2014 Croasdale Award, Robert Holt
The Graduate Forum wishes to congratulate Robert Holt of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, this year’s winner of the Hannah Croasdale Award! The Croasdale Award recipient is chosen annually by the Dean of Graduate Studies, and is awarded to the graduating PhD recipient who best exemplifies the qualities of a scholar. The award is given in honor of Professor Hannah T. Croasdale who performed research and taught biology for more than 40 years at Dartmouth. She was the first woman at Dartmouth to achieve the level of full professor.
Originally from Manchester, New Hampshire, Holt completed dual degrees in physics and mathematics at the University of New Hampshire. He chose to attend Dartmouth to pursue his PhD because of the school’s strong reputation for research.
During his time at Dartmouth, Holt conducted his graduate research on biomedical optics in Professor Brian Pogue’s lab at the Thayer School of Engineering. In his research, Holt makes use of the property of fluorescence, or the process by which a substance that has absorbed light re-emits back a different color light. In his work, Holt injects molecular fluorescent dye, which is targeted to localize on cancer tumor receptors, into a subject and then illuminates it with a laser in order to cause the dye to fluoresce. Because fluorescent dye will accumulate in a tumor once injected, this technique, known as fluorescent tomography, can be used to measure the tumor molecular features, in combination with images created by ultrasound (US), X-ray computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Holt has published several articles during his time as a graduate student. A recent article on fluorescence tomography, which he collaborated on with Pogue and Scott Davis, another professor at Thayer, was published in Optics Letters in 2013. He has also published in Biomedical Optics, the Journal of the Optical Society of America (JOSA), and the Journal of Biomedical Optics.
Along with his scholarly achievements, Holt has been involved in the graduate student communities in both the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Thayer. Pogue notes of his involvement that Holt “has been a steadfast mentor to the other graduate students in our research cluster, always spending extra time helping others and giving his time to make sure everyone around him is succeeding as well.” His fellow engineering students invited Holt to present at the Annual Engineering Research in Progress seminar in 2012, and Pogue observes, “His presentation was so engaging that he won for best presentation, despite the fact that he was not even enrolled in the engineering graduate program!” Holt was also a teaching assistant (TA) for five terms, running labs for introductory physics courses, and tutoring any students who needed help in the common areas of Wilder Hall. He notes that he especially enjoyed being a TA, and he learned a lot about teaching from all of the professors that he worked with.
Having enjoyed conducting research in the biomedical optics lab at Thayer, Holt expresses deep appreciation for Pogue’s flexibility and support as an advisor. He explains, “Brian is the best advisor somebody could hope for. He lets me have the intellectual freedom to study what interests me and is willing to listen to and flesh out my ideas with me.”
Holt defended his dissertation in early May and plans to pursue a position as a research scientist in the New England area upon graduation. We wish him the best in his future endeavors!
by Elizabeth Molina-Markham
photo by Kristian Sexton