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The effect of dielectric loading on the cell layer specific absorption rate (SAR) within a T-75 culture flask being irradiated within a transverse electromagnetic (TEM) cell was studied both experimentally and numerically. Direct thermal measurements of a T-75 containing 40 mL of culture medium and resting upon a 3-mm-thick slab of alumina ceramic (ε r=9.6) revealed that, compared to the same flask resting upon a foam slab (ε r1.0) of the same thickness, the average SAR at the cell layer was increased roughly fourfold. This fourfold increase is significant experimentally because it allows biologists to perform experiments over a larger range of SAR values needed to determine possible dose-response curves without the costs and difficulties of a fourfold increase in amplifier power. Finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) simulations of the SAR distribution were in good quantitative agreement with the experimental measurements. It is concluded that FDTD modeling can be a cost effective and scientifically acceptable means of obviating the thermal measurement of SAR.