Author: Brittany Buschell

Jeremy Shannon GMES Selected for Deans’ Teaching Showcase

The College of Engineering has selected Jeremy Shannon, principal lecturer in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (GMES), for this week’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase. Dean Janet Callahan selected him for teaching excellence in a field course.

Shannon joined GMES as a lecturer in 2007. He teaches a variety of courses throughout the year including Understanding the Earth (GE2000), a large course that is taken by many non-major students. Department Chair Aleksey Smirnov (GMES) says “Dr. Shannon provides a vital contribution to GMES undergraduate instruction and advising. He is an outstanding instructor and an impactful and trusted mentor.”

One of Shannon’s favorite courses is Field Geophysics (GE3900), a summer, a five-credit course required for Geological Engineering, Geology, and Applied Geophysics majors. Most geoscience programs only require a field geology course, so this class provides an extremely unique, hands-on experience for GMES students. The five-week-long class is set up like a consulting job with weekly projects. Each project uses a different geophysical technique, or a combination thereof, with specified goals. As one student put it, “Jeremy had an innate ability to connect with us all, especially on field trips. He utilized more field visits than any other professor I had at Tech. This gave me real-life scenarios and examples to help cement concepts I had learned in the classroom.”

A typical week involves fieldwork, the reduction, interpretation and modeling of data, and a final written report or oral presentation. Shannon worked for a few years in environmental consulting and likes that he can share with students his own experiences that mimic the format of this class, especially the report writing. This class offers one of the best opportunities in the GMES curriculum for practice in scientific writing, an invaluable skill that will translate directly for students that either choose employment or decide on graduate school. A recent alumnus observed that Shannon made sure the students also “focused on the hard work that occurred back in the classroom completing the reports to improve students’ report writing skills. Jeremy had very high standards for the reports. His resolve in consistent writing and proper formatting for all reports significantly influenced my use of proper documentation, even today.”

Shannon is an MTU alumnus and took the Field Geophysics class as an undergraduate in the summer of 1992. He was honored to take over the class in 2007 from his former professor and mentor Dr. Jimmy Diehl, who taught it for 25 years. He has continued and built upon this legacy to deliver a unique field experience to GMES students. In particular, Shannon has proactively worked to upgrade the geophysical equipment which is typically expensive. Over the last several years, with the help of departmental, alumni, and C2E2 funding, new seismic refraction and ground-penetrating radar systems were purchased. Other equipment includes magnetometers, electrical resistivity meters, electromagnetic instruments, and one precious gravity meter. And he makes using the equipment fun. Another student said, “Jeremy helps students to see the joy in fieldwork. He makes it exciting to see seismic waves be recorded by a geophone, or he encourages us to be patient in aligning the gravimeter.”

The class projects typically target objects or structures within tens of meters below the surface. The projects include determining depth to bedrock and water table, mapping contacts between different rock types, or locating buried metallic and non-metallic objects on the site of a Calumet & Hecla stamp mill in Lake Linden. About five years ago, Shannon collaborated with the Michigan DNR and had the class perform geophysical surveys to delineate a buried bedrock valley near McLain State Park. There is no definite surface expression of the valley as it is filled with glacial till, but a gravity survey showed that the ~3 km wide and 200 meters deep valley trends to the north through a portion of the park. The absence of bedrock near the surface where the valley is located is precisely the location where significant beach erosion is taking place. These results became part of the decision-making process, which resulted in the recent restructuring of the park layout.

Dean Callahan summarizes: “Shannon’s dedication to continually improve the field course provides a unique learning environment for our students in which they develop skills that they will use throughout their careers. He is very deserving of this recognition.”

Shannon will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and is also a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series (to be determined this summer), recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

Written by Aleksey Smirnov, Chair of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Jordan Ewing Wins Big at the 2020 3MT Competition

Jordan Ewing, Ph.D. student in GMES, won first place with his presentation “Terrain Traversing: X Marks the Spot”. Ewing also won the People’s Choice Award for his presentation. He will go on to represent Michigan Tech at the regional competition.

The runner up is Ninad Mohale, Ph.D. student in the Materials Science & Engineering department, with his presentation “Development of a Physically-Based Creep Model Incorporating ETA Phase Evolution for Nickel-Base Superalloys”.

The other finalists were: Masoud Ahmadi and Sadaf Batool, Ph.D. students in Mechanical Engineering & Engineering Mechanics; Parya Siahcheshm, Ph.D. student in Chemistry; Rachel Hetherington, Ph.D. student in GMES; Shardul Tiwari, Ph.D. student in Social Sciences, and Emily Lindback, MS student from the College of Forest Resources & Environmental Science.


Bornhorst Recognized by Michigan Museums Association

Ted-BornhorstProfessor Emeritus Ted Bornhorst (GMES), has been selected by the Michigan Museum Association (MMA) for one of its 2020 MMA Member Awards in the “Colleague Champions” category.

Bornhorst will be recognized at a virtual celebration hosted by MMA on Nov. 19, in recognition of his work that allowed the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum to safely reopen to the public on July 1, and to plan a smooth transition of leadership of the museum upon his retirement as executive director and interim curator.

A large piece of sheet copper from the White Pine mine at the entrance of the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum. Photo credit: wikimedia.org

NASA Awards Funding to Simon Carn

Simon Carn is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $325,000 research and development grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The project is entitled, “Tracking Volcanic Gases from Magma Reservoir to the Atmosphere: Identifying Precursors, and Optimizing Models and Satellite Observations for Future Major Eruptions.”

This is a potential three-year project.


The 2020 AIPG Student Chapter of the Year Award goes to Michigan Tech

The American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) Student Chapter at Michigan Technological University has been selected as the 2020 AIPG Student Chapter of the Year.

Each year, AIPG recognizes the most outstanding student chapter for their activities, achievements, and contributions to the Institute. The award letter states, “the Student Chapter at Michigan Tech stood out among the AIPG Student Chapters in the nation this past year, and are highly deserving of this distinction and honor.”

The current chapter officers are:

Elana Barth, President (Geology)
Breeanne Huesdens, Vice President (Geological Engineering)
Emilie Pray, Treasurer (Geology)
Makala O’Donnell, Secretary (Geological Engineering)
The president and vice-president during the year of the award were Dustin Helmer (Geological Engineering) and Sienna Meekhof (Geology).

The charter, which has more than 50 members is advised by Chad Deering (GMES) and Michigan Tech Alumnus David Adler ’82 BS geology, a Mannik Smith Group Certified Professional Geologist.

2020

Emily Gochis, Ph.D. Candidate, Appointed As New MiSTEM Director

Emily Gochis, Ph.D. candidate in GMES has been appointed as the director of the MiSTEM network in Region 16 of Michigan, which covers Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon, Baraga, and Gogebic counties.emilypc

The new regional network, which replaces the Western U.P. Math and Science Center, has been established to form partnerships and strategies that promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and career pathways. These careers are often difficult to experience before a student reaches college when it becomes expensive to explore different career options. Presenting K-12 students with opportunities to experience hands-on STEM applications lets them consider these careers for themselves before making a college choice.

“I’m going out and communicating with anybody and everybody that does anything with science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the region, just trying to connect with all of them in order to create these new opportunities,” Gochis said.

Emily’s PhD advisor, John Gierke, had this to say about the new role that Emily will have in our region’s schools: “While we are certainly proud of Emily’s accomplishments that led to this appointment, we are very happy for the schools of the Western Upper Peninsula and the new opportunities that Emily will facilitate.” Gierke has worked with Emily since she completed her service as a Peace Corps Volunteer and notes that, “Her skills, creativity, and enthusiasm are vast. I am always amazed at her experience in teaching, research and service and how she puts those experiences together in building new educational programs and activities. We are certainly lucky that she is in this new role.”

Read more at the Daily Mining Gazette

 

Pictured: Emily Gochis as a PCV in El Salvador, contributing to our hazards research as car-battery sherpa. The batteries are used to power monitoring equipment on the volcanoes.

 


Nominee for 2018 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award: Lauren Schaefer

LaureLauren-Schaefer-2018n N. Schaefer received both an MSc in Geology (International Geological Masters in Volcanology and Geotechniques, 2012) and a PhD in Geological Engineering as a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow (2016) at Michigan Tech under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Oommen. Her dissertation investigated the potential for large-scale debris avalanches at Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala to optimize future monitoring and mitigation efforts. A combination of experimental rock mechanics, field investigations, remote sensing, and numerical modeling not only detected, but revealed the nature and mechanics of the largest landslide surge witnessed in a single event at a volcano. Her dissertation provided rare insight into precursory deformation prior to a potential future catastrophic collapse at an active volcano. Such an event was witnessed at Mount St. Helens in 1980, and is known to have occurred at over 400 volcanoes worldwide.

Currently, Lauren is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she continues to research landslide and volcanic hazards.


NASA Project Funding For Simon Carn

Simon Carn
Simon Carn

Simon Carn (GMES/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $27,883 research and development grant from the University of Maryland-The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The project is titled “Extending NASA’s EOS SO2 and NO2 Data Records from Auro/OMI to Suomi NPP/OMPS.”

This is the first year of a potential three-year project totaling $96,614.

By Sponsored Programs


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Chad Deering and Bob Barron

by Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and LearningPrint

This week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase selection, made by Dean Wayne Pennington of the College of Engineering, is a unique teaching partnership. Assistant Professor Chad Deering and Lab Manager Bob Barron were selected for “deftly leading our students for the past three summers” through the field course in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

GMES Chair John Gierke explains the unique demands and challenges of teaching the field geology course. “While most of us hold a fondness to participate in fieldwork, the glamour wears off when conditions get tough or if the work turns out tedious. Field geology starts a few days after Spring Semester. In addition to the rapidly changing and variable weather, UP fieldwork in May and June is accompanied by hordes of mosquitoes and black flies. The glamour evaporates by the second day. Moreover, field geology is fraught with uncertainty and figuring out the geological setting is tedious. Frustrations with the weather, bugs, and unknown are pervasive. It takes special people to lead students through the five week, all-day, every-day course.”
In addition, Michigan Tech’s field course has non-traditional timing which creates unique learning opportunities, but might make the teaching even more demanding. Pennington explains, “In most institutions, the ‘field course’ in geology is the final course, often following all other coursework. At Michigan Tech, it is usually taken after the second year. This enables students to have a better understanding of the basis for nearly all their subsequent courses … but only if the field course is taught in a way that encourages self-discovery and insight. For many years, Bob and Chad have taken the field course to new levels of integration with the concepts students are exposed to in their courses, helping the students to better master the concepts as well as the practices involved in the various disciplines that are based on these experiences. This approach to field experience is one of the things that makes Michigan Tech unique, and our students more successful upon graduation.”
Deering and Barron’s co-nomination for the Dean’s Showcase is based not on one particular innovation but their collective skills for success in developing students’ field skills in geology. Their complementary styles and knowledge have been an ideal pairing for leading the course, and student evaluations of instruction confirm their effectiveness. They approach each new site with a sequence that includes background literature, field observations, measurements and sampling, then further study in the microscopy lab.
They find ways to reinforce the mineralogy, petrology and structural geology skills developed in prerequisite courses, and insist on frequent individual and small-group interactions in the field to help the students persist, guiding them to an appropriate explanation for each site.
Intermingled through the learning experience are barbecues, brief periods of shooting the breeze in picturesque locales and other recreational activities. The fieldwork activities culminate with students creating geological maps and reports describing their findings. At this point in their studies, students span a spectrum of abilities for scientific writing and creating maps, which require artistic skills along with technical competence.
Gierke articulates the unique teaching challenges of the field course, saying “Achieving a balance of being critical of quality and yet maintaining morale is a knack that I have never mastered—I, unfortunately, excel at the being-critical part. Yet Bob and Chad have somehow figured out how to take students who are exhausted, sunburned and fly bitten and keep them sufficiently motivated to produce maps that could be framed (for some) and develop writing skills that help them through the rest of their curriculum.”
Deering and Barron will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and the team is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.