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Health Science student exploring solar radiation effects on space travel

Monday, May 5, 2014
Health Science student exploring solar radiation effects on space travel

By Kelli M. Titus

Cameron Hanson works to connect like minded students interested in space, providing outreach programs for area school children and to conduct undergraduate research at Oakland University. 
The expansive depth and complexities of space are profound, enticing astronomers, scientists and astrophysicists through the ages to ponder its many mysteries.

Among these ambitious intergalactic enthusiasts is an Oakland University student fascinated by the wonders of the universe and hoping to find others who share his passion.


Cameron Hanson transferred to OU in 2013 from Seattle, Washington, where he studied evolutionary biology and chemistry. He chose to attend Oakland after moving closer to family in Oakland County.

Hanson is pursing a degree in health science and biochemistry with an expected minor in physics. He works regularly in the chemistry lab observing DNA irradiation effects.

 “This area is huge for space research,” Hanson said, “as the solar radiation is one of the biggest challenges for astronauts and long-term space travel.”

 The OU undergraduate aspires to obtain his MD/Ph.D. at an institution associated with The National Space Biomedical Research Institute, where he can pursue a career in space medicine and space science.

His love of the universe and all things interstellar developed at a young age. A 4-year-old Hanson gravitated toward space movies, an interest that would evolve into visiting local aircraft carriers and traveling to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the space shuttle launch. Now, Hanson’s passion has driven him to obtain his pilots license.

“I just love the science of flight and human limits and pushing those limits,” he said. “Maybe one day I'll get to apply to the astronaut program.”

In 2013, Hanson participated in a NASA open innovation program, allowing young researchers to submit “mission-designs.” His project, which dealt with tracking an asteroid that stretched 1,000 feet across, was selected at the regional and national level and was one of three projects at the global level. In fact, multiple NASA researchers in California found Hanson’s research remarkable, using components of his work for an Astrobiology study, due to be published next year.

Hanson continues to develop his “mission-design,” using the help of employees at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.


Unable to find a group of fellow OU students interested in interstellar science, Hanson developed the Astronomical and Planetary Society to collaborate with others who share a love and curiosity of the cosmos. He connected with Dr. Kapila Castoldi, an adjunct associate professor of physics at OU and fellow astronomy enthusiast, to work with the society as a faculty adviser.

 “I welcome Cameron for his strong enthusiasm, support his dream and, will work with him at fulfilling it,” said Dr. Castoldi. “One of the immediate goals of this society is to create outreach programs for school children and the community surrounding OU.”

Along with advocating science and space education throughout the area, Hanson hopes the organization will become a facility for undergraduate researchers interested in space science to obtain grants. He also plans to utilize OU’s vast engineering depart, focusing on aerospace engineering.

“NASA and the National Science Foundation are huge supporters of undergraduate research in these areas,” Hanson said.

The ambitious undergraduate says there are countless possibilities available, and that he hopes to continually expand awareness of the organization and its roles as new opportunities arise.

 “Not only do I believe the exploration and science of space is the next step in our evolutionary path, I think it is something intrinsically human to explore. Our group has the potential to do something amazing," Hanson said.

 Students of any major are welcome; all that is required is fervor for knowledge, research and exploration into astronomical and planetary science. For more information contact Cameron Hanson at