- December (4)
- November (7)
- October (3)
- September (3)
- August (3)
- July (1)
- June (2)
- May (4)
- April (13)
- March (5)
- February (7)
- January (5)
She arrives toting a backpack, loaded with the gear and tools of the miner’s trade — hard hat, safety glasses, orange vest, compass, rock hammer, sample bag, notebook, hand lens — and invites one lucky student to suit up. She scatters ore around the playground for students to scoop up, take home, and identify the minerals within. She engages students in educational, hands-on activities, including mining gold, silver and copper beads from birdseed and chocolate chips from cookies. Then she teaches them that in a miners’ world cleaning up during and after mining — reclamation — is very important.
Exhilarating and eye-opening for the students, it’s all in a day’s work for Pamela A.K. Wilkinson, education outreach coordinator for the University of Arizona Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources.
Wilkinson has received the 2014 Prazen ‘Living Legend’ Award from the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville, Colorado.
Located in a former silver mining boomtown atop the Rocky Mountains, the National Mining Hall of Fame presents this award to individuals and organizations committed to educating the public on the importance of minerals and the mining industry. Wilkinson is only the second individual to receive the award since it was established in 1995.
Wilkinson accepted her award, a bronze statue of a miner created by renowned sculptor Gary Prazen, at the Hall of Fame’s 27th annual induction banquet on September 13 in Denver.
“I am honored that the National Mining Hall of Fame has recognized my outreach work for the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources,” Wilkinson said. “Exciting young people about minerals, geology and mining has been the capstone of my career.”
That career has been diverse and impressive, particularly for a woman who entered geology in the early 1970s. She earned a bachelor’s degree in geology and teacher certification at the College of William and Mary, and a master’s in geology from Eastern Kentucky University, before working for several years as an industrial minerals geologist in private industry and as a geologist for the Arizona Geological Survey. Always drawn to teaching, she became a volunteer teacher and scientist in residence for grades K-6 over the next 15 years.
In 2011 she joined the UA Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources as education outreach coordinator. The position is funded by the Mining Foundation of the Southwest — whose American Mining Hall of Fame is separate from the National Mining Hall of Fame.
While inspiring young children with engaging activities is part of her program, most of Wilkinson’s time is spent in middle and high school classrooms. She introduces students to modern mining practices, presents her traveling mineral museum and gives lessons on Arizona’s unique ore deposits, sustainable mining practices and mining career opportunities.
“With her vast experience in the mining industry and education, and her remarkable ability to captivate young people, Pam Wilkinson is a treasure for the people and state of Arizona,” said Mary Poulton, director of the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources and former head of the UA department of mining and geological engineering.
See the full article here.
In photo at top: Roger A. Newell, board member of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, presents Pam Wilkinson with the 2014 Prazen ‘Living Legend’ Award, recognizing her education outreach work for the UA Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources.
MSE Professor Pierre Lucas is the co-author of a new book on rare earth that has just been published. The book, titled “Rare Earths: Science, Technology, Production and Use” presents a comprehensive review of the structure and properties of rare earth elements (REE) and illuminates ways to reduce the use of water and energy during production of materials and to efficiently recycle rare earth materials, both of end-use products and in the production of new products.
In addition to his position as Professor in the department of Materials Science and Engineering, Dr. Lucas is the co-Director of the CNRS International Associated Laboratory for Materials and Optics (LIA-MATEO). Dr. Lucas has authored over 60-peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters and has led several funded research projects on rare-earth doped luminescent glasses. His research focuses on the fundamentals and applications of infrared glasses, including their structure, photosensitivity, and the development of novel optical sensors. The fundamental aspect of his research involves the structure and topology of chalcogenide network glasses in relation to their average coordination as well as the mechanism of photoinduced structural change under sub-bandgap irradiation such as photofluidity, photoexpansion and photodarkening. Applied aspects of his work have focused on the design and fabrication of infrared optical bio-sensors based on chalcogenide fibers and other optical elements such as conducting ATR crystals. These sensors have been applied to the capture and detection of bacteria and viruses as well as monitoring of live cell cultures.
UA engineers and researchers from disparate disciplines are collaborating to combat an exquisitely complicated — but fundamentally important — problem: environmental contaminants and their risks to public health.
Hailing from five colleges in addition to Engineering – Pharmacy, Medicine, Public Health, Science, and Agriculture and Life Sciences – and seven departments, the researchers are participating in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences UA Superfund Research Program, or UA SRP. The UA, which has nine ongoing SRP projects, is one of 18 participating universities and has received $14 million from NIEHS for the current funding cycle (2010-2015), and a total of $70 million from the agency to date.
The College of Engineering has been a key player in the multidisciplinary and highly competitive research program, themed “Hazardous Waste Risk and Remediation in the Southwest,” since it began 25 years ago.
In two of the UA SRP projects, engineers are studying arsenic and other environmental contaminants at hazardous waste sites and working with colleagues to develop risk-assessment and remediation strategies.
“We have the only Superfund Research Program located in the desert Southwest, which is the perfect natural laboratory for studying arsenic,” said Jim Field, chair of chemical and environmental engineering, who is among the investigators on the project.
Arsenic Activity at Landfills
One project is examining decomposition of arsenic at waste sites, particularly landfills.
Since the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 revised its rule for acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water from 50 to 10 parts per billion, cities and counties have dumped millions of pounds of arsenic-bearing solid waste in landfills.
“A common strategy for disposal of arsenic removed from drinking water has been to send iron-based sorbent waste to landfills,” said Eduardo Sáez, professor of chemical and environmental engineering, and a core member of the research team for the last decade. “But landfills have complex chemical and environmental conditions containing microorganisms and other agents that can alter arsenic’s fate. Often, that fate is to be released back into the environment.”
Because arsenic in the aqueous phase poses the greatest potential threat to human and environmental health, successful cleanup requires understanding how arsenic interacts with other media and rendering it insoluble. Thus, the researchers are examining the mechanisms and pathways for arsenic’s association with iron and sulfur solids and developing intervention approaches that use biological and biogeochemical mineral retention processes to minimize arsenic’s release from solid waste.
Airborne Arsenic at Mining Sites
The second arsenic project involves analyzing aerosols, or airborne particulate matter, associated with mining activity, such as wind-blown dust from mine tailings, and its role in transporting metal contaminants from mining operations. Data collected is being used to develop a high-resolution computational fluid model to predict dust emissions from mine tailings.
Spent ore is deposited in mine tailings that are susceptible to wind erosion. In dry regions soil dust accounts for most airborne particles. Dust generated by mining activity may contain toxic metals, including arsenic, lead, copper, chromium, cadmium and zinc. The dust particles mobilize the metals, which may then accumulate in soil, water, vegetation and air. Humans are exposed to metal-laden dust primarily through inhalation; children are also exposed by ingesting contaminated soil.
Sáez and researchers in the atmospheric sciences department are collecting ambient aerosol particles near the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site in northern Arizona and around the ASARCO copper smelter, an aging but active mining operation in Southern Arizona.
The researchers have confirmed that the mine tailings at the Iron King site are a source of arsenic and lead contamination in nearby soils and are working with scientists in the soil, water and environmental science department to evaluate the role of vegetation cover in reducing transport of contaminated dust from the site.
When Toxic Dust Meets Moisture
While Sáez focuses on dry dust particles, Armin Sorooshian, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, is most interested in how dust reacts when it encounters moisture. He is mining data from the research of these and other scientists to illuminate how dust particles behave and transform in the environment — particularly the humid environment.
Sorooshian is a pioneer in research on hygroscopicity, an aerosol property that governs the ability of a particle to swell or shrink when exposed to humidity. He has discovered that particulate emissions from hazardous waste sites, such as the Humbolt copper smelter, can swell when exposed to humid conditions.
“This is the first time, to my knowledge, that the size-resolved hygroscopicity of airborne contaminants has been studied at a hazardous waste site,” he said. “It is a very difficult measurement and requires a custom-built instrument.”
The human respiratory tract is an extremely humid environment, where humidity may top 90 percent. Sorooshian and colleagues have discovered that the composition of particles governs changes in their size upon inhalation.
See the full article here.