From a young age, Victoria has always aspired to understand how the world works and she became passionate about science as she learned it provides the foundation for this knowledge.
Bry is originally from San Diego and received her bachelor’s degree in physics at Colorado College. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she had the opportunity to shadow medical physicists at radiation oncology clinics in California and in Colorado.
Eager to become involved, she volunteered for radiation biology research at San Diego State University and obtained a paid medical physics research assistant position at the University of California, San Diego.
She worked on a variety of projects that gave her hands-on experience learning the biological foundation of radiation therapy to learning the clinical treatment planning process.
Her research inspired her to apply to a Medical Physics Ph.D. program at an institution with an accredited education program.
“UT Health San Antonio was one of my top choices as it is one of the first initially accredited medical physics programs in the country,” she said.
Bry is currently a Ph.D. student in the Radiological Sciences Ph.D. Program specializing in medical physics with a radiation therapy track and plans to defend her dissertation in Spring of 2022.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Karl Rasmussen, her graduate school studies have been focused on a technique called optical surface guided imaging at The Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, an NCI-designated research center.
“I am both inspired and humbled by the opportunity to work as a physicist with the radiation oncology staff at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center,” she said. “I find it exciting that, while still in early stages of my career, I can participate in research that will directly impact the lives of cancer patients.”
She first became interested in this more recent technique as she learned it reduces radiation treatment toxicity to the heart for patient’s receiving left sided breast cancer.
“Through clinical implementation of this technology, I hope to show that it can improve the quality and accuracy of pediatric radiotherapy brain and spine treatments,” she said. “I became interested in this topic when I learned that improved accuracy in radiotherapy brain treatments can decrease risk of patients experiencing cognitive impairments, thus providing a better quality of life post treatment.”
She is passionate about her research topic because she can apply her love for physics to improve the quality of radiotherapy treatments given to cancer patients.
“Advancements in our understanding of radiation therapy cancer treatments allow us to use more complex techniques that target radiation to the tumor and reduce harm to surrounding tissues in the body,” she said. “This research is important because it has the potential to reduce treatment error or failure in these complex procedures.”
Her research implements an optical surface imaging technique that is known to reduce toxicity of adult breast cancer treatments.
“This technique is important because it has the potential to reduce treatment toxicity for pediatric brain and spine treatments,” she said. “This research will allow us to ensure the highest quality and most efficacious treatments to eradicate disease and prevent recurrence of cancer.”
Bry is an active member in multiple student organizations at UT Health San Antonio such as Linking Interprofessional Networks for Collaboration (LINC) Student Council, Women in Science, Development, Outreach and Mentoring (WISDOM) and the Student Legacy Council. She has spent time volunteering to raise money for scholarships and worked with local high students at science fair expos and as a science fair judge. She is an affiliate member of Mays Cancer Center, Experimental and Developmental Therapeutics, and a member of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM).
Outside of school, she enjoys hiking, dancing, Orangetheory and playing with her 14 year old Boston terrier, Prince.
When she finishes her Ph.D., she will apply to match to a physics residency at an academic institution. She plans to become an American Board of Radiology certified medical physicists and ideally work in a pediatric radiation oncology environment.
“I want to pursue a career in medical physics so I can contribute to the depth of knowledge that ensures the highest quality radiotherapy cancer treatments,” she said.”
This article was written by Charlotte Anthony, marketing specialist at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health San Antonio. This article is part of the “Meet The Researcher” series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.