News from the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at Colorado School of Mines
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Dear Colleagues,

The CEE department at Colorado School of Mines has some exciting news to share.   

We look much different than we did five years ago.  We currently have 28 full-time faculty; five of our faculty have been NSF Early CAREER award winners. This past year we added four new professors.  We have 320 undergraduates in two BS degrees (Environmental and Civil).   Our graduate programs thrive with more than 100 MS students and 60 PhD students. USNWR has ranked our environmental graduate program in the top 25.  

CEE is part of the four-university team that earned the nation’s first-ever NSF Engineering Research Center in Water, RuNUWIt.  We lead or partner in two NSF Water-Sustainability Climate grants, a NASA Astrobiology Institute, an NSF Sustainable Energy Processes grant, and an NSF RET. Mines and CEE recently kicked off exciting new gift-funded research centers, including the Underground Construction and Tunneling Center, and the Center for a Sustainable WE2ST (water-energy sustainability). 

This newsletter includes a few examples of recent activities.  I invite you to visit our for all the details!  

Warm regards,

John E. McCray, PhD
Professor and Dept. Head



WE²ST established at Mines

ConocoPhillips established the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE²ST (Water-Energy Education, Science and Technology) at Colorado School of Mines. The center focuses on research and education that promote joint sustainability of unconventional energy production and water resources. Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Terri Hogue was named as director, and John McCray as Deputy Director.

FULL STORY on Mines Water Research  | WE²ST SITE

WE²ST Fellows and Scholars with ConocoPhillips representatives at the First Annual WE²ST Research Symposium

John Spear part of $7 million NASA study

The NASA Astrobiology Institute has awarded a team, including Colorado School of Mines Civil & Environmental Engineering Professor John Spear, more than $7 million to study "rock-powered life." Spear is part of a team led by UC Boulder Professor Alexis Templeton that will examine life in the subsurface, researching minerals such as iron-bearing rocks and serpentinites.

Kate Smits receives 2015 NSF Career Award

Assistant Professor of CEE, Kathleen Smits has received a 2015 NSF CAREER Award. The grant will support her research, "Advancing the science and education of land surface-atmosphere interactions: Interweaving multiscale experimental and modeling approaches to Land Surface Models (LSM) and experiential learning."


New Volume on Pore Scale Phenomena 

CEE Professor Tissa Illangasekare is one of four Mines co-editors of Pore Scale Phenomena: Frontiers in Energy and Environment, a book devoted to understanding the physical and chemical properties of pore scale phenomena, published by World Scientific.


FLUOROS 2015 hosted by CEE at Mines

An international symposium on fluorinated organics in the environment was hosted at Colorado School of Mines on July 12-14, bringing together members of industry, academia, and government.


Underground Construction & Tunneling at Mines

Two years ago Mines launched the Center of Excellence in Underground Construction & Tunneling (UC&T), an interdisciplinary effort across civil, geological and mining engineering, which also involves mechanical and electrical engineering, geophysics and computer science. The center offers the broadest range of UC&T coursework in the world, and the only graduate degree of its kind in the U.S. Learn more about the program at


UCEE in the news

  • Smithsonian Magazine, as well as the Associated Press and numerous others, called on Associate Professor Ron Cohen to provide perspective immediately following the Gold King Mine spill into the Animas River.
  • Science featured an invited opinion-piece about water conservation by Professor Terri Hogue.
  • Associate Professor Tzahi Cath was featured in 5280's Big Ideas story, "The Environment."
  • Professor John Spear was featured in Wired's "The Microbiology of Molybdenum Mine." 
  • Colorado School of Mines leads US News & World Report of top U.S. engineering colleges.
Environmental Engineering field sessions included mining remediation and hydrology work in Idaho Springs. Students measured water quality parameters (chemical, physical and biological) for their client, the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation. You can check out their work in the field as well as the recommendations from their presentations in our online gallery.  Students also worked with Dr. Tzahi Cath and the Advanced Water Technology Center, testing and treating local water samples, as seen here.


  • Tissa Illangasekare, AMAX Distinguished Chair and Professor of CEE, received the 2015 Fellow Award from the Soil Science Society of America. Fellow is the highest recognition bestowed by the society, awarded only to .03% of its members. 
  • Illangasekare also received the 2015 Langbein Lecture Award from the American Geophysical Union.
  • Illangasekare was named the President-Elect of the International Society for Porous Media (InterPore) and will subsequently become InterPore President in April 2017.
  • Vaughan Griffiths, CEE Professor, was inducted as a Diplomat, Geotechnical Engineering (D.GE.) by the Academy of Geo-Professionals at a ceremony in March 2015 held at the annual Geo-Institute Congress of ASCE in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Griffiths was awarded the Thomas C. Keefer Medal from the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering.
  • Griffiths also serves as the sole non-Australian partner-investigator in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering based at the University of Newcastle, Australia. The CGSE was created following a seven-year award of $14.4M (AUD) from the Australian Research Council and is collaboration between the University of Western Australia, the University of Newcastle and the University of Wollongong in New South Wales.
  • Terri Hogue, CEE Professor, has been reelected as the Secretary of the AGU Hydrology Section for 2015-2016. 
  • Linda Figueroa, CEE Associate Professor, was elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) for her contributions to the profession.
  • Candace Sulzbach, Teaching Professor of CEE, received Mines Distinguished Achievement Medal and was named an ASCE fellow.
  • Tzahi Cath has been awarded the Ben L. Fryrear Associate Professorship in the College of Engineering & Computational Sciences at CSM. The award is for a period of three years. Dr. Cath was chosen in recognition of his academic excellence, both in research and teaching.
  • Cath also received the 2014 WateReuse CO award for Educational Program of the Year.
  • Junko Munakata Marr, Associate Professor of CEE, was awarded the Alfred E. Jenni Faculty Fellowship, based on a faculty members track record of scholarship, teaching dedication and overall vision.
  • John McCray, Department Head and Professor of CEE, received the 2014 Rudolph Hering Medal by the American Society of Civil Engineers Environmental and Water Resources Institute for the paper: "Characterization of Bulk Fluid and Transport Properties for Simulating Polymer-Improved Aquifer Remediation," published in the Journal of Environmental Engineering.
Civil Engineering field sessions were a success, despite one of the wettest Junes in recent Colorado history. Students spent three intensive weeks, learning about old-school surveying as well as the latest technology in collecting data. Students spent most of their time at Mines Survey Field, collecting data, and then used SOLIDWORKS 3D to bring their plan designs to life. A glimpse at their work can be found online.

Student News & Honors

Bryan Coday, CEE PhD 2015, and his advisor Tzahi Cath, are pictured receiving the W. Wesley Eckenfelder Graduate Research Award for contributing to the knowledge pool of wastewater management. The award was presented at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists.  

Kimberly Slinski, CEE PhD candidate and student of John McCray and Terri Hogue, received the 2015 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship for her proposal: "Anthropogenic and Natural Impacts on Water Availability in Asia."


Benjamin Wallen, CEE PhD candidate and student of Kate Smits, received the GA Harris Fellowship for Instrumentation, as well as a Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Fellowship for his research on landmine detection. FULL STORY

Christopher Ruybal, CEE PhD candidate and co-advisee of John McCray and Terri Hogue, was a co-author on four of the recent EPA reports on hydraulic fracturing. The reports note that while there has been no widespread, systemic harm to drinking water, safeguards are needed. You can read the full reports here. 

Joy Foley, graduate student of Mike Mooney, received a Hydro Research Award from the Hydro Research Foundation.

Carolyne Bocovich, advisee of Mike Mooney, is the 2015 recipient of the Institute of International Education Rocky Mt Center Nancy Petry Scholarship to study in the Netherlands.

Simon Prassetyo, Kevin Schaeffer and Yuanli Wu, graduate students in Mines' Underground Construction and Tunneling program, received scholarships from the Underground Construction Association.
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