Kira Grogg · this is what i do

fb g+ tw pin

Current Research


Nuclear Medicine & Medical Imaging

I am an Instructor/Assistant in Physics in the El Fakhri Lab, part of the Gordon Center for Medical Imaging (formerly the Center for Advanced Medical Imaging Sciences) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS).

I am contributing to the development of a novel approach for adaptive Positron Emission Tomography (PET) monitoring of Proton Beam Therapy using endogenously generated positrons. It is important, but difficult, to verify the delivery of dose for proton therapy, and PET is currently the best option for monitoring dose delivery in vivo. As they pass through matter, therapeutic protons create positron-emitting radionuclides that can be imaged with a PET camera. The radionuclides arise through different physics mechanisms than the dose and are thus not directly relatable. We are investigating methods for relating the PET images to planned dose and assessing the accuracy of the treatment.

Lab Website: My profile page and My Research page

The powerpoint slideshow below gives a quick overview of the PET for monitoring proton therapy project:


Animation showing proton irradiation and subsequent PET activity

The proton beam penetrates the head to a fixed depth, depositing dose and killing tumor tissue. At the same time, the protons create radioactive isotopes of common elements that can be imaged with a PET camera.

IOP physics world did a short video about the PET monitoring of proton therapy project (and I'm in about 2 seconds of it).

A video giving an overview of the more typical use of PET, for tumor detection, was created for a chemistry course: Kinetics and Nuclear Chemistry (I'm in about 10 seconds of this one). The PET part starts at 20:30 and is about 8 minutes long.

Selected Publications

Conference Proceedings

  • Oral presentation "In-Vivo Monitoring of Proton Therapy with PET: Biological Considerations" IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference, Seattle, WA, 2014
  • Poster for IEEE-NSS/MIC 2013, Seoul, Korea, October 2013, entitled "Feasibility of using 18O-enriched phantoms for PET range verification of proton therapy treatment planning."
  • K. Grogg, X. Zhu, C.H. Min, B.A. Winey, T. Bortfeld, H. Paganetti and G. El Fakhri. "Feasibility of using distal endpoints for In-room PET Range Verification of Proton Therapy." IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference, Anaheim, California, October 2012.

Past Research

Experimental High Energy Physics


I did my graduate research with the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) group at the University of Wisconsin physics department.

I measured the cross section of the W boson produced in association with jets using 32 pb-1 of data, and compared it to Monte Carlo predictions.

Here comes the science: When two protons collide at very high energies (travelling 99.9999964% the speed of light), they can convert some of that energy into new particles. My group was searching for collisions in which a massive "W" particle (~80x the proton mass) was created. We measured how many collisions produced this W particle along with at least one other collection of particles known as "jets" for the way they spread out their energy in the detector. The frequency of finding this type of outcome from proton-proton collisions can be predicted with quantum field theory, so we simulated events based on the theory to compare to our measurements. W+jets events are not new to the LHC. They have been measured and studied before, such as at the Tevatron. However, it is important to first understand these sorts of "known" events to be able to weed them out and find new particles, such as the Higgs Boson. RCT cables

My defense talk

I also helped maintain the Regional Calorimeter Trigger (RCT) by developing software to regularly test the hardware, and PVSS software to monitor the temperature, voltages, and online status.

Selected Publications

Conference Proceedings


This isn't exactly original research, but my senior thesis at Carleton was on the physics of wind turbines.

Harvesting the Wind: The Physics of Wind Turbines

"Harvesting the Wind" presentation