Innovation in Radiation Research Takes LSU Student from Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center to SpaceX
April 05, 2021
Going the Distance
Jared Taylor was planning on becoming a medical doctor to help treat people with cancer, but now finds himself almost literally in space, working on solutions to shield astronauts from dangerous radiation. He recently presented his research at SpaceX and is about to file a patent together with his LSU professor, Jeffrey Chancellor, who currently holds three grants from NASA.
While cancer treatment and space travel would appear to be quite distant from each other, radiation can be the deciding factor between life and death in both areas. It can be used for treatment or diagnosis through medical imaging (X-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound) as something desirable and useful, but it can also be a threat to people and equipment traveling to the International Space Station, Moon, and Mars. Continuous background radiation in space, beyond the Earth’s protective magnetic field, is one of the hard limits to how much time anyone and anything can spend out there.
The ultimate goal of Taylor’s research, of course, is to enable future long-duration spaceflight—perhaps even space colonization.
“The LSU-Mary Bird Perkins partnership has become best practice for public-private partnerships with the impact it imparts on student learning and patient care. There are few programs with such robust academic and clinical components to provide the highest level of education to those studying medical physics. Research opportunities with LSU bring a strength to our radiation oncology services that is unmatched in the nation.”
Jonas Fontenot, Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Physics at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center (MBA, LSU ’20)