Kathryn A. Higley

Professor and Head, Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health
Oregon State University

Email: Kathryn.Higley@oregonstate.edu


Ph.D., Radiological Health Sciences, 1994. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

M.S., Radiological Health Sciences, 1992. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

B.A., Chemistry, 1978. Reed College, Portland, OR.

Research Interests

  • Environmental transport and fate of radionuclides
  • Radioecology
  • Radiochemistry
  • Radiation dose assessment
  • Neutron activation analysis
  • Nuclear emergency response

Brief Biography

Kathryn Higley has held both Reactor Operator and Senior Reactor Operator’s licenses, and is a former Reactor Supervisor for the Reed College TRIGA reactor. She has held research positions at three research reactors including Reed College, Washington State University (Pullman), and Oregon State University. She has fourteen years with Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratories as an environmental health physicist at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and three years experience in environmental radiation monitoring at the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant in Oregon.

She has been a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Air, Water and Radiation Protection. She is a member of the Health Physics Society and a certified Health Physicist. She has served on National Council of Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRP) subcommittees and on National Academy of Science committees. She is a member and scientific secretary of the newly formed Committee 5 of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Dr Higley has been at Oregon State University since 1994 teaching undergraduate and graduate classes on radioecology, dosimetry, radiation protection, radiochemistry, societal aspects of nuclear technology, and radiation biology.

Her research at OSU has included the use of nuclear track detectors for determination of plutonium, americium, and uranium particle size in soils, analysis of the micro-morphological distribution and association of these contaminants with soil structural features; kinetics of radionuclide movement in environmental systems; development of novel methods for estimating radiation dose to non-human biota; relationship of morphological characteristics of radiologically-contaminated surfaces on radiation detector efficiency, and effects of scanning speeds for radiological survey systems on detector efficiency.

CRESP Projects

Biomonitoring as a Means for Acquisition of Site-Specific Transfer Parameters for Nuclides of Concern and their Application in Demonstrating Protection


Journal Articles
Higley, K.A., Estimating transfer factors in the absence of data, Radiation and Environmental Biophysics (in press) DOI 10.1007/s00411-010-0326-9.

Bytwerk, D., and Higley, K.A. Cl-36 transfer to ryegrass and consequences for environmental modeling, Radioprotection 2009, Vol. 44, n° 5, pages 695 à 699 DOI: 0.1051/radiopro/20095127

Higley, K.A. and Bytwerk , D.P., Invariant scaling relationships and their possible application in predicting radionuclide uptake in plants Radioprotection 2009, Vol. 44, n° 5, pages 677 à 682 DOI: 10.1051/radiopro/20095124

Higley, K.A., Bytwerk, D., Generic Approaches to Transfer, J. Environ. Radioactivity, 98(2007) 4-23.

Book Chapters
Higley, K.A., “Effects of Radioactivity on Plants and Animals” in Radionuclide Concentrations in Food and the Environment. M. Poschl, L. Nollet, ed., Food Science and Technology Series, Vol 164; Taylor Francis / CRC Press August 2006

Environmental Protection – the Concept and Use of Reference Animals and Plants ICRP Publication 108 Ann. ICRP 38 (4-6), 2008

Peer –Reviewed Conference Proceedings
Higley, K. A., & Bytwerk, D. (2008). Invariant Scaling Relationships and their Possible Application in Predicting Radionuclide Uptake in Plants, Proceedings of the International Conference on Radioecology & Environmental Radioactivity. 15-19 June, 2008, Bergen, Norway. Radioprotection, vol 44, no 5 (2009), pps 677-682

Bytwerk, D., & Higley, K. A. (2008). CL-36 Transfer to ryegrass and consequences for Environmental Modeling, Proceedings of the International Conference on Radioecology & Environmental Radioactivity. 15-19 June, 2008, Bergen, Norway. Radioprotection, vol 44, no 5 (2009), pps 695-700.

Committee Service

  • International Commission on Radiological Protection, Committee 5, Protection of the Environment (2005-2013)
  • International Atomic Energy Agency, EMRAS II – Environmental Modelling for Radiation Safety (EMRAS II), Working Group 5, 2008-present
  • End-Users Group, Environmental Risk from Ionising Contaminants: Assessment and Management (ERICA), EURATOM, European Union (2003 – )

Additional Information:

Detailed profile – Oregon State University

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