• Research

    Radioisotope betavoltaic batteries
    Nuclear fuel cycle: alternative back end fuel cycle to minimize long-term radioactive waste disposal through the use of accelerator-driven subcritical systems
    Nuclear security, nonproliferation and safeguards: Safeguards-by-Design for integral pressurized water small modular reactors
    Radiation transport, and radiation detection and measurement
    Nuclear power plant operations and safety: Digital control rooms, and Outage Management systems
    Fusion Demonstration Reactor (Fusor): Undergraduate research project that uses inertial electrostatic confinement deuterium-deuterium fusion to create a star-like plasma and generate neutrons for activation experiments. Used for research and educational outreach.

  • Publications

    Please click here for a full list of publications.

  • Professional History

    2014-Present, Associate Professor of Practice, Nuclear Engineering Program, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech
    2014-2016, Director, Nuclear Engineering Program, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech
    2009-2014, Associate Professor (untenured), Nuclear Engineering Program, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech
    2007-2009, Research Associate Professor, Nuclear Engineering Program, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech
    2005-2007, Joint Unmanned Systems Research Project Manager, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech
    2005-2005, Deep Underground Science & Engineering Lab Project Manager, Research Division, Virginia Tech
    2001-2005, Graduate Teaching Assistant/Research Assistant, Department of Mathematics, Virginia Tech
    Related, non-academic experience – Served 23 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring at the rank of Commander. Positions included:
    1998–2001, Deputy Department Head of the Engineering, Materials and Physical Sciences Department and, Program Officer for Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarine Security, Office of Naval Research
    1994–1997, Submarine Maintenance Program Officer, for the Director of Submarine Warfare, Chief of Naval Operations staff, Pentagon
    1992–1994, Executive Officer, Second-in-Command, USS Indianapolis, SSN 697 (nuclear submarine)
    1989–1990, Staff Engineer, for the Director of Naval Reactors, a joint DOD/DOE organization, founded by Admiral Rickover, provided input for the operation and maintenance of all S5W naval nuclear reactors and shipboard radiological controls
    1986–1988, Chief Engineer, Head of the Engineering Department, USS Henry L. Stimson SSBN 655 (Gold), responsible for operation of the nuclear reactor and qualification of all operators
    1983–1986, Radiological Controls Officer, USS Canopus, AS 34, responsible for establishing and implementing all radiological precautions for nuclear maintenance on a squadron of submarines
    1980–1983, Electrical Officer, Reactor Controls Assistant, Assistant Engineer, USS Simon Bolivar SSBN 641 (Gold)
  • Awards and Honors

    2015 – Virginia Tech College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Service
    2014 – Certified Master Online Instructor by the Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) Office
    2012 – Virginia Tech College of Engineering W.S. “Pete” White Innovation in Engineering Education Award
    2011 – Virginia Tech College of Engineering Certificate of Teaching Excellence
    2011 – Virginia Tech College of Engineering Sporn Award for Excellence in Engineering Instruction by the Student Engineer’s Council
    2008 – Virginia Tech College of Engineering Award for Outreach Excellence
    2004 – Phi Kappa Phi, All-disciplines Honor Society
    2003 – Pi Mu Epsilon, Mathematics Honor Society
    1992 – Beta Gamma Sigma, Business and Management Honor Society


Ph.D., Mathematics, Virginia Tech, 2005
M.S., Mathematics, Virginia Tech, 2000
B.A., German, University of California, Davis

(540) 231-9112
439 Goodwin Hall – 0238
635 Prices Fork Road
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Mark Pierson

Associate Professor of Practice

Nuclear Engineering Program