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
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).
Katherine Langfield, a geology master’s student, received a research grant from the Institute on Lake Superior Geology (ILSG). The $1,000 award will help defray the research costs for her proposed work on the Hancock Fault. A portion of the work will be conducted in the Quincy Mine adit in West Hancock. Katherine is advised by Research Professor, James DeGraff.
The ILSG Student Research Fund is available for undergraduate or graduate students conducting research on the geology of the Lake Superior region.
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.
The 2021 American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) Student Chapter of the Year Award goes to Michigan Technological University for the second year running!
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. The award letter states: “the Student Chapter at Michigan Tech stood out among the AIPG Student Chapters in the nation this past year, and are highly deserving of this distinction and honor.”
Currently, the chapter officers are Elana Barth (President, Geology), Olivia Salvaggio (Vice President, Geophysics), Emilie Pray (Treasurer, Geology), and Nolan Gamet (Secretary, Geology). The officers during the year of the award were Elana Barth (President, Geology), Breeanne Huesdens (Vice President, Geological Engineering), Emilie Pray (Treasurer, Geology), and Makala O’Donnell (Secretary, Geological Engineering).
Chad Deering, Associate Professor in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, and David Adler, a Mannik & Smith Group Certified Professional Geologist (B.S. Geology ‘82), advise the Michigan Tech chapter.
Congratulations once again on a job well done. The GMES department is proud of your continued success!
Emily Street, a fourth-year mining engineering student at the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, received the prestigious, highly competitive Copper Club Lord Bagri Scholarship. Her essay, ‘The Importance of Copper in the 21st Century,’ gives the reader a passionate viewpoint, written by an outstanding, hardworking student ancestrally connected to the industry.
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 the production of 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. In letters of recommendation, Michigan Tech faculty can quote praising, “… she will be a role model for the next-generation mining and geosciences students”, and “…Ms. Street will have a transformative impact on the mining industry as she transitions from student to professional.” A well-deserving student to receive this award, indeed.
“I was honored to be nominated as MTU’s representative for the Copper Club Scholarship 2021-22, and I am humbled to represent the college as a recipient of The Lord Bagri Scholarship. I am thankful to be a part of the mining engineering program at MTU and to have the opportunity to be taught by such passionate and knowledgeable industry leaders. I am currently working as a summer mine engineering intern at LafargeHolcim in Presque Isle, Michigan; I hope to use the hands-on experience I gain at the quarry this summer to further my knowledge in my senior year in the program. Attending Michigan Tech’s newly resurrected mining engineering program, while a rigorous curriculum, has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I am proud to be a student here, at what was originally the Michigan Mining School, and to be able to work as a miner in the industry that brought my family to the Keweenaw nearly one hundred years ago!” – Emily Street
Dr. Adam Durant (MS Geology ’06, PhD ’07) discussed how modifying flight plans lessen long-lasting contrails and reduce climate impacts–so-called green aviation. Physics professor Raymond Shaw and Professor Emeritus Bill Rose, who advised Adam in his graduate studies here, host the discussion.
It’s not rocket science. It’s harder — or at least harder to predict. Clouds are often referred to as the wildcard of climate modeling, and while some basic physics have become much clearer using tools like the cloud chamber at Michigan Technological University, atmospheric science remains a fascinating and complex space.
Shaw, distinguished professor of physics and director of Michigan Tech’s atmospheric sciences doctoral program, studies ice crystal formations in clouds. When Durant worked with him as a graduate geoscience student, the team studied how volcanic ash and frigid water interact in the atmosphere. For Durant, experimenting with specks of dust and drops of supercooled water coalesced into an ongoing interest in the interaction’s effects on airplanes — and the industry’s climate bill. Drawing on his interdisciplinary background, Durant started the company SATAVIA in 2013.
In their Q&A, Shaw (RS) and Durant (AD) explain how rerouting airplanes to minimize contrails can have the biggest impact with the smallest changes.
Adam Durant, CEO SATAVIA
– Green aviation
– Ice crystal morphology and cloud formation
– Volcanic ash plumes
– Sustainable business
Q: Why focus on contrails to curb climate change impacts?
AD: It’s not just direct engine emissions that matter in terms of aviation’s climate impacts. Non-carbon dioxide sources — like the climate forcing from contrails — make up almost two-thirds of the industry’s impact, which is a surprisingly big number. In fact, it equates to 2% of all human-caused climate change.
RS: Contrails are pretty and localized, so it’s understandable that few people would guess they’re of consequence. And it’s relatively rare flights that make these long-lasting contrails, which are heavily weighted in terms of their climate impact.
AD: Yes, of about 500 flights, only one or two make these kinds of contrails.
Q: How does SATAVIA’s software help predict contrail formation?
AD: We are a data analytics company, building software that uses cutting-edge atmosphere and climate science. We use a commercial cloud structure to create a digital twin of the Earth’s atmosphere from surface to space, quantifying many key meteorological parameters like temperature, humidity, cloud cover and other factors that affect flight operations. We aggregate that information and apply it to different use cases, including contrail formation and other applications such as contaminant exposure and corrosion factors. Predicting contrail formation and persistence in the atmosphere is complex, so it becomes a big data problem – unless you’ve got a high-performance atmospheric digital twin, you won’t be able to crunch through the data properly. Right now, we’re working with a major Middle East airline through a collaboration with Aviation X Lab, a Dubai-based aviation incubator. They want to be proactive about assessing their impact, and they’re helping us validate our models. The next challenge is software integration, so we can help airlines optimize flight paths for contrail prevention while minimizing fuel burn.
Q: How can industry, universities and government groups work together?
RS: It’s important to acknowledge that while Michigan Tech doesn’t have direct collaborations with SATAVIA, it was a former student who started the company and a new graduate, Subin Thomas, starts there soon as a key player on their science team. Academia can play a role by training people in the fundamental science so they can carry on innovation within the private sector. We also work with agencies, like our partners at the National Center for Atmospheric Science (NCAR) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For example, a current graduate student, Elise Rosky, is at this moment at NCAR flying a holographic instrument through clouds to investigate how ice forms and grows. Who knows where that fundamental research will lead, and even how it might tie into the science of contrails?
– Atmospheric Physics
– Cloud Physics
– Digital Holography
AD: We all want to solve real world problems. There’s a lot more to solving problems than throwing science at it. If it doesn’t cost money or make money, it’s hard to get business to care. As the cost of carbon rises, there is going to be more and more incentive for airlines to fly smarter and greener. With our model, we not only assess a flight plan and help make changes that actually lower aviation’s climate impact, but we also estimate what a company can save in associated carbon credits and carbon offsets.
Q: How did your Michigan Tech research help make these kinds of collaborations possible?
AD: This brings me back to doing my PhD on volcanic ash with Bill Rose, who blended a lot of disciplines. I felt like an atmospheric scientist but my degree was geoscience. I moved on to a climate research group next — mostly climate modelers and remote sensing experts — and that experience also brought me closer to policy.
RS: Sometimes, Adam, we jokingly call students like you a gluon [bad physics joke] — “Well, Bill does this and Raymond does that, so we need a go-between.” To Bill’s credit, he was always roving and looking for people who could help him solve the problems he was working on. So, Adam asked in his research: What happens when we put ash in a supercooled droplet? It was a logical next step to ask what happens when an airplane flies into an ash plume.
Q: What inspires you in your work?
AD: I want to take tangible action on climate change — that’s what my mission has become. We’ve been thinking about our vision as a company and it always comes back to solving climate change.
RS: We say all the time that we do basic science to help society. Examples like Adam’s company make that true. In some ways, it’s easier to stay in academia, but moving into the private sector means there is so much more potential for influence. Much of research is curiosity-driven and with a genuine interest in solving fundamental problems, with the hope that eventually the solutions will make a difference. But no one would fund us to solve puzzles every day; we hope that when we train students that our fundamental work will be connected to the private sector and help make the world a better place.
Q: What are challenges that remain ahead?
AD: Raymond, here is what we are always asked: Do we know enough about the science of contrail formation and whether we can predict it?
RS: Well, the basic physics is there. The part that is complicated, which falls under current research, is how persistent will a contrail be — will it be ice or water, and what’s the crystal shape? The good news is that the basics are clear.
AD: I agree that the fundamental science is sound, and that the challenge facing us now is scaling and creating contrail forecasts at flight altitudes so that aviation operators can avoid making them. And policy and regulation — that is what will influence how big organizations deal with this problem.
RS: That’s the surprising part. Thinking from the company spreadsheet point of view, in the right economy, SATAVIA’s approach can actually save money.
AD: Yes, many companies already pay to offset their carbon emissions. Changing flight plans would make a bigger difference and save them more money. What we need to work on most from a technical perspective is software integration, and that’s going to take time and close partnerships with more airlines.
Q: The pandemic changed travel. How has this impacted your work?
AD: Before COVID, much of our work focused on how atmospheric and climatic factors can damage aircraft engines and airframes, and responding to that with smarter condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.
But as the pandemic began and continued, we pivoted to focus more on aviation’s impact on climate. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time with our ice crystals research. People care about green aviation now, to the extent that it will influence their choice of airline, though some consumers will always be driven by the cheapest prices. In the near term, it’s likely to be business travelers who care most about the green credentials of a flight.
RS: Even before the pandemic, I was starting to notice an uptick in the number of colleagues who would say, “I’m not going to go to that meeting because I’m trying really hard to minimize the aviation part of my carbon footprint.” Or saying, “I can’t go on that airline, I’m going to choose this other airline because they’re doing more to solve this problem.” And I do think the pandemic has made more of us aware of what can and can’t be done. The nice thing is that we can have a global aviation industry and mitigate the impact to some extent. As you think about returning to air travel, why not expect more from the airline you’re flying with? Because there are actions they can take. Contrails are something most people would never think about, but SATAVIA’s work shows that it’s possible to do something about their climate impacts.
The 2020-21 Academic Year brought the following student achievements to GMES:
Grace 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!
Each year, AIPG recognizes the most outstanding student chapter for their activities, achievements, and contributions to the Institute. The award letter states, “the Student Chapter at Michigan Tech stood out among the AIPG Student Chapters in the nation this past year, and are highly deserving of this distinction and honor.”
The current chapter officers are:
Elana Barth, President (Geology)
Breeanne Huesdens, Vice President (Geological Engineering)
Emilie Pray, Treasurer (Geology)
Makala O’Donnell, Secretary (Geological Engineering)
The president and vice-president during the year of the award were Dustin Helmer (Geological Engineering) and Sienna Meekhof (Geology).
The chapter, which has more than 50 members is advised by Chad Deering (GMES) and Michigan Tech Alumnus David Adler ’82 BS geology, a Mannik Smith Group Certified Professional Geologist.
The US Mine Safety and Health Administration has awarded $10,537,000 in mine safety grants, including $249,257 to Michigan Tech. The funds are intended to reduce mining accidents, injuries, and illnesses by supporting safety and health courses and other programs.
Grant recipients will use the funding to provide miners with the federally mandated training required for all miners working at surface and underground coal and metal/non-metal mines.
Principal investigator on the grant at Michigan Tech is Matthew Portfleet (GMES), assistant director of the University’s Mine Safety Program.
(Original post by Jenn Donovan in Tech Today, November 20, 2017)