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Vilma R Hunt—Nuclear Expert, Science Educator
  1. D F Salerno1,
  2. I L Feitshans2
  1. 1Clinical Communications Scientist, Pfizer Global Research and Development–Ann Arbor Laboratories, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  2. 2Adjunct Faculty, Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Albany, NY, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Deborah F Salerno
 2800 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA;

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1926–Country of birth: Australia

Like many Australians, the first words Vilma Hunt learnt were “When I travel around the world...” Hunt decided early that science was her ticket to travel.

A watershed event occurred in 1975, when her report on reproductive health1 made the front page of the New York Times. At the time, the perception was that reproduction related only to women. The sociological framework involved acceptance that men were vulnerable. Divided by principles, meetings raged about overprotection of women without considering hazards to men. The tandem relationship proved important—to push reproductive safety for both sexes.

“People my age are discouraged by what has not happened with our work.”

Still, according to Hunt, the public lacks understanding of radiation, its benefits often overlooked after the atomic bomb.

Hunt observes that while many government agencies are weak now, this may be a sociological phenomenon where interest ebbs and flows. As exposures overseas may arrive on any country’s shores, a global regulatory foundation is needed to prevent damage.

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(photo by Sarah Dunlap, Gloucester Archives)


The authors thank Clara Schiffer, former Program Analyst in the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services), for her contributions and 80-some years of activism, social, and political reform.

1926–Country of birth: Australia


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