Students will graduate from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a concentration in biomedical physics for the first time this spring.
Biomedical physics combines physics, biology and medicine. Alexey Krasnoslobodtstev, a UNO physics professor, was hired two and a half years ago to develop the concentration. He worked at UNMC as an assistant professor before he transferred to UNO.
“What we had before was two degrees and one concentration: [a] bachelor’s of science and art and an education concentration,” Dr. Krasnoslobodtstev said. “The department wanted to have more options for students so they could compete for more jobs. Our major goal now is to help students orient themselves when they graduate into the biomedical field.”
Students with a biomedical physics concentration have to take the required physics major coursework, three classes in the concentration and three or four advanced labs, including one specialized in biomedical physics. Classes for the biomedical physics concentration run on a cycle, so the available classes change each semester.
Some examples of jobs in the bio-medical physics field include: a biological physicist, a medical physicist, a biomedical engineer and a medical imaging specialist.
The work ranges from helping doctors research diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s to developing software for medical equipment. The average salaries for the jobs range from $71,236 to $86,960, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
William Bakke, a UNO physics major and history minor will graduate with the biomedical physics concentration in May.
Bakke said he did not know much about biomedical physics until he took the introduction course. When he first came to UNO, he was attracted to quantum physics, but when he realized biomedical physics aligned better with his interests and career goals, he added it as his concentration.
Bakke said the concentration has already helped him in his career.
“It has opened up a lot of opportunities for me so far,” Bakke said. “I got to apply to a summer undergraduate research program at UNMC, which helped me get my foot in the door. From there, I got accepted into a regular position, and I’m going to continue working at UNMC through graduate school.”
Bakke said he is thankful he is a student during the concentration’s development and first years.
“It’s really interesting to go into a program that’s brand new,” Bakke said. “We are the guinea pig class. We’re learning along with the teacher how the program will work. It has helped me get close to my advisors because we are around each other constantly.”
The biomedical physics field is growing rapidly, Krasnoslobodtstev said. Biomedical physics graduate programs can be found throughout the country.
Dr. Krasnoslobodtstev said he is hoping there will be a physics graduate program at UNO in the future, but he is happy with the progress that’s been made in the undergraduate program.
“It’s cool. It’s something to be proud of,” Bakke said. “Hopefully I can come back one day and see an undergraduate program that has blown up and become really successful.”