Emilie Rusch

Materials science PhD wins Spring 2023 Rath Award at Graduate Commencement

Colorado School of Mines awarded 92 doctorates, 295 master's degrees during May 11 ceremony
Rath Award winner Jake Huang

Jake Huang, PhD in materials science, is the winner of the Spring 2023 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 2023 Graduate Commencement on May 11. At the ceremony, Mines awarded a total of 92 doctorates and 295 master’s degrees to May graduates. 

In his dissertation, “Elucidating Electrochemical Mechanisms with Accelerated Characterization and Relaxation Structure Analysis,” Huang lays out a new method for conducting the single most important type of electrochemical characterization experiment used in the field – ten to 100 times faster than current practice.

Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) is widely used in the field of electrochemistry by both academic and industrial researchers in batteries, fuel cells, electrolyzers, corrosion, and sensors, among other applications. Huang’s new technique does not require modifications to conventional EIS hardware—just the new software code he developed.

“Jake’s deep undergraduate background in mathematics, computer science and chemistry, coupled with his PhD in materials science, has provided him with the perfect foundation to make revolutionary contributions to ‘big data’ acquisition and analysis in the field of electrochemistry,” said Ryan O’Hayre, University Distinguished Professor of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, and Huang’s PhD advisor. “He’s already made transformational advances, and I can’t wait to see what he continues to do in the next stages of his career. He’s an absolute scientific rock-star in the making. Jake’s new EIS technique is so powerful and so much faster than conventional EIS that I fully expect it to be widely adopted by the entire electrochemical community in the coming years.” 

With the encouragement of the McNeil Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Huang has proceeded with a provisional patent application for the technique. Huang was advised by O’Hayre and Neal Sullivan, professor of mechanical engineering.

Following graduation, Huang will remain at Mines to complete a short joint post-doctoral fellowship with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, working on a project to incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence to create an autonomous system that can measure catalysts and, based on the results, decide in real time what new catalyst composition to try next. After this short-term postdoc, he plans to go overseas for a longer-term postdoctoral position. 

The other finalists for the Rath Award were:

  • Dr. Aleesha Busch, Civil and Environmental Engineering, “Design and Construction of Tall Mass Timber Buildings with Resilient Post-Tensioned Mass Timber Rocking Walls”
  • Dr. Michael Caplan, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, “Hydrometallurgical Reprocessing of Peruvian Pyrometallurgical Slags”
  • Dr. Jeffrey Gifford, Advanced Energy Systems, “Long-duration, Particle-based, Electro-thermal Energy Storage: A Multi-method Analysis”
  • Dr. Gus Greivel, Operations Research with Engineering, “Applications of Operations Research and Statistical Modeling Tools in Industrial-Scale Settings”
  • Dr. Michael Stager, Chemical Engineering, “Design and Characterization of Cell-interactive Biomaterials in Orthopedics and Wound Healing”
  • Dr. Jordan Sturdy, Mechanical Engineering, “Mechanisms of Musculoskeletal Injury Risk During Military Load Carriage”
Mines Graduate Commencement Spring 2023



Chemical and Biological Engineering

  • Outstanding Thesis Award: Michael Stager

Computer Science

  • Outstanding Graduating Master’s Student: Johnathon Henke


  • Mendenhall Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Students: Iga Pawelec

Humanitarian Engineering and Science

  • Outstanding Graduate Student Award: Sofia Schlezak and Madeline Urquhart

Mechanical Engineering

  • Emeritus Faculty Exemplary Graduate Student Award: Michael Bowman
  • Outstanding Dissertation Award: Jordan Sturdy

Petroleum Engineering

  • Outstanding PhD Student:  Kanat Karatayev
  • Outstanding Master’s Student: Christian Grimes
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.