IT IS my honor and pleasure to introduce Dr. John W. Poston, Sr., as the 2016 Lauriston S. Taylor Lecturer. I have known John since my earliest experiences in radiation protection at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). John’s career has taken him from the position of a key leader in the radiation dosimetry research program at ORNL, through a wide range of research efforts, to the position of tenured professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University.
John was born in Sparta, Tennessee, but grew up in his father’s home, a small community outside Lynchburg, Virginia, called Tyreeanna, after the plantation that once existed there. He attended Brookville High School where he exhibited a variety of talents. He was a member of the basketball team, a member of the chorus, had a leading role in the senior play, and was selected “Most Likely to Succeed” by his classmates. He attended Lynchburg College majoring in mathematics and minoring in physics. Even though he was working to pay his tuition, he was a member of the soccer team in both his junior and senior years.
John’s early career in nuclear engineering at Babcock and Wilcox provided the first evidence of his abilities. He began his career with important publications in reactor physics. As John moved to ORNL in 1964, his research and publications provided important new contributions in metabolism, internal dosimetry, external dosimetry, radiation measurements, and related health physics topics. While at ORNL, he was able to attend the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology and later took a leave of absence from the Laboratory to pursue his M.S. and Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
His work resulted in recognition by his peers on the national and international level. As a result, Dr. Poston became a leader on important committees of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Institute of Atomic Energy in Brazil, the American National Standards Institute, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Society of Nuclear Medicine, the American Nuclear Society (ANS), and the Health Physics Society (HPS), to name a few. In these activities, he has most often been asked to take the technical and responsible leadership role to accomplish scientifically important and challenging work. He has also served well in important organizational leadership roles; for example, John was both secretary and president of the Health Physics Society (HPS).
My most personal knowledge of Dr. Poston’s ability came at Georgia Tech, where he served as professor for 7 y. He served as chair of my dissertation committee, and in that capacity, John provided technical and professional advice that serves me well to this day. He trained his students in scientific matters and also educated and advised us about all the skills necessary to be an accomplished professional. A student could not ask for a more talented and supportive academic advisor. He not only gave his time to graduate and undergraduate students but also made every effort to help all students to reach their highest level of achievement.
Dr. Poston has been recognized by a number of organizations for his record of accomplishment. Dr. Poston was named Distinguished Engineering Alumni and a member of the Academy of Engineering at Georgia Tech. He is a Fellow of HPS and received the Society’s Founder’s Award, which recognized exceptional service to the Society and the profession. He has received the Glenn Murphy Award as a distinguished engineering educator from the American Society of Engineering Education. John continues to be active in his profession. He has been elected as a Fellow by ANS and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is an Associate Editor of the Health Physics Journal, serves on American National Standards Institute N-13 writing groups, is Chair of the E.P. Blizzard Fellowship Committee, serves on the ANS Fellowship and Scholarship Selection Committee, and in 2014 received the Professional Excellence Award from the Radiation Protection and Shielding Division of the ANS. These are only a few of his honors.
John married the former Lillian Yvonne Plunkett in 1958 when he graduated from Lynchburg College. He and Yvonne had three children, Martha Ruth, Vera Frances, and John Ware, Jr. Martha (known as Marti) is a health physicist in the Division of Nuclear Materials Safety of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Region IV in Arlington, Texas. Marti’s oldest daughter and John’s oldest granddaughter, Stephanie Nicole, is a health physicist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas. Vera teaches preschool and kindergarten in Grapevine, Texas; and John Jr. (known as Jay) is the Radiation Safety Officer at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Altogether there are seven grandchildren. Sadly, Yvonne passed away in June of last year.
I am particularly proud to be one of Dr. Poston’s former students. He is a consummate researcher and educator who serves his profession and colleagues unselfishly. Dr. Poston’s curriculum vitae provides a detailed summary of all his accomplishments. Not only was he a good lecturer and great teacher, he found a way to help students apply the lessons they learned to their research activities while in the academic setting and develop their own skills in the practice of radiation protection science.
I am pleased and proud to introduce my teacher, colleague, and friend, Dr. John Poston, Sr., as this year’s Taylor Lecturer on the topic of “Radiation Protection and Regulatory Science.”