ORISE offers scholarship opportunities to students pursuing careers in STEM

Radiation Exposure: What Not to Fear

Despite living in a world of constant radiation exposure, people have a negative association with the word “radiation.” The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is hosting a problem-based challenge for undergraduate students. The challenge for undergraduates is to develop a strategic communication approach to the general public on the everyday occurrences of radiation, the benefits, risks, and safety of all types and uses of radiation. You could win a $5,000 scholarship! The deadline for this competition is Thursday, March 29, 2018, and winners will be announced mid-April.


  • First place: $5,000 scholarship
  • Second place: $3,000 scholarship
  • Third place: $1,000 scholarship

The Challenge:

Problem: Radioactive material is fairly common in nature, and relatively harmless in that state. Naturally occurring radioactive materials are present in our planet’s crust, the floors and walls of our homes, schools, or offices, and in the food we eat and drink. Both natural and man-made sources of radiation have been harnessed for a variety of uses, such as medical treatment and diagnosis, industry, agriculture, energy production, and other scientific and technological fields. X-Ray technicians, oncologists, mine workers, nuclear power plant operators, and industrial radiographers routinely work safely around sources of radiation. In an effort to remove unwarranted fear and to understand radiation safety and risks, what communication strategies and examples can be used to better inform the public about the natural occurrences, benefits, safety, and risks of radiation?

Your task: Develop a proposal for communicating with the public that can be implemented to inform citizens about radiation in our world. You must provide supporting evidence in your proposal for why the public should be better informed on the potential radiation exposure.


  • You must be an undergraduate student currently enrolled at a college or university who will also be enrolled at a college or university next year.
  • A proposal shall include: 1) a detailed explanation of the communication solution and 2) supporting evidence for why the public should not have an undue fear of potential radiation exposure.
  • A proposal can be in the format of your choice: paper, video, presentation, etc.
  • If you need a place to begin your research, visit the ORISE Radiation Exposure Information page or the Radiation Answers website.
  • Proposals must be submitted on the submission form.
  • Proposals will be graded based on this rubric.
  • We are looking for ingenuity in solution and presentation.

How to Enter:

  • To enter the contest, complete the submission form and attach your proposal/presentation file. The deadline to submit is 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, March 29, 2018.