How radiation can save lives

Associazione Italiana Nucleare interviewed Dr. Riccardo Bevilacqua, an Italian nuclear physicist who dedicates himself, his work and passion to radiological safety and protection, so showing how radiation can have several positive purposes and, above all, can save lives.

The interview has been translated into English by ENS. Associazione Italiana Nucleare reshared the original version of the interview for Naturvetarna, the organization representing professional scientists in Sweden. Riccardo Bevilacqua is a Qualified Expert in Radiation Protection at Elekta, a Swedish company that deals with equipment for oncological radiotherapy. Previously he had the same role at European Spallation Source (Lund, Sweden). Riccardo Bevilacqua holds a degree in nuclear physics from the University of Trieste and a PhD in applied nuclear physics from the University of Uppsala (Sweden).

Nuclear physicist Riccardo Bevilacqua wants a job to help make a better world. Last June he moved with his family to Stockholm to take care of radiological safety at Elekta, a company that manufactures equipment for cancer radiotherapy.

What will you deal with in your new job?

I will deal with radiological safety, to make sure that the equipment that Elekta produces is safe for both patients and doctors. These devices look like something coming from a Star Trek episode, as they are able to operate a cancer patient without a scalpel, with the help of radiopharmaceuticals. In this context, safety is very important. In addition, I will have to work together with the supervisor authorities with regard to the rules for the use of these radioactive elements.


Why did you choose to change jobs?

I worked seven years at the European Spallation Source (a physics laboratory under construction in Lund, Sweden), then I felt it was time for a new challenge. For me, it is important to work on a project that has a mission, and being able to help fight cancer makes this work very interesting. Moreover, I will be part of a global team with colleagues from all over the world.


What new challenges do you think you will face?

A significant change is to move from a State-funded organization to a private company. I believe it will be very stimulating for me to work in a competitive environment with a high level of expectations regarding results and objectives.


How did you choose to start a career as a nuclear physicist?

Many people believe that being a nuclear physicist just means dealing with nuclear power plants, but actually, nuclear physics is also about medicine and fighting cancer. Following the Chernobyl accident, I was fascinated by the idea that it was possible to control this huge source of energy. My biggest motivation is to be able to manage these processes safely to avoid any negative consequences.


Why did you decide to get involved in Naturvetarna?

I was both a national delegate for Naturvetarna and the organisation president of European Spallation Source. For me, it was a way to make my workplace a better place to work. I had the opportunity to make a difference and offer support to my colleagues, in the same way, I received support at the beginning of my career when I came to Sweden from another country. I worked for integration and diversity. It was a very formative experience for which I am grateful.