Dr. Brendan Barraclough joined the Department of Human Oncology as an assistant professor in July after completing his radiation oncology physics residency in the department.
Barraclough, who grew up in Los Alamos, N.M., studied astrophysics as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for a year before earning his PhD in medical physics at the University of Florida.
“I was influenced by my father. He was a planetary scientist who worked on satellites and NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity,” Barraclough says. “I really enjoyed astrophysics, but I wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted to do. Astrophysics has a lot of interesting research and long-term benefits to society, but I’m more interested in having an immediate impact by working directly with patients and collaborating with colleagues who play different roles in the clinic.”
As a resident, Barraclough appreciated the accessibility of faculty and clinical staff and the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with a variety of procedures. He also valued the department’s willingness to bring new technology to the clinic to improve patient care.
Those same qualities attracted him to a faculty position in the department. “The University of Wisconsin has a long history of being an excellent institution for medical physicists. There have been many innovations here, which has contributed to physicists being highly valued in the clinic,” he says.
Barraclough will perform a variety of clinical duties, primarily in external beam radiation therapy, including imaging, simulation, treatment planning, treatment and quality assurance.
He also looks forward to the opportunity to work with residents. “When I was a resident, the faculty always had their doors open for us to ask questions or just talk. They are very helpful and enjoy working with residents. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with residents as well. I think it will be fun to be on the other side of that relationship and help future medical physicists.”
Barraclough and his wife, Schuyler, a nurse practitioner, are happy to stay in Madison. They’ve been taking advantage of the outdoor recreational opportunities, including biking, cross-country skiing, ice skating and camping. Barraclough also enjoys astrophotography. “I’m still interested in astrophysics, even though it’s no longer my career. It makes a nice hobby.”