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

Biography

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.

Education

  • 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

July 15, 2021
Women were more likely to develop lung cancer than men, suggesting a greater sex-based vulnerability to harmful radiation.
July 14, 2021
Although meant to minimize risks to human health, the proposed new limits would still be exceeded by any conceivable near-future crewed voyage to Mars.
July 3, 2021
As particles from the sun and high-energy cosmic radiation stream constantly into their bodies, astronauts are always in danger. Radiation can cause serious health problems if it is not controlled.
July 3, 2021
Left unchecked, radiation can trigger all sorts of health issues, most notably boosting an astronaut's danger of developing cancer. So, when NASA plans missions, the agency uses a radiation exposure cap to determine how long astronauts can stay in space.

Articles Featuring Francis Cucinotta

Campus News | July 9, 2021
A collection of news stories highlighting remembrance and improvement at UNLV.
A portrait of UNLV's new president Keith Whitfield on campus.
Campus News | August 10, 2020
As summer heats up, so do the accomplishments on UNLV’s campus.
Two women stand in front of an image of a Martian rover
Research | May 19, 2020
Pair of geoscience professors at the forefront of UNLV’s contributions to Mars exploration, but plenty more academics are involved in the Red Planet.
People preparing to cut ribbon on new Fertitta Complex
Campus News | November 1, 2019
A collection of local, national, and international news stories highlighting the people and programs of UNLV.