Carlsbad Scientist off to Austria for international atomic energy conference
CARLSBAD — Carlsbad scientist Dr. Punam Thakur has been invited to attend an exclusive consultancy meeting in Vienna, Austria, in September.
Thakur, a radio chemist with the Carlsbad Environ-mental Monitoring and Research Center in Carlsbad, received her invitation last week to provide her expertise and participate in an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting on the development for methods of air sampling systems and determination of alpha and beta emitters in aerosols.
“Obviously this is one of the most pristine conferences in the world, and for one of our people to get invited to talk about our work is very complimentary,” said Research Center Interim Director Dr. George Mulholland.
The meeting will take place from Sept. 26 through Sept. 30, in Vienna, bringing together experts on the specific topic of aerosol sampling.
Thakur will be asked to comment on the monitoring process -something she has unique experience with in Carlsbad.
Thakur and other scientists from the research center monitor the air, soil, water, plants and animals around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a waste repository some 26 miles south of Carlsbad.Local scientists monitor the WIPP site for traces of radiation, using instruments with extreme sensitivity. According to Mulholland, in the past 12 years, no radiation has been found emitting from the waste repository.
“We are very proud of her,” said Mulholland. “It is great for (the research center) and for Carlsbad to have a world-recognized scientist.”
Thakur has been published in several radio chemist journals, and the energy agency found her work in these journals and invited her to share her expertise at the meeting this fall, said Mulholland.
Thakur will be asked to give a presentation about the WIPP site, how it is monitored, how the tests are conducted and how to test for background radiation, among other procedure and data questions.
Along with other aerosol and air sample experts, Thakur will put together a draft for a document on common procedure for taking aerosol samples. The meeting will also extended to technical development and applications based on the Fukushima incident in Japan, said Alessia Ceccatelli with the energy agency.
Thakur said she is busy putting data together, but feels very honored and excited to have been invited to join some of the world’s top scientists.
Mulholland reiterated that we have a niche in cutting edge science in Carlsbad.