Mines faculty honored for research, teaching, mentorship

Colorado School of Mines faculty were recognized for their research, teaching and mentorship at its annual awards celebration, held April 25 in the Student Center Ballrooms.

Geoff Brennecka, associate professor of metallurgical and materials engineering, received the Dean’s Excellence Award, which recognizes a tenured or tenure-track faculty member for significant and meritorious achievement in teaching and scholarship.

Brennecka, who joined Mines in 2014, takes on an above-average teaching load and has earned exemplary teaching evaluations, said Interim Provost Tom Boyd. 

“He has an affable, accommodating and inviting management style that allows students to flourish and feel comfortable asking for educational and career assistance,” Boyd said. 

Brennecka has published more than 40 journal articles, established a research program with more than $2 million in external sponsorship and instituted a glass-blowing lab for students.

Tracy Gardner, teaching professor of chemical and biological engineering, was awarded the Alfred E. Jenni Faculty Fellowship, which recognizes institution-wide contributions in teaching effectiveness and educational scholarship.

“Since joining Mines in 2004, Professor Gardner has shown exceptional skill in the classroom and is a go-to person for curriculum issues in the both the CBE Department and at Mines,” Boyd said. Gardner worked with Frank and Susan Kowalski in the Physics Department to bring in four grants aimed at improving classroom learning through pen-enabled mobile technology, secured funding to bring iPads into classrooms and spearheaded the Freshman Connections event, now an annual affair, to improve retention at Mines.

The Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department swept the Mines Teaching Awards, given this year to Assistant Professor Cecilia Diniz Behn and Teaching Professor Gus Greivel.

Diniz Behn joined Mines in 2013 and has proven herself to be a successful teacher, Boyd said. She has served as an excellent role model and mentor for young women in STEM and introduced two courses focused on mathematical biology into the curriculum.

Greivel joined Mines in 1996 and has taught almost 7,000 students in a wide variety of courses. He led the development of significant curriculum changes in the mathematical and computer sciences degree program from 2005 to 2008, work that now serves as the framework for three undergraduate degree programs.

The Senior Research Excellence Award went to Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Andrew Herring. Junior Research Excellence Awards were given to Geology and Geological Engineering Associate Professor Alexis Navarre-Sitchler and Civil and Environmental Engineering Associate Professor Christopher Higgins.

Roel Snieder, W.M. Keck Distinguished Professor of Professional Development Education, presented the newly established W.M. Keck Mentorship Awards, which recognize extraordinary activities beyond regular advising.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Teaching Associate Professor Andres Guerra received the mentorship award for his work with undergraduate students; Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Research Professor Terry Lowe received the award for his mentorship of graduate students; and Deb Lasich, executive director of strategic development, received the award for mentorship of faculty and staff.

Two faculty members were awarded emeritus status, which recognizes years of dedication and service to Mines.

Cyndi Rader joined Mines in 2000 as an adjunct and retired last June as teaching professor in the Computer Science Department. Rader received the Alumni Teaching Award in 2016-2017. 

“She is well recognized as a faculty member who worked tirelessly to create the best education for computer science students,” Boyd said. “She led development of the CS curriculum for many years and revised and led the CS Field Session course.” 

David Wood joined Mines in 1989 as assistant professor in the Physics Department and retired last June. Wood has played such a key role in developing and delivering the curriculum for all graduate students that he could teach half of it, Boyd said. 

“He has worked closely with faculty and students to help make the Physics Department become nationally recognized leader in offering high-quality undergraduate instruction and for conducting world-class research in the areas of condensed matter physics, subatomic physics and applied optics,” Boyd said.

Geology and Geological Engineering Professor Kamini Singha received the Faculty Senate Distinguished Lecturer Award. The award was presented by Geology and Geological Engineering Professor Reed Maxwell, who was also recognized for his service as Faculty Senate President along with the rest of the Senate.

The following faculty members received promotion and/or tenure:

Applied Mathematics and Statistics

  • Soutir Bandyopadhyay, tenure

Chemical and Biological Engineering

  • Sumit Agarwal, promotion to professor
  • Moises Carreon, tenure
  • Jason Ganley, promotion to teaching professor
  • Tracy Gardner, promotion to teaching professor
  • Josh Ramey, promotion to teaching associate professor
  • Amadeu Sum, promotion to professor


  • Jenifer Shafer, tenure and promotion to associate professor
  • Brian Trewyn, tenure and promotion to associate professor

Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • Jeffrey Holley, promotion to teaching associate professor
  • Junko Munakata Marr, promotion to professor
  • Shiling Pei, tenure and promotion to associate professor
  • Kathleen Smits, tenure and promotion to associate professor

Computer Science

  • Hua Wang, tenure and promotion to associate professor
  • Chuan Yue, tenure and promotion to associate professor

Electrical Engineering

  • Stephanie Claussen, promotion to teaching professor

Geology and Geological Engineering

  • Alexis Navarre-Sitchler, tenure and promotion to associate professor


  • Paul Sava, promotion to professor

Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

  • Hussein Amery, promotion to professor
  • Melanie Brandt, promotion to teaching associate professor
  • Olivia Burgess, promotion to teaching associate professor
  • Cortney Holles, promotion to teaching professor
  • Seth Tucker, promotion to teaching associate professor

Mechanical Engineering

  • Aaron Stebner, tenure and promotion to associate professor

Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

  • Geoff Brennecka, tenure and promotion to associate professor
  • Emmanuel De Moor, tenure and promotion to associate professor

Scholarly Communications and Instruction Librarian

  • Ye Li, promotion to librarian

Senior Class President Carl Schmidt presented Outstanding Teaching Awards, voted on by graduating seniors, to the following:

  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics: William Navidi
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering: Rachel Morrish
  • Chemistry: Shubham Vyas
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: Panos Kiousis
  • Computer Science: Dejun Yang
  • Economics and Business: Andrew Pederson
  • Electrical Engineering: Chris Coulston
  • Geology and Geological Engineering: Richard Wendlandt
  • Geophysics: Andrei Swidinsky
  • Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences: Sandy Woodson
  • Metallurgical and Materials Engineering: Gerald Bourne
  • Mechanical Engineering: Neal Sullivan
  • Mining Engineering: Kadri Dagdelen
  • Petroleum: Jennifer Miskimins
  • Physics: Pat Kohl

2018 Faculty Awards Celebration

Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 | erusch@mines.edu