Francis Cucinotta

Professor, Department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences
Expertise: Theoretical Nuclear, Radiation and Space Physics, Biophysics of DNA Damage and Repair, Terrestrial and Space Radiobiology, Radiation Risk Models for Cancer and Noncancer Effects, Biodosimetry


Francis (Frank) Cucinotta is a professor for the department of health physics and diagnostic sciences within the School of Integrated Health Sciences. He is an expert in how environmental and man-made radiation affects the body, and currently teaches radiobiology to undergraduate health physics students.

Prior to joining UNLV, Cucinotta led a team at NASA focused on the potential radiation health risks to astronauts visiting Mars and determined how to mitigate those risks. He has been a chief scientist with NASA’s radiation program since 2003, and continues to serve as an adviser to the Human Medical and Technical Authority at NASA on radiation risks.

A prolific researcher, Cucinotta’s work has been published in more than 340 professional journal articles, including Science, Nature Reviews Cancer, Reviews of Modern Physics, PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS ONE, and Nucleic Acids Research. He is continuing his research on radiation health risks in space and on Earth.

Cucinotta is an elected councilor of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, which is chartered by the U.S. Congress to make recommendations on radiation protection. In 2013-2014 he was the president of the Radiation Research Society, which encourages the advancement of radiation research in all areas of the natural sciences; facilitates cooperative research between the disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine in the study of the properties and effects of radiation; and promotes dissemination of knowledge in these and related fields through publications, meetings, and educational symposia.


  • Ph.D., Physics, Old Dominion University
  • B.A., Physics, Rutgers University
  • Floyd L. Thompson Fellowship: Johns Hopkins Medical School and Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom

Francis Cucinotta In The News

The approach even goes further, with trips to more distant areas.
Daily Mail
A new era of spaceflight has dawned with NASA's Artemis programme, which aims to establish a base camp on the moon and lay groundwork for a future trip to Mars. The US space agency will send humans back to the lunar surface in 2025, but its manned missions to the Red Planet won't take place until the 2030s. Meanwhile, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk thinks he can beat NASA to it by sending crewed flights to Mars as soon as the second half of this decade.
Smithsonian Magazine
NASA is preparing to return astronauts to the lunar surface. And this time with more ambitious goals.
Those missions, which had a successful kickoff with Artemis-1, will establish the groundwork for months-long human habitation on the Lunar surface. Proposed base camps will present unique opportunities to test technology, unravel scientific secrets about the Moon's past and present, search for the presence of water, and more.

Articles Featuring Francis Cucinotta

Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine graduates line up to cross the commencement stage
Campus News | December 30, 2021

A collection of 2021 headlines highlighting medical school milestones, a steady stronghold on diversity and research rankings, student success, and media mentions featuring faculty experts.

Students pose between U.N.L.V. letters
Campus News | July 9, 2021

A collection of news stories highlighting remembrance and improvement at UNLV.

A portrait of U.N.L.V.'s new president Keith Whitfield on campus.
Campus News | August 10, 2020

As summer heats up, so do the accomplishments on UNLV’s campus.