PITTSBURG — Jessica Freeman Clements got her start at Pittsburg State early: in the summer before her senior year at Pittsburg High School.

That first course, astronomy in the Department of Physics, paved the way for a meaningful relationship with physics professors who made a lasting impact.

In August, she was participating in a committee meeting on the United Nations / International Atomic Energy Agency campus in Vienna, Austria, when she received word that she had been selected as one of three recipients of the 2017 Dr. Kenneth K. Bateman Outstanding Alumni Awards.

"It was an extreme honor to be nominated and it was unimaginable that I would be chosen," said Clements, who became a notable medical physicist. "I couldn't wait to be back in the U.S. to coordinate a phone call with the department for full details. PSU has always been and will continue to be a special place — one where I built the strong foundation for a very rewarding career."

On Oct. 13, she'll be honored at a reception in the Wilkinson Alumni Center, and during the Homecoming Parade and football game, as well.

Clements said that from the beginning, her experience with faculty and staff "was outstanding," including her advisor David Kuehn, teachers Chuck Blatchley, Tom Shoberg, and Bob Backes, and administrative assistant Karen White, who helped her navigate the department and university.

"In the math department, Cynthia Huffman and Bobby Winters were excellent, as were biology faculty Hugh Campbell and Dan Zurek," she said. "I also spent some time in the chemistry department with James McAfee, Irene Zegar, and Khamis Siam."

Clements immersed herself in activities that related to her future career:

• three National Science Foundation Research for Undergraduate summer programs coordinated by Chris Ibeh in plastics technology, where she researched x-ray crystallography, biochemistry, and medical physics.

• tutoring in the physics department, teaching several sections of physical science labs, and a teaching assistantship supporting several engineering physics labs.

• organizing a regional Society of Physics Students meeting on campus.

She also met her husband, who was working on a project next door in the chemistry department.

"We were married at the Timmons chapel and our first child was always welcome at events on campus," she said, "even after scribbling in a text book loaned to me by Bobby Winters!"

Clements earned a bachelor's degree in physics in 2002 and a master's degree in nuclear engineering sciences from the University of Florida in 2005. She's certified by the American Board of Radiology in Diagnostic Radiologic Physics and Nuclear Medical Physics.

She started her career at the University of Florida, where she worked from 2004 to 2007, followed by a position at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas from 2007 to 2010. From 2010 to 2015, she served as the Director of Medical Physics for 14 hospitals within Texas Health Resources and Radiation Safety Officer for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Now, she is the Chief Physicist and Regional Radiation Safety Officer for Kaiser Permanente, Southern California Permanente Medical Group. There, she manages a team of nine medical radiation physicists and two lead medical radiation physicists. The team provides medical physics and radiation safety support to a health care system that delivers care to almost 4.5 million people throughout Southern California. The team specializes in regulatory, accreditation, image quality and radiation dose issues for patients, hospital staff, and physicians.

This summer, Clements served as an expert to the International Atomic Energy Agency by providing training on radiation protection in nuclear medicine to a group of professionals from several member states in Africa.

Clements holds numerous memberships in professional organizations, including the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the American College of Radiology and Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors. Within the AAPM, she has served in several volunteer capacities including serving as a member of the board of directors, strategic planning committee, professional council and chair of the clinical practice committee, spring clinical meeting, medical physics leadership academy, and a recent update to the AAPM scope of practice. She serves on the commission on medical physics and the commission on leadership for the ACR and several exam committees for the ABR.

Clements and her husband, Jake Clements, live in Arcadia, California, with their two sons, Dylan, 18, and Evan, 13.