Colorado School of Mines’ Provost, Tom Boyd, announced that this year’s Fryrear Chair for Innovation and Excellence is Dr. Geoff Brennecka. Geoff is an Associate Professor in the Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Department. He received BS and MS degrees in Ceramic Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri S&T) in 2001 and 2002 and a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois in 2006. He spent 8 years as technical staff at the Sandia National Laboratories before joining the Mines faculty in 2014. Geoff is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and the recipient of a number of awards including the Mines Dean’s Excellence Award; he has previously served on the Board of Directors for the American Ceramic Society and IEEE-UFFC, and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Ceramics and Glass Industry Foundation as well as Editor of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society.Dr. Geoff Brennecka

Geoff will be joining our team of Wendy Zhou, Graduate Dean, and Roel Snieder, the W. M. Keck Distinguished Professor and Director of Professional Enhancement and Innovation, helping to create and advance a distinctive graduate signature experience at Mines. In particular, Geoff will focus on creating and supporting activities and opportunities for incoming graduate student cohorts that position them better for success while at Mines and beyond. As one part of these efforts, Geoff will develop an active program that engages, encourages, and assists first-year PhD students in applying for national and internationally competitive fellowships with a Mines@150 goal of having 10% of our incoming PhD class supported by prestigious external awards by 2024. More broadly, a formal program that is available to all incoming PhD students will create at Mines a point of distinction compared to competitor institutions as well as varied opportunities to build camaraderie amongst and support structures for cohorts of new students, all while extending the reach and impact of our faculty’s sponsored research programs.

In addition to this initiative, Roel and Wendy are working with Geoff on other initiatives focused on improving and enhancing the overall experience of our graduate students. The foci of these efforts include:

• Ensuring students receive superb mentoring and advising in a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment by providing mentoring training to faculty, in which excellent mentoring is a shared value among faculty, and where career planning, skill-assessment, and faculty-student agreements, are regular components of the graduate program.
• Providing a unique breadth of education and career preparation that, apart from superb disciplinary courses, contains an active and attractive program in professional development education, an active participation in internships and externships, and national and international exchange with other universities. And,
• Creating a graduate community where students feel at home, that celebrates cultural diversity, that promotes scientific and personal interaction, that offers an enrichment beyond the discipline, and that incorporates an active participation by faculty.