The Berkeley RadWatch Project: Origins

The UC Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering has been performing a large range of radiation measurements since March 2011, following the releases of radioactive materials from the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. One of the goals of this activity was to measure the radioactivity in Californian samples that could potentially be associated with the releases in Japan using state-of-the-art experiments, to publish the data without filter or restriction, and to put the results in the context of the radiation we are exposed to in our daily lives.

In response to the resurgent interest in radiation levels due to the expected arrival of cesium at the North American west coast, we increased our efforts again in 2014-2016 to measure samples potentially affected by the Pacific Ocean current transport. In addition to measurement samples of fish, seaweed, crab, etc., we aided in the Kelp Watch initiative, which aimed at measuring a potential cesium uptake into kelp, which are of particular interest because they act as a sponge for many toxins.

Expansion of measurement capabilities

  1. We are now involving the more sensitive monitoring system of the Berkeley Lab Low-Background Facility; to allow investigations of smaller samples such as Bay Area sediments, etc.
  2. We are expanding our sample collection to include a wider range of sample types and origins and to look beyond radiation at heavy metal concentrations using neutron activation to make such measurements using the same equipment and techniques as are employed for our other measurements.
  3. A continuous air monitoring station was installed on UC Berkeley campus in 2014 and we have provided, of-and-on, near real-time data from this system on our website, including weather data we are collecting at the same location. The goal of this effort is not only to provide the radiation levels to the broader public but to encourage simple science projects with the data.
  4. We have started a new initiative, DoseNet, building a growing network of environmental and radiation sensor systems across the Bay Area, US, and internationally which connects communities, educators, and researchers across the network.

We hope you will find our data and its interpretation useful. We will continue the monitoring and the publication of results across our different measurement systems to provide an on-going context for radiation and other potential exposure risks in our environment.

Check out our news coverage!

March 10, 2016

June 21, 2012

April 5, 2011

April 1, 2011

March 30, 2011

March 28, 2011

March 25, 2011

March 19, 2011

March 18, 2011

March 17, 2011

MEET OUR TEAM

Kai Vetter

Kai Vetter

Dr. Kai Vetter is a Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and Faculty Senior Scientist and Head of the Applied Nuclear Physics program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is director of the Institute for Resilient Communities that was established in 2015 to address the need to better integrate advancements in sciences and technologies with communities through education and outreach locally and globally. Prof. Vetter initiated and still leads the Berkeley Radwatch and DoseNet programs.

Ali Hanks

Ali Hanks

Ali Hanks is a Research Scientist and Lecturer in the Nuclear Engineering department at UC Berkeley. She works under Prof. Kai Vetter as a member of the radiation imaging group, mentoring graduate and undergraduate students in nuclear science research. Dr. Hanks operates as the day-to-day lead for the RadWatch and Dosenet teams and runs a summer internship program for high school students sponsored by this outreach program.

Chris Lamb

Chris Lamb

Chris is a PhD student primarily acting as a resource for other undergraduate researchers involved with DoseNet and RadWatch or helps with public education at outreach events .

Dani Solakian

Dani Solakian

Dani Solakian is an Undergrad Student Researcher working with the Dosenet/Radwatch team to educate, empower, and provide tools for the public to understand radiation and the environment surrounding them.

Benjamin Huang

Benjamin Huang

Ben graduated UC Berkeley with a bachelors in Nuclear Engineering and currently works as a junior researcher assisting undergraduate researchers, lab interns, and PhD students in their projects and endeavors.

Brian Fu

Brian Fu

Brian is a third year Electrical Engineering and Computer Science student at UC Berkeley who is interested in Gamma Analysis. He currently works with DoseNet/Radwatch and helps out with outreach events and other research.

Akhila Krishnan

Akhila Krishnan

Akhila Krishnan is a rising sophomore at Lowell High School working on measuring volatile organic compounds in the air and assembling a radon sensor.

Eric Yu

Eric Yu

Eric is a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in Nuclear Engineering and minoring in Public Policy. His work includes outreach across the bay with RadWatch/DoseNet, observing and attributing statistical variations in radiation data, and developing RW/DN's code base for radiation spectrum analysis.

Vikram Gill

Vikram Gill

Vikram is a senior at De Anza High School, focused on creating various tools to analyze/model our data. He's interested in the fields of statistics and computer science, and enjoys journalism as a hobby.

Aditya Arunachalam

Aditya Arunachalam

Aditya is a rising sophomore at Basis Independent Fremont, working with seismic sensors and analyzing data taken from Dosenet’s sensors. He’s interested in computer science, math, and physics, and in his free time, enjoys following basketball and baseball.

Isaac Schultz

Isaac Schultz

Isaac is a fourth year student at UC Berkeley studying Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Aerospace Engineering. He currently works with DoseNet/Radwatch specifically in iterative design of the DoseNet system case array.

Kel Strathearn

Kel Strathearn

Kel is a sophomore at UC Berkeley majoring in Nuclear Engineering, with an intended minor in EECS. They are interested in how radiation interacts with natural ecosystems and computer science. Kel helps in the UI design of our portable sensors and data visualization.

Zak Fares

Zak Fares

Zak is a 4th year student at UC Merced, studying Computer Science & Engineering. He is interested in the databases and algorithms behind managing nuclear power and systems. This summer he hopes to learn practical skills and better understand what he might want to do after graduation when entering the work force.

Omar Peña

Omar Peña

Omar is a sophomore Nuclear Engineering major at UC Berkeley interested in math, computer science, and language. He is currently working on data visualization with a focus on improving the groups website.

Esther Luvishis

Esther Luvishis

Esther is a junior at Maria Carrillo High School. She is primarily focused on outreaching to local high schools including her own as well as helping out and learning about RadWatch's data analysis endeavors.

Matthew Granados

Matthew Granados

Matthew is a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Nuclear Engineering. He currently works with analysis of gamma spectra and assists with outreach events.