Professor Deborah Oughton is CERAD’s new director. She is professor in nuclear/environmental chemistry at NMBU and has been Research Director of CERAD since its inception.
“My vision is that CERAD continues to be the leading Norwegian research center on the impacts of radioactivity in the environment and a key player in international research,” says Oughton.
Oughton has extensive research experience and has been lead contractor for NMBU in fifteen EU projects in the past 20 years. In her research she focused on radioecology and environmental pollution, including projects spanning nuclear risks and nanoparticles.
In parallel with natural science research, she has worked extensively on the social and ethical aspects of radiation risk, including the consequences of the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents.
Inspired by enthusiastic students
In addition to her role at NMBU, she is also adjunct Professor at the University of Oslo, where she teaches research ethics to PhD students in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
“Teaching at all levels inspires me in my work - I never fail to be inspired by enthusiastic students and working with scientists from a wide range of disciplines,” says the new CERAD director.
Increase awareness of indirect effects
Oughton speaks about the global challenges CERAD will be addressing in the future.
“Internationally, the challenges from emergency preparedness for nuclear events continue to evolve, and in Norway interesting new research questions arise from reactor decommissioning,” she says.
“Knowledge on the biological impacts of radiation should benefit from basic research on mechanisms, while studies of the ecological impacts need to better address the indirect effects of ionizing radiation, including the possibility of adaption.”
Put the risk of radiation into perspective
She further comments that the risks of ionizing radiation need to be put in perspective to other environmental stressors, and application of tracers could be exploited in other areas of environmental science.
“I believe that recognition of the importance of social science in understanding radiation risks will continue to increase, especially within communication and the ethical challenges posed by application of new technologies,” Oughton concludes.