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Encouraging Women to Follow Careers in Radiation Technology: IAEA Webinar


Radiation techniques are used to improve many areas of life. Super water absorbents for example are used to boost agriculture. (Photo: P. Pong-Im/TINT)

Women scientists working in the field of radiation technology will be the focus of an IAEA event on 23 June 2021, as part of a series of webinars to encourage young women to pursue careers in nuclear sciences and applications.

Now open for registrations, the webinar will feature four women who are renowned experts in the field:

  • Amira Zaouak, Senior Researcher, Tunisian National Center for Nuclear Science and Technology
  • Celina Horak, Radiation Processing Specialist, IAEA
  • Lucille Abad, Chief of the Atomic Research Division, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute
  • Sophie Rouif, Research and Development Leader, IONISOS, France

These experts will discuss why radiation technology offers exciting career opportunities for women and will highlight the benefits of these techniques in various fields.

Information about the event programme, speakers and registration are here.

The Benefits of Radiation Techniques

Scientists have been studying radiation and its effects for decades and these effects are harnessed in a plethora of industrial applications. Depending on the type and dose of radiation applied and the conditions, ionizing radiation can be used to both determine materials characteristics and to modify substances in what is called radiation processing. Therefore, radiation techniques span a wide range of applications. They are often quicker, greener and more cost effective than other methods.

“Radiation techniques are applied in numerous fields,” said Horak. “Young professionals with various academic backgrounds can work with radiation technologies to better the area of life they feel passionate about – from the environment and cultural heritage to industry and health.”

Many everyday items, including computers, smartphones, car parts and food packages, are enhanced with radiation. This improvement is brought about through radiation processing of polymers – repeating chains of molecules – which makes materials more stable, durable and more resistant to chemicals and fire, all important safety aspects.

Cross-linked polymers called hydrogels find application to accelerate healing of wounds. Hydrogels are also utilized as beauty masks in the cosmetic industry, for example. Irradiation is used to both create the cross-links responsible for their ability to absorb large amounts of water and to sterilise the material, which is critical in medical and health applications.

Electron beam or e-beam technology is another type of radiation, which uses free energetic electrons to treat materials. It is widely utilized to tackle environmental pollution. An emerging e-beam application for example is applied in plastic recycling to transform plastic waste into reusable resources or secondary value-added products.

In the health sector, 40 per cent of all single-use medical devices produced worldwide are sterilized with gamma irradiation – a form of electromagnetic radiation which can kill microorganisms. It can be also used to reduce disease-causing germs and neutralize other harmful organisms in raw materials for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Non-destructive testing (NDT) is another radiation technique used as a quality control method in industry to detect leaks, cracks and other structural defects in products, building structures and machines without causing damage to the tested object.

Read more about the benefits of radiation techniques here.

International Conference on Applications of Radiation Science and Technology (ICARST)

The role of women in radiation techniques will be also discussed at ICARST – a major IAEA event taking place every four years. It brings together leading scientists and engineers to discuss key scientific and technological advancements in radiation technology. Unique among conferences on these topics, there is no registration fee for ICARST, allowing more participants from developing countries to attend.

Postponed due to the pandemic, #ICARST2022 will take place from 22 to 26 August 2022 at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Interested contributors have until 30 November 2021 to submit abstracts for the conference. More information can be found here.

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