HPS 66th Annual Meeting

Phoenix, Arizona
July 25th-29th 2021

Single Session

[Schedule Grid]

WAM-A - Special Session: Pandemic Experiences Part 3

North 221ABC   07:30 - 12:00

WAM-A.1   07:30  Experiences Teaching a Senior and Graduate Level Applied Radiological Measurements Laboratory Course during a Global Pandemic KJ Kearfott*, University of Michigan ; JD Noey, University of Michigan; AJ Kent, University of Michigan; Ki Kearfott

Abstract: Applied Radiological Measurements (NERS 586) is an advanced elective laboratory course intermittently taught over 14 y at the University of Michigan for seniors and graduate students interested in nuclear sciences and engineering students and taught by an assortment of instructors. It deals with practical radiation measurements. A required radiation measurements course focused on the fundamentals of radiation detection serves as its prerequisite. NERS 586 currently includes experiments addressing survey meter calibration, radiation search and decontamination, dosimeter calibration and quality control, the assembly and testing of a smart Geiger-Mueller system, thermoluminescent and optically stimulated luminescent dosimeters, digital pulse processing, silicon photomultiplier tubes, scintillator properties, quantitative gamma-ray spectral analysis, and radon. Major course objectives of having students learn to write applied papers on radiation measurements and becoming familiar with technical resources specifically available to radiation protection practice are interwoven throughout the term and directly linked to each experiment. The course was undergoing major revisions during Winter 2020 when the Pandemic struck, forcing it to move to an emergency remote teaching mode. Substantial effort was expended in the intervening 9 months to upgrade the course further for a synchronous hybrid mode during the Winter 2021 term. There were many challenges encountered and lessons learned, reviewed in this presentation, which promise to lead to an improved offering in years to come.

WAM-A.2   07:45  The University of Michigan Radiological Health Engineering Research Laboratory During a Pandemic: Dust Storms, Flash Floods and Mirages while Panning for Gold KJ Kearfott*, University of Michigan

Abstract: The Radiological Health Physics Laboratory at the University of Michigan conducts broad radiation protection research, including topics in radiation dosimeters, gamma ray spectroscopy, radon gas, and environmental measurements. Another major mission of the laboratory is the development of educational tools for outreach programs to high schools and the general public. Finally, the laboratory is tasked with serving as a Maker Space for nuclear instrumentation development for its nuclear engineering department host. Because the laboratory is predominantly focused on undergraduate education, the 2020 global pandemic presented special challenges. These included sudden and repeated forced relocations of students, Covid-19 infections ranging from benign to serious, course schedule disruptions, evolving safety procedures, reduced occupancy, enforced shift work, computer and internet problems, inconsistent workloads, supply chain disruptions, stranded equipment, and wholesale discontinuity. Several strategic pivots lead to striking gold in terms of pandemic-specific funding, discovering diamonds in the form of students competing for a small pool of available internships, and prospecting precious new projects. Remote collaborations have re-kindled broader collaborations and opened the possibilities for great participation in conferences. Among the many personal silver linings of the pandemic for some has been a dramatic improvement in physical and mental health facilitated by being forced to work at home, rather than being caught 16 h a day at the laboratory subsisting on junk food.

WAM-A.3   08:00  Health Physics and COVID-19 Experiences at a Canadian University DF Moscu*, McMaster University

Abstract: Working as a Health Physicist at a large Canadian university has always had its surprises. With facilities ranging from a research reactor and radiopharmaceutical production laboratories to particle accelerators and a hot cell facility, a variety of work was virtually guaranteed. The declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic only demonstrated how well-suited Health Physics is for change and adaptation. Several modifications were made to daily routines to balance operational needs with public health requirements. Staff worked from home for a portion of the week; a complement of staff was available on-campus to support ongoing work while also reducing the number of individual contacts present. Changes were made to personnel monitoring processes to maintain safe distances between workers and staff; instruments were taped to sticks to perform contamination monitoring from a distance. Competition for PPE posed many challenges as Tyveks®, gloves, and other consumables became difficult to source. The requirement to wear non-medical face coverings indoors led to a potential intake of radioactive materials because the mask was repeatedly adjusted. There were several issues with staffing due to school closures, quarantines, and contact-limitations. In all, Health Physics work has been successfully managed throughout the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic but there are areas which can be streamlined and improved to allow greater flexibility for staff, which could eventually improve the diversity of staff in the workplace.

WAM-A.4   08:15  Experiences Teaching Higher Ed During a Pandemic NE Martinez*, Clemson University

Abstract: University faculty generally have the following areas of professional responsibility: research and/or scholarship, teaching, and service. Time expectations for each area will vary by position, department, and institution, but for many faculty, the time balance between these shifted dramatically due to the COVID-19 pandemic; for some research ground to a near halt, for others it picked up dramatically as strategies were developed for mitigating the pandemic’s effects. Some faculty similarly had increased administrative responsibilities as decisions had to be made as to how instruction would be delivered, how or if sports would be played, what testing and quarantine strategies should be implemented, etc. Teaching also became more challenging as courses had to be quickly adapted to an online learning environment with the expectation that instructors continue to provide a positive and engaging educational experience. This presentation highlights some of the strategies implemented by Clemson University to maintain operations as possible during the pandemic, with emphasis on the personal experience of the presenter with respect to teaching.

WAM-A.5   08:45  Pandemic Perspectives from a 25-Year Remote Employee EM Brackett*, MJW Corporation

Abstract: While many of our colleagues have positions that don’t allow them to work from home, some of us have been working remotely for many years. As a long-time remote employee with only a semi-retired husband and a cat in the house, my everyday work life was minimally affected. The primary impact from a professional standpoint was the curtailment of travel, which meant even less contact with coworkers than usual. While much of our business is conducted via conference calls, occasional in-person meetings can be very productive. On the positive side, those who normally work in an office, particularly the IT folks, have a better understanding of issues typically encountered by those working remotely. On a personal level, restrictions were tight in my area, so we didn’t venture out much. I had several dreams where I’d suddenly realize no one, including myself, was wearing a mask, and I also still managed to contract COVID.

WAM-A.6   09:00  Operating Source Material Licenses at 19 Far-Flung Sites During a Pandemic RN Cherry*, US Army Installation Management Command ; E Valadez, US Army Installation Management Command

Abstract: The authors, stationed at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, are responsible for providing radiation safety support and license management for two Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licenses for legacy depleted uranium (DU) on Army land at seventeen different Army installations and two joint bases, with the Army as lead for one joint base and the Air Force as lead for the other. Two sites are in Hawaii, on different islands, and one is in Alaska. Before the Pandemic, one of the authors, the radiation safety officer (RSO), performed his license and oversight duties using emails, telephone calls, and at least one visit at each site per calendar year. Support personnel at each site perform their license activities as an additional duty. If newly assigned, they receive their license-required formal training from the RSO during a site visit (with occasional exceptions). The RSO also performs the required annual audits, which also serve as annual refresher training, during his visits, and the NRC usually schedules an inspection at an eastern site and at a western site once each year when the RSO can be present. Additionally, a contractor performs semiannual (recently changed from quarterly) environmental radiation monitoring and sampling at each site. How the Pandemic affected license operations due to travel restrictions, quarantine restrictions, work-at-home requirements, and installation access restrictions will be presented.

WAM-A.7   09:15  Plugging along during the pandemic MS Cervera*, US NRC

Abstract: A lot has been said about continuing to function during a pandemic the likes of which very few of us have ever encountered. Although many of us who knew such social and professional disruption was possible and may even had been tasked to develop and exercise COOP plans we still found ourselves navigating situations that were often outside of our control. With both professional and personal routines so completely upended some anecdotes on what has gone well, what was unanticipated or underappreciated, and what practices and habits might continue into whatever the “new normal” might look like will be shared. Anecdotes include technical challenges, new expectations of productivity, ensuring continuity of operations and oversight, and personal issues such as starting new jobs, moving, continuing professional and personal relationships, and maintaining personal mental and physical health. The anecdotes were collected by the author from colleagues at the US NRC as well as friends and family members.

WAM-A.8   09:30  Challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic: A nuclear power plant Health Physicist's perspective FJ Cunningham Beckfield*, Callaway Energy Center, Ameren Missouri

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented time for humanity. As a society, we were required to rethink how to conduct our daily lives in a matter of weeks to minimize impact to public health. In the nuclear power sector, that included ensuring the safe operation of our facilities while also minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19 to not only our co-workers, but also members of the public. For Radiation Protection, that meant utilizing our resources effectively and following public health recommendations, while still providing the same level of protection to our co-workers and members of the public. This also included the challenges of supporting a refueling outage during a global pandemic. As Health Physicists, we balanced working remotely while ensuring our programs within Radiation Protection ran smoothly onsite. As a mother of two small children, that meant ensuring work/life balance and making sure the family's educational and social needs were met. While challenges continue to exist, remote work capabilities have opened the door for additional collaboration/self-assessment, increased efficiency, and better work life balance.

WAM-A.9   09:45  Radiation Protection during a Global Pandemic: Personal and Professional Silver Linings and Lessons Learned AE Botzer*, Naval Nuclear Laboratory

Abstract: I had one year of management under my belt when the pandemic began in 2020. I thought I had figured out the strategies to manage my team of eight radioactive and hazardous waste shippers, but the COVID-19 pandemic made me realize I needed to adapt much of what I had learned to be a successful manager. The pandemic brought forth concerns and questions on how to maintain productively from different work environments, how to prepare for and execute shipments safely while working onsite, and how to schedule work when employees needed to be home to care for their children and family. My team feared that the pandemic would inhibit us from executing shipments of radioactive and hazardous waste to meet regulated disposal deadlines. I learned while working through these concerns that there is much more to managing than simply scheduling work and prioritizing tasks. I learned that I needed to listen and understand the individual concerns of my employees. Each person had a different level of concern related to the pandemic and each person experienced different stressors. I found that I was most successful when I could empathize with my team members and adapt to his or her individual needs. Being able to understand challenges faced at work or home allowed me to take meaningful action to support my entire team. My silver lining to the pandemic was a newfound understanding that empathy is an essential part of management.

WAM-A.10   10:00  Providing Radiological Worker and Radiological Control Technician Training During The Pandemic GH Hoskison*, Sandia National Laboratories ; Ge Hoskison

Abstract: When COVID-19 restrictions were first introduced with shutdowns imminent, the Radiation Protection Training Team quickly evaluated what would need to be done in order to keep our training department open as radiological work and worker certification was considered mission essential for the laboratory. On average, we deliver 900 training sessions each year to current and new radiological workers. This need for radiological worker training still existed and we were not prepared to deliver the classroom training virtually and the applied hands-on training was to remain hands-on and in person. In addition to the radiological worker training, the training department currently had five new Junior Radiological Control Technicians in training and needed to continue as planned due to the laboratories need for new RCTs in the field to support the ongoing radiological work. We also recognized that we would also be training six new Senior RCTs a few months after the JRCTs were placed into the field for their apprentice style training. With the need to continue our Radiological Worker Training, RCT Continuing Training and the initial JRCT / SRCT training programs, the RP Training Department needed to adapt to COVID-19 and put in play the practices and restrictions the corporation was recommending be done to meet the ever changing CDC guidelines. The practices we put in play and the ability for our instructors to adapt to changing controls allowed our department to continue with the training mission, allowing us to meet all company and department requests for trained radiological workers and RCTs. This presentation will discuss those practices, lessons we learned along the way, how to proactively think about changing conditions and to how to utilize all tools available to keep the mission moving forward during a pandemic. Other demands will also be discussed, such as adapting to instructors and students needing to work from home due to restrictions put in place for COVID-19 concerns and allowing members to continue with their National Guard and Reserve service.

10:30  BREAK

WAM-A.11   10:45  Overview of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis restrictions on activities involving radiation sources and radiation safety in Saudi Arabia NA Shubayr*, Jazan University

Abstract: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saudi government implemented restrictions to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 disease. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis restrictions substantially affected financial and human resources, logistics, and other radiation safety infrastructure elements. The use of radiation sources and regulation of radiation safety is an integral part of many activities in different fields such as industry, medicine, agriculture, research, and education. The impact on activities involving radiation sources in Saudi Arabia is investigated along with radiation safety practices and the role of the national regulatory authority. Also, The impact on technical services including dosimetry, monitoring, calibration, and training is included in this study. The status of production of radiopharmaceuticals, research activities, transport of radioactive material, and other services that were provided from abroad are presented. This study aims to present an overview of the impact of pandemic restrictions on activities involving radiation sources and radiation safety and shed light on several important practices and lessons learned during the COVID19 pandemic.

WAM-A.12   11:00  Research and Work Experiment in China as a Young Academic at the beginning of my career and during the Pandemic SL XU*, University of South China

Abstract: In this report, I will share my experiences about how to start my research and teaching career as a young academic, especially something in teaching, scientific research and work during the Pandemic. First, I am going to talk something about how I start to do my research and get my Ph.D. degree with the topic of “radiation detection and radiation hardening”. Then, I will describe my postdoctoral research in Tsinghua University engaged in “investigation and treatment of naturally occurring radioactive materials”. In the end, I will want to tell of multi-disciplinary fusion and knowledge integration in China with my own experiments, and what to do the teaching and scientific research during the Pandemic. When the COVID-19 outbreak, all the things have stagnated in the world. In China, we worked online. It’s growing fast, and gradually accepted by the majority of Chinese teachers and students. We tried to interact with students in variety ways, such as teaching online, sharing some learning courses and invite teachers from different countries to give online lectures. Our experimental work has come to a virtual standstill in the first half of 2020, much of the expected research work has not been carried out on time. By adjusting the plan and coordinating with the national policy arrangement, we never stop our scientific research work. In my aspect, there are many outstanding achievements and experiences about anti-COVID-19 control worth to be shared. I believe the COVID-19 will be conquered in the future.

WAM-A.13   11:15  The 2020 Global Pandemic: Experiences of a Pakistani Doctoral Student AD Tareen*, University of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Muzaffarabad ; Al Tareen

Abstract: This talk aims at sharing personal as well as professional experiences in the wake of prevailing pandemic. The COVID-19 situation was declared a pandemic by WHO on March 11,2020 and we in Pakistan realized for the first time that we have a crisis upon us. The federal government sprang into action and imposed our first lockdown. Initially I thought it like a holiday like a holiday season and made some planes accordingly but soon I realized it is a different ball game altogether. Children were forced to stay at home and soon it became clear that they were missing their school, friends, and learning/growing environment. It was a challenge to help my children cope with the new reality. My employer told me that he was in no position to provide me with full salary and benefits. I started working from home on a smaller wage. I was in the final stages of doctoral dissertation submission and everything regarding this came to a sudden halt. As every cloud has a silver lining to it, the pandemic also taught us many great lessons. As a result of this I feel my self a better and humble human being and do find the survivor’s attitude reincarnated in a big way

WAM-A.14   11:30  Pandemic-inspired construction of radon measurement field for testing a new alpha imaging detector YM Morishita*, Japan Atomic Energy Agency ; KK Kearfott, University of Michigan; IW Wakaida, Japan Atomic Energy Agency; MM Miyabe‬‬, Japan Atomic Energy Agency

Abstract: The author has been developing a new alpha imaging detector for decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. COVID-19 restricted business travel within and outside the country, making it difficult to test the developed detectors. So, inspired by the Prof. Kearfott’s lab in the University of Michigan, the author has been building his own radon measurement field near his office. The author measured the radon concentration in several places near his office using 222Rn monitor (AlphaGUARD Bertin Technologies, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France), and found that the radon concentration was high in the underground space of the concrete building. The 222Rn concentration was about 200 Bq/m3. When the measurement was carried out with a 222Rn progeny detector (poCAMon: Personal Continuous Air Monitor (CAM), SARAD GmbH, Dresden, Germany), the peaks of 218Po: 6.0 MeV alpha particles and 214Po: 7.7 MeV alpha particles of 222Rn progeny were clearly observed. Because there is little ventilation in this underground space, the 222Rn concentration is relatively constant and suitable for detector testing. Even with the COVID-19's restriction on travel, the author was able to proceed with experiments with the construction of its own experimental environment. The author will use the built environment to test various new alpha imaging detectors.

WAM-A.15   11:45  Personal and Professional Experience during Covid-19 Pandemic MM Tahlak*, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Abstract: When Covid-19 Pandemic started in 2020, my professional and personal life changed: some for the better and worse. Few months before the pandemic spread across the world, I decided to move to Dubai, where I'm based, until my house get ready in Abu Dhabi, where I work. Thus, I was commuting daily for three hours between the two cities. I was overwhelmed by new changes that were occurring from lockdown restrictions, quarantine and social distancing. It upended my professional and personal life while fulfilling my duties as a health physicist and a father of three kids. During the lockdown period, I could not travel to work due to a high level of restrictions, even being a health professional. Despite these changes, technology made it more manageable to oversee, communicate and learn during the pandemic. I will be sharing my unprecedented challenges and experiences while commuting to work, performing my duties as a radiation safety professional.

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