Professor Carolyn A. Koh, a leading expert in the study of natural gas hydrates, has been named the William K. Coors Distinguished Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering, effective at the beginning of the fall semester.

Koh joined the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at Mines in 2004 as an associate professor, after beginning her career at King’s College London University, and was promoted to professor in 2012. She was co-director of the Center for Hydrate Research from 2005 until 2014, when she became its director. She was recently appointed interim co-director of the Renewable Energy Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.

Koh’s research is focused on natural gas hydrates—compounds in which a large amount of methane can be trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming ice-like solids. These gas hydrate solids present a potential hazard to the oil and gas industries when they form in underwater flowlines, and also have potential applications in energy recovery, transport, and storage.

This research has attracted $4.6 million in government and industry funding. Koh has published over 150 papers in refereed journals, including two papers in Science, and she has an h-index of 47. H-index is a metric that seeks to measure the productivity and impact of a researcher’s publications, and Koh’s, according to CBE Department Head David Marr, “is remarkable for someone at this stage in their career.”

Koh said the chair is held in high regard both internally and by the broader chemical engineering community, and “the association with Coors is a truly unique opportunity that will facilitate enhancing awareness of work being performed in CBE as well as the Hydrate Center.”

The position will also facilitate world-class training for graduate and postdoctoral students at Mines, allow Koh to expand her research portfolio, and raise awareness of the historically productive association between Coors and Mines through scientific innovation, Koh said.

Koh’s teaching of core undergraduate and graduate courses and advising of graduate students and postdocs has been consistently excellent. “Carolyn has a gift for connecting with students,” Marr said. Koh has primarily taught thermodynamics, typically the most difficult to grasp for students at all levels; despite this, her teaching evaluations for overall effectiveness are well above departmental and university averages, Marr said. In recognition of her accomplishments, she received the Dean’s Excellence Award at the annual Faculty Forum this past May.

"Carolyn is an exemplary faculty member in her department and at Mines," said Michael Kaufman, dean of the College of Applied Science and Engineering. "Her dedication to her undergraduate students in the classroom, to her graduate students in the lab, and to the scientific community at large makes her the perfect candidate for this important recognition."

“Carolyn has built an impressive record demonstrating her commitment to students, dedication to teaching, and impactful innovation,” Mines President Paul C. Johnson said. “In addition, she is a great contributor to, and representative of, our Mines community, so she is an ideal choice for this prestigious chair. I’m looking forward to seeing how the recognition and resources accompanying the chair catalyze Carolyn’s pursuit of her teaching and research passions, and impact our students and reputation.”

Carolyn earned a bachelor of science in chemistry and a PhD in surface chemistry and catalysis from the University of West London in the UK, and conducted postdoctoral research and training at Cornell University. Among her external recognitions, Koh is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The William K. Coors Distinguished Chair was established in 1997 by the Adolph Coors Foundation in honor of William K. (“Bill”) Coors. Bill, the grandson of Adolph Coors, founder of Coors Brewing Company in Golden, is widely recognized for his game-changing technical innovations and leadership and will celebrate his 100th birthday this summer.

[Photo: Carolyn Koh, right, is joined by members of her research group. From left are Mimi Ismail, Ahmad Majid, Hao Qin, and Sijia Hu. Ismail, Qin and Hu are graduate students; Majid is a postdoctoral researcher.]

Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-383-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

Paul D. Ogg, teaching associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, passed away Wednesday, July 6, after an 18-month battle with T-cell lymphoma.

Ogg joined Mines in 2006 as part of the Bioengineering and Life Sciences program, and was part of the teaching faculty that joined what was then the Chemical Engineering Department in 2007 after BELS dissolved.

“Students adored Paul—they just loved him,” said CBE Department Head David Marr. “He was very dedicated to his students.” Marr said Ogg’s energy and enthusiasm for teaching will be missed, and that Ogg’s work teaching freshmen and sophomores has been one of the factors in the department’s growth.

“He really listened and he really cared,” said Deanna Jacobs, a program assistant in the CBE Department. “He took the time to talk to students and ask them about their goals. There are students who say, ‘I wouldn’t be a doctor if it wasn’t for Dr. Ogg.’”

Ogg was often a bit rumpled, Jacobs said. “He looked like an unmade bed.” She remembers when he came in for formal headshots—he wore a shirt, tie, and jacket, with a pair of shorts.

Ogg earned a BA in psychology from Albion College in Michigan, and a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Iowa, where his thesis explored the ability of the herpes simplex virus to disrupt a cellular process called programmed cell death, research that has implications for treating cancer and infectious disease.

With a different background than a traditional chemical engineer, Ogg spearheaded the “biological” part of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. “He focused on biology, cell biology, botany—just a variety of courses, providing an expertise that the traditional chemical engineering faculty didn’t have,” said Marr.

Professor John Spear in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, a fellow microbiologist, helped bring Ogg to Mines. Ogg started with a couple of classes, then to four to six, and “really grew the program big time.” Ogg’s experience was more in research than teaching at the time, but he ended up being known as a really good teacher, said Spear. “He cared a whole lot about his students and wasn’t shy about that.”

The department will also miss his expertise in and passion for beer brewing. Ogg helped lead the creation of the Introduction to Brewing Science course and the building of a malting system in the Unit Operations Building behind Alderson Hall, even pushing for a master brewer program at Mines. He was particularly interested in the genetics of hops and yeast, identifying and cultivating new and unique strains.

Ogg was a partner in Declaration Brewing, where he also held the titles of yeast farmer, quality control officer, and tasting panel steward, and was influential in the Denver brewing scene. While most breweries rely on a handful of different kinds of yeast, Ogg had cultivated about 65 unique strains.

One collaboration between Ogg and Spear had them working with New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins to study how their foeders—40- to 50-foot wooden casks used to age beer—affected the production of their sour beers. “We would tap them out, filter them, analyze their DNA,” Spear said. “We studied the molecular biology of beer.”

In May 2016, for American Craft Beer Week, more than 100 breweries—at least one in every state—served an imperial porter based on one of Ogg’s recipes. The project would become known as “The Biggest Small Beer Ever.” Ogg’s porter was meant to mimic the flavors of his favorite candy bar, Heath, but participating breweries were free to interpret his recipe. Spears has had two versions of the beer, and hopes someone will produce more of it.

Ogg and Spear attended seven or eight Great American Beer Festivals together, usually Brewers’ Saturday, when all the beer makers were there. “Everybody knew Paul because he knew so much about yeast,” Spear said. “He also had a very good nose for beer—he could sniff a beer, tell you it had too much fatty acid methyl esters. It was pretty wild that he could do that, but I saw him do it, and it was amazing.”

“It’s a loss for Mines,” Spear said. “He was a great guy, engaged with everybody, a warm soul. He was a good father, a good community member. He got pulled in a lot of directions, but he was good at that.”

“Paul was a passionate faculty member who loved life, was great with his students, and had a real knack for bridging biology with engineering,” said Michael Kaufman, dean of the College of Applied Science and Engineering. “He will be missed greatly by students, faculty, and staff at Mines.”

“Paul’s passion for life was apparent in the way he fought his cancer,” Kaufman added. “He remained positive and optimistic till the end—a true inspiration for all of us.”

“He was optimistic but realistic,” said Jacobs. And even amid his illness, Ogg found time for others. When Jacobs received her own cancer diagnosis, Ogg offered to go with her to the oncologist. “It was right before his own stem cell treatment, but he was willing to do it.”

Ogg is survived by his wife, Kristen Mitchell, and his daughters, Kate and Ellie.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., August 21, in the Student Center Ballrooms. A tree will be planted on campus in Ogg’s memory, and he’ll be toasted with some beer from Declaration Brewing.

Mark Ramirez, Information Specialist, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-383-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu
Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu

Emerita Associate Professor Cathy Skokan has been named a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) at the society’s annual conference this week in New Orleans. 

Founded in 1893, ASEE is a nonprofit organization of individuals and institutions committed to furthering education in engineering and engineering technology. The organization promotes excellence in instruction, research and public service, and fosters technological education. The honor of fellow is bestowed by the ASEE Board of Directors upon members in recognition of outstanding contributions to engineering or engineering technology education.

The first female to earn a graduate degree at Mines

Skokan’s early interest in rocks led to a love of science, and a wise high school counselor suggested she combine her skills in math and science with her passion for the outdoors and study geophysics.

“I remember I applied to LeHigh University as C. King, my maiden name,” said Skokan, “because they weren’t accepting women at the time. But they eventually figured out I was a woman.”

Mines, on the other hand, offered Skokan a full scholarship. She received her bachelor’s degree in geophysical engineering in 1970, and went on to become the first woman to receive a graduate degree from Mines in any field, receiving her master’s degree in 1971, and PhD in 1974. Her goal remained conducting research for a government organization.


From government researcher to university professor

Skokan’s many contributions to engineering education and to Mines, in particular, almost never came to be. She originally saw herself solely as a researcher rather than a teacher. Thanks to a delay in her government paperwork, she returned to Mines to do postdoctoral research in electromagnetics while waiting to start her new job. Skokan shared how her plans changed: "Just before the beginning of the fall semester, George Keller, who was the head of the department and my thesis advisor, came in and said, ‘We need someone to teach linear systems analysis.’

“I said, ‘I don’t teach.’

"He said, ‘Classes meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday.’ He handed me the class notes, told me what time it started and walked out the door.

“Linear systems was not one of my favorite subjects, though it is now.”

Skokan credits Keller as a mentor throughout her early career. She went on to accept a tenured faculty position in Geophysics. In 1996, she moved to what was then the Engineering Division at Mines (now the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences), where she spent the next 20 years teaching linear systems, senior design and geophysical courses to electrical engineering students.

“Several of my research grants centered around electromagnetic methods of mapping earth structures,” Skokan explained, “so I got to combine electrical engineering and geology, which was the best of all worlds.”

Humanitarian Engineering Program

Skokan was also one of the initiators of the Humanitarian Engineering program at Mines, the first in the nation. Initial funding from the Hewlett foundation aimed to take student engineers to communities that needed their skills most. As a result, Skokan took student groups to Senegal, Honduras and Ghana to work on solving real problems with engineering solutions.

Skokan recalls a particular Humanitarian Engineering trip to Alaska:

"An Alaskan tribal community had invited us to help with projects to prepare them for a community center. Over multiple years, we designed a road and septic system, among other things. One year, we were driving out there from the airport, and a student asked, “Do they live in igloos?” I told him, no, and that he would see what they lived in soon. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had built a series of prefab houses intended for Hawaii, and when they weren’t needed in Hawaii, they were sent there. Some members of the community lived in old school buses, and it reached -40 Fahrenheit during the winters. We left with a real sense of doing work that was needed. It was an eye-opening experience for all of us.”


Humanitarian Engineering students traveled to the University of Ghana with Associate Professor Skokan in 2007 as part of their senior design project.

Music at Mines

Skokan still believes that international experiences are essential for every engineer’s education, and often travels with Mines music students. She currently plays violin with the Mines Orchestra, bassoon with the Mines Band and erhu with the Mines Chinese Band.

"I’ve played in the band since I was a student here in the 60s,” said Skokan. “Believe it or not, I was the first director of the orchestra here, until they finally hired a real musician rather than an engineer to conduct the orchestra.”


                                                   Catherine Skokan and the Mines Marching Band in Dublin's 2015 St. Patrick's Day Parade.

In 2016, Skokan led 150 Mines music students and alumni on a spring trip to march in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “We always combine an engineering and musical component on these trips,” explained Skokan. “In Ireland, we visited Dublin Institute of Technology, with whom we are now working on a collaborative effort. I also took a group of students into the Tara Mines, a lead and zinc mine near County Meath. Because we are engineers, not just tourists, they took us underground and the students had a blast exploring the machinery. It included electrical, mechanical, civil, mining, geology— talk about interdisciplinary!”


                                                   Students prepare for an underground tour of the lead and zinc Tara Mine in Co. Meath, Ireland.

In 2015, Skokan accompanied Mines music students and alumni to Jamaica. In addition to meeting with engineering students at the University of the West Indies, the Mines group participated in a recording session with Winston “Sparrow” Martin, Bob Marley's percussionist, at the studio that Bob Marley founded.

In 2017, Skokan will be taking Mines music students to Florence. “We’ll be visiting Santa Croce,” said Skokan, “where Galileo, Michelangelo and Rossini are buried. It’s also right on the Arno River, which flooded in 1966, killing more than 100 people and destroying millions of masterpieces. So we’re going to talk to a professor from the University of Florence about flood mitigation and art restoration."

Innovation in engineering education

Skokan became involved in ASEE around the time that she joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She spent a sabbatical writing a pre-engineering curriculum for Adams School District, which is still in use.

“Every project had a computer, math, writing and engineering component,” said Skokan.

“I joined the multidisciplinary division of ASEE,” continued Skokan, “because electrical, mechanical and civil were all under the Engineering Division in those days. I went from Secretary, to Treasurer, then Program Chair and finally Chair.” Skokan is currently the ASEE Vice President for External Relations, which includes chairing ASEE’s international advisory committee and external projects.

"The best thing ASEE offers,” according to Skokan, “is workshops and venues to look at innovative teaching methodsthose that worked and those that didn’t. I believe looking at the failure papers can be even more educational than the success papers." 

Despite retiring in 2015, Skokan remains as busy as ever. She will be giving a talk in Japan at the annual Japanese Society for Engineering Education meeting, and another in Korea in November at an engineering education conference. 

Skokan is the third Mines faculty member to be named an ASEE Fellow in addition to Theodore A. Bickart in 2000 and Joan Gosink in 2010.


All photos from the personal archives of Emerita Associate Professor Catherine Skokan.


Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu

GOLDEN, CO, June 20, 2016 — Colorado School of Mines and the Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT), a consortium of academic, industry and government institutions focused on developing technologies to accelerate the certification and qualification of 3D-printed metal parts, will be hosting an open house 5 p.m. June 23 in the ADAPT Advanced Characterization Center (Brown W230).

GOLDEN, CO, June 8, 2016 —Applied Mathematics and Statistics Assistant Professor Stephen Pankavich has received a three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation for $233,775 to develop new analytical and computational methods of solving mathematical problems in the kinetic theory of plasma dynamics.

On April 2, Mines won the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Rocky Mountain section Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) competition. IBA is a prospective basin evaluation competition for geoscience graduate students from universities around the world. The program is rigorous and contributes to AAPG's mission of promoting petroleum geoscience training and advancing the careers of geoscience students. Over 250 teams from over 50 countries around the world partipate in IBA competition each year, and one winner from each AAPG section is chosen.

This win makes Mines one of 12 teams to move forward to the international competition June 17-18 in Calgary, which will take place as part of AAPG's Annual Technical Conference and Exhibtion (ATCE). These teams will be analyzing a dataset (geology, geophysics, land, production infrastructure and other relevant materials) prior to the competition. During the event, teams will be delivering their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts. Students will have the chance to use state of the art technology on a real dataset, receive feedback from an industry panel, impress potential employers in the audience and receive scholarship funds and international recognition. The judges will select the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation.

The Mines team includes Abdulah Eljalafi, Sarah King, faculty advisor and geology professor Steve Sonnenberg, Michael Harty, Matt Bauer and Evan Allred.

"This is the most successful industry supported student project in AAPG that impacts hundreds of students internationally," said Sonnenberg. "Students love the competition. They meet industry mentors, land jobs on the spot if they do well and learn new computer software by analyzing a data set. Industry loves the competition because they get to see students giving technical presentations on very complex data sets."

This is Mines' fifth time competing in the international competition. In 2012 and 2014, Mines placed third.



Agata Bogucka, Information Specialist, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu


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