Please join us in welcoming our incoming UF Medical Physics resident, Dr Anahita Heshmat. Dr Heshmat is scheduled to start the program on July 1, 2022. Her medical physics journey began many years ago, in Western Asia …
Born to Iranian parents in Iran, Dr Heshmat spent her childhood enjoying the country life in her beloved Persia. In a picturesque farm setting on the outskirts of the provincial capital city of Isfahan (located in central Iran, south of Tehran), she fell in love with animals and thought that her future as a local veterinarian was promising.
When she was 11 years old, Dr Heshmat’s father decided to reunite with his older sisters, who had immigrated to the United States of America thirty years prior (during the height of the Iranian Revolution). The Heshmat family settled in Gainesville and Dr Heshmat was in for quite a challenge, especially considering that she spoke no English whatsoever. This challenge was quickly overcome, much in part to her participation in team sports that required her to quickly immerse herself in after-school soccer matches with new teammates and friends.
After quickly assimilating to a new life in Florida, Dr Heshmat completed middle school, graduated from Eastside High School, and then obtained an Associate of Arts degree from Santa Fe College. She then transferred to the University of Florida, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Entomology and Nematology from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Subsequent to graduation, Dr Heshmat was uncertain about her future career path as her veterinary aspirations had faded over time.
She did, however, have a strong desire to help others, so she began working in the blood bank at UF Health.
During this time, she discovered Medical Physics and began learning more about what the field encompassed. This included shadowing medical physicists, and reading “Physical Principles of Medical Imaging” by Perry Sprawls Jr, which led her to pursue the path of becoming a board-certified medical physicist.
In an effort to ensure the necessary academic background, Dr Heshmat enrolled in a distance education program that specializes in Medical Physics. This program provided a solid foundation that would enable her to obtain admission as a master’s student in the Medical Physics Graduate Program, a concentration under Medical Sciences in the College of Medicine at the University of Florida.
As a MS student, Dr Heshmat flourished. She excelled in her classes and, under the guidance of Dr Izabella Barreto, Assistant Professor, began to produce solid research pertaining to Computed Tomography (CT). Dr Heshmat’s final MS presentation was titled “Comparing Image Quality in a CT Phantom with a Commercially-Available Harder X-Ray Beam Spectra”.
Easily transitioning to PhD studies, Dr Heshmat continued her research under Dr Barreto. Her PhD research was focused on assessing iodine detection in dual energy CT and subtraction CT to guide radiologists in modifying contrast enhanced CT protocols based on their clinical needs.
Dr Heshmat’s PhD studies incorporated a multi-disciplinary approach that led to many collaborations with medical physicists, radiologists, technologists, and vendors. These collaborations resulted in the optimization of clinical studies in computed tomography (CT). Throughout her graduate studies, she presented her work at several meetings, including the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) annual and spring clinical meetings, and multiple meetings of the Florida Chapter of the AAPM (FLAAPM).
In late Summer 2021, Dr Heshmat presented her dissertation proposal (Assessing Iodine Detection in Dual Energy CT and Subtraction CT) to her supervisory committee and spent the next several semesters immersed in finalizing her research. This diligence led to her dissertation defense, which was held on June 1, 2022.
During her MS and PhD studies, Dr Heshmat also worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Radiology. This involved assisting faculty with multiple research initiatives; participating in various educational experiences with the residents (shielding inspections); performing physics testing for different modalities for quality assurance and radiation safety; and giving multiple lectures to undergraduate students on medical physics.
In addition, Dr Heshmat maintained a part-time position as an Operating Room clerical assistant at UF Health, where she prepared patient data in advance of procedures.
She also taught classes as an Adjunct Professor in Biomedical Physics at Santa Fe College. These classes taught the fundamentals of medical physics to sonography, cardiovascular, and radiography technicians.
In October 2021, Dr Heshmat officially joined the MedPhys Match and began interviewing for diagnostic medical physics residency positions. On March 30, 2022, the Match results became official: Dr Anahita Heshmat is the UF Diagnostic Imaging Medical Physics Residency (DIMPR) Program’s 2022 incoming resident!
Dr Heshmat’s solid academic foundation, excellent interpersonal skills, and positive outlook will be an asset to the DIMPR program!
Under the leadership of Dr Lynn Rill, Assistant Professor, the UF DIMPR program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programs, Inc (CAMPEP). With a residency start date of July 1, Dr Heshmat walked early in the Spring 2022 graduation to ensure a smooth transition and timely start. She has become the first member of her family upon which the PhD title has been bestowed.
Dr Heshmat is excited to start residency, which will provide her with guided mentorship and the clinical experience necessary to become a successful medical physicist.
Despite her increasingly busy schedule, Dr Heshmat maintains a healthy work-life balance. She enjoys spending quality time with her incredibly supportive parents (who are exceptionally proud of their daughter); engaging in the outdoor activities that she grew to love as a child (such as horseback riding and fishing); and especially loves practicing yoga (which she also teaches).
We look forward to Dr Heshmat’s ongoing journey and her future contributions to Medical Physics!