13:10 PM

UHD Awarded Nearly $200,000 Grant from Nuclear Regulatory Commission


By Mike Emery

Jobs in the nuclear sector are on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in research and development, engineering, management, science and consulting will continue to grow over the next decade.

The University of Houston-Downtown’s College of Sciences & Technology will prepare students for nuclear-related careers through a new concentration in Health Physics and Nuclear Science (for undergraduate Biological and Physical Sciences majors) and scholarships—both supported by a $195,080 grant from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Funds from this grant are supporting the development of the concentration’s curriculum and will provide $7,500 scholarships to students who plan on entering the nuclear field.

“This grant helps broaden the career outlook for our Biological and Physical Sciences students,” said Dr. Mary Jo Parker, executive director of UHD’s Scholars Academy and lecturer of natural sciences. “It will allow our students to become unique commodities in a field that is continuing to grow and diversify.”

Three courses will comprise the Health Physics and Nuclear Science concentration—Nuclear Science and Health Physics; Nuclear Chemistry and Radiochemistry; and Health Physics. The curriculum was developed by Dr. Maria Benavides, associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Yuriy Pinelis, lecturer of physics.

Although these classes can be applied to a Bachelor of Science in Biological and Physical Sciences, they also can be taken as electives by students in other majors.

Students who complete the concentration can continue their graduate education in nuclear sciences at institutions in Texas or across the nation, or enter the workforce.

According to Parker, opportunities for professionals with degrees and skills related to nuclear energy and technology are available in a variety of disciplines. Oil and gas, healthcare, energy, public policy, and research and development are just some of the careers students can explore.

UHD’s Nuclear Science and Health Physics concentration is a major step for the institution and students, Parker added.

“It’s very broadening for our students and our University,” she said. “This concentration provides a new academic arena for UHD and new professional career pathways for our students.”

This award marks the fifth NRC grant UHD has received to support undergraduates contributing to nuclear-related fields. To date, UHD has received nearly $2 million from the NRC to recruit and prepare underrepresented STEM students for graduate programs or careers in nuclear-related chemistry and physics, nuclear engineering, nuclear medicine, or nuclear energy and power workforce sectors.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.