PhD student Ruaridh Macdonald develops a tool to identify nuclear weapons without divulging too much.
(September 2, 2015) “Energy is incredibly fundamental to life,” MIT graduate student Ruaridh Macdonald says. “That’s why I keep studying it.”
This tenet has been the thread throughout Macdonald’s nearly eight years at MIT — first as an undergraduate, then as a master’s student, and now as a PhD student — all spent studying nuclear science and engineering. Though he has remained engaged in this one department, he’s participated in a variety of projects, first studying reactor design as he pursued his master’s degree and now working on a nuclear weapons verification project in the Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy.
Macdonald, who grew up in West London, spent his grade school days equally interested in the arts and humanities and in physics. But he ultimately chose physics when faced with the U.K.’s school system, which requires students to pick a concentration, similar to a major in college.
“I still have immense respect for the arts, but I asked myself which would allow me to help people most broadly, and I chose science,” Macdonald says.