William Martin portrait

NERS Professor William R. Martin retires after 43 years with the department

Martin will be remembered as an outstanding mentor and colleague.

William R. Martin, former chair and professor of the U-M Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences (NERS), has retired after 43 years with the department.

Martin received his B.S.E. in 1967 from U-M, his M.S. in 1968 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his Ph.D. in 1976 from U-M. Just one year after earning his doctorate, he joined the NERS faculty as an assistant professor in 1977, and was promoted to associate professor in 1983, and to professor in 1989. 

Martin develops computational methods for application to nuclear engineering problems including radiation transport, thermal hydraulics and heat transfer, and reactor plant simulation. He was a leader in the vectorization of the Monte Carlo method for radiation transport analysis that significantly reduced computer code run times. 

several people at a party dressed in very 70s clothing

NERS Professor Gary Was describes Martin as “an outstanding mentor to our students and colleague to our faculty.” Martin’s teaching excellence was recognized by the American Society for Engineering Education with the Glenn Murphy Award for outstanding contributions to the profession and teaching of nuclear engineering. As well, he was presented with the outstanding faculty award from NERS department multiple times, and the distinguished scholar award from the College of Engineering.

During his time at the College of Engineering, Martin had many different roles. He served as chair of NERS from 1990–1994 and 2004–2010. He was the founding director of the Laboratory for Scientific Computations from 1986–1991, founding director of the Center for Parallel Computing from 1994–1999, and director of the Center for Advanced Computing, and interim director of the Michigan Grid Research and Infrastructure Development Center from 2002–2004. 

Martin also served as associate dean for academic affairs at the College of Engineering from 1994–1999; NERS professor Gary Was also served as associate dean and professor Glenn Knoll served as interim dean. And, of course, James Duderstadt served as Dean of Engineering during the early 1980s. Hence the running joke: How many nuclear engineering faculty members does it take to fill the dean’s office? 

“Bill is a pioneer in developing computational science as the third line of research in science and engineering and is a foremost scholar in Monte Carlo methods for nuclear reactor physics,” said NERS Professor John Lee. “He was also a skillful administrator serving both as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Department Chair for nearly two decades.”

Two men in suits sitting in front of a blue curtain.
Martin and James Duderstadt filming.

“I’ll remember Bill for all he did for the Department and all he did outside of the Department,” said Was. “He was an active runner—he still is—he starred on the NERS softball team for many years. He is an avid kayaker and former float and bloater.”If you’d like to pay tribute to Professor Martin, please donate to the William Martin Fellowship Fund. This endowment fund supports graduate students in NERS in honor of the outstanding teacher and scholar Prof. William Martin and his many contributions to the field of nuclear science and engineering.

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