Category: Students

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 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.

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).

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.

MTU Geology Major Assists in Tracking Uplift at the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory in Oregon

The area around Three Sisters volcanoes in Oregon is moving, and geology MS student, and NAGT/USGS intern Natalea Cohen, demonstrates the portable GPS monitoring equipment used to track it. Uplift, a subtle rise in the ground’s surface, is monitored by the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory. Could magma underground be to blame? See how radar satellite data and GPS equipment come together to get scientists one step closer to knowing the truth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QfARy8zPEk

Nat Cohen Volcano Picture
Natalea Cohen, pictured, received the 2021 NAGT/USGS Cooperative Summer Field Training Internship before joining MTU.

Congratulations to GMES Summer and Fall 2021 Graduates!

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


Leonid Surovitskii
Leonid Surovitskii

Leonid Surovitskii will soon graduate with a PhD in Geophysics. A highlight of his time here has been conducting fieldwork in China, Canada, and the U.S. Leo shared that all of his experience at Michigan Tech is a bright spot on his life path. Moving forward, Leo plans to publish more research papers and is looking forward to finding a postdoctoral position.


Domenicca (Dome) Guillen

Domenicca (Dome) Guillen is graduating with an MS in Geology. Dome shared this when asked to reflect on the last two years: “My time at Michigan Tech was a self-revolution for me; I had to adapt myself to a new language, culture, and weather. Certainly, I have improved academically and even emotionally, during this time, and I thank MTU for who I am now. In terms of courses, I love the remote sensing courses and the course on geostatistics and data analysis.”


Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson will soon graduate with an MS in Geophysics. Katie is continuing with her research working towards a PhD. A few highlights of Katie’s time here have been playing on a broomball team her first year, getting to travel to do fieldwork, and meeting so many wonderful people.


Dianna Bullen

Diana Bullen is graduating with an MS in Geology. After graduation, Diana plans on relocating back home to lower Michigan while searching for a job. When asked what she enjoyed and will miss the most, she had this to say, “I am going to miss all of my university Zoom friends the most. I am thankful that I got to meet such a great group of people. When I met them in person they were just as amazing as they were online!”


Nick Potter is graduating with an MS in Geology.


Ryan Klida is graduating with an MS in Geological Engineering.


Shubham Mahajan is graduating with an MS in Geological Engineering.


Sienna Meekhoff

Sienna Meekhoff will soon graduate with a BS in Geology. Sienna had this to say about her time at Michigan Tech:  “The highlight of my time here would have to be my involvement with the Geology Club and our AIPG student chapter. They really got me to open up to other students in and outside our department. I had several traveling opportunities with them, too, like our spring break trips to Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee as well as the AIPG national conferences in Burlington, Vermont, and Sacramento, California. I am going to miss the Keweenaw Peninsula the most. I love swimming in Lake Superior and finding agates on the beaches as well as skiing with the amazing scenery Ripley and Bohemia have to offer.”


Emily Pray

Emilie Pray will soon graduate with a BS in Geology. After graduation, Emilie plans to stay at Michigan Tech to pursue an MS in Geology. The highlight of her time here so far has been the undergraduate research she’s conducted. Through it, she was able to learn a lot about the geology of the Upper Peninsula outside of the classroom. She studied some of the oldest rocks in the region! Working in the lab and collecting data were the hands-on experiences she wanted during her studies at Tech.


Hannah Hunt

Hannah Hunt will soon graduate with a BS in Geology. Hannah is pictured using a Geonics EM-16 VLF receiver at Taylor Mine.


Cristhian Salas ’21 finished this summer, earning an MS in Geology. More details to come.


Sanna Mairet ’21 finished this summer and earned an MS in Geology. Info coming soon.


Kay Sivaraj ’21 finished this summer, graduating with an MS in Geology. Stay tuned for more details.


Stepan Pikul ’21 finished this summer, earning an MS in Geology. Check back later for full details.