Category: News

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!

Q&A with Xin Xi: Uncovering Global Dust-Climate Connections

Dr. Xin Xi: “Surface weather observations are worth a refreshed look and can be used for improving our dust-climate modeling capability.”

GMES Assistant Professor Xin Xi’s new open-source dataset, duISD, is featured in Michigan Tech’s Unscripted Research blog. Here, he tells us more about it.

Q: How did you get started studying dust and desertification? 

XX: I grew up in humid southern China and had no experiences with dust storms when I was young. When I started college in Beijing, I had personal encounters with the “yellow dust” or Kosa (in Korea and Japan). The sky turned murky yellow every spring, while the whole city was shrouded in a cloud of dust blown from northwestern China. 

When I started graduate school at Georgia Tech, atmospheric aerosols emerged as a central theme in climate research, largely because they are capable of counteracting the warming effect of greenhouse gasses and play a crucial role in the hydrological cycle. Like many others, I became interested in my research due to the positive influence of my Ph.D. advisor, an expert in atmospheric aerosols, particularly mineral dust. 

Q: Why did you decide to revisit the use of horizontal visibility? 

XX: Primarily because of the long timespan of the visibility record from surface weather stations. It is by far the longest instrumental data record of dust, including regions near the dust source where modern-day satellites have difficulties providing reliable observations. 

Long-term, uninterrupted data records are paramount for understanding the variability of dust in response to climate and land use changes. I believe the visibility record has not been used to its full potential, so I took on the effort to develop a homogenized dust-climate record.

Q: Who do you imagine will get the most use from your new dataset? How would a researcher make use of it, and why? 

XX: This new dataset is an initial version of the dust-climate dataset I have been working on. Currently it consists of monthly records of the ambient dust burden at more than 10,000  weather stations worldwide. It is presented in an easy-to-read format, so anyone familiar with spreadsheets can use it. Dust researchers may find it useful, because they can avoid the tedious preprocessing steps with the raw data and are presented with summary statistics to help them pick the stations for their region of interest.

Dr. Xi used the dataset to characterize dust variability and climate connections around the world. The results of his study are featured in an article in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Q: Do you intend to update with future versions? 

XX: Definitely. I plan to conduct data fusion by combining the surface observations with additional climate and land information from satellites or models.

Q: What are the most unique and noteworthy aspects of this research? 

XX: It is a climate data record development project, and the ultimate goal is to create a quality-controlled dataset for the climate community to study trends, variability and relationships about dust and climate. In addition, I believe the dataset can offer other insightful information about the deficiency of current climate models. 

Q: What do you plan to research next? 

XX: I plan to take on the next step of updating the initial dataset I created, and develop new analytic results, which can convince myself — and, hopefully, the climate community — that surface weather observations are worth a refreshed look and can be used for improving our dust-climate modeling capability.

Xi’s open-source dataset, duISD, can be accessed online

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.

GMES Professors Ranked Among the Top Scientists in 2022

Numerical indices support what every volcanologist knows: Bill Rose ranks among the top scientists in 2022. Research.com compiles and analyzes publication data, including citations and h-index of scholars worldwide. In the Earth science field, over 6,400 scientists were evaluated, and professor emeritus Bill Rose is ranked 97th in the U.S. and 179th globally.

Bill came to Michigan Tech after obtaining his Ph.D. in geology at Dartmouth College. His graduate studies included field studies of active volcanoes across Pacific Latin America. The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 brought his expertise to the forefront in the US, and the geology graduate program grew in terms of number and reputation. His entire career, save for sabbaticals, has been at Michigan Tech, where he has supervised 23 Ph.D. and 57 M.S. students. He has authored and co-authored over 200 publications, which as of this ranking, were cited in more than 16,000 other publications, yielding an h-index of 81.

Bill served as chair of the GMES department from 1990 to 1998. After returning to faculty full-time, he led the development of two international programs that greatly impacted the international reputation of the department. Every volcano observatory in the US has Ph.D. scientists on staff who are former students of Bill. If you walk into a volcano observatory around the world wearing a Michigan Tech emblem, invariably, someone will ask if you “know Bill Rose.”


Professor Simon Carn in the field at Kilauea volcano (Hawaii) in 2018 (with lava in the background).

Also recognized for his contributions to Earth sciences is GMES professor, Simon Carn, who is ranked 849th in the U.S. and 1,929 globally. Simon’s work has 8,021 citations in the areas of volcanology, remote sensing, and volcanic degassing.

https://research.com/scientists-rankings/earth-science

GMES Student Travels with Women in Physics

Geophysics Ph.D. student Gabriel Ahrendt recently participated in an outreach activity at the Gwinn HS organized by Michigan Tech Women in Physics. On April 28th, he and the six other chapter members visited Daniel Kelpela’s junior and senior physics classes to give presentations on each member’s research and their particular concentrations in physics— including geophysics, atmospheric physics, applied physics, materials science, and astrophysics.

Gabriel presented his research on using rock magnetism for mineral exploration, structural mapping, and tectonic studies using paleomagnetism, as well as the timing of the Earth’s early inner core formation.

Gabriel Ahrendt presenting to high school students.

The 70 high schoolers received a basic rundown of the researchers’ projects, including a basic synopsis of the topic, methodology, and raison d’etre. Here, the students received some insight into applied and theoretical physics research such as magnetic geodynamo,  simulations of ice nucleation and cloud seeding, phone battery design and production of synthetic magnets, studies on the effect of airborne particulates on climate, and the search for dark energy. 

During the demonstrations, the students were able to ask more personal questions of the researchers and share their interests after finishing high school. A few showed interest in attending Michigan Tech for geology and geophysics!

After the presentations, the students walked around to 10 different demonstrations of basic physical principles ranging from concepts like static friction — where two students tried to rip apart two phonebooks connected by having their pages intercalated,  to concepts like resonance, where they made water vibrate through the audible properties of a brass bowl. Other demos included showing optical principles of diffraction through laser pointers diffracting off of CDs and DVDs, and conservation of momentum while spinning. Gabriel presented principles of rock magnetism by differentiating magnetic minerals by measuring their susceptibility and physical properties. 

Gabriel’s Ph.D. research is supported by the USA National Science Foundation and the US Geological Survey. He is advised by Dr. Aleksey Smirnov.  

Pictured left to right, back to front:
Tong Gao, Elise Rosky, Oindabi Mukherjee, Sushree Dash, Rita Wilson, James Turkovich, Shreya Joshi, Gabriel Ahrendt, Miraj Kayastha

Congratulations Spring 2022 Graduates

We are pleased to announce our Spring graduates. We are proud of you and wish you the best of luck in your next chapter.


Rachel Heatherington

Rachel Hetherington, Ph.D. Geology, advised by Chad Deering

Currently working as a coordinator in Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, Rachel plans to enjoy no longer being a student and see what opportunities arise along the way. When asked what part of attending MTU has been the most memorable, Rachel says it’s been the people and connections she’s made. Plus, she met her husband here!


Emily Gochis

Emily Gochis, Ph.D. Geology, advised by John Gierke

Emily serves as the Western UP MiSTEM Network Director and the Program Director for the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative- serving the five-county region of the WUP (Houghton, Baraga, Ontonagon). For the time being, she’s continuing with that work. Emily had this to share when asked what’s been the most memorable part of her time here, “GMES is a great family. I appreciate the opportunities to interact with the students and faculty both in and out of school. I also enjoyed how connected the different departments and colleges are on campus.” 


Abi Raetz

Abi Raetz, M.S. Geological Engineering, advised by John Gierke

After graduation, Abi will be working as a design engineer for Sustainable Streams, LLC, designing treatments for rivers, wetlands, and stormwater systems. Being a member of the Mont. Ripley Ski Patrol has been a consistent highlight of her time at MTU.


Jordan Ewing

Jordan Ewing earns a Master’s in Data Science on the way toward his Ph.D. in Computational Science and Engineering under the advising of Dr. Thomas Oommen.

His research work is in machine learning and remote sensing of soils for mobility, autonomy, and terramechanics applications. He has also received the SMART Scholarship and will continue on with his sponsoring facility after completing his PhD in Computational Science and Engineering.


Breeanne Heusdens pictured with a calcite vein in the Keweenaw

Breeanne Heusdens, M.S. Geological Engineering, advised by Radwin Askari

The second degree Breeanne has earned from the GMES department; her master’s comes after a bachelor’s in applied geophysics she earned in the spring of ’21. Breeannee leaves us to join the workforce in a geologist position with BLN.


Josh Breggar

Josh Breggar, M.S. Geology, advised by Luke Bowman

After graduation, Josh will be working as the Minerals and Geology Assistant and Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The most memorable part of attending MTU for Josh has been all of the explorations that he’s been able to do as there are so many great beaches for rock hunting and trails for hiking up here.


Kassidy O’Connor, MS Geophysics, advised by Thomas Oommen

After graduation, Kassidy will be moving to New Jersey to work as a geologist for Arcadis. Winter Carnival goes down as one of her most memorable experiences while here.

Kassidy O’Connor

Jacob Bonessi, MS Geology, advised by Chad Deering


Olivia Salvaggio stands on top of Mont Ripley

Olivia Salvaggio, B.S. Applied Geophysics

Olivia hopes to become a field geophysicist and is currently looking at options to complete her goal. Whether graduate school or a job, she knows she is well equipped for any opportunity that comes her way. The Michigan Tech community has been the most memorable part of her experience while studying here.

Cade Johnson

Cade Johnson, B.S. Mining Engineering

After graduation, Cade will be working for US Steel at Keetac in Northern Minnesota as a mining engineer in their development program. He enjoyed the events that the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration allowed him to attend. These include the Salt Lake City MineExchange, the Northern Minnesota Mining Conference and mine tours in the UP.


Ryan Schwiderson

Ryan Schwiderson, B.S. Geology

After graduation, Ryan plans to move to Novi, Michigan where he will work for a leading international consulting and engineering firm, Wood PLC. “The most memorable part of attending MTU has been any and everything that has taken me into the Keweenaw’s great outdoors. Between field classes, athletics, winter carnival, or just adventuring with friends. People always tell you how beautiful nature is up here but you don’t truly believe or understand them until you see it for yourself.” – Ryan


Justin Ketola, B.S. Geological Engineering


Matt Kummeth, B.S. Geology


Cooper Osgood, B.S. Geology


Lila Carden, B.S. Geological Engineering


Cole Anderson, B.S. Mining Engineering


Olivia Salvaggio leads the way followed by Lila Carden, Justin Ketola, Hayden Risko, Cooper Osgood, and Ryan Schwiderson.

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).