Mark Miller, Dr. Miskimins

Mark Miller, Dr. Miskimins



Massadona night skies are

still amazing. This year I

downloaded an iPad star

map application, pointed it

at the sky and was able to

see which bright spot was

which. One night, Saturn,

Jupiter and Mars were

all easily visible. Those

students who looked up got

first-hand experience that

Mars really is red. Some

students had never had the

opportunity to identify a

planet before. At least they

Mark G. Miller didn’t argue, like a student

from about a dozen years ago that you couldn’t see planets with the naked eye. Those in the second group had several nights of clear skies where things really stood out.

Other than downloading star maps, having a good Massadona Internet connection this year also enabled downloading entire MS and PhD theses immediately before going out to the field. We changed exercises one day to do more Green River carbonate geology. A supplemental antenna really helped the hotspot keep a connection. In previous years, trying to maintain a connection was an exercise in futility. Lengthy email responses frequently were lost and became less lengthy

the second time around and almost non-existent if another attempt was needed.

Taking strikes and dips with a compass is another rite of passage associated with field session. In recent years, students purchased compasses that were primarily meant for navigation. Because they don’t have a level bubble, the strike measurement can vary from one student to another by several degrees (at least). However, as was noted by Professor Elio Dean this year, and others before him, there are iPhone apps that are meant to take strike and dip. Some applications only require the user to lay the phone on the bedding plane, no rotating, no estimating level, just place the phone on a surface to get location (latitude and longitude) as well as strike and dip. Perhaps future students will be required to have a smart phone rather than a traditional compass. In addition to cars with full tanks of gas, every morning their phones will have to be charged and ready to go.

Dr. Linda Battalora and I were recently selected to be the faculty advisors for all of the department’s students. This was done to provide students more consistent advising. Together we each have over 300 advisees. While most students are not required to meet with us, it doesn’t take very many to keep us busy. Fortunately, Terri Snyder is our able assistant. Together we are working on an advising website for students where they can find the most current information about our curriculum changes.


Greetings to all the alumni

out there! If you think

you’re having a bout of

déjà vu or have picked up

a department newsletter

from a few years ago, I can

guarantee that you’re not.

After a few years absence

from the department, I

have returned to the faculty

full-time. Actually, the

“absence” never really was

a total one since I continued

to teach courses and advise

graduate students, but that

was in a part-time capacity.

Dr. Miskimins halibut fishing in Alaska. I signed my contract to

return full-time in early May and within a few days was on my way to Midland, TX, with a field session group. Shortly after that, I headed out to Massadona, CO, to resume teaching field session in that part

of the world. Now that’s when I started having personal déjà vu. I didn’t really expect the rocks to change, but I’m pretty sure nothing else had either!!

Since announcing my return, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked “why?” The answer is a simple one – I missed you, the alums, and the students. I missed the teaching. I missed the university setting. I’ve had fun doing what I was doing in the past couple of years, and my engineering skills have been enhanced because of it, but being back at Mines is truly like coming home for me.

So now that I’m back, what will I be doing? Many of the same things that I have in the past. I’ll be involved in teaching some graduate and undergraduate classes. I’ll be working with Hazim Abass on the FAST Consortium, as well as working on some other research programs. This summer I helped teach one of the externships (you can read about them in another section of this newsletter). In general, just helping the department out where I can, however I can.