The Department of Geophysics is widely known for its tradition of excellence in both our graduate and undergraduate programs.  This year, we are proud to recognize our 2018-2019 graduating students who received particular distinction among their peers as they walked across the stage at their respective Mines Commencement Ceremonies on May 9 and May 10.  Congratulations, graduates!


Michael Morphew is the Geophysical Engineering Outstanding Graduating Senior for 2018-2019, having demonstrated outstanding scholarship, as well as an excellent record of service to the Department, including as one of our teaching assistants this past year.  Michael is taking the summer after graduation off to rest and recuperate. In early September he will start as a geoscientist at ExxonMobil at their Spring campus north of Houston. He will be working in ExxonMobil’s upstream research company, where he will research and develop neural networks that automatically interpret seismic images. He thanks the geophysics department for their unwavering support during his time at Mines, and he also thanks his family, friends, and classmates for always believing in him.


Graduating Senior Ali Downard will receive the C.H. Green Gold Medal.  The award, named for pioneer geophysicist and philanthropist Cecil H. Green, is made by the Geophysics faculty to a graduating senior for the highest attainment in the combination of scholastic achievement, personality, and integrity.  It is the Department’s oldest award, having been given nearly every year, now, for more than 50 years.  Ali will join our Master of Science program this fall, where she will carry out interdisciplinary graduate studies in the Reservoir Characterization Project.


Daniel Ciraula is the 2019 recipient of the George T. Merideth Award for Early Leadership in Geophysical Engineering, given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated academic excellence, community involvement, and leadership and who, in the estimation of the faculty, has great potential for leadership in earth science engineering.  In addition to his accomplishments in our program, Daniel played shortstop on the Mines Baseball team, who enjoyed another stellar season.  In fact, Daniel and his fellow graduating teammates received their diplomas in Grand Junction, so they could play in the post-season.  Daniel will join the MSc program in Geophysics at the University of Wyoming this fall.


Sarah Alhumaidan received the John C. Hollister Award, given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated leadership, maturity, and scholarship during her Mines career.  The award is named for John Hollister, who served for nearly a quarter century as Head of the Department and who exemplified the diversity of interests and talents that inspired this award.  Sarah was not only an accomplished student, she has been actively involved in campus life, as well, and gave a most impressive student address at the Spring Commencement Ceremony, the first Geophysical Engineering student in recent memory to do so.  Congratulations, Sarah!


The Department awarded the 2018-2019 George R. Pickett Memorial Award to Zackery Huxel, for demonstrated interests and accomplishment in the study of borehole geophysics, the field in which Dr. Pickett was, himself, a renowned expert.  Zack approached his geophysics studies with interest in geophysical theory and how it is directly applied to the oil and gas industry.  He will soon join Entact as a field engineer for environmental remediation projects in oil and gas mining.


Aspen Davis received the Phillip R. Romig Award for excellence and leadership in the acquisition of field geophysical observations.  The award is named for Dr. Phillip Romig who served as Head of the Department of Geophysics, as well as taught Geophysics Field Camp, for many years.

Also receiving the Phillip R. Romig Award this year is new graduate Sean Smith, who completed his degree in December 2018.

At the graduate level, the Department was thrilled to name two students to receive the Mendenhall Prize for Outstanding Graduate Students.  The award is made in the name of Harold L. Mendenhall, who served Phillips Petroleum Company with distinction as Chief Geophysicist, and who himself conducted groundbreaking research in the geophysics community.  The faculty bestow this award to graduating MSc and PhD students who, in their estimation, have shown exceptional scholarship and the highest standards of integrity and professional conduct during their graduate careers at Mines, and who have demonstrated the ability to conduct cutting-edge and collaborative research.



Ezgi Karasozen earned her PhD at the December 2018 Commencement.  Not only is she a very well liked and highly respected member of the Department and the broader Mines community, Ezgi’s research, carried out under the supervision of Dr. Ed Nissen, will have a strong societal impact in the field of earthquake hazard science.  Ezgi also holds a BA and MSc in Geological Engineering from Middle East Technical University, and an MSc in Geophysics from Colorado School of Mines, during which she worked with Dr. Jeff Andrews-Hanna.  Ivan Lim Chen Ning received his PhD at the May 2019 Commencement.  Ivan has been engaged in largely unprecedented research in the field of distributed acoustic sensing, under the supervision of Dr. Paul Sava.  Like Ezgi, Ivan has also been a well liked and widely respected member of the Department, willing to contribute to its success both as a scientist and as a mentor to his colleagues.  Ivan also holds a BE from Multimedia University in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, and a MSc in Geophysics from Imperial College London.


This year, Geophysics had the honor to bestow a new award: the T.K. Young Geophysics Leadership Award, named for Dr. Terence K. “Terry” Young, who served as Department Head for sixteen years, retiring in 2016.  The award was established to recognize excellence and leadership through service and collaboration.  Turned out, there were not one, but two inaugural awardees.  The first, Elizabeth Maag-Capriotti, is a PhD candidate in Geophysics.  Liz has a long record of service in the Department, not just as a student,  but as someone who has supported the Department and its students in countless ways, including at field camp, with the Center for Gravity, Electrical & Magnetics (CGEM), with teaching support for various classes.  Where there has been a need, Liz has strived to make sure that need has been filled, and somewhere amidst all that she does for us, she manages the occasional visit to Disneyland.  We appreciate you, Liz, and are so delighted to make you the first recipient of this award in Terry’s name.


The second inaugural recipient is our own Michelle Szobody, who has served the Department since 1994 in a few roles, currently as its Program Assistant.  Michelle earned her own degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2013 right here at Mines, while working full-time for the Department.  It is safe to say that most people do not know everything, exactly, that Michelle does behind the scenes to ensure that the Department functions smoothly.  In fact, if you ask her, even she can’t answer that question.  However, she will tell you that if she is any good at her job, it is completely thanks to the network of truly amazing colleagues, faculty, and especially students who support her and who support Mines and its mission.  Michelle shares Terry Young’s long assertion that it truly is all about the people here at Mines.