Health Physics

Health physics is the profession devoted to protecting people and their environment from potential radiation hazards, while making it possible to enjoy the benefits of the peaceful use of the atom.

Radiation control incorporates an understanding of many disciplines. It has common scientific interests with many areas of specialization: physics, biology, biophysics, engineering (nuclear, civil, mechanical, or electrical), chemistry, genetics, ecology, environmental sciences, metallurgy, medicine, physiology, and toxicology. The wide spectrum of knowledge required of the health physicist makes this profession both challenging and rewarding.

Health Physicists at Francis Marion University include:
Dr. Derek Jokisch (843) 661-4653
Dr. Philip Fulmer

 FMU Health Physics Curriculum
(these courses are in addition to the General Education requirements)

Physics (40 hours)

200 – Technical Physics I (4 lab)
201 – Technical Physics II (4 lab)
202 – Technical Physics III (4 lab)
210 – Radiation Protection (1)
220 – Computational Methods (3)
310 – Electronics (4 lab)
314 – Modern Physics (4 lab)
316 – Nuclear Physics (4 lab)
415 – Radiation Biology (3)
416 – Nuclear Radiation Physics (4 lab)
417 – Principles of Health Physics (4 lab)
420 – Senior Seminar in Physics (1)

Mathematics (21 hours – starting at Math 111)

111 – College Algebra with Analytic Geometry II (3)
132 – College Trigonometry with Analytic Geometry (3)
201 – Calculus I (3)
202 – Calculus II (3)
203 – Calculus III (3)
301 – Ordinary Differential Equations (3)
306 – Multivariable Calculus (3)

Biology (12 hours)

105 – Introduction to Life Science (4 lab)
106 – Organismal Biology (4 lab)
One of the following:
301 – Cell Biology (4 lab)
401 – Genetics (4 lab)
402 – Terrestrial Ecology (4 lab)
406 – Human Physiology (4 lab)

Chemistry (16 hours)

101 – General Chemistry I (4 lab)
102 – General Chemistry II (4 lab)
201 – Organic Chemistry I (4 lab)
203 – Analytical Chemistry I (4 lab)
303 – Analytical Chemistry II (4 lab) – Recommended for completing a Minor in Chemistry.

Computer Science (3 hours)

212 – Introduction to FORTRAN (3)
226 – Programming and Algorithmic Design I (3)

Example Four-Year Plan

Note that most student’s schedules end up differing from this example. This is simply one suggested pathway. The HP Curriculum also requires a summer internship experience. This internship is arranged through the department and is performed during the summer following the student’s sophomore and/or junior year.

Freshman Fall (14)

PHYS 200 – Technical Physics I (4)
MATH 112 – College Trigonometry with Analytic Geometry II (3)
CHEM 101 – General Chemistry I (4)
Gen Ed (3)

Freshman Spring (17)

PHYS 201 – Technical Physics II (4)
MATH 201 – Calculus I (3)
CHEM 102 – General Chemistry II (4)
Gen Ed (3)
Gen Ed (3)

Sophomore Fall (15)

PHYS 202 – Technical Physics III (4)
PHYS 210 – Computational Methods
MATH 202 – Calculus II (3)
CHEM 201 – Organic Chemistry I (4)
BIOL 105 – Introduction to Life Science (4)

Sophomore Spring (17)

PHYS 210 – Radiation Protection (1)
PHYS 314 – Modern Physics (4)
MATH 203 – Calculus III (3)
BIOL 106 – Organismal Biology (4)
CS 212 – Introduction to FORTRAN (3)
Gen Ed (3)

Junior Fall (14)

PHYS 310 – Electronics (4)
MATH 306 – Multivariable Calculus (3)
CHEM 203 – Analytical Chemistry I (4)
CS 150\190 – Programming Fundamentals (3)

Junior Spring (15)

PHYS 316 – Nuclear Physics (4)
MATH 301 – Ordinary Differential Equations (3)
CHEM 303 – Analytical Chemistry II (4)
BIOL 301/401/402/406 – Biology (4)

Senior Fall (14)

PHYS 415 – Radiation Biology (3)
PHYS 417 – Principles of Health Physics (4)
PHYS 419 – Senior Seminar in Physics (1)
Gen Ed (3)
Gen Ed (3)

Senior Spring (16)

PHYS 416 – Nuclear Radiation Physics (4)
PHYS 418 – Practical Applications of Health Physics (3)
Gen Ed (3)
Gen Ed (3)
Gen Ed (3)
Gen Ed (3)

Health Physics Course Descriptions

PHYS 200 Technical Physics I (4) (Corequisite: MATH 111 or permission of department) Fall.  Introduction to the elements of technical physics that do not require calculus.  Topics include the properties of wave motion and sound, heat and thermodynamics, light and geometrical optics, and introduction to the essential ideas to modern physics.

PHYS 201 Technical Physics II (4) (Corequisite: MATH 201 or permission of department) Spring.  Calculus-based introduction to classical mechanics and dynamics.  Topics include vectors and vector notation; Newton’s Three Laws of Motion; force; motion in one, two, and three dimensions; linear momentum; torque; rotational motion; angular momentum; work-energy; kinetic and potential energy; conservation of energy; and force fields.

PHYS 202 Technical Physics III (4) (Prerequisite: PHYS 201; Corequisite: MATH 202 or permission of department) Fall.  Calculus-based introduction to electricity and magnetism.  Topics include Coulomb’s Law, electric fields, Gauss’ Law, electric potential and potential energy, electric components and circuits, magnetism and magnetic fields, magnetic forces and torques, magnetic materials, Ampere’s Law, induction, and the formal connection of electric and magnetic fields through Maxwell’s equations.

PHYS 210 Introduction to Radiation Protection (1) (Prerequisite: PHYS 202 or permission of department) Spring.  This course will introduce the fundamental principles involved in radiation protection including: time, distance, and shielding, activity, radioactive decay, nuclear instrumentation, and the measurement of and units for radiation quantities. Students will also undergo radiation safety training required for future radiation work in the academic laboratory or the workplace.

PHYS 220 Computational Methods for Physics and Engineering (3) (Prerequisite: 201) Fall.  An introduction to the computational tools and numerical methods used in physics and engineering. Students will use spreadsheets (e.g., Excel) and numerical packages (e.g., MATLAB) to obtain numerical solutions to a wide variety of physical problems, including nuclear decay, motion with air resistance, rocket launches, heat transfer, rotational motion, and astrophysics. The numerical methods will include introductory finite difference, least-squares, matrix, and Monte Carlo methods.

PHYS 310 Electronics (4) (Prerequisite: PHYS 202 or permission of department) Fall.  Introduction to analog and digital electronics.  Analog topics include AC/DC circuits, diodes, power supplies, transistors, oscillators, timers, and operational amplifiers.  Digital topics include binary numbers, gate types, gate circuits, gate reduction, Boolean algebra, flip flops, comparators, registers, binary and binary-coded-decimal counters, digital-to-analog conversion, analog-to-digital conversion, and computer interfacing.

PHYS 314 Modern Physics (4) (Prerequisite: PHYS 202 and MATH 202 or permission of department) Spring.  Introduction to relativity and the quantum theory including the historical background and experimental basis of these theories and applications to atomic and molecular structure.

PHYS 316 Nuclear Physics (4) (Prerequisite: PHYS 314 or permission of department) Spring.  Natural and artificial radioactivity, nuclear reactions, nuclear models and structure, particle accelerators and detectors, neutron physics and reactors, and an introduction to elementary particles.

PHYS 415 Radiation Biology (3) (Prerequisite: PHYS 316 and Corequisite: one of BIOL 301,401, 402, 406; or permission of department) Fall.  Topics include the fundamental physical, chemical, and biological mechanisms that lead to radiation-induced biological damage.  The course will begin with interactions and responses at a molecular level and progress towards cellular and systemic responses to the damage.  Methods for assessing the dose to biological systems and the corresponding risk will be addressed.

PHYS 416 Nuclear Radiation Physics (4) (Prerequisite: PHYS 310 and 316) Fall. Topics to be covered include the interaction of radiation with matter, gas and scintillation counters, semiconductor detectors; counting statistics, special electronic circuits, and the literature of radiation detection.

PHYS 417 Principles of Health Physics (4) (Prerequisite: PHYS 416) Spring.  Topics include the biophysical basis for radiation protection, environmental and personnel monitoring, dosimetry and dose calculations, shielding, standards for radiation exposure, waste treatment and disposal, emergency procedures, government regulations, and safety procedures.

PHYS 418 Practical Applications of Health Physics (3) (Prerequisite: PHYS 417 or permission of department) Spring.  This course will cover applications and more in-depth analysis of health physics principles presented in PHYS 417. Advanced topics will be presented, and the implementation of these principles to real-world applications will be discussed. Emphasis on practical applications of radiological protection principles including design of a radiation safety program, special considerations for various radiation-generating facilities, current trends in waste management, response to radiological incidents, risk assessment, and homeland security.