Category: Awards

Jacob Maxon Receives Lord Bagri Scholarship

Jake Maxon pictured at Adventure Mine

Jake Maxon, a fourth-year mining engineering student at the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, has received the prestigious Lord Bagri Scholarship from The Copper Club for the 2022-23 academic year. This $15,000 scholarship was endowed in honor of Lord Bagri, who was the longest-serving chairman in the history of the London Metal Exchange, and unfortunately passed away in 2017. Through this program, the copper industry identifies and recognizes exceptional individuals who have excelled in the study of mining and metallurgy.

The Copper Club, Inc, formed in 1944, is the leading organization for networking, educational grants, and events for those who support the copper industry. The Copper Club Scholarship Fund provides scholarships to students majoring in geoscience or other fields related to producing copper or copper products. A $15,000 award goes to one student who shows exceptional merit demonstrated by excellent grades, with a necessity for financial aid.

Michigan Tech wins 2022 AIPG Student Chapter of the Year Award

Large group of students wearing hard hats outside of a mine entrance.
MTU AIPG Student Chapter/Geology Club Group at Quincy Mine Adit in Hancock. See the Annual Report for 2021-2022.

The 2022 American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) Student Chapter of the Year Award goes to Michigan Technological University. This is the third year running for Michigan Tech!

Each year, AIPG recognizes the most outstanding student chapter for its activities, achievements, and contributions to the Institute. Nationwide there are 55 student chapters at AIPG. Some of the recent activities included a resume roast, Quincy Mine Tour, grad school presentation, poster meeting, Meet a Professional, Eben Ice Caves Trip, and group carpool to Central Michigan University for ASBOG Examination.

The 2021/2022 AIPG Student Chapter Officers: President – Elana Barth, Vice President – Olivia Salvaggio, Secretary – Nolan Gamet, and Treasurer – Emilie Pray.

The 2022/2023 AIPG Student Chapter Officers: President – Grace Ojala, Vice President – Max Strange, Secretary – Hannah Miller-Young, and Treasurer – Emilie Pray.

The Chapter Sponsor is David Adler, CPG-11377, a Mannik & Smith Group Certified Professional Geologist (BS Geology ‘82). David Adler (who will be inducted into the GMES Academy in October) has been awarded the AIPG Presidential Certificate of Merit for excellent contributions to the AIPG Michigan Section as chairman of the Michigan Section CPG application process.

The Faculty Sponsor is Chad Deering, Associate Professor in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences,

The AIPG Michigan Section President is Mellisa Powers-Taylor and the AIPG Michigan Section Liaison is Cody Stoddard.

Congratulations once again on a job well done. The GMES department is proud of your continued success!

A Note from the Chair

Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Alumni,

Greetings from the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences! I hope that this newsletter finds you well and in good spirits.

The long Keweenaw winter is finally over and so is another fruitful academic year at Michigan Tech. We continue to thrive in the strong pursuit of our research and educational missions. 

Professor Aleksey Smirnov, Chair, Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

With most pandemic-related restrictions lifted, our GMES faculty and students alike enjoyed in-person interaction in both the classroom and the lab, and also resumed their travel to fieldwork, conferences, and other professional activities. 

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we were able to fund student participation in professional meetings. One particular highlight: our faculty and students were honored and recognized for their contributions and hard work at the 2022 SME Annual Conference & Expo in Salt Lake City. 

Our central priority is to enrich the learning experiences of our students and ensure their future success. At the end of April we wholeheartedly congratulated our Spring 2022 graduates, wishing them godspeed in their future endeavors. We also celebrated the well-deserved promotions of Dr. Radwin Askari to Associate Professor of Geophysics with tenure, and of Dr. Nathan Manser to Professor of Practice in Mining Engineering. Dr. Manser also received the Robert W. Piekarz award from the Industrial Minerals and Aggregates Division of SME.

Our faculty, staff, and students have been actively engaged in a wide range of research and engineering problems, working around the globe from Central America to India. Funding for this research comes from various agencies including NSF, NASA, USGS, NIOSH, and others. I am especially proud to report the success of our students who won no less than six Michigan Space Grant Consortium awards this year!

Many of these achievements are made possible through your ongoing encouragement and support. Thank you! We strive to provide the best opportunities for our students. As we work toward our goals, with your continued support, I am certain we will get where we want to be. 

While this letter is mainly intended to share our news with you, I hope that you will in turn share your own news and achievements with our Department, so that we can celebrate the impact each of us has on the wider world.

And, if your travels bring you to Houghton, please stop by–we are always happy to see you.

Best wishes,

Aleksey Smirnov
Professor and Chair
Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Pictured here: a portion of the Keweenaw Boulder Garden on campus at Michigan Tech, a dream fulfilled for geoscientist and GMES Professor Emeritus Bill Rose.

2021-2022 GMES Department Faculty Promotions

Congratulations to the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (GMES) faculty members promoted in the 2021-22 academic year!

Dr. Radwin Askari, Associate Professor with Tenure

Dr. Roohollah (Radwin) Askari was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with Tenure. Dr. Askari is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in the field of geophysics. At Michigan Tech, he has developed a diverse research program in the areas of fracture dynamics and its induced seismicity, characterization of heat and fluid transport in porous media, and near-surface geophysics. The Rock Physics Laboratory, led by Dr. Askari, hosts a unique combination of state-of-the-art equipment that allows him and his students to conduct fundamental research on fluid transports in geological settings and their geophysical manifestations. Dr. Askari has established an extensive collaboration network that includes Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, University of Southern California, University of Calgary, and the China University of Petroleum. He has advised many graduate students and currently supervises two undergraduate researchers. Dr. Askari has published many peer-reviewed articles in highly ranked peer-reviewed journals.

Pictured left to right: Breeanne Heusdens, Fletcher McGuire, Olivia Salvaggio, Sananda Ray, Nontawat Srisapan, Radwin Askari

Dr. Nathan Manser, Professor of Practice

Dr. Nathan Manser was promoted to the rank of Professor of Practice. Dr. Manser has played a keystone role in the success and sustainability of our newly reinstated program in mining engineering. He has extensive experience in the mining industry that he shares with our students majoring in mining and geological engineering. In addition to excellent teaching, his roles have also included student recruitment, academic advising, career coaching, ABET accreditation, and alumni relations, among other contributions. Dr. Manser is a dedicated and effective instructor and adviser as well as an impactful and trusted mentor. He serves as the academic advisor for Mining Engineering and the Chair of the Mining Engineering Curriculum Committee as well as faculty advisor for several student organizations, including the GMES Chapter of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME). Earlier this year, Dr. Manser received the Robert W. Piekarz award for his exceptional service to the Industrial Minerals and Aggregates Division of the annual Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration.

GMES Mining Engineering Program Successful at the Annual SME Conference & Expo

GMES Mining Engineering Program Successful at the Annual SME Conference & Expo

After a two-year pandemic hiatus for in-person meetings, the mining engineering faculty and students came back stronger than ever to the 2022 Annual Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Conference & Expo. Held in Salt Lake City, from February 27, through March 2, 2022, GMES faculty and students had a great time presenting their research, receiving awards, and connecting with alumni.

We thank the Richard Saccany Mining Program Fund, the Robert Hendricks Mining Endowment Fund, and all our friends who contributed to the Mining and Material Processing Engineering Fund. These financial contributions made it possible to support the travel for a large group of students to obtain first-hand exposure to the most recent advances in mining engineering research and practice, network with industry professionals, and explore future career paths.

Research Presentations


Associate Professor and a Witte Family Faculty Fellow, Snehamoy Chatterjee, delivered two oral presentations:

  • Development of Machine Learning Models for Identifying Mining Injury Risk Factors Using Leading Indicators (co-authored by Pooja M, Aref Majdara, Hugh Miller, and Rennie Kaunda
  • PixelMPS: A Python Toolbox for Multiple-Point Geostatistics (co-authored by Karthik Menon, Poorva Kadroli, and Adel Asadi)

Dr. Chatterjee’s MS student, David Porter, delivered an oral presentation:

  • Utilization of Geostatistical Methods to Estimate Localized Cemented Rock Fill Strength in Underground Mass Placements

Dr. Chatterjee’s MS student, Dharmasai Eshwar Reddy Sirigiri, presented a poster:

  • An Entropy-based Risk Index (ERI) of Mining Health and Safety using Unsupervised Machine Learning Algorithms

The GMES support group at Dharmasai’s poster is pictured from left to right: David Porter, Emily Street, Poorva Kadrolli, Dharmasai Eshar Reddy Sirigiri, Cade Johnson, Ian Gannon, Jake Maxon, and Dr. Nathan Manser.


Recognitions


Dr. Nathan Manser, a Professor of Practice in mining engineering, and Emily Street, a senior in mining engineering, were recognized for their achievements.

Dr. Nathan Manser received the Robert W. Piekarz award that recognizes exceptional service to the Industrial Minerals and Aggregates Division for work related to managing technical session content for the annual conference.

Emily Street received two academic awards: the SMEF/MMSA Presidential Scholarship, which recognizes excellent academic performance in a minerals engineering-related field. The Gerald V. Henderson Memorial Scholarship supports students who express a special interest in career paths that align with industrial minerals and aggregates industries. Emily was also invited to present a talk related to her internship experience with Lafarge-Holcim during the Industrial Minerals and Aggregates Division luncheon.

Alumni Connections


As part of the week-long activities at SME, the GMES department hosted an alumni engagement event at Gracie’s Gastropub on Sunday night. About 45 people attended and participated in the two-hour social event. Alumni, hailing from several MTU departments and coming from classes in the mid-1980s through our most recent graduates, were in attendance and truly demonstrated the vast network, especially in the geoscience and minerals industries. Also in attendance were a few members of the Industrial Advisory Board for Mining Engineering at MTU who came to rekindle some meaningful connections with students and alumni alike. Overall, everyone had a great time, and plans for the event next February in Denver are already underway!

Fun


The MTU Student Chapter of SME participated in the Komatsu Student Night at the conference, a 1920’s themed event with over 300 attendees from schools worldwide. The highlight of the evening was a quiz-bowl competition between the schools based on materials handling calculations, where students from MTU placed second in the event.

Pictured left to right: Dharmasai Eshwar Reddy Sirigiri, Cade Johnson, Jake Maxon, Ian Gannon, Poorva Kadrolli, Matthew Portfleet, Nathan Johnson, Emily Street.


Other SME Activities


The MTU Director of Mine Safety, Matt Portfleet, joined by mine safety trainers Marisa Roerig and Ron Gradowski, also attended the conference. Marisa and Matt both enrolled in and took the Certified Mine Safety Professional (CMSP) exam after partaking in a 3-day CMSP review course. They both passed!

Emily Street pictured with Immersive Virtual Reality

The Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Recognizes Nathan Manser and Emily Street

The Department of GMES congratulates Dr. Nathan Manser, a Professor of Practice in mining engineering, and Emily Street, a senior in mining engineering, who were recently recognized during the annual Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration conference held in Salt Lake City at the end of February 2022.

Dr. Manser received the Robert W. Piekarz award that recognizes exceptional service to the Industrial Minerals and Aggregates Division for work related to managing technical session content for the annual SME conference.

Dr. Manser receives the Robert W. Piekarz award.

Emily Street received two academic awards, the SME Foundation/Mining & Metallurgical Society of America SMEF/MMSA Presidential Scholarship which recognizes excellent academic performance in a minerals engineering related field, and the Gerald V. Henderson Memorial Scholarship which supports students who express a special interest in career paths that align within the industrial minerals and aggregates industries. Emily was also invited to present a talk related to her internship experience with Lafarge-Holcim during the Industrial Minerals and Aggregates Division luncheon.

Emily Street received her SMEF/MMSA Presidential Scholarship Award from Steve Holmes, the President of the SME Foundation (SMEF).

Six GMES Students Receive Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) Awards

The Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences applauds these GMES students and their advisors for receiving the  2022 MSGC Awards:


Brendan Harville, applied geophysics junior advised by Dr. Greg Waite
Title: Seismic Amplitude based Lahar Tracking for Real-Time Hazard Assessment
Abstract: Lahars are strong debris flows or mudflows caused by volcanic activity and also non-volcanic activity in the form of heavy rainfall. They can cause extensive damage to the surrounding environment as well as local communities and infrastructure. The goal of this project is to create a fully automated lahar tracking tool for hazard risk mitigation. Lahars transmit a long-lasting, high frequency tremor signal that is observable in waveform data from seismic stations (Kumagai et al. 2009). This research project plans to use an established network of seismic stations on the slopes of Volcán de Fuego, the resulting tremor signals, and the modified technique presented by Kumagai et al. (2009) to track the origins of individual lahars in real-time.

Espree Essig, geology Ph.D. student advised by Dr. Chad Deering
Title: Analyzing the effects of heavy metals on vegetation hyperspectral reflectance properties in the Mid-Continent Rift, USA
Abstract: In a society focused on global sustainability, metals including copper, nickel and cobalt have become fundamental. Despite increasing demand, deposit discoveries have plummeted owing largely to dwindling ‘low-hanging fruit’ that are near-surface. With this challenge, exploration for buried and vegetation-covered mineralization has become more relevant. However, short of direct geological observations, a proxy correlating mineralization with surficial patterns is necessary. The aim of this study is to analyze the effects of heavy metal enrichment on the hyperspectral reflectance properties of vegetation near polymetallic (Cu- Ni-Co- PGE) mineralization in the Duluth Complex, northeastern Minnesota. This natural laboratory is regionally representative of the mineralization perspective across the Lake Superior region, where vegetation, wetlands and glacial till have impacted exploration efforts and success. This pilot-study investigation will resolve the feasibility of vegetation-based hyperspectral methods to detect poorly exposed deposits in the Lake Superior region.

Caleb Kaminski, geophysics MS student advised by Dr. Aleksey Smirnov
Title: Investigation of Ground-Penetrating Radar Interactions with Basaltic Substrate for Future Lunar Missions
Abstract: Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a suitable tool for interplanetary rover exploration on the Moon. Anticipated future lunar missions sponsored by governmental and private organizations alike are making headway toward a breakthrough in planetary science. Understanding the geological and geophysical properties of the lunar regolith is paramount for the beginnings of permanent structures on the lunar surface. The Moon’s surface is primarily composed of basalt, a common[AS1] volcanic rock found here on Earth. My proposed research will focus on the effect of basaltic grain size on dielectric permittivity [AS2] and electromagnetic (EM) signal velocity, using 500 MHz and 1000 MHz GPR antennas. My hypothesis is that changes in the grain size of basalt from silt to small boulders will affect the EM properties of the material. Gaining a further understanding of the interactions between basalt and EM waves will benefit future engineering and mining efforts that involve the lunar regolith.

Katherine Langfield, geology MS student advised by Dr. James DeGraff
Title: Structural Characteristics of the Keweenaw and Hancock Faults in the Midcontinent Rift System and Possible Relationship to the Grenville Mountain Belt
Abstract: Since the mapping of the Keweenaw Fault in the 1950s, significant advances in mapping technology and knowledge about fault systems have been made. This project will remap the hanging wall and footwall of the fault using advanced geospatial technology to reexamine the kinematics of the Keweenaw Fault in the Laurium and Hancock Quadrangles, Michigan.

Paola Rivera Gonzalez, geology Ph.D. student advised by Dr. Kari Henquinet
Title: Impacts of La Canícula (“Dog Days of Summer”) on agriculture and food security in Salvadoran communities in the Central American Dry Corridor
Abstract: A rising population, demand for natural resources, and a changing climate are exacerbating vulnerabilities globally and elevating the priority to mitigate risks. The impacts of these changes on agriculture in rural communities jeopardize regional food security and water accessibility. In the Central American Dry Corridor, La Canícula or the “Dog Days of Summer”—a short-duration dry period during a six-month-long rainy season—is expected to lengthen and worsen in the next decades (Anderson et al., 2019), bringing more frequent drought to countries like El Salvador. This study examines the changing canícula and its effects on rural, eastern El Salvador using ethnographic methods and physical measurements—satellite-based data of precipitation, soil moisture, and temperature—to correlate geophysical changes to farmers’ experiences, adaptation practices, and decision-making. Integrating local knowledge and hydrometeorological conditions highlights the most affected areas in agricultural communities, documents existing adaptive strategies, and may inform future adaptive planning.

Emily Gochis, geology Ph.D. ‘22, advised by Dr. John S. Gierke
Submitted through the Copper Country Intermediate School District
Title: Lift and Launch the Western U.P.: SOLID Start (Science, Oral Language, and Literacy Development from the Start of School) for First and Second Grades
Abstract: Early elementary students in the Western Upper Peninsula (WUP) have limited access to STEAM learning experiences. The WUP comprises largely remote, rural communities and is home to two Sovereign Tribal entities. WUP communities have historically lacked equitable educational resources because of isolation and poverty. Lift and Launch the Western U.P will increase student engagement in STEAM by coordinating a Pre-college Education program that includes multi-district adoption of the NGSS-aligned curriculum, SOLID Start (Science, Oral Language, and Literacy Development from the Start of School). Additionally, an educational Teacher Training program will integrate place-based and career development activities into the curriculum highlighting unique attributes of the WUP. The new professional learning program would be ongoing, including summer field experiences and school year sessions, designed to increase educators’ pedagogical content knowledge. The innovative and collaborative approach would embed regionally significant examples and community partnerships into the SOLID Start curriculum.

GMES Student Receives Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award

Logan Fike, pictured, joined MTU in the Fall of 2020.

Logan Fike is recognized as an outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant for his work with GE2300, Mineral Science, in Fall 2021. Logan is co-advised by Dr. Chad Deering and Dr. Snehamoy Chatterjee. Seeking a Master’s in geology, Logan shares that the best thing about being a Husky is all of the great people he’s had the chance to get to know and work with.

“Working as a Teaching Assistant lets me share my own passion for geoscience while encouraging others to explore all the ways they can pursue their own professional goals.” – Logan Fike 

Jake Maxon Receives 2022 Department Scholar Award

Jake Maxon pictured at Adventure Mine

Congratulations to Jake Maxon (BS Mining Engineering), who received a 2022 GMES Department Scholar Award to recognize his scholarly achievements! This award, presented to a student entering their senior year, recognizes one who best represents student scholarship in the department by participating in research or scholarly activities, demonstrating a high level of intellectual curiosity and creativity, and showing excellent communication skills. Jacob participates in research led by Associate Professor Dr. Snehamoy Chatterjee on fire size and fire location optimization in an underground mine using machine learning. Jacob is also involved in multiple mining-related activities within the campus and the community, including community-based research to map historical documents, including mining documents.

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship Awarded to Emmeline Wolowiec

Emmeline Wolowiec Emmeline, pictured with Turrialba Volcano in Costa Rica, thinks that her travel to Costa Rica and Switzerland for research has been a highlight of her time at Michigan Tech.

Emmeline Wolowiec, MS geology student, is recognized for her academic accomplishments, receiving the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences Department. A certificate of recognition for this award will be presented to Emmeline at the Graduate Research Colloquium Banquet held this spring. 

Emmeline, advised by  Dr. Chad Deering, is working to look at the generation of high silica magmas in Costa Rica. They’re looking at the connection between plutonic and volcanic rocks to see what that can tell about where in the crust the volcanic rocks formed in relation to the plutonic rocks and what the possible magma chamber structure looked like. Hopefully, this will give insight into how the volcanic rocks formed, whether through fractional crystallization, magma mixing, or other processes.