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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 Allied 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
Nearly 50 years after we went to the Moon, Mars is in our sights.
Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the revived National Space Council, wrote today in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that "America will be the first nation to bring mankind to Mars." These plans follow Elon Musk's announcement last week that a small group of astronauts will be ready to leave Earth in 2024 and head to Mars. But is all this possible in just seven years as a continuation of the technological advances we've seen, or are significant science and engineering breakthroughs needed to reach their goals?
Scientists may have underestimated the effect of cosmic rays on humans as they leave Earth’s atmosphere and are exposed to the deadly radiation.
NASA is dead-set on sending astronauts to Mars within the next 15 to 20 years. China has said it hopes to send people there between 2020 and 2030, and even Russia is floating plans to put boots on the red planet.
Articles Featuring Francis Cucinotta
Three faculty garner 2018 Barrick Scholar Awards for their extensive research achievements.
UNLV researchers made international headlines this year with their discoveries. Here's a round up of some of our top stories of 2017.