Lecturer and Assistant Project Scientist in Nuclear Engineering
University of California, Berkeley
The 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident serves as an example of the risks associated with energy technologies and the need to minimize physical as well as psychological effects on local and global communities. We have established the RadWatch and DoseNet community outreach programs to enhance the public understanding of risks associated with radiation exposure. The RadWatch program works to provide transparent, relevant measurements of radioactivity in our environment through measurements of locally sourced fish and produce. The ongoing monitoring of radiation in our environment provides the public with a clear baseline for what is “normal”. This work has since been expanded to include the use of neutron activation analyses to determine the concentrations of heavy metals in such samples, further contextualizing previous radiological measurements and our environmental impact. Similarly, the DoseNet project was developed to bring radiation and environmental data into classrooms and connect directly with students. DoseNet is a network of radiation and environmental sensors connecting schools in the Bay Area, Japan, and around the world. The DoseNet program has used this network to recruit a handful of high school students each summer as interns. These programs represent parts of a multidisciplinary undertaking to educate the next generation about radiation science, improve scientific literacy, and improve our communication of technical concepts to our communities.
Ali Hanks is a Lecturer and Project Scientist in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research is focused on advancements in radiation detection and imaging technologies. As head of the RadWatch and DoseNet outreach programs, a large part of her work focused on the applications of advanced radiation detection technologies towards public education and outreach. Dr. Hanks received her Ph.D. in High Energy Nuclear Physics from Columbia University as part of the PHENIX collaboration. She spent 4 years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stony Brook University, and then at UC Berkeley where she had a joint Postdoctoral position in the Physics and Nuclear Engineering departments. She has been an Assistant Project Scientist in the Department of Nuclear Engineering since 2017, and has worked as a Lecturer the last three years teaching a new course she designed based on her work with students in the DoseNet program.