Dr. Aaron Lewis, Assistant professor at the University of Belize, travelled to Jamaica in 2012 when he was asked to represent Belize at a regional workshop in Jamaica, where he pitched a proposal on behalf of the University to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World’s Cooperation center in the Nuclear field. The idea is to establish a Nuclear Lab at the University of Belize in Belmopan to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.
“I don’t think that this is something that we should be afraid of, or we should be reluctant to get into.
The first time I worked with radioactive material I was 19. So I just gotten to the US to pursue my Bachelors Degree.
So the requisite training has to happen, and will happen, so that myself or faculty or student will be able to use and work with these materials in a safe and responsible way. That’s a natural thing as a scientist, that will have to be done.”
Dr. Mitko Voutchkov, Professor of Applied Nuclear Physics, came to assess the universities capacity to adapt this type of technology into their curriculum.
“Nuclear Science can do not just bad things, but also good things too. It could be used for testing, especially in medicine for diagnostic, for cancer treatment. Also Nuclear Science could be used for environmental studies, or monitoring for oil drilling. It has numerous applications.
This type of equipment is completely, absolutely safe. You can’t produce equipment without meeting safety standards. If anything is wrong with the use of the equipment, it will shut off.
The other equipment that we’re getting has no radiation. It’s just measures radiation.”
The project will work on a “train the trainer basis’ which will be overlooked by the International Atomic Energy Agency and their local counterpart Dr. Aaron Lewis. The second phase will be to make the program sustainable by implementing it in the classrooms.
Dr. Aaron Lewis
“I would think that this could happen within a year to two years, and the reason for that is that we have excellent collaboration going on with UWI. Jamaica has been taking advantage of their membership with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Belize hasn’t used that enough, but this is an excellent start. We have the good fortune of Jamaica providing their expertise, their experience, [and] their leadership.”
The International Energy Agency funds all areas of nuclear research. The largest portion of their funds goes towards nuclear research in the field of Health.