Academics Technology — 16 November 2010

alireza haghighatAlireza Haghighat is one of Iran’s and also world’s most influential scientist, mathematician, senior researcher and holder of Ph. D. in Nuclear Engineering from University of Washington, Seattle in USA.

He’s also Professor and Chair of University of Florida and Interim Director of Florida Institute of Nuclear Detection and Security and also Fellow of American Nuclear Society.

Professor Alireza Haghighat has been involved in development and modification of large computer codes for nuclear reactor simulations for the past 23 years. In particular, he has been involved in development of accurate and efficient particle transport theory methods and their application to different complex nuclear systems.

He led the development of the PENTRAN 3-D parallel Sn Transport, A3MCNP (Automated Adjoint Accelerated MCNP) – working on new diagnostic and acceleration algorithms for eigenvalue Monte Carlo, and developing hybrid methods for homeland security and medical applications. Besides transport codes, the CPXSD has been used for the generation of mulltigroup cross sections for reactor shielding problems.

More recently, the TITAN code with its hybrid algorithms have been used to simulate a SPECT device. Between June 2005 and September 2006, he led a DOE-sponsored project on the “HEU to LEU Fuel Conversion of the University of Florida Training Reactor (UFTR).”

Currently, Professor Haghighat is leading the ‘UFTR Digital Control System Upgrade’ project, which involves design, licensing and construction of a fully digital protection/control system. For this project, Prof. Haghighat has received over $1.4 million. With assistance from AREVA NP and Siemens Co., five other Nuclear Engineering professors, two research scientists, eight students, it is expected to complete the project by June 2011.

This project will make the UFTR the first nuclear reactor using a digital protection system, which is planned to become of center for benchmarking, education, and development of advanced digital control systems and algorithms.


1978 at age 29 – Pahlavi (Shiraz) University, Shiraz, Iran, B.S. in Physics
1981 at age 32 – University of Washington, Seattle, M.S. in Nuclear Engineering
1986 at age 37 – University of Washington, Seattle, Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering
1986 at age 37 – Research Assistant, Penn State University in Nuclear Engineering
1988 at age 39 – Research Associate, Penn State University in Nuclear Engineering
1989 at age 40 – Professor in Mathematics and Nuclear Physics at Penn State University


  • Sept 2009 Florida Power & Light Endowed Chair Professor
  • Sept 2009 Director of UFTR (University of Florida Training Reactor)
  • Jan 2010 Chairman of Board, SUNRISE LLC; member since 2007
  • Aug 2001- Sept 2009 Professor and Chair, University of Florida
  • Oct 2008 – Sept 2009 Interim Director, University of Florida Training Reactor (UFTR)
  • April 2004 – present Interim Director of Florida Institute of Nuclear Detection & Security (FINDS)
  • Dec. 2005 – present President and CEO of HSW Technologies, LLC (
  • June 2006 – June 2007 Chair, Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO)
  • Aug 1999-Dec.2005 President and CEO of H&S Adv. Comp. Tech. Inc. (
  • Aug 1998-July 2001 Professor, Penn State University
  • Feb.-Aug., 1998 Visiting Scientist at SCK•CEN, Mol, Belgium
  • August 1993 Associate Professor, Penn State University
  • July-Aug., 1990 Faculty Research Participant, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Engineering, Physics and Mathematics Division (EPMD)

  • Chairman of Board of SUNRISE LLC (Jan 2010); a member of the Executive Committee since 2007.
  • Secretary, ANS Reactor Physics Division, 2009-10
  • Co-Chair, Technical Program of 2010 NPIC & HMIT conference
  • Chair, NEDHO (2006-07); Executive Committee of NEDHO, 2007-2008
  • Chair, Mathematics and Computation Division, American Nuclear Society, 2005-2006.
  • Chair, Program Committee, MCD, ANS, 1992-2002.
  • Chair, Committee on particle transport methods for reactor cavity Dosimetry, ANS19.10, 1992-2002.
  • Reviewer/Organizer, Several Journals, National and international meetings & government agencies.


  • Alpha Nu Sigma – National Nuclear Engineering Honor Society, Washington Alpha Chapter, 1981.
  • Sigma Xi – The Scientific Research Society, Penn State University, 1988.
  • Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, 1989-present.
  • Several best paper awards (Reactor Physics and Mathematics & Computation Divisions of the American Nuclear Society)
  • Fellow, American Nuclear Society, 2002 (For pioneering contributions to the development of accurate and efficient deterministic and stochastic particle transport theory methods and their application to different complex nuclear systems; for major contribution to multigroup cross section generation, differencing schemes, domain decomposition formulations for parallel computing, iterative and acceleration techniques, and for work in automating the Monte Carlo variance reduction of fixed-source problems).
  • Florida Power & Light Endowed Chair Professorship
  • Received a recognition award from DOE for his leader & contribution to the UFTR fuel conversion
  • Invited lecturer at Fredric Joliot & Otto Hahn Summer School, Cadarache, France, 2006;
  • Invited Professor, CEA-EDF-INRIA Summer School on Particle Transport: Numerical Methods and Applications, Paris, France, June 2008.

Prof. Haghighat’s research has been funded by various industry and government organizations including AREVA, DOE, GPU Nuclear, Harris Semiconductors, IBM, INEEL/INL, LLNL, NIH, NSF, ORNL, Pennsylvania Power & Light, Philadelphia Electric Company, Progress Energy Florida, Sandia National Lab, State of Florida, and Westinghouse Currently, besides the digital control project, he and his group are working with Georgia Institute of Technology on an NNSA funded project on develop of Hybrid Particle Transport Methods, and on a LLNL funded project on development of methodologies for monitoring of the spent fuel pools. He is also working on development of new imaging algorithms for a SPECT device, and new algorithms for Monte Carlo eigenvalue problems.

During his sabbatical leave at SCK.CEN, Belgium, Prof. Haghighat developed PENMSH (a Cartesian-based mesh, source, and material generator), and PEINIP (for automatic PENTRAN input preparation) for the PENTRAN package. Later, he modified PENMSH for preparation of TORT input including source, material and mesh distributions.

Prof. Haghighat was one of the major contributors to the Institute for High Performance Computing Applications (IHPCA) and creation of a graduate minor in HPC at Penn State. He also developed and taught a course entitled “Parallel/Vector Algorithms for Scientific Applications,” 1996-2001.

Between 1995 and 2006, Prof. Haghighat organized annual one-week international training courses entitled “International Training Course/Workshop on Methodologies for Particle Transport Simulation of Nuclear Systems (Design, Shielding, & Dosimetry). Dates and locations of these workshops are as follows: June 19-23, 1995, PSU; June 2-7, 1996, PSU; May 19-23, 1997, PSU; June 9-13, 1997, Stuttgart, Germany (with assistance from OECD and IAEA); May 25-29, 1998, Mol, Belgium (with assistance from SCK.CEN Nuclear Research Lab, Mol, Belgium); May 17-21, 1999, PSU; June 26-30, 2000, PSU; June 25-29, 2001, PSU; June 24-28, 2002, UF. The 2003 workshop is being organized for late May or mid-June.

Prof. Haghighat conducted lectures at special short course on particle transport methods and reactor physics, KAIST, Korea, Feb. 2002. He conducted invited lectures at the 2006 Frederic Joliot/Otto Hahn (FJOH) Summer School on Nuclear Reactors, Cadarache, France, August 23 to September 1, 2006. On August 6-7, 2007, he served on the 2007 International Advisory Council for the Department of Nuclear & Quantum Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Republic of Korea. Prof. Haghighat served as an invited professor at the CEA-EDF-INRI Summer School 2009, June 22 – July 3, 2009, Port Royal Seminar Centre, France; give several lectures on Applications of Particle Transport Codes and High Performance Computing for Transport Methods. He has served on review panels for the DOE and NSF.

Between August 2001 and Sept 2009, Prof Haghighat served as the Chair of the NRE Department. At this capacity, he raised significant amount of funding for department’s enhancement; the student enrollment increased from 75 to 217, department’s research dollars increased from ~$2 million to $5.6 million, and hired five new faculty members, several staff members, and the department graduate ranking increased to 8 in the US.

Prof. Haghighat with his students and collaborators has published over 220 papers in journals, refereed conference proceedings and transactions. See list of Publications, Best Paper Awards, and Invited papers.

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