Commencement 2002

SOCORRO, N.M., May 11, 2002 - New Mexico Tech held Commencement on Saturday, May 11, at 11 a.m. on the lawn south of Brown Hall. Two hundred and sixty-six degrees were awarded.

The top award to a graduate student, the Founders' Award, was presented to Tim Canty, who also received a Ph.D. in atmospheric physics. Canty had a long record of leadership in the Graduate Student Association, and was a leader in the effort to establish the Student Health Center on campus. In addition, he was active in the physics club, initiating their annual paper airplane contest and conducting many outreach activities and science demonstrations for schools. He has also been the author of several professional publications, poster reports, and oral presentations.

The top award to an undergraduate, the Brown Award, went to Virginia Starke. Starke earned two bachelor's degrees, in mathematics and physics, with a minor in history. Last year, she received a leadership award from the Society of Physics Students, one of only three given nationwide. Virginia holds a Macey Scholarship and a Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation Scholarship, in addition to her New Mexico Tech Silver Scholarship. Her contributions on two separate research projects have lead to co-authorship of two published journal papers, as an undergraduate. She has held summer internships at Los Alamos National Lab and Cornell's nanotechnology lab.

Virginia was active in the Tech Physics Club for four years, serving one term as its vice president. She participated in numerous outreach activities: organizing the paper airplane contest, and conducting demonstrations for schools and the Socorro Arts Party. She has been active in the fencing club and a leader on the Tech Women's Soccer Team. She has also actively served as an assistant troupe leader for local girl scouts.

Starke, a graduate of Los Alamos High School, is the daughter of Jane and Thomas Starke of Los Alamos. Starke has a six-month position as a physical science technician, working for the Submillimeter Array, an astronomical instrument operated by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Hawaii.

The Cramer Award, presented to the male and female graduates who rank highest in engineering, went to three students this year. Two top female students tied for the award: Margit Jensen and Michaelann Shortencarrier.

Michaelann Shortencarrier, a 1998 graduate of La Cueva High School, also received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering with highest honors. Michaelann was named a runner-up for the Engineering Student of the Year for 2002. She is the daughter of Mona Blagg of Bloomfield, N.M., and of Michael and Jill Shortencarrier of Albuquerque.

Margit Jensen received a bachelor's degree in materials engineering with highest honors. She is a 1990 graduate of Washingtonville High School in Washingtonville, New York, and she attended Orange County Community College in New York. She has been at Tech since the Fall of 1998. She is the daughter of Marie Zarankevich of Ithaca, N.Y., and Ernest Jensen of Pine Bush, N.Y.

The Cramer Award for the male student ranking highest in engineering went to Samuel Hawkins, who also received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering with highest honors. Hawkins is the son of Sandra and David Hawkins of Kirtland, N.M. and is a 1993 graduate of Kirtland Central High School. He transferred to New Mexico Tech in 2000 from San Juan Community College.

New Mexico Tech honored three faculty members for outstanding achievements in teaching and research. Dr. Robert Holson, associate professor of psychology, was honored with the Students' Choice Award. Dr. Holson was nominated by students because of his efforts in the classroom, his responsiveness to student needs as a caring advisor and professor, and his widespread campus influence.

The Distinguished Teaching Award went to Dr. Mark Cal, associate professor of environmental engineering. Dr. Cal was described by students an effective teacher of complex material, with the ability to explain potentially complex subjects through the use of easily understood real-life examples. Dr. Cal has been active as the advisor to the Environmental Engineering Club. He has encouraged field trips and aided the club to develop professionally by encouraging national memberships and conference attendance. He has also been an effective mentor of graduate students conducting research under his supervision, and of undergraduates applying to graduate school.

The Distinguished Research Award went to Randall Seright of New Mexico Tech's Petroleum Recovery Research Center. Dr. Seright heads a research program in petroleum recovery, focusing on methods to prevent fluid channeling through reservoirs and to reduce excess water and gas production during oil recovery. The program is considered by many of Seright's colleagues to be the world's leading research program in this area.

Dr. Seright is also strongly involved in professional organizations at the national level. He is a member of the International Board of Directors for the SPE, the Society of Petroleum Engineers. He was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer for 1993-1994, and he served as Chairman of the SPE Distinguished Lecturer Committee during 1998-1999.

The university presented its Langmuir Award to graduate student Kristin A. Fletcher. The Langmuir Award is for an outstanding research paper published during the previous year. Ms. Fletcher was the leading author on a paper published in the new journal "Green Chemistry." The paper made significant contributions to the understanding of ionic liquids which may some day replace environmentally harmful organic solvents in industrial chemistry.

The Class of 1952, who were holding their Golden Reunion, were honored during the Commencement. In addition, the Alumni Association presented awards to W. Denby Auble, Class of 1978, and Patrick Rodriguez, Class of 1970.


(Kathleen Hedges)