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X. George Xu
Dr. X. George Xu | Image: Dr. X. George Xu

Nuclear engineering graduate Dr. X. George Xu ’94 was recently awarded the Edith H. Quimby Award for Lifetime Achievement in Medical Physics. The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) awarded him the prestigious achievement for his renowned work in the fields of radiation dosimetry and safety.

Medical physics is an interdisciplinary field that combines the principles of nuclear physics and engineering to address challenges in medicine. This includes things such as radiation treatment and radiology and medical imaging. Although a lesser-known discipline of nuclear engineering, medical physics trains scientists and engineers who work within hospitals and have a direct impact on patient health care.

Throughout his professional career, Xu has spearheaded research projects involving clinical software tools that have since been used in hospitals throughout the world. VirtualDose, a software tool developed by Xu, tracks organ doses for patients who have received X-ray CT examinations. In 2019, the software was accessed more than 26 million times, making it the most widely used software for its purpose. 

Currently, Xu is a faculty member in nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a holder of the Edward E. Hood Chair in Engineering. Since joining Rensselaer in 1995, he has received more than $16 million in funding for research grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. Among his professional recognitions are an NSF CAREER Award, the Professional Excellence Award from the American Nuclear Society and the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award from the Health Physics Society.

“The Quimby Award from the AAPM recognizes significant contribution to the clinical practice of medical physics through research, education and leadership,” said Xu. “It reflects the quality and lasting impact of the Ph.D. education I received from Texas A&M.”

 As a graduate student at Texas A&M University, Xu was a member of the Health Physics Society chapter and performed his doctoral research under Dr. Dan Reece, an expert in Monte Carlo radiation transport simulation methods and Dr. John Poston, former president of the Health Physics Society. Other faculty members who directly influenced Xu’s interest in health physics also included Dr. Wes Bolch and Dr. Milton McLain.

“Looking back, I feel that I was greatly inspired by these faculty members I had the opportunity to work with during my time at Texas A&M,” said Xu. “My experience as a Ph.D. student provided me the technical and mental preparation for a very challenging but equally rewarding job as a faculty member.”