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Eight-Time “Professor of the Year” Retires After 25 Years

Ronald Pevey and a group of faculty and students at the 2016 hooding ceremony.

Ronald Pevey, far right, and other faculty and students at the 2016 hooding ceremony.

Associate Professor Ronald Pevey is retiring from the nuclear engineering department at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year after 25 years teaching. Pevey pursued research in reactor physics, thermal hydraulics, computer methods development, shielding, and nuclear criticality safety.

Much beloved by students in the program, Pevey leaves his post with the distinction of earning Nuclear Engineering Professor of the Year Award for the eighth time. This award is selected by UT’s nuclear engineering seniors and shows students’ appreciation for a faculty’s teaching style as well as their ability to convey complex engineering information in the courses. This award cannot be won two years in a row.

“Dr. Pevey is probably the most likable guy I’ve ever met, and the students agree,” said NE Department Head Wes Hines. “He is a great story teller.”

Pevey also earned this award many times over the years through his mentorship abilities. Recent graduate Brandon Connor recalls how Pevey helped him with his senior design project on nuclear thermal propulsion.

“I was really struggling, so I emailed Dr. Pevey about my radiation shielding problem,” he said. “He helped me through email and in person with the project over the following weeks. He was always very energetic and excited to teach the next generation of nuclear engineers his expertise. I was very grateful to be a student of Dr. Pevey’s.”

Some highlights of Pevey’s tenure at UT include:

  • Shielding designs for medical facilities, including both isotope production and radiation treatment facilities, and for nuclear facilities such as the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory;
  • Criticality safety analysis at Rocky Flats, Y-12, Savannah River, Yucca Mountain, and Portsmouth nuclear sites;
  • Over 60 research publications in both technical journals and international conferences and numerous technical analysis related to consulting work.

In addition to teaching and pursuing research for the department, Pevey also performs on stage in musicals for community theater, including for shows at UT’s Clarence Brown Theatre. Pevey also taught two classes for UT Choir students called the Culture and History of Ireland and the Culture and History of England for UT’s School of Music. These classes prepared students for summer trips abroad, which he and his wife also attended.

In retirement, Pevey will continue to add value to the department as a professor of practice.