Tag: GMES

Stories about Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

Michigan Tech Receives State-of-the-Art Software from Petroleum Experts Limited

MOVE, a geologic modeling software, provides a full digital environment for best practice structural modeling to reduce risk and uncertainty in geological models.

Petroleum Experts Limited has donated the equivalent of $2,764,444.18 to Michigan Technological University. The donation has come in the form of 10 sets of the MOVE suite of programs to be used for education and academic research at the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (GMES).

Petroleum Experts, established in 1990, develops and commercializes petroleum engineering software for the oil industry. Petroleum Experts offers educational licenses to accredited universities that provide geology and/or petroleum engineering related Master and Ph.D. courses.

The state-of-the-art software will be installed in a computer laboratory at GMES, where it will be used in the Structural Geology course (GE3050), required for department undergraduate majors, and in graduate-level courses in structural geology. In addition, the MOVE suite will be utilized in academic non-commercial research on tectonics and structural geology, such as the mapping of the Keweenaw Fault and other complex structural systems in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“The researchers and students at GMES greatly appreciate this generous donation from Petroleum Experts,” says Dr. Aleksey Smirnov, chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech.

Bill Rose: Forged in Fire, Sculpted by Ice—Keweenaw Geostories

Erika Vye and Bill Rose on the shore of Agate Harbor, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Prof. Bill Rose has been studying Central American volcanoes for almost six decades.

Research Professor Bill Rose, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech, shared his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar on Monday, 11/21. Check out the Zoom recording and register for future sessions at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Everyone loves a great geoheritage stories (geostories for short)—and Prof. Bill Rose has many of them. Joining in, colleague, friend and former student, Erika Vye, Geosciences Research Scientist at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center.

Together they co-created Keweenaw Geoheritage, an organization that focuses on education and opportunities for sustainable tourism based on significant geologic features and our relationship with them.

Erika Vye works at the Great Lakes Research Center (“and she is GREAT,” says Prof. Bill Rose.)

During Husky Bites, Rose and Vye will share the geostory about Le Roche Vert (the green rock). It’s the legend of a turquoise vein of rock that projected from the shoreline at Copper Harbor into Lake Superior, making for a spectacular site. It was located near the current site of the Copper Harbor Lighthouse, where travelers rounded the Keweenaw on their way westward. Known by Native Americans for centuries, the green rock was widely exaggerated and extolled by certain Voyageurs, who were French Canadian trappers and violent wild explorers. This led to the fame of copper and the public awareness of the possible riches of the Keweenaw, Isle Royale and Lake Superior.

They will also share a geostory about one theory concerning the Keweenaw Fault—the result of an important discussion and argument by geologists, done when geology was a very young science, full of uncertainty (it still is!). And they’ll tell the geostory of Billy Royal, Ed Hulbert and the wild boar—and how they found the C & H Conglomerate in 1868.

An underground concert at Delaware Mine that Bill Rose and Erika Vye organized as a geoheritage event.
“The best geoscientists have seen the most rocks,” he says. He started the Bill Rose Geoscience Student Travel Fund with $100K of his own hard-earned cash.

Vye is dedicated to developing sustainable economic opportunities and enriched relationships with the natural environment through formal and informal place-based education. “The emphasis is on broadening Earth science and Great Lakes literacy through interdisciplinary research and learning, community partnerships, and traditional knowledge,” notes Vye.

“Erika is my friend and she heads up geoheritage awareness efforts. She works with teachers, and is linked with Native Americans, environmentally-relevant groups. She works at the Great Lakes Research Center—she is GREAT,” says Rose.

“Bill is a great friend, mentor, and like family to me,” says Vye.

The two met many years ago at a conference when Vye was working in Munich, Germany. “I’d heard great things about the work he was doing here at Michigan Tech related to natural hazards, Earth science education, and social geology,” she says. “After meeting and learning more, I moved to Houghton a few years later to pursue my PhD with Bill (as his last PhD student!). We have since worked together on advancing geoheritage at the local, regional, and national scale.

“We are all connected by our relationships with geology.”

Erika Vye

“I have buckets of gratitude to work so closely with Bill on this beautiful work that we hope helps our community to thrive.”


“Life on the Keweenaw shore—come and visit paradise.”

Bill Rose

Prof. Rose, how did you first get into engineering?

I am not an engineer. I never got into it. When I arrived in Houghton as a young professor. I had a dual major in geography and geology, but the chance to work as a faculty member in an engineering department sounded good to me. It gave me a chance to go outside, working hands-on in the field, rather than being stuck in the lab. I chaired that engineering department for over eight years.

Prof. Bill Rose and his kin at a recent family feast!

Hometown, family?

Corrales, New Mexico. I have  two sons, five grandchildren. One son is a math teacher, the other a geoenvironmental engineer.

The incredible view from Bill and Nanno Rose’s deck overlooking Lake Superior and the north half of Silver Island.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have dozens of hobbies, but no pets. As a retired faculty my favorite pastime is no meetings, no deadlines, just creative communications and being outdoors.

“I love being outside,” says Dr. Erika Vye.

Dr. Vye, how did you first get into geology? What sparked your interest?

I started my undergraduate studies at Dalhousie University in the theater department. I needed a science elective and fell into geology; I was hooked and switched majors. I am fascinated by the ways rocks and landscapes share stories about Earth’s history, providing us a window to learn about deep time and how our geologic underpinnings are the foundation for our sense of place, our identity. We are all connected by our relationships with geology.

Learning about Lake Superior and geology on the Inland Seas schooner tour.

Hometown, family?

I grew up on the east coast of Canada, just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia—I’ve moved from one beautiful peninsula to another! My parents still live there, and I have a brother, niece and nephew that live in New York City. I now live in Copper Harbor with my partner Steve; a small town of 100 folks in the winter is very much another beautiful family I am grateful to be a part of.

Water Walkers walking to Copper Harbor from Sand Point lighthouse

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love gardening, trail running, and am working toward my 200-hour yoga certification to deepen the practice for myself. I am honored to participate in local Water Walks held annually in our community. This Anishinaabe water ceremony is generously shared with our community by KBIC Water Protectors to raise awareness about the importance of water and the need for protection and healing of our water relationships.

Geostory Videos

Read More

Sniffing Volcanoes from Space

EARTH Magazine book review: “How the Rock Connects Us” shares copper country geoheritage

Forged in Stone and Fire

Graduate School Announces Fall 2022 Finishing Fellowship Award Recipients

Students walking on campus in the fall.

The Graduate School proudly announces the recipients of our Fall 2022 Finishing Fellowships. Congratulations to all nominees and recipients.

Finishing fellowship recipients in engineering graduate programs are:

  • Vishnu Chakrapani Lekha — Geological Engineering
  • Emily Shaw — Environmental Engineering
  • Jiachen Zhai — Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Rasoul Bayaniahangar — Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Xuebin Yang — Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Read more about the awardees on the Graduate School Newsblog.

SWE Hosts Evening with Industry in 2022

Event room with tables and presentation screen.

On September 20 the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) hosted its annual Evening with Industry (EWI). The event brought together over 115 students and sponsors from 23 companies. The highlight of the evening was keynote speaker Carrie Struss from Milwaukee Tool, who discussed career development and tips from her career journey.

The section would like to thank all who attended and participated in making the evening a success. “EWI has been held for 34 years. Its success is due to the involvement and commitment of the SWE Section and our EWI Committee,” said Gretchen Hein, the section’s advisor.

The EWI Committee comprised four students: Alli Hummel (civil engineering), Natalie Hodge (electrical and computer engineering), and Maci Dostaler and Kathleen Heusser (biomedical engineering).

The SWE section works closely with Career Services to ensure the sponsor registration and support runs smoothly. The section thanks the sponsors for their support and input. They are truly part of the Michigan Tech learning community. These corporate representatives visit with the students during EWI and guide the students through the transition from student to professional. These interactions greatly help students learn how to advocate for themselves and others as they begin their careers.

Many students commented about the benefits of EWI:

  • “I got to know the recruiters before Career Fair and was able to get an interview.”
  • “I talked with Gerdau after EWI and they pulled me aside, went through my resume, and did a mini interview!”
  • “The Textron recruiter I talked to was very excited about me coming to the Textron booth at Career Fair. I’m definitely applying to a company (CWC Textron) I hadn’t considered before today!”
  • “Last year, I stepped into a one-on-one meeting with Stellantis on a whim which led to a successful internship with them, changing my whole career direction!”

SWE has begun planning the 2023 EWI event. If you are interested in learning more about it, please contact us at SWEEWI@mtu.edu.

By Gretchen Hein, Advisor, Society of Women Engineers.

Related

SWE, Aerospace Enterprise Represent MTU at Women in Aviation Day

Women in Aviation Day banner with image of Amelia Earhart.

On September 17, 2022, eight students from the Aerospace Enterprise and Society of Women Engineers represented Michigan Tech at the first annual Women in Aviation Day in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Participating students were:

From Aerospace: Heather Goetz, Seth Quayle and Nolan Pickett (mechanical engineering); and Zoe Knoper (cybersecurity).

From SWE: Sophie Stewart and Katherine Rauscher (mechanical engineering); Kathryn Krieger (environmental engineering); and Cailyn Koerber (engineering management).

This event was hosted by the Learn Build Fly organization, which does incredible volunteer work in engaging their community in aviation. As summarized by Wausau’s WSAW-TV News Channel 7, “The event aimed to get more women involved in recreational and professional aviation. Children had the chance to participate in ‘Young Eagle Flights’ by going for airplane rides, while other aviation organizations gave information about their programs.”

Visitors to the event had the opportunity to see a 3D model of the newest Aerospace Enterprise satellite design and learn how these students were designing and building satellites to go into space, while the SWE team worked with visitors on an outreach activity, Paper Circuits.

Participants’ comments included:

Nolan Pickett: “Our Enterprise was given the opportunity to not only celebrate the women in our program, but also promote STEM to the next generation of college students — and fly in a WWII era B-25!”

Kathryn Krieger: “I loved being able to see so many young girls getting excited about STEM. It was really inspiring to see the many ways kids are getting involved with aviation and other STEM disciplines from such a young age.”

Both SWE and the Aerospace Enterprise teams enjoyed volunteering at Women in Aviation, learning more about the history of aviation and meeting with folks interested in aviation careers. This was a unique outreach opportunity and they appreciated the support they received from Admissions and the College of Engineering.

By Gretchen Hein, SWE Advisor.

Aurenice Oliveira Named ELATES Fellow

Aurenice Oliveira wearing gear and using a laptop on the Portage Lift Bridge.
Aurenice Oliveira, PhD, ELATES Fellow ’22-’23, Drexel University Executive Leadership in Academic Technology, Engineering and Science

Associate Professor Aurenice Oliveira (ECE) has been selected for the Class of 2022-23 of Drexel University’s Executive Leadership in Academic Technology, Engineering and Science (ELATES) fellowship program.

Aurenice Oliveira is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech, and also serves the University as a vice president for research faculty fellow.

ELATES is a national leadership development program designed to promote women in academic STEM fields, and faculty allies of all genders, into institutional leadership roles. Oliveira is also a recipient of the first ASEE ELATES fellow scholarship covering program costs and travel expenses. 

The ELATES Class of 2022-23 Fellows comprise a prestigious cohort of 30 faculty members from over 25 institutions of higher education across the U.S. and Canada. Fellows include experts in engineering, mathematics and science, all of whom have significant administrative experience on top of their scholarly accomplishments. Oliveira was nominated by Dean Janet Callahan (COE) and former interim Chair Glen Archer (ECE) for this intensive yearlong program, which includes personal and leadership development work as well as series of on-site work in the Philadelphia area.

“I am excited to participate in a program focused on training an amazing group of women to become leaders in academic STEM fields.”

Aurenice Oliveira

“I am excited to participate in a program focused on training an amazing group of women to become leaders in academic STEM fields,” said Oliveira. “I would like to be able to bridge people and ideas as well as to tap into our strengths to create and encourage growth in my department and at Michigan Tech.”

Oliveira’s research interests focus on hybrid communications and networking, including connected and autonomous vehicles communications.  She is currently the IEEE chair for Northeastern Wisconsin Region 4 and recently served as the chair of the NSF ADVANCE Advocates and Allies Advisory Board (A3B) and as equity (DEIS) advisor for Michigan Tech faculty and chairs search teams. She is faculty advisor for two Michigan Tech student organizations on campus, as well, the IEEE student chapter and Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) Honor Society.

Oliveira will be also serving as a Michigan Tech Vice President for Research Faculty Fellow for the 2022-23 academic year in the areas of research development and research integrity.

Facilitated by leaders in the fields of STEM research and leadership development, the ELATES curriculum is focused on increasing Fellows’ personal and professional leadership effectiveness, from the ability to lead and manage change initiatives within institutions, to the use of strategic finance and resource management to enhance organizational missions. Pairing online instruction and discussion with intensive, in-person seminar sessions, the program encourages Fellows to apply what they’ve learned at their home institutions. Ultimately, it aims to create a network of exceptional faculty who bring broad organizational perspectives and deep personal capacity to the institutions and societies they serve.

Learn more online at ELATES at Drexel.

By Michigan Tech’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Michigan Space Grant Consortium Awardees for 2022-2023

Michigan Space Grant Consortium NASA

The University of Michigan – Michigan Space Grant Consortium has announced grant recipients. Michigan Tech faculty and staff researchers receiving grants are:

Faculty Led Fellowships for Undergraduates

Brendan Harville for “Seismic Amplitude based Lahar Tracking for Real-Time Hazard Assessment.”

Sierra Williams for “Understanding the Controls of Solute Transport by Streamflow Using Concentration-Discharge Relationship in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.”

Graduate Fellowships

Espree Essig for “Analyzing the effects of heavy metals on vegetation hyperspectral reflectance properties in the Mid-Continent Rift, USA.”

Caleb Kaminski for “Investigation of Ground-Penetrating Radar Interactions with Basaltic Substrate for Future Lunar Missions.”

Katherine Langfield for “Structural Characteristics of the Keweenaw and Hancock Faults in the Midcontinent Rift System and Possible Relationship to the Grenville Mountain Belt.”

Tyler LeMahieu for “Assessing Flood Resilience in Constructed Streambeds: Flume Comparison of Design Methodologies.”

Paola Rivera Gonzalez for “Impacts of La Canícula (“Dog Days of Summer”) on agriculture and food security in Salvadoran communities in the Central American Dry Corridor.”

Erican Santiago for “Perchlorate Detection Using a Graphene Oxide-Based Biosensor.”

Kyle Schwiebert for “LES-C Turbulence Models and their Applications in Aerodynamic Phenomena.”

HONES Awards

Paul van Susante for “Lunabotics Competition Robot.”

Research Seed Grants

Xinyu Ye for “Analyzing the effects of potential climate and land-use changes on hydrologic processes of Maumee River Watershed using a Coupled Atmosphere-Lake-Land Modeling System.”

Pre-College Educational Programs

Jannah Tumey for “Tomorrow’s Talent Series: Exploring Aerospace & Earth System Careers through Virtual Job-Shadowing.”

Research links continents to key transitions in Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and climate

Mountain peaks, glaciers, and prayer flags near the Kunzum La Pass, a high mountain pass connecting the Lahaul and Spiti valleys in the Indian Himalaya. Credit: Timothy Paulsen, UW Oshkosh

A recent study led by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh geologist Timothy Paulsen advances the understanding of the role continents have played in the chemical evolution of Earth’s oceans, with implications for understanding atmospheric oxygenation and global climate oscillations. The research team includes Chad Deering and Snehamoy Chatterjee, Dept. of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Technological University, and Jakub Sliwinski and Olivier Bachman, Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, ETH Zurich.

Tim Paulsen

The team’s research article, Continental Magmatism and Uplift as the Primary Driver for First-Order Oceanic 87Sr/86Sr Variability with Implications for Global Climate and Atmospheric Oxygenation, is featured on the cover of the February issue of GSA Today, published by the Geological Society of America.

The team analyzed a global database of the chemistry of tiny zircon grains commonly found in the Earth’s continental rock record. “We use zircon because it is very resistant to weathering and breakdown over a wide span of environmental conditions and can be dated accurately,” Deering explains. Zircon grains are about the size of the width of human hair; typically around 150microns.

Chad Deering

“Oceans cover 70% of Earth’s surface, setting it apart from the other terrestrial planets in the solar system,” said Paulsen, the lead author on the paper. “Geologists have long recognized that there have been profound changes in ocean chemistry over time.”

Yet there are significant questions about the drivers for changes in ocean chemistry in Earth’s past, especially associated with the ancient rock record leading up to the Cambrian explosion of life approximately 540 million years ago.

“Continents tend to be worn down by weathering and rivers tend to transport this sediment to the oceans, leaving scattered puzzle pieces for geologists to fit together,” said Deering, associate professor of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech, and coauthor on the paper. “There is increasing evidence that important pieces of the puzzle are found in the ancient beach and river sediments produced through continental weathering and erosion.”

The researchers’ findings, based on an analysis of an exceptionally large zircon data set from sandstones recovered from Earth’s major continental landmasses, may signify key links in the evolution of the Earth’s rock cycle and its oceans.

GSA Today highlights articles that appeal to a broad geoscience audience. On the cover:

“Our results suggest that two major increases in continental input from rivers draining the continents were related to the break-up and dispersal of continents, which caused increased weathering and erosion of a higher proportion of radiogenic rocks and high-elevation continental crust,” Paulsen said.

“Both episodes are curiously associated with snowball Earth glaciations and associated steps in oxygenation of the atmosphere-ocean system. Geologists have long recognized that oceans are required to make continents. It would appear based on our analyses that the continents, in turn, shape the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and climate.”

This study was funded by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Faculty Development Program.

This news story written by Natalie Johnson, UW Oshkosh Today

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Natalie Johnson, UW Oshkosh
Kim Geiger, Michigan Tech

John Gierke: Drilling Wells in the Keweenaw—Needles in a (Geologic) Haystack

Community water wells in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula tap places ancient glaciers carved and filled. Pictured above: Interpolated bedrock depth map. Warm colors indicate progressively deeper bedrock (red being the deepest). Credit: John Gierke, Michigan Tech

John Gierke shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, September 20 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 20 minutes (or so), with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Michigan Tech Professor John Gierke is also alumnus. He earned both a BS and MS in Civil Engineering, and a PhD in Environmental Engineering, all at Michigan Tech.

What are you doing for supper tonight, Monday 9/20 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and John Gierke, Professor of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech. “The water we drink comes from geologically unique places,” he says. As a hydrogeologist, Gierke uses his expertise in teaching and research, and in places around the globe, most recently, El Salvador. Also on his own blueberry farm located about 20 minutes from campus.

“I was attracted to environmental engineering because of my interest in protecting human and environmental health, says Michigan Tech Professor Eric Seagren. “The use of a broad range of sciences within environmental engineering appealed to me, too.”

Joining in will be fellow colleague and friend, Eric Seagren, a professor of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering who specializes in finding new, sustainable ways to clean up environmental pollution, including contaminated groundwater.

As a hydrogeologist, Gierke studies the “spaces” in rocks and sedimentary deposits where water is present. Although groundwater is everywhere, Keweenaw geology makes accessing it truly challenging.

“Drilling productive wells in the Keweenaw is like finding needles in (geologic) haystack,” he says. “Groundwater supplies for many communities are in ancient bedrock valleys that were carved by glaciers and later backfilled with sands, gravels, and, sometimes, boulders left by the melting glaciers in their retreat. In the Midwest, groundwater exists almost everywhere, but in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, the close proximity of ancient bedrock makes drilling trickier.”

During Husky Bites, Prof. Gierke will show us the inside of some especially interesting aquifers and wells—how they are found and developed, and why some rock formations yield water, and others don’t yield very much.

“Community water wells in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula tap places ancient glaciers carved and filled.”

Prof. John Gierke

“Imagine a 400′ deep glacial tunnel scour back, filled with sands, gravels, silts and clays and capable of yielding 400-some gallons per minute,” says Gierke. “Wells located just outside that ‘trough’ are stuck in bedrock, only capable of giving up hardly 20 gpm, only enough for a single household.”

“The replenishment rate of groundwater in the Copper Country, like much of the northern Midwest, is sufficient that groundwater exists almost everywhere,” adds Gierke. “The challenge in terrains like the Keweenaw, where bedrock is often near the surface, is not whether groundwater exists at depth, but rather where the geology is sufficiently porous and/or fractured to allow water wells to produce at rates sufficient for communities.”

This photo from Prof. Seagren’s lab shows the release of a blue dye, simulating the release of an amendment from a well.

For Prof. Seagrean, at Michigan Tech his major research focus is the bioremediation of contaminated groundwater, especially contaminants like petroleum products and chlorinated solvents. He studies the release of remedial amendments, such as oxygen, added to stimulate the biodegradation of contaminants.

“An amendment is added to a well, and then just released into the natural flow of groundwater without pumping,” he explains. Much of this work involves the use of lab-scale model aquifers. Seagren believes it can be very effective, affordable, and safe way to solve the problem. According to the USGS, more than one in five (22 percent) groundwater samples contain at least one contaminant at a concentration of potential concern for human health.

Seagren also develops and tests low-impact, bio-geoengineering practices to stabilize mine tailings and mitigate toxic dust emissions. “These approaches mimic and maximize the benefits of natural processes, with less impact on the environment than conventional technologies,” he says. They may also be less expensive.” 

Seagren and his research team zeroed in on a natural process, microbially-induced calcium carbonate precipitation —an ubiquitous process that plays an important cementation role in natural systems, including soils, sediments, and minerals.

Prof. Gierke, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

“Here I am on Bering Glacier in 2007, unfurling a Michigan Tech flag (that’s one of the University’s former logos).” Dr. Gierke is standing next to Dr. Josh Richardson (left), now a Geophysicist at Chevron. Josh earned all his degrees at Michigan Tech: a BS in Geophysics ’07, an MS in Glacier Seismology and Geophysics ’10, and a PhD in Volcano and Glacier Seismology, Geophysics ’13

I began studying engineering at Lake Superior State College (then, now University) in the fall of 1980, in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. In those days their engineering program was called: General Engineering Transfer, which was structured well to transfer from the old “Soo Tech” to “Houghton Tech,” terms that some old timers still used back then, nostalgically. I transferred to Michigan Tech for the fall of 1982 to study civil engineering with an emphasis in environmental engineering, which was aligned with my love of water (having grown up on the St. Mary’s River).

Despite my love of lakes, streams, and rivers, my technical interests evolved into an understanding of how groundwater moves in geological formations. I used my environmental engineering background to develop treatment systems to clean up polluted soils and aquifers. That became my area of research for the graduate degrees that followed, and the basis for my faculty position and career at Michigan Tech, in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (those sciences are Geology and Geophysics). My area of specialty now is Hydrogeology.

Hometown?

I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where I fished weekly, sometimes daily, on the St. Mary’s River. Sault Ste. Marie is bordered by the St. Mary’s River on the north and east. In the spring, summer and fall, I fished from shore or a canoe or small boat. In the winter, I speared fish from a shack just a few minutes from my home or traveled to fish through the ice in some of the bays. I was a fervent bird hunter (grouse and woodcock) in the lowlands of the Eastern UP, waterfowl in the abundant wetlands, and bear and deer (unsuccessfully until later in life). 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I live on a blueberry farm about 20 minutes from campus in Chassell, Michigan. It’s open to the public in August for U-Pick. For the farm, I used my technical expertise to design, install, and operate a drip irrigation system that draws water from the underlying Jacobsville Sandstone aquifer. 

How do you know your co-host? 

Eric Seagren and I have been disciplinary colleagues for over 2 decades. Our expertise overlaps in terms of how pollutants move through groundwater. 

“Me cooking while camping with my family on Isle Royale two summers ago,” says Prof. Seagren.

Prof. Seagren, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I was attracted to environmental engineering because of my interest in protecting human and environmental health. The use of a broad range of sciences within environmental engineering also appealed to me. Growing up we had a family friend who was a civil engineer, and my Dad had a cousin who was an electrical engineer. My Dad himself had wanted to be an engineer, but he had gone to a one-room country school and a small-town high school, and when he got to college they told him he did not have an adequate background in math and science to pursue engineering, something we would never tell a student today! 

“This microphoto is from my work on the biomodification of the engineering properties of soil. It shows a calcium carbonate crust formed via bacterial activities.” Prof. Seagren will explain more of what can be seen here during Husky Bites.

Anyway, that might have influenced me some, but more importantly was my interest in protecting the environment. I had always spent a lot of time outdoors, either at my grandparents’ farm, or hunting and fishing with my Dad and friends and camping in Scouts. I took an environmental studies class in high school and that’s where I first learned about environmental engineering.

Hometown, family?

 I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and earned my undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Currently I live in Hancock, with my family, which includes my wife Jennifer Becker, who is also a faculty member at Michigan Tech, and my two teenage children, Ingrid and Birk. We have a cat named Rudy.

Any mentors in your life who made a difference?

Back when I was in college, most people got an undergraduate degree in civil engineering and then pursued a graduate degree in environmental engineering, and that is the path I took. While I was doing my undergraduate work at the University of Nebraska there was a young professor named Dr. Mohamed Dahab who really influenced me and took an interest in me and my career path to this day. He was a great mentor and example for me, and that’s contributed to how I try to mentor students, too.

Dr. Seagren’s ’53 Chevy.

Any hobbies? 

In my spare time I like to garden, do home repairs, hike, fish, boat, run, and Nordic ski. I’m also fixing up a ‘53 Chevy pick-up from my grandpa’s farm. We used to use the truck to haul grain from the farm to the elevator in town. It’s a nice shade of blue. Next summer we hope to fill the back with blueberries from John’s farm and enter it into a local parade.

Read more:

How the Rocks Connect Us

Keweenaw Geoheritage: Glaciers

Field Trip to Alaska (Bering Glacier)

Snehamoy Chatterjee Named Witte Family Endowed Faculty Fellow in Mining Engineering

Associate Professor Snehamoy Chatterjee, Witte Family Endowed Faculty Fellow in Mining Engineering

Associate Professor Snehamoy Chatterjee has been named the Witte Family Endowed Faculty Fellow in Mining Engineering

“Dr. Chatterjee has been instrumental in developing Michigan Tech’s new interdisciplinary Mining Engineering program,” said Aleksey Smirnov, Chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (GMES). “He teaches courses in the program, and very skillfully incorporates research into his instruction.”

Chatterjee’s position as Fellow is made possible through the generous support provided by Nancy Witte and her family, in memory of her late husband Richard C. Witte, who received a BS in Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now Michigan Tech) in 1950. After graduating from Michigan Tech, Witte went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law in 1956, then worked for Proctor and Gamble as a patent attorney. Witte was admitted to the bars of Indiana and Ohio, US Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, and the US Supreme Court, and filed more than 1400 patents before he retired in 1992 as vice president and chief patent counsel for Proctor and Gamble Worldwide. 

“The future of the mining industry is transforming in the digital age,” says Chatterjee. “Our students need to understand the traditional mining engineering techniques that have dominated the industry for generations, but also be technically savvy enough to see how the newest digital innovations might fit into a better decision making or engineering design process. I am grateful to Nancy Witte and the Witte family for this endowment and the tremendous support it provides toward this important endeavor.”

Decision-making under uncertainty, a research focus for Chatterjee, is one example, says Smirnov. “Students in one of Dr. Chatterjee’s courses, called Resource and Reserve Estimation, first learn how to quantify uncertainty based on spatial and temporal data. In his next course, Mine Planning and Design, they learn how to integrate that uncertainty into their mine plan using stochastic optimization methods.” 

“Dr. Chatterjee’s outstanding achievements and contributions to our newly reinstated mining engineering program make him an ideal candidate for this faculty fellow position.”

Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering

In addition, Chatterjee works with undergraduate student researchers in his lab, and encourages them to present their findings at national or international conferences. Several have published their studies in peer-reviewed journals, as well.

“While at Michigan Tech working with Dr. Chatterjee, Alex Miltenberger ’17, a geophysics major, presented his SURF research work at Geostat, an international conference in geostatistics,” notes Smirnov. Miltenberger is now postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory & Stanford University.

“Another student working with Dr. Chatterjee, Katie Kring, published her SURF research in the International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences,” he adds. Before graduating from Michigan Tech with both a BS and MS in Geological Engineering, Kring interned at Freeport-McMoRan’s Chico Mine. She now works as a Civil Engineer at US Army Corps of Engineers.

Chatterjee also encourages his undergraduate research students to submit proposals for external funding. Current geophysics student Grace Ojala recently received a Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) grant to research mining slope movement using synthetic aperture radar data. 

Chatterjee has been recognized nationally and internationally through several professional and editorial awards, and invited presentations and seminar talks. Recently, Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed him to the Michigan’s Future Mining Committee. Chatterjee was chosen to represent current or former research faculty members who hold a master’s or doctorate degree in mining or geology at a university in Michigan.

Richard Witte, throughout his career and even after his retirement, served on numerous federal, state and local commissions, delegations and boards, addressing a variety of international diplomatic and intellectual property policies.

“Dr. Chatterjee’s appointment as Witte Fellow aligns perfectly with the objectives formulated by the Witte family and Michigan Tech,” said Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech. “Our shared goal is to retain and attract high quality faculty who are at the top of their profession, inspire students to think beyond the classroom material, and integrate their research into the classroom.”