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Mi-Ae Park, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Radiology
  • Division Chief, Medical Physics
“When you see the positives in every situation, nothing is impossible.”

Contributions to STEMM

Dr. Park is a medical physicist with expertise in medical imaging. “Medical imaging technology is complex and based on the physics of radiation. The primary responsibility of medical physicists is to ensure safe use of radiation and to maintain optimal operation of all imaging equipment. We use low-energy radiation to visualize the body's internal structures that are impossible to see with the naked eyes,” she said.

“I am proud to be a physicist and enjoy working in a multidisciplinary care team. I feel rewarded knowing my work is helping others.”

Throughout a typical week, Dr. Park participates in a broad range of clinical, educational, and research activities. “My clinical responsibilities include oversight of regulatory compliance and performance of all imaging systems. In addition, I have established a dose-reduction program which has led to a substantial reduction in patient radiation doses for many hybrid imaging protocols.”

Her work as a researcher “has led to several key technological innovations that impact clinical nuclear medicine studies and research.” As an example, she notes she “was the primary inventor of a novel ultra-short focusing collimator design” used for single-photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, “that improves the spatial resolution of brain imaging in Parkinson's disease.” In her work as a dedicated educator, “I love to teach and see students excel in physics. I have also mentored residents, students, and scientists.”

Early Influences

“My interest in the sciences began when I was quite young. I was into educational science fiction, and loved physics, even when it was an introductory class in middle school,” Dr. Park recalled. “I was fortunate enough to have supportive parents who believed I could excel in the sciences. This motivated me to pursue my goals, and I believe this determination helped me find future mentors in the field as I progressed through my education.”

Taking Risks

“Due to not having a guaranteed position in South Korea, one of the largest obstacles I faced was having to completely change my field from basic science to medical physics, leading me to relocate to the United States to further my prospects,” Dr. Park said.

“Although I was always interested in medical physics, I had to take a leap of faith and go through many transitions, both academically and geographically.”

The UT Southwestern Difference

“As a successful woman in a male-dominated field of science, I want to be an example for other women who are considering pursuing a career in STEMM,” Dr. Park said. Going forward, she hopes that “by sharing my challenges and successes, it will help women manage their career paths more effectively.”

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