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Oklahoma State University

Dr. Eric Benton on INTERACT

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Eric Benton, Ph.D.

Eric Benton, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Physics at OSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, specializes in ionizing radiation and its effect on matter, such as living tissue. He also heads OSU’s Radiation Safety Committee and, along with the radiation safety officer, is responsible for radiation safety throughout the OSU campus.

“I have a fair bit of expertise in radiation protection of people, animals and environments,” Benton said. “This includes radiation measurements and assessment of soil samples and dosimetry for radiation biology experiments that expose cell culture or even small animals to radiation. There are people at OSU who use imaging technology based on radiation such as CT scans and MRIs. Some of these can be useful in my research and I hope I’m useful to others in the safe operation of those instruments. Over exposure to radiation can lead to acute radiation sickness. Obviously that’s very terrible where people are basically poisoned to death. Lower doses of radiation can lead to cancer. We need to be really quite cognizant of how to use radiation properly.

“I’m hoping the INTERACT program, amongst other things, will bring to light a lot more of the hidden expertise that’s here at OSU. I’m hoping to work with biologists who specialize in the effects of radiation on biology, whether that’s from the point of view of radiation protection or that of radiological cancer therapy.”

Currently Benton is studying the amounts of radiation that people receive when flying aboard aircraft, especially people like long-haul pilots and flight attendants who fly over the North Pole.

“Flights between Europe and America or between the U.S. and the Far East go very far north,” Benton said. “It turns out the farther north you go, the more intense the radiation. We are focused on determining how bad is that radiation and are there long-term health effects on people who are routinely exposed to it as part of their jobs. Studies have shown that radiation in space is quite a bit higher and is considered an obstacle to long duration human missions to the moon or Mars. With people maybe more interested in returning to the moon, establishing a permanent lunar base or even traveling to Mars, I think Dr. Ashish Ranjan and I could have a real opportunity to solve what NASA calls strategic knowledge gaps. I think INTERACT is a great opportunity for interdisciplinary kinds of research, exchange of ideas and new projects.”

The Institute for Translational and Emerging Research in Advanced Comparative Therapy (INTERACT) aims to fulfill One Health research by conducting parallel investigations in both humans and animals. INTERACT promotes interdisciplinary research within the veterinary college, across the OSU campus and throughout the state and nation by developing and translating discoveries into therapies for patients. INTERACT has faculty participants from almost all OSU colleges, industry experts, foundation partners, and personnel from other academic institutions around the country. For more information, visit INTERACT or contact interact@okstate.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU College of Veterinary Medicine | 405-744-6740 | derinda@okstate.edu

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