Amy Brito Delgado grew up in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, 200 miles south of Tucson, Arizona. She was interested in science because she had a biology teacher who gave her the chance to do research at a young age.
“Everyone wanted to be an astrophysicist like Carl Sagan, and I did too,” she explained.
During her high school years, she had the opportunity to go to a summer science program with Dr. Calcáneo-Roldán, a cosmologist and an alumnus of the University of Cambridge, she jumped on it.
She liked the experience so much she applied for college at the Universidad de Sonora, as a major in physics. She explained that her parents weren’t thrilled with her choice to study physics because they didn’t think it was a practical career. But when she learned about medical physics, she realized that it was an opportunity for her to use her love for physics to help the community.
“I met Dr. Rodrigo Meléndrez Amavizca, the University’s radiation safety officer and he introduced me to the field of medical physics, where you mix biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine and I was marveled; I didn’t know such a field existed,” she said.
In 2009 she participated in the Mexican Academy of Sciences summer research program for college students. She worked under Luis Alberto Medina Velazquez, Ph.D., a UT Health San Antonio alumnus who became her mentor, learning about medical physics at his Molecular Imaging laboratory at Mexico’s National Cancer Institute in Mexico City.
“I had so much fun in Mexico City, I love the city…the fast pace, the freedom, the food,” she said. She decided to spend her last year of college at UNAM and worked on her thesis project at Dr. Medina Velazquez’s laboratory.
Afterwards, she decided to apply to the Ph.D. in Radiological Sciences—Medical Physics at UT Health San Antonio.
“I was more interested in UT Health San Antonio than other places because of my mentor who was an alumnus of the program here. He stressed the importance of applying to a CAMPEP accredited program. He also told me about the great professors so I was extremely happy when I got in,” she said.
While at UT Health San Antonio, she worked for the Department of Environmental Health and Safety’s Radiation Safety division for four years where she helped to promotethe well-being of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation users through education, evaluation of practices, ensuring regulatory compliance, and dose monitoring.
“Dr. Michael Charlton is the coolest guy, he loves taking in new students and encouraging them to further their education,” she said.
As a student, she also received a scholarship from the government of Mexico, CONACYT, which helped pay for her tuition, room and board.
In 2017, she got married to fellow alum Kevin Kauweloa, Ph.D. and was accepted at the University of Kansas Medical Center medical physics residency program.
“It was really challenging to finish up my Ph.D. while I was in Kansas but thankfully a lot of my project is programming so I could do it virtually,” she explained.
Her project looked at physician preferences to streamline processes in the clinic to help dosimetrists.
“I picked this project because my co-mentor Dr. Alonso N. Gutiérrez was doing an MBA and was studying analytical hierarchical processes so this inspired me to see how this marketing tool could be used in physics.
“Mathematically, it’s a brilliant tool, we’ve never looked physician preferences in this way. It’s an area that’s booming right now. Everyone is trying to create the best plans so if you can consider physician preferences it’s much better,” she said.
After walking the stage at graduation on May 17, she flew back to Kansas to continue her clinical training which she is expected to finish in November 2019.
“I’m so excited to graduate, I never thought it would happen because it was so much work but it did,” she said.
This article was written by Charlotte Anthony, marketing specialist at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health San Antonio.