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Alumni Announcements


Justin Silkwood

The SWOSU Division of Physics will host its annual Physics Spring Alumni Banquet on Saturday, April 8, 2017, at 7:00 PM at the Stafford Air and Space Museum.  Justin Silkwood, a therapeutic medical physicist at the Oklahoma Cancer Specialists and Research Institute in Tulsa, will be our speaker.

Justin Silkwood received his B.S. degree in Engineering Physics and Mathematics from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 2010. In 2013, he graduated from Louisiana State University with an M.S. degree in Medical Physics. Upon graduation, he entered into a Medical Physics Residency at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge, LA, which he completed in 2015. Following his residency, he began work at the Oklahoma Specialists and Research Institute.

The main goal of radiation oncology is to treat a patient's tumor such that 95% of its volume receives at least 95% of the intended radiation dose while at the same time keeping doses to healthy tissues as low as possible. Medical physicists work as a team to ensure that goal is met by maintaining the software used to design treatment plans, evaluating proposed treatment plans created by that software for potential errors, monitoring patients under treatment to ensure the plan is being delivered according to physician intent, and maintaining the equipment used to image the patients and deliver their treatments. Radiation producing machines, known as linear accelerators, are used to treat the majority of patients in a cancer center, and require Quality Assurance testing with increasing rigor on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. Medical physicists design and carry out these tests. To achieve all these things in sync with clinic flow, physicists have to be extremely efficient. This profession demands exceptional time management skills, as the acquired images used to plan treatments can become "stale" if too much time passes between initial consultation and first treatment. The patient's tumor could have grown too much or have  changed shape since it was imaged, decreasing the chances of cure by geometrically missing the target. Most clinics strive to get the first treatment underway within 1-2 weeks of the initial patient consultation. This career provides new challenges daily, is exciting to participate in, and most of all it's fulfilling to know that a job well done means our patients get more time with loved ones, more time for taking trips or having new experiences, and more time to create lasting memories.

Justin is currently busy helping to install a new linear accelerator (the Center’s fourth machine) to provide greater service to patients–increased availability, longer access times, and more efficient response in general.

Justin and his wife Candace (née Benda, also a SWOSU graduate) reside in Tulsa.

Tickets for the banquet are $25 each and may be paid for at the door, but we need a head count by Wednesday, April 5, so we ask that you make reservations by email (physics@swosu.edu), phone (580/774-3109), FAX (580/774-3115), snail mail (c/o Terry Goforth, 100 Campus Dr., Weatherford, OK 73096) or in person.  We look forward to seeing you there!


The annual Physics Shish-kebab will be at Crowder Lake on Saturday, April 29, 2017.  As always, there will be plenty of delicious food and good company. The dinner bell rings around 6 p.m., but of course there’s plenty to do–canoeing, fishing, hiking, and chatting–so feel free to come early and relax and enjoy.

This is also when we present the Iggies (Ignoble Awards)–recognition for actions and achievements that don’t quite show up at the banquet, and we’ll be inducting our officers for the 2017-2018 school year. (The swearing-in oaths are worth the wait!)

You don’t need a reservation, but if you let us know you’re coming, we can plan the food accordingly.  We hope to see you!

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