Peter Vikesland, professor of the civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been named the Nick Prillaman Professor in Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The professorship was established in 1986 by Prillaman, a member of the Class of 1949 who majored in chemical engineering. The professorship recognizes teaching and research excellence in the College of Engineering and is held for five years.

A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 2011, Vikesland’s research involves the application of fundamental chemical principles to the study of natural and engineered systems. His present focus is on the use of nanotechnology for the detection and remediation of environmental contaminants and ongoing studies to examine the potentially damaging impacts of nanotechnology on environmental systems.

Vikesland serves as the director of the Sustainable Nanotechnology Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program, one of 14 interdisciplinary programs administered through the Graduate School. He has secured a prestigious $2.6 million National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure award and received a five-year $3.6 million Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Vikesland applies his knowledge in analytical chemistry, aquatic chemistry, and public health to a variety of topics, including the development of nano-enabled sensors for the tracking of pathogens and their DNA; determining the environmental impacts of nanoparticles as contaminants; determining the triggers and kinetics of disinfection by-product formation; and characterizing the chemical properties of aerosols. This work has been critically important to developing integrated environmental engineering designs to promote public health.

Vikesland's research has been recognized with an NSF CAREER Award and he was recently elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He has published 90 peer-reviewed journal articles, edited three books, and written two book chapters. 

An innovative educator, Vikesland typically teaches three courses per year. In addition to developing new graduate-level civil and environmental engineering courses in Advanced Environmental Chemistry, Nanotechnology for Sustainable Engineering, and Environmental Organic Chemistry, he also regularly taught undergraduate courses in public health engineering and Introduction to Environmental Engineering. He has advised or co-advised 11 Ph.D. students and 14 master’s degree students to completion and has advised or co-advised nearly 70 undergraduate research projects.

Vikesland received his bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. 

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