March 24, 2009
Dear Friend of Idaho State University,
Whether I'm addressing a formal gathering or chatting with a friend on a fishing stream, I'm thrilled to talk about the remarkable research underway at Idaho State University.
Thanks to talented and creative faculty and students, we are working on projects that have the potential to re-ignite the economy, improve our lives, and shape our vision of the world. I'd like to share a few examples.
At the Idaho State University Idaho Accelerator Center, researchers are experimenting with the use of nuclear accelerators or atom smashers to produce medical isotopes, which are tiny amounts of radioactive substances used to safely treat life-threatening diseases, such as cancer.
"We are pursuing a new way of producing these isotopes that could have implications for the entire nation," says Doug Wells, Ph.D., director of the ISU Idaho Accelerator Center in southeast Idaho.
Currently, our nation's primary supply of medical isotopes is produced at a nuclear reactor in Ontario, Canada. That site will close within two years, leaving government and medical entities scrambling to find new North American sources. Southeast Idaho has the potential to become a new commercial source for medical isotopes.
The beauty of our research is that accelerators—unlike reactors—do not require enriched uranium to produce isotopes, eliminating many of the environmental and security concerns.
I am pleased to report Wells and his researchers are making great strides in this field of scientific discovery. They remain optimistic about securing additional funding to continue their important work. For more information about the Idaho Accelerator Center, visit http://iac.isu.edu/.
I frequently marvel at the depth and global reach of our research. In early March, the Guatemalan government announced major archaeological discoveries in the ancient Maya city of El Mirador and praised Idaho State University anthropologist Richard Hansen, Ph.D., and his researchers for their efforts in preserving the Mirador Basin, the last tract of virgin rainforest remaining in Central America.
Hansen and his team's most recent discoveries include ancient detailed panels made of carved and modeled lime plaster that shed light on early Maya civilization dating back as early 300 B.C. You can read more about Hansen and his extraordinary work in the Mirador Basin at www.miradorbasin.com.
From isotope production to unraveling the mysteries of an ancient civilization, research is a powerful tool. Scientific discovery enables us to drive our economy, understand the past, and shape our future.
Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D.
President, Idaho State University