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Michigan Technological University

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building

1400 Townsend Dr., Houghton, MI  44931-1295  

phone: 906.487.2531  fax: 906.487.3371



Updated Oct 2011


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Michigan Tech’s Peace Corps Master’s Intenational, the largest in the country, is lauded by the Peace Corps. (L-R)  Prof. Blair Orr, PC official Eric Goldman,  Graduate dean Jackie Huntoon, and President Glen Mroz.

PCMI STUDENTS LEAVE FOR SERVICE 01/10   Three students, Bri Hetland, Patty Cobin and Steph Tubman (l-r in photos) left recently for staging in DC and then on to Guatemala to begin their Peace Corps service. All plan to work in volcanology and hazard mitigation. We wish them the best of luck!

UPDATE FROM THE FIELD - BENIN  01/10    PCMI student Jeremy Jenson, just shy of 18 months in Benin, is working on improving water supply to his community. With an active women’s garden group wanting to irrigate more land to increase crop production, brining water from a nearby stream will help immensely. Additionally, a fish farm is proposed to make further use of the dam. Determining environmental impact is of utmost priority, especially as it borders the National Park Penjari. “...it is important to responsibly use our water resources and monitor the effect that our development has on the environment,” Jeremy says.


He is using a range of water budget software to track the theoretical input and output of water in the system, looking at both how well the model matches field measurements (Focusing primarily on increased losses due to evapotranspiration), and the practicality of the software in development situations.  

The women’s gardening group in Jeremy’s community.

Jeremy and ‘the road that goes nowhere’.


[Follow him on his blog]

ROSE AND LYONS COMMENT ON HAITIAN EARTHQUAKE -  01/10    Michigan Tech’s Tech Today, interviewed  professor Bill Rose and PhD candidate John Lyons about the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti. "We try to reduce vulnerability," says Rose, professor of petrology and director of Tech's Peace Corps Master's International Program (PCMI) in Natural Hazards Mitigation. Many of the PCMI students are involved in earthquake mitigation education at local schools and in communities. Read more in the article, Planning for the worst: Could anything have helped Haiti?


SPANISH AND CERVEZA  -  04/10    Hans Lechner, (seated, center) recent return Peace Corps volunteer and MI student, wanted to keep up the Spanish he learned as a volunteer in El Salvador. So he re-initiated an activity he started prior to leaving for his service: the weekly "Spanish and Cerveza" held at a local downtown brewpub and open to people of all levels and from all departments on campus. Typically, 10-20 students and faculty show up weekly to hone their Spanish speaking (and drinking) skills.

MICHIGAN TECH PEACE CORPS MASTERS INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM RECOGNIZED -  03/10    Erick Goldman, the Peace Corps Master’s International director in Washington, visited Michigan Tech to extend his thanks to the university for creating the strongest Master’s International (MI) program in the US. Currently 55 students are enrolled in 7 different MI programs on campus. Goldman praised, “No one comes close to your commitment and accomplishment," he said, "...there are countries around the world that want Michigan Tech Peace Corps volunteers."Read more in the Tech Today article.

ESCOBAR-WOLF FEATURED ON GUATEMALAN NEWS -  04/10    PhD candidate Rudiger Escobar-Wolf, on a recent trip to his homeland of Guatemala to continue his research on Fuego volcano, was the subject of an in-depth interview on ‘Entremosle a Guate’, a local news program. Escobar-Wolf spoke about the two aspects of his thesis work - the geological study of the volcano and assessing affected communities perceptions of the volcano and associated hazards. Watch the video (start at 13 mins), or check out the program website.

Rudiger Escobar-Wolf (rigtht) is interviewed by Harris Whitbeck on ‘Entremosle a Guate’.

VOLCANO ERUPTION NEAR PCMI SITE - 05/10     Brianna Hetland, a volunteer who arrived in her site several months ago as a Peace Corps volunteer, has witnessed two natural disasters in a very short time. First was the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano followed by tropical storm Agatha. Several towns, including hers were evacuated until further notice. See photos and read more on the eruption, the impact on nearby villages, and how Bri is able to help here or in her blog. Want to help? Read her treatise for help replacing damaged roofs. Donations for relief efforts are being collected here.

Top: Bri Hetland

Top Right: Bri’s photo of Volcano Pacaya eruption May 27, 2010.

Bottom right: Roofs destroyed by erupted  tephra bombs.

PhD candidate Miriam Rios-Sanchez (center)  works with local scientists and technicians in the Dominican Republic.


PhD candidate Miriam Rios-Sanchez was offered an appointment to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a one-week expert assignment to assist in the identification and mapping of the major karst features of Los Haitises zone in the Dominican Republic using remote sensing tools. Rios-Sanchez worked with the hydrology department of  Dominican Republic’s National institute of Hydraulic Resources (INDRHI) and the Center for Sustainable Management  of Water Resources in the Insular States of the Caribbean (CEHICA)


On July 30th, PhD candidate Rüdiger Escobar Wolf gave a presentation to the National Disaster Reduction Council and the vice president of Guatemala, Dr. Rafael Espada. The topic of the talk was "Volcanic risk and risk management in Guatemala". Volcanic risk in Guatemala has recently become a topic of great concern, particularly after the eruption of Pacaya volcano on May 27, 2010 which caused widespread damage. Dr. Espada requested Escobar-Wolf to give this talk after consultations with the council. The presentation discussed the issue of volcanic risk at a general level and the possibilities for management, mainly through early warning systems. A special emphasis was given to the role of scientific research and

PhD candidate Escobar Wolf (far left)  waits to speak following words by Guatemalan Vice President Dr. Espada (far right). Also present are the head of the Guatemalan National Disaster Reduction agency (CONRED), Alejandro Maldonado (photo courtesy of CONRED).

how this research can be improved in Guatemala. Dr. Espada expressed hope for further collaboration and advances in the field of natural disaster mitigation.

Science and Engineering Expo,

Washington DC - 10/10

Graduate students Luke Bowman, Kyle Brill, and Anieri Morales Rivera demonstrated equipment and techniques used by field researchers to monitor volcanic activity at the Science and Engineering Expo on National Mall. This program was one of only 15 NSF-funded projects invited to participate nationwide. The Expo involved activities for all ages hosted by more than 350 of the nation’s science and engineering organizations to expose attendees to a broad spectrum of science. MORE

Bowman and Brill teach children and their parents about the various tools used in hazard monitoring. (Photo: A.Morales)

Fall 2010 cohort - 09/10

In one of our largest cohorts yet, seven new students arrived this fall. All with strong geology backgrounds, six of the students are enrolled in the Peace Corps Master’s International program. The students’ interest varies from volcanic hazards to water resources development to geoscience education. Welcome!

Top L-R: Tyler Barton, Jackie Houston, Dan Smith. Bottom L-R: Jay Wellik, Shana Volesky, Justin Olson, Allison Miller

A panel of RPCV students discuss their experiences in education as Peace Corps volunteers.  (Photo: E.Paterson)

Teaching Peace Corps Style Program gears up for spring session - 3/11

Serving to strengthen the program’s outreach, prepare our students for service, and provide an opportunity to improve science communication, the Teaching Peace Corps Style (TPCS) program is strong in its second year. Prior to entering the local junior high school classroom where each PCMI student will impart a class, the MI students participate in several workshops, facilitated by RPCV Emily Gochis, related to classroom teaching. This session was devoted to garnering the experiences of seven Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) as they recount the highs and lows as a teacher in the Peace Corps.


INVOGE Volcano Seminars 2011


March 14-18, 2011, Michigan Tech



Students speak at volcano seminar - 3/11

International Geological Master’s in Volcanology and Geotechniques (INVOGE), a dual degree program with several European universities, sponsored a seminar on volcanology. PhD candidate Rudiger Escobar-Wolf, and PCMI students Jay Wellik and Justin Olson presented their research and recent fieldwork on Guatemalan volcanoes. See recordings of their presentations.