UMD Mourns Kevin Greenaugh, Nuclear Engineering Trailblazer

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The University of Maryland (UMD) community is mourning the loss of alumnus Kevin C. Greenaugh (Ph.D. ‘98) who died on December 17.

A nuclear engineer who helped shape U.S. policy through a senior leadership role at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Greenaugh also made history as the first Black doctoral graduate in nuclear engineering at UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. UMD Associate Professor Gary A. Pertmer, Greenaugh’s dissertation advisor, said his passing is “very sad news.” 

“Kevin was a dedicated and hardworking student.  His dissertation work was experimental, requiring innovative measurement techniques, with subsequent detailed analysis of results.  He designed and built his experimental facility which, I recall, was very impressive,” Pertmer said.

UMD Professor Aris Christou, who chaired UMD’s Department of Materials and Nuclear Engineering at the time, also recalls Greenaugh as a standout student.

“During my interactions with Kevin I was able to see his dedication to the discipline as well as his excellent communication skills and ability to manage his time effectively.  It was with great sadness that I learned of his death. The nuclear field will miss him dearly,” Christou said.

Balakumar Balachandran, UMD Distinguished University Professor, Minta Martin Professor, and Chair of the UMD Mechanical Engineering department, highlighted Greenaugh's impactful role in public policy. “He had a deep understanding of his field and he used that expertise to ensure that decision-making related to nuclear deterrence is well-informed,” he said. “He has left a strong legacy, in particular, in the area of policy.”

The NNSA, which is part of the Department of Energy, is charged with safeguarding U.S. national security through the military application of nuclear science, a responsibility that includes maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, providing the U.S. Navy with safe, effective nuclear propulsion systems, and responding to nuclear and radiological emergencies.

Greenaugh was the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Strategic Partnership Programs at the agency, serving in this capacity as the senior policy advisor to the Administrator of NNSA. He briefed members of Congress, including the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, on matters relating to nuclear deterrence.

He was named a Distinguished Alumnus by Mercer University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. In addition, Greenaugh held two master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico and a graduate certificate in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2006, Greenaugh received the Black Engineer of the Year award for Professional Achievement in Government at the 20th Annual Black Engineer Conference in Baltimore–a distinction which was then marked at a gala held at the Clark School.

Published December 18, 2023