Tag: Geological Engineering

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. Geophysics, 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

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.



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.


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.


Emilie Pray Wins AIPG Poster Competition

Emilie Pray, a geology senior in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (GMES), won first place in the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) Michigan Section Annual Student Poster Contest.

Pray’s poster was titled “The Exhumation History of the Bell Creek Batholith.” Her research has been advised by Chad Deering (GMES).


Mining Engineering MS Student Poorva Kadrolli Selected as SRK Scholar

Poorva Kadrolli, a Master’s student in Mining Engineering in the Department of GMES, has won a highly competitive SRK scholarship!

SRK is a global consulting firm in mining and exploration geology and provides scholarships in Australia and North America to encourage and support students undertaking graduate studies and help them complete master’s and doctoral degrees in fields related to the mining industry.

The scholarship selection process is very thorough and includes writing a research proposal by the student. Poorva’s research is in joint simulation of material-type and mineral grade using multiple-point simulation and machine learning.

Poorva is advised by Dr. Snehamoy Chaterjee, an Associate Professor and the Witte Family Faculty Fellow at the Department of GMES.

Poorva Kadrolli


GMES 2020-21 Student Awards and Recognitions

The 2020-21 Academic Year brought the following student achievements to GMES:

Grace Ojala receiving AIPG awardGrace Ojala receives American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) National Scholarship – Congratulations to Grace Ojala (Applied Geophysics), who was awarded a prestigious American Institute of Professional Geologists National Scholarship! Grace pursues a double major in Applied Geophysics and Anthropology, working towards a career that utilizes geophysics to advance archaeology. In addition to her excellent academic standing, Grace is actively involved in several research projects, including a satellite data processing project (supervised by AssociateProfessor Dr. Snehamoy Chatterjee) supported by the Michigan Space Grant Consortium. The award was presented in person by Bill Mitchell, the president of the Michigan Section of AIPG.

Grace Ojala also received a prestigious scholarship from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). The competitive SEG scholarships are based on merit and have been awarded to students all over the world to encourage the study of geophysics and related geosciences.

Emilie Pray – 2021 Department Scholar Award Congratulations to Emilie Pray (BS Geology), who received a 2021 GMES Department Scholar Award to recognize her 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. Emilie participates in research led by Associate Professor Dr. Chad Deering on deciphering a complex geological history of the central-eastern UP using petrological and geochemical data.

Congratulations to the recipients of Michigan Space Grant Consortium grants:
Diana Bullen (MS), Using a Biologically Enhanced Silica Recovery System to Retrieve Valuable Non-Renewable Resources from Waste Material (advisor: Dr. Nathan Manser)
Ian Gannon (MS), Critical Mineral Potential in the Vulcan Quadrangle and Adjoining Areas, Dickinson County, Upper Peninsula of Michigan (advisor: Dr. James DeGraff)
Brock Howell (MS), Effective Optimization of Groundwater Extraction Through the Development of Computational Tools (advisor: Dr. John Gierke)
Ryan Klida (MS), Satellite Based Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Techniques for Earth Dam Monitoring and Failure Prediction (advisor: Dr. Thomas Oommen)
Katie Nelson (Ph.D.), Measuring CO2 fertilization of tropical forests from volcanic soil gas emissions using remote sensing: Volcán Rincón de la Vieja, Costa Rica (advisor: Dr. Chad Deering)
Kassidy O’Connor (MS), Using Satellite Aperture Radar to Improve Wildfire-Causing Debris Flow Mapping on the West Coast (advisor: Dr. Thomas Oommen)

Congratulations to the recipients of these additional awards and recognitions:
Beth Bartel (Ph.D.) – Smithsonian Institution Fellowship–Robert D. Hevey, Jr. Ten-Week Graduate Student Fellow in Mineral Sciences at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Project title, “Reconstructing Disaster: An Analysis of Digital Communications During Volcanic Crises.”
Natalea Cohen (MS) – National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) Internship with the USGS Volcano Science Center. (Summer 2021)
Cristhian Salas (MS) – Outstanding Graduate Student Scholar (Spring 2021)
Nelmary Rodriguez (MS) – Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award (Spring 2020); Outstanding Graduate Student Scholar (Fall 2020)
Jordan Ewing (Ph.D.) – Won first place at the 2020 3MT Competition with his presentation, “Terrain Traversing: X Marks the Spot,” in addition to winning the People’s Choice Award. (Fall 2020)  Jordan also received an outstanding achievement certificate from the U.S. Army DEVCOM Analytics division. (Spring 2021)
Elana Barth (BS Geology) – Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club Annual Earth Science Award (Spring 2021)
Chandan Kumar (Ph.D.) – Outstanding Scholarship Award (Fall 2020)
Beth Bartel (Ph.D.) – Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award (Fall 2020)
Amol Paithankar (Ph.D.) – Outstanding Scholar Award (Spring 2020)
Katie Nelson (MS) – Outstanding Teaching Award (Spring 2020)

Congratulations from all of the faculty and staff in GMES!


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.