Commencement 1997

SOCORRO, N.M., May 9, 1997 -- New Mexico Tech celebrated its 101st commencement, awarding 14 Ph.D.s, 74 masters degrees, 171 bachelor's degrees, and 12 associates degrees.

Tech's top award to a graduate student, the Founders Award, was presented to Alison Peck, who received a master's degree in physics. She was selected for the award for her outstanding contribution in scholarship, research, and involvement in campus affairs. Peck was an active participant in the reorganization of the Graduate Student Association, was active on a committee selecting a new graduate dean of the university, and was twice the recipient of the Physics Deaprtment's Leslie Fallon Award for excellence in research.

Peck has accepted a pre-doctoral fellowship with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro.

Peck is the daughter of Dr. Elizabeth Peck of Kearney, Nebraska. She is a graduate of South Kingstown High School in Peacedale, RI.

Tech's top award to an undergraduate student, the Brown Award, was presented to Lester Hutt, who also received bachelor's degrees in chemistry and biology with highest honors. He was selected for outstanding scholarship, leadership, and service. Hutt, a 1993 graduate of Manzano High School in Albuquerque, received a bachelor's degree in chemistry with highest honors from New Mexico Tech. Hutt has played a leadership role in Tech's chapter of Tri Beta, the national biology honorary society. In 1996, his junior research project, "Gene Suppression in Tobacco," took third place in a regional convention sponsored by Tri Beta. Earlier this year, Hutt's senior research project on "Heavy Metal Remediation by Salt Cedar" took first place at the same convention. Hutt will be attending graduate school at U. C. Berkeley.

The Cramer Awards, to the top male and female students in engineering, went to Kenneth Moreland and Karen Stafford-Brown. The award honors Tom Cramer, an engineer and a member of the Tech Board of Regents for 26 years.

Moreland, a 1992 graduate of Eldorado High School in Albuquerque, graduated with two bachelor's degrees, one in electrical engineering and one in computer science. Moreland is the son of Larry and Brooke Moreland of Albuquerque.

Stafford-Brown is a graduate of East Anchorage High School in Anchorage, AK. She received a degree in environmental engineering with highest honors. She is the daughter of Rita and Robert Stafford of Anchorage.

New Mexico Tech presented its Distinguished Research Award to Dr. Lawrence Werbelow, professor of chemistry. Dr. Werbelow is known for his pioneering work in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance. Werbelow, who has been at New Mexico Tech since 1980, was nominated by fellow researchers, who described him as a unique voice in the world of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Following unconventional paths, he solved problems that many other scientists considered to be intractable and predicted unexpected effects that were later borne out by experiment.

Werbelow's most significant contribution to physical chemistry has been to more clearly describe interference effects and other features of the properties of nuclear magnetism. He further developed various "Relaxation Induced Polarization Transfer" (RIPT) methodologies that have found useful applications in the chemical, physical and life sciences.

In addition to 80 or so research publications, he has presented approximately 100 papers and/or posters at meetings, colloquia, workshops and conferences and an additional 200 lectures at various universities and research facilities worldwide. His work is regarded as seminal, widely cited in the literature and quoted at meetings.

Although he is a theoretician, Werbelow has collaborated extensively with experimentalists. He has held visiting faculty appointments at universities in Nantes, Paris, and Nancy (all in France), Stockholm and Graz, Austria, and was professeur première classe at the Université d'Aix Marseille - a position rarely made accessible to non French scientists. He has been a consultant at Los Alamos continuously since 1981.

Werbelow received his undergraduate degree from Humboldt State University, Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of British Columbia and a D.Sc. in organic chemistry from the Université de Provence, in France.

Werbelow resides in Socorro with his wife, Catherine, and their three children, Prisca (14), Guilhem (11), and Neil, (10). Currently, he is holding a newly created visiting distinguished professorship at Arrhenius Laboratory in Sweden.

The Distinguished Teaching Award went to Dr. Paul Fuierer, associate professor of materials engineering. Paul came to New Mexico Tech from Penn State, where he earned his master's and Ph.D. degrees in solid state science. He received his bachelor's degree in ceramic engineering from Alfred University in 1984. In 1992, Paul joined New Mexico Tech's Department of Materials Engineering, where he has just been granted tenure and promoted to associate professor.

Paul's students described his courses as "labor intensive" but added that they emerge from these courses with great confidence that they know the subject matter. One student said, "This course synthesizes fundamentals of math and physics with the science of materials very elegantly. Although the organization of the course is not conventional, it is very logical."

The New Mexico Tech Alumni Association presented two awards to distinguished alumni. The first went to Dr. Rafi Al-Hussaini of Mobil Oil Corp., for research in the areas of oil and gas recovery. Dr. Al-Hussainy came to New Mexico Tech in 1960, after having earned a bachelor's degree in engineering physics in Baghdad, Iraq. It took him only two years to earn a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering from New Mexico Tech, graduating in 1962. Dr. Al-Hussainy went on to earn his master's and Ph.D. in petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University.

Since 1966, Dr. Al-Hussainy has had a distinguished career with Mobil Oil Corporation. Since 1994, he has been a Senior Consultant with Mobil's Exploration and Producing Technical Center in Dallas, the highest technical position within that division.

During the period 1965 to 67, Dr. Al-Hussainy significantly advanced the science of real gas flow in porous media, by reducing a second-order, non-linear differential equation with variable coefficients to a linear equation. This immediately made a large body of liquid flow solutions available to understand gas flow problems. This concept has become the industry standard in gas well testing, gas reservoir management, and gas production for the past 25 years.

In addition, Dr. Al-Hussainy made important contributions to the solution of problems in the areas of water influx in gas reservoirs; wellbore storage, the skin effect, and type-curve analysis; and estimated average reservoir pressure. He also pioneered the concept and practices of reservoir management and made extensive contributions to practical aspects of oil and gas field development in the North Sea, Indonesia, Nigeria, and the Middle East. He has presented worldwide lectures on reservoir development, enhanced recovery, reservoir surveillance, and advanced in horizontal well applications.

The second Alumni Association Distinguished Achievement Award went to Dr. Saul J. Escalera, noted metallurgist, distinguished Fulbright scholar, and member of the Bolivian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Escalera is a leader in areas of metallurgy and mining in his native Bolivia. He is currently responsible for the Scientific and Technological Information Center at the School of Science and Technology of the Universidad de San Simon in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where he is also a tenured professor and does research in non-metallic mineral technology.

Saul came to New Mexico Tech with a bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering from the Universidad Tecnica de Oruro in Bolivia. He earned two degrees at New Mexico Tech: a master's in metallurgical engineering in 1966 and a Ph.D. in metallurgy in 1971. After graduation, Saul worked in both the United States and Brazil before returning to his native Bolivia in 1982.

In October 1995, Saul was appointed a member of the National Academy of Sciences of Bolivia for "significant contributions to the fields of chemistry and metallurgy in the nation" in recognition of his more than 35 research papers, two U. S. patents, and seven academic textbooks published in Bolivia.

Dr. Escalera was chosen as one of 25 outstanding Fulbright scholars who were honored with an award on June 30, 1996, in honor of the Fiftieth anniversary of the Fulbright Distinguished Fellows Program. As part of the celebration, Saul was invited by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers to give the summary address at the closing of the Fifth World Congress of Chemical Engineering in July 1996 in San Diego, Calif. He is also the principal editor of the proceedings of the Congress.


(Kathleen Hedges)