This year’s Wetterhahn Fellowship winner is Xiaoming He, a fifth year PhD student in the Chemistry Department. Xiaoming works at both the medical school and DHMC (Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center) and is supervised by Dr. Dean Wilcox and Dr. Harold Swartz. Her research involves developing a technique to measure radiation exposure, using samples of fingernails, toenails, and teeth.
Recently, Xiaoming participated in, “Fighting Back ‘Tooth and Nail’: Remembering Japan’s Nuclear Power Plant Accident,” an event geared toward improving disaster response. In her research, she worked with unaffected people, and patients with varying levels of radiation, including patients with total body radiation, using EPR (Electronic Paramagnetic Resonance) which, detects unpaired electrons (free radicals) after radiation breaks the chemical bond, thus allowing radiation to be measured. The goal of this research is to help victims of nuclear accidents or attacks, by providing doctors with a means of quickly and accurately measuring an individual’s level of radiation, so that those who have been exposed can be treated.
Xiaoming, originally from China, very much enjoys her time at Dartmouth. Asked what brought her here, she explains, “I knew Dartmouth as an Ivy League school, but I was mostly interested in coming from a big city to a small, prestigious, college, where I could do some good research.”
As do many students who come to Dartmouth from more urban areas, Xiaoming had the pleasant task of adjusting to her new surroundings. “My first impression of Dartmouth was that people here are much more friendly,” she says, adding, “I remember being shocked that the cars would stop and wait for me to cross the road, rather than me waiting for them to stop!”
On being nominated for, and winning the award, Xiaoming says, “I’m honored, Professor Wetterhahn is very well known throughout the world, and I’m proud of her work. My hard work is well appreciated while women weren’t recognized in the same way, in the past.”
by Tennile Sunday