Thomas J. Royston

Acoustical Society of America

R. Bruce Lindsay Award


Thomas J. Royston

The Fall 1999 issue of the University of Illinois at Chicago's Mechanical Engineering Newsletter claims that "Carrying golf bags and studying vibrations don't go hand in hand; however, these and other activities are always on Tom Royston's wavelength." Tom, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, worked as a golf caddy during junior high and high school that helped him earn an Evans Scholarship for undergraduate study at The Ohio State University (OSU). The Evans Scholar Foundation is a charitable trust founded by golfer Charles "Chick" Evans, Jr. in 1930 that provides undergraduate scholarships for caddies. Tom ended up spending almost 10 years at Ohio State, earning BS, MS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering, as well as a minor in Russian. Tom won more scholarships and fellowships than any other student I have advised. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) fellowship, Ohio State's Center for Automotive Research and OSU's Graduate School fellowships all supported Tom's graduate studies. In fact, it was necessary to negotiate with the Graduate School so that Tom could receive the funds with no overlap. During his studies, he also participated in internships at General Motors automotive and General Electric aircraft engine plants, as well as in a graduate internship program at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock as part of the ONR Fellowship. During that summer, Tom worked on developing a polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) film sensor array to measure acoustic wave propagation in a liquid-filled pipe for active noise control purposes. This effort led to a journal publication and an outstanding student paper award from the Institute of Noise Control Engineers. Not bad for one summer's work!

When Tom was a junior he took the first Honors course in mechanical engineering, emphasizing digital data acquisition and signal processing. During his senior year, Tom worked in the Acoustics and Dynamics Laboratory on a project involving the control of pneumatic actuators. Tom continued this work for his MS thesis, which led to both journal and conference publications. During this period he entered an American Society of Mechanical Engineers student design contest related to his MS research. He developed a comparative study of electro-mechanical, electrohydraulic and electro-pneumatic actuation systems, and won the first place in this national competition. During his doctoral studies, Tom fell in love with the disciplines of structural acoustics and vibration. He focused on nonlinear dynamics in active structural vibration control, specifically the common situation of a localized nonlinearity in an otherwise linear system with many degrees-of-freedom. At that time, active sound and vibration control was en route to becoming a mature discipline, but few researchers had considered nonlinear dynamics in this context. Tom's PhD work involved theoretical, computational and experimental developments and led to four journal publications, including an important paper in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America that analyzed the nonlinear vibration path problem.

After ten years at Ohio State, Tom and his wife Theresa (yet another OSU Buckeye) moved to Chicago in 1995 where he began his academic career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2000. At UIC, he expanded upon his PhD research by investigating nonlinear behavior in the transducers that are used in smart structures for vibration and structural acoustic control. With the support of the Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career (CAREER) Award in 1998, this work has led to a number of substantive publications. Much of this work has also been undertaken in collaboration with the Naval Research Laboratory, where Tom has now spent two summers. In the fall of 2000, Tom co-hosted an NSF-sponsored international workshop on hysteresis, meta-stability and after-effect (HMA) at UIC. Drawing on the proximity to fellow researchers in the University Medical District, Royston is working with physicians from the Rush Medical Center to develop new and improved medical diagnostic instruments. He has also spent time at Argonne National Lab working on vibration issues at the Advanced Photon Source.

At UIC, Tom has made his mark in teaching and research in acoustics and vibration. According to his colleague and mentor, Professor Ahmed Shabana, "Tom has been one of our outstanding faculty who made many significant contributions to our college. Tom get all the credit for developing this important research area in our college and making it nationally and internationally recognized. Royston enjoys working with students, both undergraduate and graduate. Since 1995, he has advised eight PhD students; two have graduated, with six in progress. He has also advised eight MS thesis students and nine BS independent study students.

Tom has also been involved in other unique educational endeavors. For example, supported by his NSF CAREER Award. Tom introduced a course on "Science, Math and Engineering in Music" into the MERIT Music program's Saturday tuition-free Conservatory in the Fall of 1999. The MERIT (Music Education Reaching Instrumental Talents) program, founded in 1979, is located near downtown Chicago. It provides thousands of Chicago's inner-city youth, grades K–12, with quality music instruction. MERIT is nationally acclaimed for its unique programs, the outstanding level of scholarship support provided to its students and the high level of student accomplishment. In support of this endeavor, Tom solicited the help of three Swedish exchange students and also involved a high school student from the Illinois Math and Science Academy to develop an interactive website to complement the MERIT course.

He continues to capably serve his University and professional societies, including the ASA, in a number of capacities. For the past two years, he has been the Associate Head and Director of Graduate Studies for the UIC Mechanical Engineering Department. Tom is currently a member of ASA Technical Committee on Biomedical Ultrasound/Bioresponse to Vibration and the ASME Technical Committee on Sound and Vibration. He has chaired technical sessions at ASA and ASME conferences. He will serve as the Technical Program Chair for the ASME 2003 International Design Engineering Technical Conference to be held in Chicago in 2003.

The Roystons live in Chicago's Little Italy community near the UIC campus, and recently welcomed the birth of their first child, Nina Elise, in September 2001. For relaxation Tom runs, plays the guitar, enjoys biking, and tries to keep up with the latest movies.

Excellence in multiple areas is evident in Tom's career. This is what distinguishes him from other educators. He is indeed an asset to the acoustics community.