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Southern Arkansas University physicist to study space radiation on human cells

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Southern Arkansas University
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A physicist at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia has received a three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the impact of space radiation on human cells.

Associate professor of physics Abdel Bachri will team up with scientists from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Division of Radiation Health in Little Rock on the $265,000 grant. Bachri says they want to examine what space radiation does to human DNA.

“If you go to Mars, for instance, that’s going to take a long time. Nothing can shield that radiation out there. No space shuttle wall is going to be able to block it. Astronauts will definitely be exposed to that radiation. That’s what we’re trying to answer right now before that happens,” Bachri said.

Bachri will spend the summer at UAMS working in the lab. He’s selected several SAU students to help him for 10 weeks, including Cullen Shaffer, a biology major from Crossett, Ark. Shaffer is eager to see how a federal grant is carried out.

“I just hope that I’ll be very familiar with the research process and the method and all the hard work that goes into it. I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of hard work ahead of us, and I’m just ready to dig into that,” Shaffer said.

The group also will run experiments at NASA’s Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York later this year. Bachri said during the grant he will reduce his teaching load by half to spend more time working on the space radiation experiments.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.