Learn more about the recent research accomplishments, contributions, and awards of our Medical Physics faculty members and students.

In Memoriam: John Arbo

Columbia Engineering mourns the loss of John Arbo, Associate in the Discipline of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics More
Feb 23 2022


John and Marlene Arbo Retire:
John Arbo and his wife, Marlene Arbo, long time admistrators and contributors to the Medical Physics Program, have retired.

In Memoriam: Edward L. Nickoloff (1942-2019):
A long time affiliated faculty member of the Medical Physics Program, Dr. Edward L. Nickoloff, from Orangeburg, NY, passed away on March 11, 2019 after a long illness.


Thomas L. Morgan Retires:
The APAM Department's Medical Physics program presented Professor Thomas L. Morgan with a plaque in appreciation of his contributions to the program over the past five years. Dr. Morgan, who has a PhD in Radiological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine, taught Heath Physics and Heath Physics Practicum in the Medical Physics program while also serving as the Chief Radiation Safety Officer and Executive Director of Environmental Health & Safety at Columbia University. Prof. Morgan will be retiring from the University in June to pursue other interests. The APAM Department thanks Prof. Morgan and wishes him great success in his future endeavors.

2017 RAPHEX Exam Cover Pages:
Columbia University Medical Physics Program Faculty and an alumnus served as editors of the 2017 RAPHEX exam guide. Profesor Cheng -Shie Wuu was the Chief Editor, Professor Pat Zanzonico was the Diagnostic Editor, and Dr. Sean L. Berry (Medical Physics MS class of 2004) served as the Therapy Editor.


2016 Indian Point Tour:
Students from the Medical Physics Program and the Medical Physics Program Coordinator toured the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, New York

Medical Physics Seminar & Social:
Medical Physics alumnus, Aaron Svoboda, launched the 2016 Medical Physics Seminar with his up-to-date and timely talk, "I wish they taught me THAT back in medical physics school!" on February 18, 2016, followed on Friday by a social at Mel's Burgers.

Medical Physics Journal Club

Medical Physics Journal Club

Medical Physics graduate students, Michelle Cloutier and Miriam Klein, presented a report on the article, “Endoluminal high-dose-rate brachytherapy for early stage and recurrent esophageal cancer in medically inoperable patients,” (Michael R. Folkert, Gil’ad N. Cohen, Abraham J. Wu, Hans Gerdes, Mark A. Schattner, Arnold J. Markowitz, Emmy Ludwig, David H. Ilson, Manjit S. Bains, Michael J. Zelefsky, Karyn A. Goodman, Brachytherapy, 2013 Sep-Oct; 12:5, pp. 463-70) at the Medical Physics Journal Club meeting on 02/19/16. Gil’ad N. Cohen honored the program by visiting the meeting and contributing to the discussion. The host of the session, Professor Marco Zaider, concluded that the meeting was a great success.


RAMPS Symposium Winners:
Two students in the Columbia Medical Physics Program, who are also Medical Physics Residents (one at MSKCC and one at CU), were winners of the 2015 RAMPS Young Investigator Symposium. They are Bosky Ravindranath, currently a special student and Yong Hum Na, a student in the Certificate Program. Medical Physics students in the APAM Department can present results of research conducted independently or as part of APPH E6650, Research Project. RAMPS, The Radiological and Medical Physics Society of New York, is the local AAPM chapter based at MSKCC. (Sep. 21, 2015)

Noyan Receives Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award:
Professor I.C. “Cev” Noyan, chair of the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and a professor of materials science and engineering and of earth and environmental engineering, was honored by the International Centre for Diffraction Data with its Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award, the most prestigious honor for scientists who advance the use of x-rays in materials analysis, at the Centre’s Denver X-Ray Conference in August. (Aug. 09, 2015)

Medical Physics Alums Participate in Research at MSKCC:
Recent graduates of the Medical Physics Program are actively engaged in research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).  Hailiang Huang ‘14 and Carl Philipp Gaebler ’12 are named authors on an article by Dr. Guang Li, “Novel Spirometry Based on Optical Surface Imaging,” published in The Journal of Medical Physics. (Mar. 30, 2015)

2015 Medical Physics Seminar Kick Off:
Alumnus Aaron Svoboda launched the 2015 Medical Physics Seminar with his up-to-date and timely talk, "I wish they taught me THAT back in medical physics school!" on Thursday 2/19, followed on Friday by a Happy Hour at Mel's Burgers. There, Aaron and ten other seasoned alumni, who are now practicing professionals in area hospitals, joined current medical physics students to share growlers, nachos, and insider wisdom. (Mar. 11, 2015)

Medical Physics Faculty Honored:
The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) awarded Professor Howard I. Amols and Professor Edward L. Nickoloff its Edith H. Quimby Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Physics. This prestigious award recognizes AAPM members whose careers have been notable based on their outstanding achievements. Recipients must be participating AAPM fellows who have made significant scientific achievements in medical physics, had a considerable influence on the career development of other medical physicists, or shown leadership in national and/or international organizations. Prof. Amols, a founding member of Columbia’s MS Program in Medical Physics, is currently teaching advanced radiation therapy. Prof. Nickoloff retired in 2012 after teaching diagnostic radiology for 20 years to students in the Medical Physics Program. Prof. Amols and Prof. Nickoloffwere honored at the AAPM Awards and Honors Ceremony during the 56th Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas in July 2014. Professor Lawrence Rothenberg was so honored in 2007. (Jul. 28, 2014)

2014 Medical Physics Seminar Kick Off:
The 2014 Medical Physics Seminar kicked off with the third incarnation of alumnus Aaron Svoboda's talk "I wish they taught me THAT back in medical physics school!" on Thursday 2/20, followed on Friday by an "Informational" Happy Hour at Mel's Burgers. There, Aaron and five other seasoned alumni, who are now practicing professionals in area hospitals, joined our current medical physics students and new February MS graduates to share growlers, nachos, and insider wisdom. (Feb. 26, 2014)

Students Visit Indian Point

Students Visit Indian Point

Hosted by Lori Glander, Emergency Planning Manager at Entergy Nuclear, on November 7, eighteen students (seventeen from medical physics and one from applied physics) enjoyed an all-day visit at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, New York. All described the lecture and the tour as truly outstanding. (Nov. 17, 2014)


Medical Physics Seminar Approved for Continuing Education Credit:
The American Academy of Health Physics (AAHP), a national association that promotes professionalism in the field of Health Physics, has approved the Medical Physics Seminar for Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Membership in AAPH is open to individuals who have been certified in Comprehensive Health Physics by the American Board of Health Physics (ABHP). Members will be granted 1 CEC for each seminar attended in 2013-2016. The Medical Physics Seminar, which is open to the University community, is a required course for all students in our CAMPEP-accredited MS Program in Medical Physics. Practicing professionals and faculty in the field present selected topics in medical physics, including radiation physics medical and health physics, and radiation biology. (Oct. 16, 2013)

Medical Physics Program Honors Professors Edward Christman and Edward Nickoloff:
On March 15, 2013, on the occasion of their retirement, the Medical Physics Program honored Professor Edward Christman and Professor Edward Nickoloff. Their colleagues thanked them for their outstanding contributions to the Program and for their many years of selfless service. (Mar. 26, 2013)

Indian Point Tour:
On October 12, eleven medical physics MS students and one applied physics senior enjoyed an all-day visit at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, New York, hosted by Michael Slobodien of Entergy Nuclear. Students said: “Loved the field trip…  I learned things I never picked up in the classroom.” “Definitely enjoyed seeing the reactor and learning about what kinds of logistical considerations are relevant for nuclear power plants.” “The tremendous security built into the system is very impressive.” “Our guides were “knowledgeable, kind, and well-prepared for our visit,” and “his talk was super interesting.” (Oct. 12, 2012)

Nickoloff Receives AAPM Lifetime Achievement Award:
In recognition of his achievements and service to the profession of diagnostic medical physics, Dr. Edward L. Nickoloff received the 2012 "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Upstate New York Chapter of The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM). Dr. Nickoloff, Professor of Radiology and Chief Hospital Physicist at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, is a member of the APAM Medical Physics faculty. Dr. Lawrence N. Rothenberg, also a member of the APAM Medical Physics faculty, received this award in 2008. (Sep. 18, 2012)


Berry Wins 1st Place in RAMPS Young Investigator Symposium:
Sean Berry, a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Cheng-Shie Wuu, won first place in the annual Young Investigator Symposium sponsored by the Radiological and Medical Physics Society of New York (RAMPS). Sean was the only doctoral student in the competition; all others were post-doctoral research scientists from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and from Columbia. The title of Sean’s paper and talk was “EPID Based Transit Dosimetry for In-Vivo Patient Treatment Verification.” Electronic portal imaging device (EPID) in-vivo treatment verification was approved for clinical trial by the IRB at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center a few weeks ago. Currently four patients there are under in-vivo treatment verification. Sean, a part-time doctoral student in APAM’s medical physics program, is currently employed as a medical physicist at MSKCC. (Apr. 05, 2011)


Arbo Honored for APAM Leadership and Service:
On December 12, 2008, the Faculty of the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics honored John C. Arbo for his dedicated leadership and service to the department. "Jack" (on the right in the photo) has been a cornerstone of the medical physics masters program from its beginning and has also contributed to the infrastructure of APAM in many ways over the years. As part of the celebration, Jack was presented a plaque that stated it was being presented as an "Expression of Appreciation for your Leadership in the Development and Nurturing of the Medical Physics Program and for Twenty Years of Service as an Instructor of Outstanding Quality and Dedication." (Dec. 12, 2008)

Nickoloff Wins Marvin M. D. Williams Award:
Ed Nickoloff, Professor of Radiology and member of the Medical Physics Faculty, received the Marvin M. D. Williams Award at the American College of Medical Physics annual meeting in Seattle on May 2, 2008 and was the keynote speaker at the Award Banquet. This award is the highest award given by the ACMP for Lifetime Professional Achievement in the field of medical physics. There have only been 19 other recipients of this award given by the ACMP. Only 2 other physicists who received this award were in Diagnostic Radiology; the other physicists were all in Radiation Oncology. He has been Chairman, Secretary and Board member of the ACMP and has served the medical physics community in many other ways. (Jun. 29, 2008)

Wuu Elected President of the Radiological and Medical Physics Society:
Prof. C. S. Wuu, the Co-director of Medical Physics Graduate Program, was elected President of the Radiological and Medical Physics Society of New York, Inc. (RAMPS). His term will begin in January 2009.
(Jun. 25, 2008)


Zaider Wins Edelman Award:
Dr. Marco Zaider, Senior Lecturer of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and Attending Physicist of Medical Physics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Dr. Eva K. Lee, Georgia Institute of Technology, received the Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research for work entitled “Operations Research Answers to Cancer Therapeutics.” They devised sophisticated optimization modeling and computational techniques to implement an intra-operative 3D treatment planning system for brachytherapy (the placement of radioactive “seeds” inside a tumor) that offers a safer and more reliable treatment. The work improves the survival rate of patients with prostate cancer, reduces the side effects of treatment, and reduces costs to the health care system. (Apr. 30, 2007)

Retirement Party for Prof. Thomas Marshall:
A dinner celebrating Prof. Thomas Marshall's retirement was held on April 7, 2006 at the Columbia Club of New York. Prof. Thomas C. Marshall received his PhD in physics from the University of Illinois in 1960 and joined Columbia University in 1962 as a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. He became a Professor of Engineering Science in 1970 and was a member of the Plasma Physics Committee where he launched ground breaking experimental research into the physics of plasmas, relativistic electron beams, and free electron lasers. Prof. Marshall was one of the nine founding faculty members of the Department in 1978, becoming one of Columbia’s first Professors of Applied Physics. He was awarded Columbia’s Great Teacher Award in 1995. During his forty-four years at Columbia University, he has supervised or co-supervised 44 doctoral students. During the past decade, Prof. Marshall was the dedicated faculty advisor to our students in the Medical Physics Program. Working with his students and colleague Prof. Perry Schlesinger, Prof. Marshall pioneered the development of free electron lasers (FEL), which have been shown to generate very large amounts of power, tunable in bands from the microwave to the visible spectrum and beyond. In the 1970’s, the first FEL in the Raman regime was demonstrated in Marshall’s Lab. Prof. Marshall’s research also included FEL photonics and led to the production of TW-level ultra-short pulses of radiation. In 1985, he published Free Electron Lasers, which provided the first integrated treatment of the operation and characterization of the free-electron laser. Between 1985-87, he served on the APS Study Group on the Science and Technology of Directed Energy Weapons. Called by many “the most important APS study ever done”, this study provided a clear technical assessment of the severe limitations of existing candidates for DEWs such as high intensity lasers and energetic particle beams. FEL physics has a close relationship with laser and accelerator physics, and his present research focus is innovation accelerator physics. In recent years, Marshall has been exploring new methods of accelerating particles using Brookhaven’s Accelerator Test Facility (ATF). In 1999, Marshall proposed the dielectric wake field accelerator. Working with his colleague, Jay Hirshfield, Tom Marshall continues his research at the ATF where he is establishing the fundamental physics of dielectric wake field acceleration. Although retiring from academic duties, Professor Emeritus T. C. Marshall will continue to apply his insights and pursue his remarkable discoveries in beam and accelerator physics. (Apr. 07, 2006)

C.S. Wuu Named ACR Fellow:
Prof. C. S. Wuu was named a fellow by the American College of Radiology (ACR). This is one of the highest honors the ACR can bestow on a radiologist, radiation oncologist or medical physicist. ACR fellows demonstrate a history of service to the college, organized radiology, teaching, or research and approximately only 10% of ACR members achieve this distinction. Wuu joins Prof. Edward Nickoloff in this distinction. (Jan. 10, 2006)


Medical Physics Graduate Degree Newly Offered

Columbia University RECORD
Vol. 19 No. 5 (Oct. 01, 1993)

Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science has begun a graduate program in medical physics this fall to prepare professionals to safely use radiation and other techniques for diagnosis and treatment of illness.

The 30-point program, which leads to a master of science degree in medical physics, may be pursued either full-time or part-time and can be completed in one academic year.

A similar program, with emphasis on public health rather than engineering aspects of medical physics, is currently being offered at Columbia's School of Public Health. Both prepare medical physicists or health physicists for certification exams offered by two professional organizations. The new program, however, accommodates individuals who seek an engineering position in a medical-physics related industry, as well as those desiring hospital employment.

There is considerable demand for medical physicists, according to the new program's coordinators, Marco Zaider, associate professor of radiation oncology at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and John Helm, assistant professor of applied physics on the engineering faculty.

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine and the American College of Radiology, two professional organizations that certify medical physicists, have published a report predicting a 7 percent increase in staff positions annually. In a 1991 survey, the AAPM found an average salary for full-time medical physicists of $77,100, with holders of bachelor's degrees earning $61,400, master's degrees $69,400 and doctorates $84,800.

The association defines medical physics as "the applications of physical energy, concepts and methods to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease." Practitioners may use ionizing radiation, infrared radiation, ultrasound, nuclear magnetic resonance, heat and lasers in diagnosis and treatment.

Medical physicists are usually employed by hospitals, which require a master's degree for staff positions and a doctorate for senior positions. Professionals may work in diagnostic imaging, where they take pictures of the body using X-ray, ultrasound, computerized tomography or magnetic resonance equipment, in radiation therapy, where they plan treatments for cancer patients, or in radiation safety, where they supervise the storage and handling of radioactive pharmaceuticals and equipment. Specialists in nuclear medicine examine the body's metabolic processes using radioactive substances that humans can ingest.

Smaller hospitals may hire one individual to perform all these duties. In larger hospitals or teaching hospitals, medical physicists may hold teaching appointments.
Utility companies employ health physicists at nuclear reactors, where they monitor the safety of procedures involving radioactive materials. Another career path is in government service, at such agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Course requirements for the master's degree include four physics courses in the Department of Applied Physics, four medical courses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and electives in applied physics, nuclear engineering, bioengineering and other disciplines. A practicum, in which students practice medical physics under a doctor's supervision, is required both for graduation and certification. A bachelor's degree in engineering, mathematics or one of the physical sciences is required for admission.

Engineering undergraduates who have chosen the college's new premed major will be able to take courses in medical physics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. If they are accepted to the medical physics program, they may apply that course work to their graduate degree requirements, Zaider said.