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sunny view of Burruss Hall and drillfield surrounded by orange autumn leaves
View of Burruss Hall in the fall.

College welcomes Colleen Kraft and Paul Laughton into Hall of Distinction

The College of Science this fall is inducting two new members into its Hall of Distinction, bringing the total number of honored alumni and friends to 39.

In its eighth year, the College of Science Hall of Distinction honors alumni and friends who have excelled in their professional careers, as well as in their service and philanthropy to civic groups and the university.

The honorees for 2020 are:

Colleen portrait with blurred greenery background.
Colleen Kraft.
man wears red shirt and yellow plastic bowtie and looks at camera
Paul Laughton.

Colleen Kraft, bachelor’s degree, chemistry, 1981.

As a physician, educator, and child advocate, Dr. Kraft has been promoting health throughout her career. After graduating from Virginia Tech, she attended medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she completed a residency in pediatrics.

Inspired by her father, Virginia Tech Department of Chemistry Professor James McGrath, she returned to Virginia Tech in 2009 to become the founding pediatric residency program director at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke. She moved to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to become the Medical Director of the Health Network in 2014.

In 2016, she was elected President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2018, she made international headlines for taking a hard stance against the federal practice of migrant children being separated from their families in U.S.-Mexico border detention facilities.

Dr. Kraft is currently a Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California.

She gave the department commencement speech for the Class of 2019, saying, “Virginia Tech was my foundation for science, problem-solving, innovation, and service. My career has been remarkable because I have had the privilege to work in a profession that uses science to promote innovation through service and solutions.”

Paul Laughton, bachelor’s degree, physics, 1967. 

Not everyone can say they were hired by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in a one-page contract worth $13,000. But Paul Laughton can.

In April 1978, Laughton, a former IBM employee who was then a contract programmer for Shepardson Microsystems, was hired to design the file manager, a BASIC interface, and tools for Apple II DOS (disc operating system, the first disc drive) version 3.1 from his home office.

The Apple II was a game-changing computer, fully assembled, with color, graphics, sound, expansion slots, game paddles, and a built-in BASIC programming language. Laughton, who previously worked as a programmer for John Hopkins University and IBM, would later author Atari Basic. Afterward, he would become director of software development at Logitech.

After retiring in 2000, Laughton became a docent for the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, near San Jose. In August 2018, Laughton returned to Virginia Tech to give a talk on his career to a packed house inside Goodwin Hall. Laughton sported a bright yellow 3-D printed bow tie that, yes, he made himself.