Commencement 1999

SOCORRO, N.M., May 15, 1999 -- New Mexico Tech graduated 258 students on May 15, awarding three associate's degrees, 190 bachelor's degrees, 58 master's degrees, and seven Ph.D. degrees during commencement exercises. Awards for distinguished faculty, alumni, staff, and friends were also presented.

The top prize for a graduate student, the Founder's Award, went to Roseanna Neupauer, who also received a master's degree in mathematics and is working on a second master's degree in hydrology. Neupauer, a native of Northampton, Penn., is president of the Tech Graduate Student Association and has worked to promote issues benefiting students and to mentor incoming graduate students. In 1998, Neupauer brought to light a federal tax issue that affected Tech graduate students. By working with the Tech administration, Neupauer helped develop solutions advantageous to fellow graduate students and to the Institute.

The top prize to an undergraduate, the Brown Award, went to William Grüner, a native of Edgewood, N.M., who also received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering with highest honors. Grüner served as Student Regent on Tech's Board of Regents for two years. He was named Tech's "Engineering Student of the Year" for 1999, for his work on many projects including a bio-compatible neural interface, robotics, opto-electronics, pulsed power, and treatments for cancer. Grüner finished his course work in December and is now employed as a research scientist at Rio Grande Medical Technologies in Albuquerque.

The Cramer Award to the top female undergraduate in engineering went to Tamara Barber of Mountainair, N.M. Barber received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering with highest honors. She was a runner-up for "Engineering Student of the Year." Two of her projects have involved characterizing the antennae control unit for the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope and helping develop a landmine detecting robot.

The Cramer Award to the top male undergraduate in engineering went to Kelly Shawn Houston of Trenton, N.J. Houston has completed a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering with highest honors and has started a master's program in that field at Tech. His undergraduate research work resulted in a paper on remediation of contaminated sites that he presented at the fall 1998 meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The Langmuir Award for an outstanding research paper published in the past year by a recent Tech graduate went to James Wren, who graduated from New Mexico Tech in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in physics and now works at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Wren and colleagues designed a robotic optical camera called ROTSE which rapidly and automatically responds to notification of gamma ray outbursts and quickly begins observations. On January 23, 1999, this instrument detected the most powerful explosion ever observed in the universe and began observations within 22 seconds. This fast response time gathered valuable data for scientists studying the phenomenon of gamma ray outbursts.

New Mexico Tech honored two faculty members for their achievements. Dr. Allan Gutjahr, professor of mathematics, received the Distinguished Research Award for his key role in developing the field of stochastic groundwater hydrology. Gutjahr served as New Mexcio Tech's vice president of research and economic development from 1992 to 1997. In this role, he established review procedures which helped obtain funding for a remarkably high percentage of Tech's young scientists.

Dr. Emily Nye, director of Student Services and associate professor of English, was honored with the Distinguished Teaching Award. Nye founded Tech's Writing Center, which provides one-on-one tutoring, and has served as a tireless advocate for students' needs. The Student Association (SA) also presented her with their Staff Service Award.

Sharing the Staff Service Award with Nye was Dr. Gary Olsen, Dean of Students. The SA thanked him for providing them with advice and counsel over the years. The SA also honored students Beryl Barnes, Julia Gray, and William Grüner for their many services to students over the years.

The New Mexico Tech Alumni Association presented two awards. Their Distinguished Service Award went to the Honorable M. Michael Olguin, who served in the New Mexico Legislature for 14 years. Olguin was thanked for appreciating the value that graduates of state universities, including New Mexico Tech, bring to the state, and for being an unflagging supporter of higher education.

The Alumni Association also honored Dr. Corale Brierley with its Distinguished Achievement Award. Brierley earned her bachelor's degree and master's degree from New Mexico Tech in 1968 and 1972, respectively. She is a consultant in the field of biotechnology to the mining and chemical industries and government agencies. Earlier this year, Brierley was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for "innovations applying biotechnology to mine production and remediation."


(Kathleen Hedges)