New detectors for live-monitoring

New methods of determining radionuclides in wildlife: new detectors for live-monitoring

Ross Fawkes

This project presents an exciting opportunity to undertake world-leading research on the development of methods to determine radionuclides in living wildlife. 

In the UK, the focus of most radiological environmental risk assessments is protected species and habitats in compliance with the EC Birds & Habitats Directives.  To support and provide confidence in these assessments, there is a need to develop detector technologies to determine gamma emitting radionuclides in living organisms.  Developing new approaches to measuring activity concentrations in vertebrate wildlife, this studentship will focus on vertebrates. The study species will be those that do not have a high conservation status because method development will require some destructive analysis. The focus will be on measuring whole-body activity concentrations of gamma emitting radionuclides in different species of wildlife, which will require short analysis times to reduce stress on the organisms. The early development of the live monitoring technique will use phantoms (representative geometries of densities similar to living organisms, with known radionuclide activity concentrations).  The prototype detector will then be piloted through field application in the UK, where radionuclides in the organisms are likely to be low.  The student will also have the opportunity to participate in field research in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone where the use of live-monitoring faces the problem of high environmental activity concentrations.