Scientist to Lead Chapter of Health Physics Society

March 19, 2001

P. Andrew Karam, the radiation safety officer at the University of Rochester, has been elected president of the Western New York Chapter of the Health Physics Society.

A native of Akron, Ohio, Karam draws on eight years of experience in the nuclear power program of the U.S. Navy. He attended Naval Nuclear Power School and Naval Chemistry and Radiological Controls School and spent three years on the USS Plunger, a fast-attack nuclear submarine. There he became the only enlisted sailor in the entire Pacific Fleet qualified to carry out the highest-level watches for both nuclear and non-nuclear stations. He also served for two years as staff instructor at the Navy's nuclear reactor prototype training unit.

Karam holds his bachelor's and master's degrees in geology from Ohio State and will receive his doctorate in environmental science later this year. His research focuses on how the level of Earth's background radiation has changed throughout history. He has studied the effects of Earth's radiation level on evolution, the effects of radiation from sources such as exploding stars and gamma ray bursts in space, and the health implications of repeated exposure to diagnostic medical procedures like CT scans.

A member of the Radiation Research Society and the American Nuclear Society, Karam works regularly with the American Institute of Physics to communicate with the media about nuclear and radiation safety. He has written dozens of fact sheets about radioactive waste, a series of 200 articles about science and society, and the draft of a book, Rig Ship for Ultra Quiet: Life on a nuclear attack submarine during the Cold War. He joined the University in 1998 and is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Environmental Medicine.

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