Physicist. Professor. World traveler. Author. Photographer. DJ. Fulbright Scholar. Husband. Father. Irishman. Renaissance man. You can't accuse Geoff Dougherty of being idle or dull.
The CI Professor of Applied Physics and Medical Imaging has visited more than 28 countries and lived and worked in nine of them before settling down – at least temporarily – in Southern California in 2002. The native of Ireland brings his broad knowledge of the world and diverse passions to his teaching and interactions with students.
He recently accompanied three students to the prestigious European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, where they probed some of the universe's greatest mysteries alongside scientists using the Large Hadron Collider. A member of the Fulbright Senior Specialists program, Dougherty travels to universities around the world to help them develop biomedical engineering programs that use medical imaging. In his research, he focuses on extracting potentially life-saving data from medical images – examining organs for early stages of cancer, investigating the spine for signs of scoliosis, and looking at bones for early detection of osteoporosis.
Dougherty enjoys guiding students in applying the principles of physics to all kinds of everyday problems, integrating subjects like medicine, technology, music and art. In a recent Team-Based Research class, he led a group of students who designed, built and entered a buggy in the Ventura Kinetic Sculpture Race, which challenges competitors to create an artistic, human-powered vehicle that can run on road, water, sand and mud.
“It fascinates me that you can find solutions to a wide array of problems by applying a relatively few physical principles to them,” Dougherty said. “Because I've taught and worked in a variety of fields, including electronics, instrumentation, biophysics, and medical physics, I've been able to see the bigger picture and how the parts interconnect, and I try to pass this on to the students. Also, observing how students learn in different cultures has taught me a few tricks about how to get the message across.”