Students excel at nuclear studies

Two Flinders radio-chemistry students won national and international awards recently.

Second year PhD student Samantha Pandelus won the coveted American Chemical Society’s Charles D. Coryell Award in Nuclear Chemistry for her honours work quantifying anthropogenic radionuclides from medical procedures in the South Australian wastewater stream. The award reflects an outstanding achievement, given it is presented to just one recipient each year.

Ms Pandelus’ work provided valuable information for industry, regulators and the broader public. She also recently was awarded an Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering Post Graduate Research Award, which honours her success in radiation science and supports her postgraduate research at ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation).

Her current PhD research is in the area of radioecology, where she measures radiation surrounding uranium mining sites and investigates new methods for measuring potential environmental impacts in flora and soil, in particular in South Australia’s arid regions.

“The main focus of my current work is to determine the mechanism of radionuclide uptake in Australian native flora from uranium mine sites,” she says.

“It is great to work on a project that will assist industry and regulations, and to generate data to understand these mechanisms.”

Honours student William Tucker was the recipient of an Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering Honours Scholarship. Mr Tucker’s honours research focuses on understanding plants, soil and concentration ratios through analysing potential radiation around uranium mines. His findings will inform an international framework to better understand arid environments.

Both students are currently working on the industry funded project “Improving the Relevance of International Radiological Risk Assessment Tools to Australian Arid Environments”, led by radiochemist Associate Professor Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, along with Flinders researchers Professors Allan Pring, Claire Lenehan and Craig Simmons.

Collaboration partners for the project are NERA (National Energy Resources Australia), BHP and Heathgate Resources, JRHC Enterprises, ANSTO and ARPANSA.

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