People

Faculty

— Dr. Zaijing Sun

Dr. Sun is an associate professor in the Department of  Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences at UNLV. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics (in the area of Radiation Sciences and Accelerator Applications) from the Idaho Accelerator Center in 2012. Before joining UNLV, He was an assistant/associate professor of Nuclear Engineering at South Carolina State University. He had worked in the Nuclear Engineering Division of Argonne National Laboratory for three years under Dr. George Vandergrift and Dr. Sergey Chemerisov. He was also guided directly by Dr. Unnikrishnan (a pioneer in temporal data mining) at the NorthShore Research Institute.

His responsibilities at HERD include (but are not limited to)

(1) conduct scientific research that generates independent, high-quality, and reproducible results; interpret the research data (especially on database analysis and temporal data mining for early indicators), write reports to the funding agency, produce presentations and papers.

(2) lead the scientific direction and administer, compliance, finance, personnel, and other related aspects of the research project;

(3) manage the design/conduct of the research project; monitor the progress of the research and ensure the integrity of collaborative relationships with national labs;

(4) coordinate with school, department, and central administration personnel to ensure that research is conducted following Federal regulations, University policies, and DOE procedures.


— Dr. Biswajit Biswal

Dr. Biswajit Biswal is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at South Carolina State University. He holds Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Engineering from Tennessee State University, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from NYU Tondon School of Engineering, and B.E. in Medical Electronics Engineering from India. His research interests are machine learning, data mining, cybersecurity, cloud computing, RF signal detection (Drones), IoT, and big data analysis. Dr. Biswal has published many technical papers at conferences and in journals. He has served as a technical reviewer in many conferences and journals. He is also a member of IEEE.

see: https://www.linkedin.com/in/biswajit-biswal-3091196/


Staff

— Mary Turner

Mary Turner is the laboratory manager in the Department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences. She has more than eighteen years of experience in radiation detection and nuclear measurements.


Postdoc

— Dr. Krishnakumar Divakar Nangeelil

Dr. Krishnakumar is the Postdoc scholar to Dr. Sun in the Department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences at UNLV. He received his Master’s degree from Bharathidasan University, India. He did his Ph.D. in Physics at Bharathiar University, India, in the area of radiation dosimetry. His Ph.D. thesis focussed on the development and applications of state-of-the-art Optically Stimulated and Thermally stimulated luminescence materials in radiation dosimetry. Before joining UNLV, he was a Scientific Officer in Health Physics Section, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, India. He has two decades of progressive professional work experience in Health Physics, Radiation Dosimetry, and associated fields of radiation measurement and analysis. He specializes in Operational Health physics, Detector instrumentation, Gamma spectrometry, and the development of Optically and Thermally stimulated Luminescence materials for radiation dosimetry. He has published many technical papers in conferences and peer-reviewed journals in the field of health physics and radiation dosimetry.


Student

— Thomas Knoblauch (Ph.D., Integrated Health Sciences)

Thomas Knoblauch is a doctoral student and part-time instructor for the Department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences. He holds an MS in Health Physics from UNLV and a BS in Physics from Northern Arizona University. Thomas works as a project scientist for a private neuroimaging research group, Imgen LLC. His main research focus is the application of statistics and data mining algorithms to study the relationship between quantitative neuroimage findings and adverse clinical outcomes in subjects diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

 

 


— Haven Searcy (MS, Health Physics)

Haven Searcy received his BS in Chemistry from Fort Valley State University. He was an intern for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He has worked with Dr. Sun in environmental health physics on radiological monitoring surrounding the Nevada Test Site. The primary analytical technique used is Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA). Currently, he is working on establishing a Remote Gamma Spectra Collection System (RGSCS) coupled with a CosmicGuard background reduction system.


— Danesha Hunter (MS, Health Physics)

Danesha received her BS in Chemistry from Fort Valley State University in 2016. After graduating, she taught for the Anchorage School District in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, before moving to Las Vegas to pursue her Master of Science in Environmental Health Physics from UNLV. She successfully passed the MS defense at UNLV in 2019 and finished her coursework in 2020, but took a brief time off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon moving back to Las Vegas in 2023, she is currently working for UNLV’s Radiation Safety Office as a Radiation Safety Specialist and will soon work as a Radiological Control Scientist II at the Nevada National Security Site, with the ultimate goal of becoming a Radiation Safety Officer in the future. She is ecstatic to begin her thesis research with Dr. Sun to complete her master’s program and continue her educational journey at UNLV.


Dyanne Macalinao (DMP, Medical Physics)

Dyanne is a graduate student pursuing a Doctor of Medical Physics degree at UNLV. Growing up in Las Vegas, she received her BS in Biochemistry at UNLV in December 2018. With growing interests in math and physics, she took post-baccalaureate courses in these subjects immediately after graduation. Dyanne is currently a graduate assistant in the Department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences and has the primary goal of becoming a certified medical physicist in the future.

 

 

 


— Kennedy O. Alila (MS, Nuclear Engineering)

Mr. Alila is currently a graduate student in the department of Mechanical Engineering-Nuclear Engineering at UNLV. He graduated from Saint Louis University with a Master of Science in Chemistry in 2011. He has since his graduation been a college instructor of chemistry. He is working with Dr. Sun from the Health Physics department on the Irradiation of Samples for Isotope Ratios Analysis.

 

 

 


— Estefany Merino Rojas (BS, Health Physics)

Estefany Merino Rojas is a fourth-year student majoring in Health Physics. She plans to become a certified health physicist and begin a career at a national laboratory after graduation. She was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. In her free time, she enjoys watching new shows and creating new memories with friends and family. She serves as the finance director of Scientista, a student organization to empower women majoring in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) at UNLV.

 

 

 


Alumni

— Peter Dimpfl (MS, Medical Physics)

Peter Dimpfl was a graduate student and research assistant. He graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in Physics and a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2010. After graduating, he worked as an operations engineer in the Oil & Gas Industry, performing well-logging applications for over nine years. His duties included radiation safety, supervisory work, logistics, data acquisition, quality control, and instrument calibration. He successfully passed the MS defense at UNLV in 2022 and is currently under residency as a medical physicist at Texas Oncology – Deke Slayton Cancer Center in Houston, TX.

 

 

 


— Christiana Jiang (MS, Health Physics)

Christina was a Graduate Assistant to Dr. Sun, assisting with research on environmental biomonitoring via Spanish Moss. She was a full-time employee at the Radiation Safety Office at UNLV. She was an intern for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Center for Radiological Field Operations in the Office of Air and Radiation. She was born and raised in Las Vegas, where she attended UNLV receiving her Bachelor of Science in Health Physics in May of 2020 and Master degree in Environmental Health Physics in 2023. She is currently working as a Health Physicist at the Remote Sensing Laboratory(RSL) at Nevada National Security Site.