Health physics, radiological health, or radiological engineering are
synonyms for the profession dedicated to protection of people and the environment from the harmful effects of both
ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, while allowing for its beneficial uses.
Scientific disciplines that share commonalties with health physics include
physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, and engineering. Exciting
career opportunities exists for health physicists of all educational levels and
experience. A health physicist can choose a specialized area of focus such
as:

  • Medical Health Physics
  • Environmental Health Physics
  • Power Reactor Health Physics
  • Industrial and Applied Health Physics

The Department of Physics at Texas Southern University (TSU) received
funding from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to start a health physics
program, which began in the Fall semester of 2008. Our NRC funded laboratory
includes over $150,000 worth of new equipment including radiation detectors,
radioactive sources and radiochemistry apparatuses.

Our Mission

The mission of the health physics program at TSU is to provide a high
quality education to all students, especially those underrepresented in the
field of radiation safety and protection. Graduates of this program will have a
solid foundation in the fundamentals of radiation theory coupled with practical
laboratory techniques in monitoring, recording, assessing and communicating the
risk associated with radiological work environments.

Educational Objectives

The educational objectives of the health physics program at TSU are to
enhance the abilities of its graduates in the following the areas:

  • Fundamental knowledge and technical competencies
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Critical thinking capability
  • Professional integrity and discipline
  • Strong work ethic
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to be successful and productive in any health physics setting

Specific Outcomes

Students enrolled in the health physics program at TSU will learn about radiation detection and also
protection of personnel working in medical, governmental, or industrial facilities.
Moreover, students will learn how to apply their knowledge to solve various health physics problems.

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Picture of health physics students and Dr. Harvey at the South Texas Project nuclear power facility near Bay City, Texas.

 

Curriculum

We offer two tracks in our health physics program for the B.S. degree. One
track emphasizes more biology coursework, while the other emphasizes more
physics coursework. The curricula are listed below.

 

FOUR-YEAR DEGREE IN HEALTH PHYSICS: BIOLOGY-OPTION

Degree Plan – Total Credit Hours: 125
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First Semester SCH Second Semester SCH F
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FS 102 Freshman Seminar 1 PHYS 116 University Physics Lab I 1
MATH 133 Algebra 3 PHYS 152 University Physics I 3
ENG 131 Freshman English I 3 BIO 131 Biology I 3
CHEM 131 General Chemistry I BIO 111 Biology Lab I 1
CHEM 111 General Chemistry Lab I 4 ENG 132 Freshman English II 3
PHYS 101 Principles of Physical Science 4 SC 135 Business and Professional Comm. (Or) SC 136 Public Address 3
PHYS 151 Computational Modeling of Physical Systems 1 MATH 241 Calculus I 4
16 hrs 18 hrs
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Third Semester Fourth Semester S
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PHYS 217 University Physics Lab II 1 PHYS 218 University Physics Lab III 1
PHYS 247 Math Methods I 3 PHYS 248 Math Methods II 3
PHYS 251 University Physics II 3 PHYS 252 University Physics III 3
BIO 132 Biology II 3 ECON 231 Principles of Economics 3
BIO 112 Biology Lab II 1 BIO 232 Cell Biology 3
MATH 242 Calculus II 4 BIO 211 Cell Biology Lab 1
HIST 231 Social and Political History of the United States to 1877 POLS 231 American Political Systems I 3
16 hrs 18 hrs
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Fifth Semester Sixth Semester T
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PHYS 332 Modern Physics 3 BIO 343 Ecology 3
PHYS 361 Intro to Atomic and Radiation Physics 3 BIO 345 Ecology Lab 1
PHYS 365 Environmental Radioactivity Seminar 1 PHYS 366 Nuclear Physics I 4
HIST 232 Social and Political History of the United States since 1877 3 PHYS 370 Nuclear Physics Lab I 1
BIO 245 Human Anatomy and Physiology 3 PHYS 374 Radiation Detection I 4
BIO 245 Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab 1 ENG 2xx Any 200 Level ENG may be selected 3
14 hrs 15 hrs
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Seventh Semester Eighth Semester F
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PHYS 471 Intermediate Nuclear Physics Lab

1 CS 116 Introduction to Comp. Sc.

3
PHYS 475 Radiation Detection II

4 PHYS 472 Nuclear Electronics Lab

1
PHYS 477 Radiation Protection and Dosimetry I

4 PHYS 478 Radiation Protection and Dosimetry II

4
POLS 231 American Political Systems I

3 POLS 232 American Political Systems II

3
BIO 431 Radiation Biology

3 MUSIC 131 Introduction to Music (Or) ART 131 Drawing and Composition I

3
15 hrs 14 hrs

FOUR-YEAR DEGREE IN HEALTH PHYSICS: PHYSICS-OPTION

Degree Plan – Total Credit Hours: 126
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First Semester SCH Second Semester SCH F
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FS 102 Freshman Seminar 1 PHYS 116 University Physics Lab I 1
MATH 133 Algebra 3 PHYS 152 University Physics I 3
ENG 131 Freshman English I 3 PHYS 162 Fundamentals of Sci. Programming 3
CHEM 111, 131 General Chemistry and Lab I 4 ENG 132 Freshman English II 3
PHYS 101 Principles of Physical Science 4 SC 135 Business and Professional Comm. (Or) SC 136 Public Address 3
PHYS 151 Computational Modeling of Physical Systems 1 MATH 241 Calculus I 4
16 hrs 17 hrs
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Third Semester Fourth Semester S
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PHYS 217 University Physics Lab II 1 PHYS 218 University Physics Lab III 1
PHYS 247 Math Methods I 3 PHYS 248 Math Methods II 3
PHYS 251 University Physics II 3 PHYS 252 University Physics III 3
PHYS 271 Computational Physics I 3 PHYS 272 Mechanics I 3
MATH 242 Calculus II 4 MATH 251 Differential Equations 3
MATH 250 Linear Algebra 3 ENG 2xx Any 200 Level ENG may be selected 3
17 hrs 16 hrs
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Fifth Semester Sixth Semester T
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PHYS 332 Modern Physics 3 PHYS 336 Thermodynamics and Stat. Physics 3
PHYS 333 Electricity and Magnetism I 3 PHYS 353 Quantum Mechanics I 3
PHYS 361 Intro to Atomic and Radiation Phys.

3 PHYS 366 Nuclear Physics I 4
PHYS 365 Environmental Radioactivity Seminar 1 PHYS 370 Nuclear Physics Lab I 1
ECON 231 Principles of Economics 3 PHYS 374 Radiation Detection I 4
HIST 231 Social and Political History of the United States to 1877 3 HIST 232 Social and Political History of the United States since 1877 3
16 hrs 18 hrs
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Seventh Semester Eighth Semester F
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PHYS 471 Intermediate Nuclear Physics Lab

1 CS 116 Introduction to Comp. Sc.

3
PHYS 475 Radiation Detection II

4 PHYS 472 Nuclear Electronics Lab

1
PHYS 477 Radiation Protection and Dosimetry I

4 PHYS 478 Radiation Protection and Dosimetry II

4
POLS 231 American Political Systems I

3 POLS 232 American Political Systems II

3
MUSIC 131 Introduction to Music (Or) ART 131 Drawing and Composition I

3
12 hrs 14 hrs

Occupation

Health physicists ensure that hospitals, nuclear power plants and other
industrial entities use radiation in a safe manner. They can also teach and/or
train others in radiation safety and protection. Health physicists learn about
the biological effects of radiation in humans as well as potential hazards that
can adversely impact the environment. A health physicist can choose to work in
several areas including education, research, environmental protection,
industry, and the government, respectively. The nature of their work depends on
their work environment.

Research

Students will be exposed to applied research in our laboratory. Our current
research interest focuses on radiation dose assessment applications in the
field of medical physics. We collaborate with academic institutions on several
projects including both proton and X-ray radiotherapy. This work employs Monte
Carlo simulation tools to predict radiation dose quantities. The department of
physics houses a high performance computing cluster
( hpcc.tsu.edu ) in
Hannah Hall, in which realistic computer modeling simulations are performed.
The figure below shows a computer model of a generic proton therapy unit.

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Figure: Computer generated model of a generic proton radiotherapy unit using
the Geant4 Monte Carlo toolkit!

Additional useful websites:

Health Physics Society: http://hps.org

American Association of Physicist in Medicine:
http://aapm.org/default.asp

Contact Us

mark

Mark C. Harvey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Physics
Texas Southern University
3100 Cleburne Street
Houston, TX 77004
Office: 713.313.1864
Fax: 713.313.1833
Email: harveymc@tsu.edu