Steven M. Becker, PhD

Professor of Community and Environmental Health
Old Dominion University College of Health Sciences

Dr. Steven M. Becker is professor of Community and Environmental Health at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He is an internationally recognized expert on radiological/nuclear emergencies, with a special focus on community impacts and resilience; emergency planning, training, preparedness and response; responder concerns and information needs; drill and exercise design; risk communication and emergency messaging; and long-term recovery challenges. Dr. Becker has had extensive on-the-ground field experience at the sites of radiation incidents around the world, including the 1999 nuclear criticality accident in Tokaimura, Japan. He carried out Chernobyl disaster follow-up work in Ukraine and Belarus, and was a member of a three-person emergency assistance team invited to Japan in 2011 in response to the earthquake-tsunami disaster and the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. While on scene, the team carried out a rapid site assessment, exchanged information with Japanese disaster professionals, and provided refresher training to more than 1,100 Japanese hospital and healthcare personnel and emergency responders. Dr. Becker served as a principal investigator in the Pre-Event Message Development Project, a multiyear, multisite CDC-funded study aimed at improving emergency messages for new, emerging, and unconventional health threats. Afterwards, he served as the lead for a major federally-funded project to improve communication and messaging for radiation emergencies. Dr. Becker was a co-author of NCRP Commentary No. 19, Key Elements of Preparing Emergency Responders for Nuclear and Radiological Terrorism; Report No. 138, Management of Terrorist Events Involving Radioactive Material; and Report No. 166, Population Monitoring and Radionuclide Decorporation Following a Radiological or Nuclear Incident. His work on emergency preparedness and response, public health readiness, and risk communication has been recognized with awards from such scientific organizations as the Health Physics Society and Oak Ridge Associated Universities. In 2012, Dr. Becker was appointed by President Obama to the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. He has also been a Dozor Visiting Scholar at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and a Visiting Fellow at the Japan Emergency Medicine Foundation and National Hospital Tokyo Disaster Medical Center. In 2017, he was named a member of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. In 2023-2024, Dr. Becker completed several rounds of follow-up fieldwork in Japan, focusing on community recovery issues associated with the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear crisis and its aftermath.