Ed Dugan Memorial Tributes

Thank you to the contributors for their permission to share these personal memories of Dr. Ed Dugan.

Nils J. Diaz, Ph.D.

UF Professor Emeritus, former Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Dr. Edward T. Dugan and I go back a long time. He was my first graduate student and my first Research Associate hired but much more important, he was my lifelong colleague and friend. To all he knew, worked with and taught, Ed was a great human being, a mentor and a friend, a teacher of teachers, a master of the nuclear sciences and computation that leaves a legacy of excellence for students and colleagues that will not be forgotten. We will miss you, Ed.

Chris Perfetti, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico
Chris Perfetti and Edward Dugan
Chris Perfetti (L) and Ed Dugan, Ph.D.
Dr. Ed Dugan, one of my mentors and inspirations, passed away last night.
Ed was a professor in the Nuclear Engineering program at the University of Florida, and his class was my very first class in nuclear engineering. Ed was an outstanding reactor physicist and his teachings were a crucial part of my education at UF. All-in-all I took about 6 courses with him at UF, including the course that I just taught for my own students at UNM this past semester.
The UF students always loved Ed’s classes – not only did he accomplish the near-impossible task of teaching us to develop a “nuclear engineering intuition,” but his classes were also interspersed with stories of Ed’s time working at a steel plant, his service in the Vietnam War, and the crazy antics of the UF Nuclear Engineering professors.
To me as a student, Dr. Dugan was a seemingly bottomless pit of nuclear reactor and Monte Carlo knowledge, and his mentorship led me to establish my own research career in this area. Ed was a quiet man and rarely offered praise, but one of my proudest moments was after my Master’s defense when he told me, “Good job, Chris.”
As a professor, Ed was known for always keeping his door open to students, and he would often spend hours of office-hours teaching us about Monte Carlo codes or helping us to understand the material in his (and in other professors’!) classes. To this day I strive to be this kind of mentor to my own students.
Ed moved to Knoxville to temporarily work for Nucsafe right around when I moved there for my postdoc at ORNL, and during this time we both would have lunch together regularly in Oak Ridge. I really enjoyed these lunches, they helped me have one more friend and familiar face in an unfamiliar Knoxville, and they gave me the chance to get to know Ed outside of the professor-student dynamic.
Ed’s final years were in many ways tragic – his daughter contracted Lyme Disease and, after many years of fighting the complications, passed away. I will never forget the glimmer of distant sadness in Ed’s eyes when he spoke of her. Later in life, Ed was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and suffered a stroke, and it was hard seeing how these ailments made his final years more difficult. But despite these troubled times, Ed was always a light of hope and dedication to the people and the students around him.
If Ed also had an impact on your life, consider donating to this scholarship that UF has established in Ed’s name. These funds will be used to carry on Ed’s impact by helping nuclear engineering students to jump-start their professional development and their careers.

Bill Vernetson

Director of the University of Florida Training Reactor, 1986-2008

Ed Dugan’s legacy is first and foremost his devotion to student learning.  The combination of teaching and learning was his raison d’etre. Next to his love and devotion for his family, Ed valued relationships with students and former students equally.  He was always available to be a listening ear, a guide, a mentor, and a teacher. As a fellow faculty member, I frequently interacted with him in the same ways.

Ed was driven to excellence in his professional life as he studied and developed new designs and applications in reactor physics and engineering.  In the ’70s and ’80s, you could find Ed working problems on old sheets of computer printout with detailed notes and equations, problems, and suggestions for follow-up and additional work for students in his classes as well as thesis students in guiding them to successful outcomes.

For Theresa and me, our favorite personal memories of Ed are the stories we have shared for years regarding his graduate school days at UF when he provided much fodder for laughter and joy.  One of the best was his beloved copy of John Lamarsh’s original nuclear engineering text, “Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory.” His annotated copy was the definition of work, probably twice in words and equations as the original text as every item was checked, expanded, verified, etc. Ed joined in every joke and story with a chuckle, a stifled giggle that made his body shake, or a quick witty quip about the storyteller.  We miss his humor and his human decency and join his family in wishing him well in the next life.

Jim Baciak, Ph.D.

Florida Power and Light Professor, University of Florida

When I was an Assistant Professor, Dr. Dugan provided me with mentoring that I still value to this day. Probably the most important in his time mentoring me was how to ensure students remained engaged in both the classes I taught and research in my lab. “The most important thing we do is educate students, and if we treat each student fairly and respectfully, they will be successful and you will be successful.” Countless times when I would come onto campus on a Saturday and Sunday to get some work done, Ed would be in his office (across from mine) helping students with homework and projects. I was always impressed how he would devote so much extra time in order to get all of the students to understand some of the most complex topics in the classes he taught. I have tried to emulate how Dr. Dugan interacted with students, but there will never be a faculty member the likes of Ed Dugan. Most of my success I owe in part to Dr. Dugan’s mentorship. 

Andreas Enqvist, Ph.D.

Nuclear Program Director, University of Florida

I wish my brief time at UF as a colleague of Dr. Dugan would have been longer. He helped me tremendously in preparing for my first course as a professor at UF. His insights into nuclear engineering education were great to learn from, even from the briefest of interactions.  I am very grateful for his guidance in teaching and other matters. His name is one that we hear mentioned most frequently especially with regards to teaching, among our alums as a positive highlight of their UF-NE degree. He set the bar for student-nominated best professor awards so high that I don’t know if I’ll ever see that achieved again. Hearing alums and colleagues talk about Ed has been a glue that binds a long generation of UF-NE people together, and we all have Ed to thank for that.

Mike Fensin, Ph.D.

Los Alamos National Lab

“I loved Ed.  He was a fantastic teacher and his anecdotes and advice contributed to not just the success in my career but to the enrichment of my way of life.  Many a great Nuclear Engineer owe their success to him.  Ed taught my undergrad reactor dynamics, reactor systems, fusion and fast reactors, and graduate reactor analysis courses.  He was on both my committees for masters and PhD.  he would always fill my HW with red (mostly ideas to try) yet I would still get a 98.  He cared a lot that we knew stuff, and taught any class wee would ask him to teach.  He also taught me how to use codes and think about how the reactor was behaving.  He will be missed.”

Thomas Marcille

Vice President of Reactor Technologies, Holtec

Memories of my time at UF are fond, the NE experience a profound part of it. Ed Dugan was a part of a department team that included some great teachers and friends, Ed, Ron Dalton, Samim Anghaie, Richard Schneider, Bill Vernetson, Jim Tulenko, Alan Jacobs – crazy but they were all distinctly important to my experience and development.

I’m sorry for your and our community and Ed’s family’s loss – he was terrific, memorable.

Travis Knight, Ph.D.

Interim Chair and Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Program Director, Nuclear Engineering Graduate Program, University of South Carolina

Dr. Dugan was a gifted, gentle spirit.  I was the better and life the richer for having known him.  He was always positive or at least very hopeful.  He was generous with his time and candid and thoughtful in conversation.  Anytime I left his office, I felt the task ahead was more achievable whether it touched on classwork, research, or just life.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Best regards, Travis

Koroush Shirvan, Ph.D.

John Clark Hardwick (1986) Career Development Professor, MIT

Most Important Impact: Prof. Dugan’s teaching style included many levels of repetition while inserting useful anecdotes in between. I model my current teaching style after this approach. When I went to graduate school, I realized that the classes that I truly understood and retained their knowledge were the classes taught by Ed. His dedication to teaching was exemplary.

Most memorable quote: “Boulder Colorado has the best education system in America” at least once every couple of weeks and I relay that message whenever Colorado is brought up!

My deep condolences and wishes to you and Dr. Dugan’s family.

Olga Hanek

BS, Nuclear Engineering, 1976
MS, Nuclear Engineering, 1978

Ed Dugan, Ph.D., Olga HanekDr. Dugan taught one of my graduate-level classes in 1977.  I believe it was his first time teaching.  He was a brilliant individual. I was very impressed with his ability to teach without once stopping to look at his notes!  He had the ability to write on the board extremely fast.  I and other students in the class could not take notes fast enough to keep up with him.  He had the ability to write with one hand and erase the board with another at the same time.  Eventually, we requested copies of his notes so that we could pay attention to him and not worry about taking notes during his lectures. 











Back to Edward Dugan Memorial page