by LAURA HENSLEY
COLLEGE STATION -- Summer school has been far from boring for one A&M graduate student who was selected recently to attend a space camp of sorts for scientists.
Alex Redd, who is working to complete his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, is one of 15 emerging scientists from around the world who were chosen to participate in NASA's Summer Student Program at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.
During the three-week intensive class, which will conclude in Long Island, N.Y., this week, Redd and others are studying the possible risks to astronauts during future long-term space flights.
"Growing up, I read a lot of science fiction, and I've always wanted to be a part of the space program," he said. Making the cut is "pretty cool," the 35-year-old added.
While in space, astronauts are exposed to hazardous ionizing radiation that can cause damage to organs, Redd said. The aim of the NASA program is to persuade new scientists to pursue a career in space radiobiology research - eventually developing new ways to protect the astronauts.
Redd is among a team of scientists who have backgrounds ranging from molecular biology and genetics to nuclear engineering and physics. The group is utilizing the lab's medical department and the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory -a special lab that simulates the radiation environment of outer space.
Redd received a bachelor's degree in chemistry
from A&M in 1993. He also has a master's degree in health physics. The blend of biology and physical science made him a prime candidate for the NASA program, he said
"There aren't many people who study this," Redd said. "That's why we are here - to learn. It's very exciting. I get to listen to the experts on the issues."
After returning to A&M, Redd said he plans to utilize the knowledge gained from the NASA program in his current research, which involves using rat tracheas to predict the effects of radiation on human lung tissue.
"I want to find a way to limit the dangers of radiation," he said.