by Kathy Hedges

SOCORRO -- New Mexico Tech will hold commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 15, 2004. Two hundred and ninety-nine degrees will be granted by the state-supported research university.

Dr. Robert Cormack

Photo: Dr. Robert Cormack

New Mexico Tech plans to name Dr. Robert Cormack, professor of psychology, as recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award for 2004. Cormack, who has taught at the university since 1968, has served as chair of both the psychology and education programs since 1971. He has also taught courses in computer science, biology, and humanities, as well as presenting the semiannual "How to Study" seminars. In addition, Cormack has been actively involved in many of Tech's spring musicals over the years, both as a performer and stage director. He also served for seven years as Dean of Students and one year as Acting Dean of Graduate Students.

Students nominated Cormack for the award based on his ability to demand critical thinking and problem-solving from them, and for his outstanding advising.

One student commented, "Dr. Cormack challenges and encourages each student to strive for excellence whether it is in the classroom or off campus. His intellect, wit, and easygoing manner make learning in his classroom an experience not to be forgotten."

New Mexico Tech will present the Distinguished Research Award of 2004 to Dr. Jill Buckley, a petroleum chemist with Tech's Petroleum Recovery Research Center. Dr. Buckley has gained international recognition as a leading authority in oilfield wettability research, understanding the complex interactions between crude oil, rock, and salt water. She has helped develop a better understanding of how these substances interact and move underground, and her research group has developed an extensive "library" of oil samples from around the world, with a detailed chemical analysis of each.

Buckley heads PRRC's Petrophysics and Surface Chemistry Group and holds adjunct faculty appointments in Tech's departments of Chemistry, Petroleum and Chemical Engineering, and Earth and Environmental Science.

Dr. Buckley is a co-founder, along with Dr. Norman Morrow, formerly of PRRC, of a highly successful biannual conference series on reservoir wettability. In addition, she was the recipient of the 2002 Society of Core Analysts Technical Achievement Award.

The New Mexico Tech Alumni Association selected two residents of Socorro to receive their Distinguished Achievement Awards. Don Tripp, a 1969 graduate of New Mexico Tech, is well-known as a state legislator and successful Socorro businessman. The other recipient, Leyla Sedillo, a 1973 alumna, also has a distinguished record of public service and business accomplishment. She was Socorro County's first woman county commissioner and later Socorro County Treasurer, and ran several successful businesses in town. Currently, she is Associate Vice President for Budget at New Mexico Tech.

The Langmuir Award, for a distinguished research paper by a recent graduate of New Mexico Tech, is going to Dr. Michelle Walvoord, a recent graduate in hydrology. In 2003, she was the lead author on a paper in the prestigious journal Science, showing that desert subsoils contain unexpectedly found large concentrations of nitrate. This has both positive and negative implications for the environment.

Five members of the Class of 1954, including Socorro resident Eugene O'Connor, will celebrate their Golden Reunion at Commencement.