Former University of Florida students Katherine Royston of Wellington and William Walters of Vancouver made history by receiving the first doctoral degrees from Virginia Tech’s nuclear engineering program this spring, following one of their UF professors to the institution.
“There was never a doubt that I wanted to complete my Ph.D. with Dr. Alireza Haghighat, who is widely known in the nuclear engineering field,” Royston said. “So when he was recruited by Virginia Tech from the University of Florida, I was determined to follow him.”
An internationally known educator, Haghighat, Florida Power & Light Endowed Term Professor at the University of Florida, began his tenure at the Florida campus as the chair of the Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Department in 2001 and spent the next eight years in that position.
Haghighat served as graduate advisor for Royston and Walters while they were earning master’s degrees at the University of Florida. The two students had already begun the Ph.D. program in Florida when the three of them left for Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering revived its nuclear engineering program in 2007, and in 2013, the program received approval to award master’s and doctoral degrees.
Haghighat served as committee chair for Royston’s dissertation, “A Novel Methodology for Iterative Image Reconstruction in SPECT Using Deterministic Particle Transport.”
Royston headed to Oak Ridge, Tenn., earlier this month to join the Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division at Oak Ridge National Lab, which provides science and technology in support of nuclear power for the United States and the world.
“I look forward to applying the knowledge I’ve gained in physics and nuclear sciences in a way that benefits everyday life,” she said.
ABOVE: Will Walters and Katherine Royston received doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering from Virginia Tech in May.