Graduate Students


Dany Drury
Lucas Enright
Jacob Ivy
Valerie Jacobson
Allison Mis
Shannon Rogers
Nick Rollman
Rachel Sherbondy
Michael Walden


Sean Jones
Sami El Hageali
Edwin Supple


Anyka Bergeson-Keller
Jake Huang
Youdong Kim
Charles Meisel
Meagan Papac
Yewon Shin


Henry Quansah Afful
Anna Braun
Jason Chenenko
Allison Perna
Jai Sharma
Sarah Sortedahl
Savannah Ullrich


Amanda Bellafatto
Brian Davis
Dylan Jennings
Jesus Vazquez Gonzalez
Michael Knight


Elizabeth Palmiotti
Jake Wands

Undergraduate Students

Advisor: Geoff Brennecka

Lanie Breckenridge
Mary Dougherty
Luc Hagen
Joey Kurutz
Colton Lowry
Kirsten Mertz
Joe Protiva
Paul Slayback
Jamie Tellez Gonzalez
Michael Thuis
Don Tran
Gregory Vigil
Noah Weiber (high school student)

Advisor: Brian Gorman

Samuel Manzanares

Advisors: Brian Gorman and Corinne Packard

Jack Kleikamp

Advisor: Corinne Packard

Desmond Mills
Majid Mohammad

Advisor: Ivar Reimanis

Alice Certes
Alexandria Mares

 Advisor: Angus Rockett

Cierra DellaRova

Past Featured Students

Kevin Talley

Featured CCAC Graduate Student: Kevin Talley

CCAC Featured Student Interview

What is your background?

I was raised in the booming ex-dairy town of Meridian, Idaho. A cliché suburban landscape, Meridian had few opportunities for excitement, but I was strongly encouraged to discover and sharpen my talents. During this period, I achieved a Black Belt in Taekwondo and an Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America. I held various positions in fast food restaurants, a bassist role in a garage punk bad, and graduated from Meridian High School a semester early in 2005.

To see more about Kevin’s history, click here

What are you working on at CSM?

I work on synthesis and characterization of piezoelectric nitride thin films using high-throughput combinatorial methods. This includes primarily hetrostrucutral alloying of aluminum nitride with other trivalent nitride ceramics. This work is accomplished primarily using the tools and equipment at NREL.

What are your career aspirations?

I desire to take my thin-films processing and characterization skills to a global semi-conductor company where I can apply them to new films development. I recently participated in a internship with Applied Materials in Silicon Valley were I was able to practice and hone these skills. I also have a passion for data driven problem solving, and am interested in pursuing an alternative path in Data Science.

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

Be open to learning new fields, techniques, and perspectives. Don’t focus on what you want to do in your career, but rather what you can do next to learn something you didn’t know before. Always be looking for areas to apply your creativity and problem solving skills.

What are some non-academic activities, hobbies, etc. that you enjoy?

I like to turn potential energy into kinetic energy by riding the gradient of the gravity field. In other words, I like to bomb the trails on my mountain bike, kayak raging whitewater, and blast through powder fields on my skis.

When is your expected graduation?

I plan to graduate in December of 2019.

Read more about Kevin here.

John Mangum & George Burton

Featured CCAC Graduate Students: John Mangum/George Burton

CCAC Featured Student Interview Questions


What is your background? (Where are you from, where did you get your undergraduate degree, past work experience, etc.)

 I came to Colorado from North Carolina, where I spent the first twenty-two years of my life. My undergrad degree was in materials science at NC State University. There I did a little bit of research looking at the diffusion of different elemental species in piezoelectric devices. This is where my passion for materials characterization began!

 What are you working on at CSM?

 Here at Mines, my research involves using a bunch of different characterization methods to understand the crystallization behavior of amorphous titanium oxide thin films. I find this work extremely interesting because it is a very challenging and fundamental materials science problem. Probably the coolest thing I get to do is actually watch my materials crystallize in real time at really small size scales with in-situ TEM. Such direct observations of materials processes like these are really hard to beat, in my opinion!

 What are your career aspirations?

 I would love to continue my research focus in nanoscale characterization, especially in-situ TEM. There are just so many possibilities in terms of exciting experiments still to be done. Eventually, however, I would like to end up in a teaching position somewhere that I can teach materials science, specifically introductory and characterization courses.

 Do you have any advice for incoming students?

 There is always something to be learned from everything you do in grad school, especially the failures (also.. be prepared for many many failures)! It might sound mega cliché, but having this mentality will keep you both sane and motivated through it all.

 What are some non-academic activities, hobbies, etc. that you enjoy?

Aside from research, I keep myself happy by cooking/creating many different types of foods and drinks, as well as rock climbing and generally being outdoors. These still let me use my science-oriented and problem-solving side outside the lab, but not have to think about work. I definitely recommend finding something you enjoy beyond research to fill your free time (and side note: make sure you set aside enough free time for yourself – don’t be working too hard now!).

Click here for John’s CV


What is your background? (Where are you from, where did you get your undergraduate degree, past work experience, etc.)

I grew up in Highland, MD, a small town near Washington, DC. I received my B.S. in Physics from Georgetown University and spent about one year before graduate school working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD. I was lucky to have a research project early on in undergrad making organic nanoparticles with photovoltaic applications. With a passion for research and renewables, I knew the graduate school, particularly CSM would be the perfect place to continue pursuing my goals.

 What are you working on at CSM?

Initially, I worked on a large collaborative project with NREL, looking at single crystal CdTe photovoltaics. Currently, I am working on structure-property relationships of grain boundaries in fuel cell materials with correlative atom probe tomography and electron microscopy. The generous CoorsTek Fellowship has allowed me to pursue this research. During the course of my graduate career, I have been very fortunate to travel to a number of conferences to present my research, including two international ones–APT&M in Gyeongju, South Korea, and IMC in Sydney, Australia.

 What are your career aspirations?

I would like to work at a national lab as a research scientist working in the field of microscopy.

 Do you have any advice for incoming students?

Take breaks and have some fun! I have found that I am more productive when I take the time to travel to the mountains.

 What are some non-academic activities, hobbies, etc. that you enjoy?

I love playing tennis (I was on the Mines club tennis team for three years), skiing especially in the backcountry, and hiking/backpacking.

Click here for George’s CV

Michael Walden

Featured CCAC Graduate Student:
Michael Walden

What is your background?
I was born in St. Louis, MO and grew up close enough to always be a Cardinals fan. My undergraduate degree is in Ceramics Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology, with a minor in physics. I’ve worked at a tax preparation firm, at a lead and silver mine, and at GE Aviation in Dayton, OH.
What are you working on at CSM?
I am currently pursuing a PhD in Materials Science at Mines, working with density functional theory (DFT) to calculate the electrical properties of various materials. My research explores bandgaps in the Bi(Fe,Cr)O3 system, which is a multiferroic material that could be used as a topological insulator or the basis for fault-tolerant quantum computing, among other applications. I’m also active in the undergraduate materials science organizations at Mines, like the Material Advantage and Keramos chapters. The latter is fairly new, and helping out there gives me a chance to maintain some grounded experience in traditional ceramics work.
What are your career aspirations?
Immediately following the completion of my PhD, I plan on pursuing a postdoctoral research position working with quantum computing. I’d like to work for IBM either in New York or in Zurich for 10-15 years, before ultimately returning to academia at a university with ceramics-focused undergraduate and graduate programs.
What are some non-academic activities, hobbies, etc. that you enjoy?
One look at my office will tell you I like reading books. The fiction I read is predominately Neal Stephenson or Isaac Asimov, but I’m also working my way through the older classics (currently Common Sense, by Paine). Obviously it’s hard to recreate inside all day in Colorado, so I do enjoy hiking and biking in the mountains around Golden.
Do you have any advice for incoming students?
The best piece of advice I have received and used at Mines is to increase the breadth of my friends circle in terms of research fields. I feel like there’s sometimes a tendency to become too focused on one area of materials, and then for instance the photovoltaic people only talk to other photovoltaic people, or the computational people only talk to other computational people. Fortunately I think Mines and the Materials Science program specifically have done a lot to help bring those groups together. Having friends in Chemistry and Biological Engineering, in Physics, in Materials Science, in Mechanical Engineering, and so forth has been an enormous help to me, from studying for the qualifying exam to directing the course of my research.


Expected Graduation
Summer 2018
PhD ~ Materials Science

What is your background?

I was born in São Paulo, Brazil and lived most of my childhood with my mom, dad, sis, our pinscher Dino and our great dane Teddy in a country house, in a tiny town called Jarinú. I got my B.E. degree in Chemical Engineering at Faculdades Oswaldo Cruz in São Paulo. During undergrad I did two years of undergrad research in titanium oxide catalysts for degradation of phenol, funded by FAPESP, one of the most prestigious research funding agencies in Brazil. I worked for two years as an intern at BASF decorative paint division, one year in the R&D and the second year in Process Engineering. I later worked at PwC in consulting for engineering projects. I moved to the USA in 2012 and started my PhD at Mines in August 2014.

What are you working on at CSM?

I chose to come to Mines, because Prof. O’Hayre gave me the opportunity to work on the type of research that I am very passionate about: renewable energy.

My PhD project is about applying materials science knowledge to design materials for hydrogen production using solar thermal energy to split water. What I like the most about my research is that I am one of the few students that has had the chance to not only synthesize and characterize the new materials, but also to test them for the real application. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have visited and worked at Sandia National Lab in Livermore and Albuquerque during my PhD. It was a life experience for me to visit the National Thermal Test Facility where the Sandia Solar tower is located. I am also very grateful for presenting at two conferences, Solid State Ionics in Keystone, CO and ECI Nonstoichiometic Compounds in Santa Fe, NM, as well as attending the renewable energy summer school in Erice, Italy.

What are your career aspirations?

I don’t know what I will do when I grow up, but I’ve always enjoyed working in the industry…

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

Dedication and persistence are the keys for having success in grad school, however you should try to take a break sometimes. Let grad school be the best years of your life.

What are some non-academic activities that you enjoy?

I enjoy hiking with my Jack Russel mix Daisy and biking with my husband. I have a lot of fun baking artisan bread, cakes and pastries while my husband brews beer. Back in Brazil I also enjoyed accompanying my dad to the flying field to see him flying his model planes. When I have more time, I would like to learn how to fly my own model planes.

Keramos Student club Glass pieces ~ For Sale

Come see the display case in the lobby of Hill Hall

For more information email:

Featured CCAC Graduate Student: Meagan Papac

CCAC Featured Student Interview

What is your background?

I grew up in rural Idaho and was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. This educational experience imparted strong skills in independent learning and encouraged my curiosity. I couldn’t decide what to study after high school and took a meandering path through the local community college, ending up with an associate’s degree in English. I finally got serious about higher education when my daughter was 1 year old. (Great timing 😉 I thought I was going to be a civil engineer (silly me!), but I took a materials science intro course in my freshman year and realized I’d finally found something that could hold my attention! I completed my bachelor’s degree at Boise State University and came straight to Mines to continue on to my PhD.

What are you working on at CSM?

My work is focused on the fundamental science behind transport in mixed ionic/electronic conductors. I perform the majority of my research at NREL, where I use pulsed laser deposition to synthesize combinatorial thin films. I am also building characterization capability to study the electrochemical properties of these films under a range of temperatures and gas environments.

What are your career aspirations?

I am passionate about science communication both within the scientific community and between experts and the general public. I love language and strongly believe that effective communication is a critical part of education, decision making, and efficient scientific advancement.

I want to maximize the amount of time I get to spend reading and writing about science, so I’d like to end up somewhere between scientific editor and program manager. For now…I’ll just keep working hard in the lab.

Do you have any advice for incoming students?

Each of us comes in with unique abilities, limits, and approaches. Know what is important to you (for your education/career and also for your personal life) and keep a sharp eye on your goals. It can be easy to assume that everyone around you has it all together when you feel like you are sinking in quicksand. (FYI…they probably don’t.) Keep in mind that you are on your own journey and that there is no single definition of success! Also…don’t be afraid to take a break when you need it. Everyone feels a little burnt out sometimes.

What are some non-academic activities, hobbies, etc. that you enjoy?

When I’m not too busy teaching my daughter (now 10) about Kröger-Vink notation or defects in perovskites, I love going on new adventures of all kinds, whether in a book, around the corner, or on the road! Seriously, though…bargain getaways are my specialty.


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