On the job | Matthew Deinitchenko

| Matthew Deinitchenko
A man with dark hair and glasses stands in a radiation safety lab holding a sign that reads "Warning, Do not enter, Alignment in process. Class 4 laser"

DEOHS undergrad Matthew Deinitchenko displays a sign inside the UW Radiation Safety Office, where he is interning this summer. Photo courtesy of Deinitchenko. 

DEOHS undergraduate student inspects lasers to keep lab workers safe from radiation

Deohs summer intern neon illustration

Matthew Deinitchenko

BS in Environmental Health


San Ramon, CA

Internship with:

UW Environmental Health & Safety Department

Editor’s note: This summer, 20 DEOHS undergraduate students are getting hands-on experience as interns with health agencies, nonprofits and private companies. In our occasional “On the Job” series, we feature some of their stories.

This summer, I am working with lasers as a radiation safety intern in the University of Washington’s Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Department. This specific internship caught my attention because radiation was so mysterious to me with the only knowledge of it coming from nuclear disasters and movies.

I primarily work with the UW’s Laser Safety Officer Amy Lim, inspecting lasers in research labs across campus to ensure they are functioning properly and not exposing workers to radiation. I do microscope audits by myself and work with Amy to inspect labs with hazardous lasers.

Headshot of Matthew Deinitchenko
DEOHS undergraduate student Matthew Deinitchenko

My office is located in the UW Magnuson Health Sciences Center, but I spend a lot of time in buildings all over the Seattle campus and some off-campus locations, such as the UW Medicine offices in South Lake Union or the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds behind University Village.

I enjoy seeing all of the impressive research that is happening around the school during laser inspections and having an exclusive look into how EH&S works to keep everyone safe on campus.

I also work with the EH&S database, which contains information on registered lasers, locations of radioactive materials on campus, records of researchers’ training and licenses, history of lab inspections and other details.

I helped create an updated laser safety manual and step-by-step guidelines for principal investigators on how to use the EH&S database, as well as redesigning the webpage for laser safety and non-ionizing radiation.

I will always remember meeting the Radiation Safety team on my first day and touring the lab where they check for radioactive contamination on incoming packages. A team member casually pulled a black canister out of a box and asked me if I knew what it was.

A man with glasses poses next to a yellow case with a Warning label on it.
Deinitchenko plans to pursue a career in medicine.

It turned out to be Uranium-235 inside the canister. That was when I learned that radioactive material is not as scary as the movies make it out to be!

This internship experience has given me a greater appreciation for the attention to safety that we have today.

I am so proud to be part of DEOHS and this major. I get to study interesting topics such as zoonotic diseases, connect to a vast network of alumni and meet professors and mentors that want to see me succeed.

I got a lot of help from the department to find my internship. Our undergraduate seminar class, ENV H 480, made me aware of all the different steps to find an internship or job. I also scheduled time with the DEOHS career adviser, Dan Poux, to practice interviews and polish my resume, which all helped me land the internship.

I also have found a community with my DEOHS classmates. Being able to converse and have connections with all of your peers in the same major is a rare thing, and I appreciate the department’s smaller size and focus on personal connections.

I plan to pursue a career in medicine and hope to one day be a physician.


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