By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Jerimy Polf was raised in the Oklahoma Panhandle and Southwest Kansas, and he believes coming from a rural area has never limited what he could do or where he could go.
After attending his early elementary years in Kismet, Polf moved to Turpin, Okla., for his later grade school and junior high years and eventually graduated from Liberal High School.
After attending one year at Seward County Community College, Polf received a bachelor of science in applied physics and laser physics from Oklahoma State University in 1998. He would later receive a master’s degree and a PhD in 2002 from the Stillwater school. He also spent a summer studying in Greece and a semester studying in Denmark in graduate school.
Polf now works as a medical physicist at the University of Texas’ M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of the leading cancer research facilities in the world, where he said he does many things in his job.
“I help plan and develop radiation treatments for people diagnosed with cancer,” he said. “I specialize in the treatment of lung and esophagus cancer. When a doctor prescribes a certain radiation treatment for a patient, I am part of a team of specialists who figure out how to make it possible.”
Polf is also heavily involved with researching and developing new ways of treating cancer.
“In particular, I am the lead scientist on a project funded by the National Institute of Health that is developing a new way to image and determine how different organs and tissues change and respond to radiation therapy,” he said.
Polf said since all people are different, all of them respond to treatments differently, and his project therefore aims to measure how each individual responds to radiation treatment.
“This would then make it possible to adjust and improve treatment according to a patient’s specific response to the treatment,” he said.
Polf said he became involved in his line of work during graduate school, where he said much of his research work involved developing sensors to measure radiation doses delivered during radiation therapy.
“I began collaborating with medical physicists for my research, and when I graduated, I applied for a post-graduate training program to become a medical physicist,” he said.
Polf said he has taken a sense of hard work, determination and “no whining” away from his years on the High Plains.
“I learned that the best way to get the job done is to dive in, get to work and don’t stop until your finished,” he said. “I still operate that way today with my research or my work with patients. When I get involved, I go all out until we’re done with the job. I also learned that there is no sense whining about hard work. I don’t like whiners when I’m working. If someone is whining, I always call them on it and try to encourage them to work harder so we can be finished quicker.”
Polf, who currently resides in Houston, said just because he didn’t come from the big city didn’t mean he couldn’t succeed in life in the big city.
“Where I am from never stopped me from being able to do anything,” he said. “It did, however, have a big impact on how I go about doing things. Being raised on the High Plains instilled in me the rural High Plains work ethic that I attribute to being a big reason for my successes thus far in life.”