Emilie Rusch

Hydrology PhD wins Rath Award at Spring 2024 Graduate Commencement

Mines awarded total of 50 doctorates and 311 master’s degrees at May 9 ceremony
Sara Warix receives Rath Award at Spring 2024 Commencement

Sara Warix, PhD in Hydrologic Science and Engineering, receives the Rath Award from Mines President Paul C. Johnson and Vice President for Research Walt G. Copan.

Sara Warix, PhD in Hydrologic Science and Engineering, is the winner of the Spring 2024 Dr. Bhakta Rath and Sushama Rath Research Award.

The honor, which recognizes the Colorado School of Mines doctoral graduate whose thesis demonstrates the greatest potential for societal impact, was presented during Spring 2024 Graduate Commencement on May 9. At the ceremony, Mines awarded 50 doctorates and 311 master’s degrees to May graduates. 

Warix’s dissertation, “Impacts of Climate Change on Stream Hydrologic and Geochemical Fluxes,” provides – for the first time – a way to quantitatively predict how stream chemistry will change in the future, identifying drivers of change in how and where streams dry, the flow of water through steams and the chemistry of that stream water. 

Recent rule changes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense and Environmental Protection Agency leave streams that intermittently dry in a questionable state of protection. Warix specifically focused her research on small headwater streams – a historically understudied area that makes up more than 50 percent of the global river network and provides water resources to 1.5 billion people worldwide.  

“Sara’s research demonstrates that stream drying will be more common and more persistent in the future, increasing the vulnerability of important ecosystems sustained by streams, but potentially with reduced protections," said Kamini Singha, University Distinguished Professor of Geology and Geological Engineering, Warix’s PhD advisor. “Her research has answered important, long-standing questions about how coupled hydrologic and geochemical processes in watersheds aggregate into patterns of observations in stream systems that are used to infer how streams will change and the associated implications.” 

During her time at Mines, Warix has published more than 11 peer-reviewed publications, with another seven in review or close to submission; she is the lead author on almost half of the publications. Following graduation, she will join the University of Utah as an assistant professor as part of a cluster hire in climate change science and impacts.  

“Warix is a rising star in the study of how climate and landscape perturbations propagate to measurable changes in stream flow and chemistry," said Alexis Navarre-Sitchler, professor of geology and geological engineering, Warix’s co-advisor. “The quality and quantity of water that flows through and out of landscapes has fundamental implications for river corridor and stream ecology and water resources for municipal and recreational use.” 

Finalists for the Rath Award were: 

  • Benjamin Magnin, Geology & Geological Engineering, “Tectonic Controls On ~0.5 Ga Rare Earth Element Mineralization and Discovery of a Mostly Buried ~1.4 Ga Layered Mafic Intrusion in the Wet Mountains, South Central Colorado” 
  • Ilker Ozan Uzun, Petroleum Engineering, “Production Performance of Permian Basin Wells and Potential for Improving Oil Recovery” 
  • Qi Li, Computer Science, “Data-Driven Cyber-physical Energy Systems” 
  • Shelby Stowe, Applied Mathematics & Statistics, “Data-Driven Mathematical Models of Sleep and Circadian Physiology in Developmental and Pharmacological Contexts” 
  • Winfred Arthur-Arhin, Mechanical Engineering, “Narrow-channel fluidized-bed heat exchangers for particle-based thermal energy storage in concentrating solar power applications” 

Other Graduate Student Awards 

Computer Science 

  • Outstanding Graduating Master’s Student: Lauren (Zoe) Baker 

Economics & Business 

  • Broussard Award in Engineering & Technology Management: Matthew Blackburn 


  • Mendenhall Prize for Outstanding Master’s Student: Jared Low 
  • Mendenhall Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Students: Khalid Almuteri and Yanhua Liu 

Humanitarian Engineering and Science 

  • Outstanding Graduate Student Award: Blake Knipple and Lauren Stevenson 

Mechanical Engineering 

  • Emeritus Faculty Exemplary Graduate Student Award: Karoline Hood 
  • Outstanding Dissertation Award: Winfred Arthur-Arhin 

Military Science/ROTC 

  • Distinguished Military Graduate: Lauren Hernandez 

Petroleum Engineering 

  • Outstanding Master’s Student: Afrah Siddique 
  • Outstanding Doctoral Student: Ilker Ozan Uzun 
Emilie Rusch

Emilie Rusch

Director of Communications
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.