May 17, 2022


Isabel Barton - Assistant Professor of Mining & Geological Engineering - University of Arizona

Isabel Barton, University of Arizona

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: The Critical Mineral Potential of the USA

Presentation Title: Bringing Students Into the Minerals Workforce: A University of Arizona Study

Biography: Isabel Barton is an Assistant Professor of Mining & Geological Engineering at the University of Arizona, where she also obtained a Ph.D. in Geosciences and an M.S. in mining engineering. Most of Isabel’s research and teaching focus on geometallurgy, which integrates the mineralogy of ore deposits with extractive metallurgy to make metal production more efficient. In 2021 she received a National Science Foundation CAREER award for the geometallurgy of critical metals such as cobalt, copper, uranium, and vanadium. She works with departments across campus to find interdisciplinary solutions to various mineral resource problems. In collaboration with the UA’s Aerospace Engineering and Anthropology departments and the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources, she recently obtained another NSF grant to study the causes of low diversity in mining and other engineering majors.

Morgan Bazilian - Director of the Payne Institute for Public Policy and Professor - Colorado School of Mines

Morgan Bazilian, Colorado School of Mines

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: Critical Mineral Policies

Presentation Title: Critical Minerals and Energy Geopolitics

Biography: Morgan Bazilian is the Payne Institute for Public Policy Director and a Professor at the Colorado School of Mines. Previously, he was Lead Energy Specialist at the World Bank.  Dr. Bazilian holds a Ph.D. in energy systems and was a Fulbright fellow. His work has been published in Science, Nature, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Previously he was a senior diplomat at the United Nations. He was the EU’s lead negotiator on technology at the UN climate negotiations. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Shannon M. Biros - Professor of Chemistry - Grand Valley State University

Shannon M. Biros, Grand Valley State University

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: Mineral Processing and Recycling

Presentation Title: REE Workforce Development in the Undergraduate Research Lab: Recruiting and Training the Next Generation of Scientists

Biography: Shannon M. Biros joined the faculty of GVSU as an Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry in the fall of 2008.  She was a graduate of GVSU, receiving her B.A. in chemistry and B.S. in biomedical sciences in 2001. From there, she moved to San Diego to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute under the direction of Professor Julius Rebek, Jr. Following the completion of her thesis, Shannon spent a year at the University of California, Berkeley as a postdoctoral research associate in the laboratory of Professor Kenneth N. Raymond investigating the guest binding properties of a series of supramolecular metal-ligand clusters. She is currently in her thirteenth year as a faculty member at GVSU and maintains an active research group of undergraduate students.

Giovanni Andrea Blengini - Politecnico di Torino

Giovanni Andrea Blengini, Politecnico di Torino

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: Resource Sustainability

Presentation Title: Critical Minerals and the EU Green Deal: Demand, Circularity, Footprint

Biography: Gian Andrea Blengini received an MSc in Mining Engineering from Politecnico di Torino, Italy (1994) and a Ph.D. in Earth resources from TU Lisbon, Portugal (2006).

Presently an Associate Professor at the Politecnico di Torino (TU Turin, Italy), where he leads the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research group and lectures on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Resources & Environmental Sustainability at undergraduate, master, and postgraduate level.

He has been a senior researcher at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in the Land Resources Unit from October 2013 to October 2021, with the role of team coordinator in projects and activities: (1) in support of EC raw materials policies, with focus on critical raw materials and monitoring of Circular Economy, and (2) targeted to the EU Raw Materials Knowledge Base, including Life Cycle Inventory data availability, coherence, and quality.

Main contributions/outcomes while at the EC:

Author of 100+ scientific papers. Scopus: H=27, 3134 citations (as of 31MAR2022). Google scholar: H=33, 5200 citations.

Brett Carlson - South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Brett Carlson, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: The Critical Mineral Potential of the USA

Presentation Title: Manganese: The Other Critical Material

Biography: Brett Carlson earned his undergraduate degree in Metallurgical Engineering from South Dakota Mines, and a Ph.D. in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, where he specialized in extractive metallurgy. He has worked in several industries, most recently as a Technology Transfer Fellow at the Steel and Metals Institute at Swansea University in the UK before joining the faculty at South Dakota Mines in the Materials and Metallurgical Engineering Department. Brett Carlson’s research interests include recycling critical materials, bioleaching, and processing non-traditional feedstocks.

H. Sebnem Düzgün - Colorado School of Mines

H. Sebnem Düzgün, Colorado School of Mines

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: The Critical Mineral Potential of the USA

Presentation Title: Quantitative Approaches to Evaluation of Mineral Supply Chain Transparency and Resiliency

Biography: Dr. H. Sebnem Düzgün is Professor and Fred Banfield Distinguished Endowed Chair in Mining Engineering at Colorado School of Mines.  She also has a double appointment in Computer Science. Dr. Düzgün has over 30 years of experience in research, teaching consultancy in mining engineering, and information technologies in geosciences.  Dr. Düzgün’s expertise involves big data analytics, artificial intelligence, virtual/augmented reality, GIS, remote sensing, information fusion, systems engineering, and their use in mineral supply chains, mine closure, and reclamation, risk and safety analysis, mine environmental monitoring and uncertainty management in geosciences.  Dr. Düzgün has authored four books, published over 15 book chapters, over 80 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, over 200 papers in conferences, and many technical reports. She has recently been included in UK`s 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining 2020 Edition and appointed as 100 Resilience Fellows of 4TU-Federation`s Resilience Engineering Program and become Newmont STEM Equity Instructional Fellow.

Mahelet Fikru - Associate Professor of Economics - Missouri S&T

Mahelet Fikru, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: Critical Mineral Policies

Presentation Title: An Economic Framework for Producing Critical Minerals as Joint Products and Lessons for Policy

Biography: Dr. Fikru joined Missouri S&T in 2011. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  She is a member of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE), the US Association for Energy Economics (USAEE), and the American Solar Energy Society (ASES).

Samuel Kessinger - South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Samuel Kessinger, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: Resource Sustainability

Presentation Title: Coltan Track and Trace Technologies

Biography: Samuel Kessinger was born in Idaho and raised in South Carolina prior to heading west for higher education. Samuel attended The University of Wyoming for two years before completing a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He is currently completing a graduate degree in Materials Engineering from South Dakota Mines. His research interests include mineral processing and recycling, critical mineral supply chains, and track & trace technologies as applied to conflict minerals.

Hojong Kim - Penn State University

Hojong Kim, Penn State University

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: Mineral Processing and Recycling

Presentation Title: Electrochemical Properties of Nd and Gd in Molten Salts: Challenges & Opportunities for Sustainable Rare-Earth Recovery Processes

Biography: Dr. Hojong Kim is an associate professor at Penn State University in Material Science and Engineering. He received a B.S. degree from Seoul National University in South Korea and Ph.D. degree at MIT in the Uhlig Corrosion Laboratory. Dr. Kim worked as a senior researcher at Samsung-Corning Precision Glass to improve the process yield for TFT-LCD glass manufacturing by engineering high-temperature materials. After five years of industrial experience, Dr. Kim returned to MIT as a post-doctoral researcher to contribute to the growing need for sustainable technology, with a research focus on molten oxide electrolysis for carbon-free iron production and liquid metal batteries for large-scale energy storage. His current research focuses on electrochemical processes for the separation of energy-critical elements and the development of corrosion-resistant materials. He received the NSF CAREER award, the new doctoral new investigator award from the American Chemical Society, and Young Leader Professional Development Award from TMS. He served as the chair (2017-2019) and vice-chair (2015-2017) of the hydrometallurgy and electrometallurgy committee at TMS.

Jeffrey Mauk - United States Geological Survey

Jeffrey Mauk, United States Geological Survey

Keynote Speaker

Topical Session: The Critical Mineral Potential of the USA

Presentation Title: Critical Mineral Potential of the U.S.: Evaluation of Known Resources of Aluminum, Arsenic, Beryllium, Chromium, Cobalt, Fluorspar, Gallium, Germanium, Graphite, Indium, Lithium, Manganese, Niobium, Platinum-Group Elements, Rare-Earth Elements, Tantalum, Tellurium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Uranium, and Vanadium

Biography: Jeff Mauk has a BSc degree in Biology and Geology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MSc degree in Geology from the University of Montana, a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Michigan, and seven years of industry experience as an exploration and mine geologist. He led the Mineral Deposit Research Group at the University of Auckland in New Zealand for nineteen years. He is currently a Research Geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver Colorado, and an Associate Editor for Ore Geology Reviews.

Michelle Foss - Rice University

Michelle Michot Foss, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy

Keynote Speaker

Topical Session: Critical Mineral Policies

Presentation Title: New Sheriffs in Town? Governing the Minerals Wild West

Biography: Michelle Michot Foss, Ph.D., is a fellow in energy, minerals, and materials at Rice University’s Baker Institute, developing policies and conducting research to help build capacity on non-fuel minerals supply chains. She has nearly 40 years of experience in senior positions in energy (oil, gas/LNG, electric power) and environmental research, consulting, and investment banking, with early-career exposure to mining and mined land reclamation.

Over the past three decades, Michot Foss developed and directed research on energy value chain economics and commercial frameworks to support worldwide investment while serving in several positions at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston. She previously served as the chief energy economist and head of the Bureau of Economic Geology’s Center for Energy Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. She was also a UH Shell Interdisciplinary Scholar with grants on North American gas and power integration and national oil companies. Her career research highlights include reviewing oil, gas, and minerals markets for local, national, and international government bodies, including the Texas Comptroller, U.S. Energy Information Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, World Bank, Japan’s External Trade Organization, and other institutions.

Michot Foss also led a university-based LNG industry consortium for North America. In addition, she implemented energy development assistance and engagement programs sponsored by USAID and the Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources in more than 20 countries and regions, including Central Asia, Ukraine, West Africa, Uganda, India, Bangladesh, and Mexico. She built and led the New Era in the Oil, Gas & Power Value Creation program for energy sector professionals from more than 40 countries. She also was previously a director of research at Simmons & Company International and at Rice Center.

Michot Foss remains an executive instructor for the Texas Executive Education program at UT’s McCombs School of Business, and she was named an Exxon Mobil Instructor of Excellence.  She has served on the advisory committees for the UTA Jackson School of Geosciences Energy & Earth Resources graduate program and Jackson School Endowment.

She is a member of the advisory boards for Haddington Ventures LLC and Energy Intelligence Group.  She is past president of the International Association for Energy Economics, past president of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics, and was named USAEE Senior Fellow for service. Michot Foss is a partner in Harvest Gas Management LLC. She created and leads a nonprofit organization, Friends of Briargrove Park Green Space LLC, to coordinate activities with Harris County Flood Control District for post-Harvey rehabilitation.

Michot Foss received her B.S. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, an M.S. from Colorado School of Mines, and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston.

Lee Ann Munk - University of Alaska Anchorage

Lee Ann Munk, University of Alaska Anchorage

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: The Critical Mineral Potential of the USA

Presentation Title: Lithium Brines and Emerging Lithium Deposits in the U.S.

Biography: Dr. Munk is a Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage and a global expert on lithium resources with a focus on brines and clays. She holds a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from The Ohio State University. Dr. Munk and her research team are global leaders in the understanding of lithium brine basins from a resource, sustainability, and environmental perspective. She developed the first and only ore deposit model for closed-basin lithium brines, the world’s most important resource of lithium. She and her team are highly sought after by the lithium brine exploration and mining industry to help solve critical problems and to advise on the most environmentally sustainable methods of resource exploration, extraction, and production. Their team is the most published in the area of lithium brine formation, climate-driven influence on brine basins, and the understanding of water resources needed to support lithium brine mining.

Karin Olson Hoal - Cornell University

Karin Olson Hoal, Cornell University, and Consultant

Keynote Speaker

Topical Session: Mineral Processing & Recycling

Presentation Title: New Directions for the Mineral Resources Industry: Geomet, Adaptivity, and a Bigger Tent

Biography: Karin Olson Hoal is the Wold Family Professor in Environmental Balance for Human Sustainability at Cornell University, building interdisciplinary approaches across science, engineering, and business for broader engagement from diverse perspectives. A geologist by training, she has worked in the minerals industry for 30 years with metals and diamond mining companies and process development firms and as a consultant in the US, Canada, Australia, southern Africa, and Chile. She has 20 years of experience in developing the field of geomet (geometallurgy), integrating geology with better engineering practices, and prior to Cornell built and directed a major interdisciplinary research center at Colorado School of Mines for new applications development in cross-discipline characterization. She has degrees from St Lawrence University, McGill University, and the University of Massachusetts, was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cape Town, is a Fellow of SEG, past Chair of the SME Sustainable Development Committee, and is currently active with Women in Mining (US and UK), the Women Advisory Board Doctoral Network (Europe), and the World Mining Congress Future Workforce and Education Committee (Brisbane, 2023).

Debra Struhsacker - Professional Geologist—Environmental Permitting & Government Relations Consultant

Debra Struhsacker, Professional Geologist—Environmental Permitting & Government Relations Consultant

Keynote Speaker

Topical Session: Resource Sustainability

Presentation Title: How Policies, Legislation, and Litigation Could Reduce Domestic Mining of Critical Minerals

Biography: Debra Struhsacker is a hard rock mining policy expert with over 30 years of hands-on expertise with the environmental and public land laws and regulations pertaining to mineral exploration and mine development. Since 1993, she has been an active participant in the legislative dialogue about changing the U.S. Mining Law when she and two other Reno-based geologists, Kathy Benedetto and Ruth Carraher, started the Women’s Mining Coalition. Today, nearly 30 years later, the Coalition is recognized as one of the mining industry’s most effective advocacy groups.

Debra has received numerous awards for her mining advocacy work including the American Exploration & Mining Association’s 2021 Life Member award. She is one of 15 women featured in the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum temporary exhibit entitled “Pioneering the Field: Women in Mining.”

Debra serves on the Women’s Mining Coalition’s board and is an American Institute of Professional Geologists Certified Professional Geologist. She is a member of the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America; the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.; and the Geological Society of Nevada.

Ms. Struhsacker is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College where she majored in both geology and French. She also has a Master of Science degree in geology from the University of Montana. She lives in Reno, NV.

Kristin Vekasi - University of Maine

Kristin Vekasi, University of Maine

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: Critical Mineral Policies

Presentation Title: Supply Chain Resiliency for Critical Minerals in the Indo-Pacific

Biography: Kristin Vekasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and School of Policy and International Affairs at the University of Maine. Her research focuses on trade and investment strategies in changing geopolitical environments and the political risk management of supply chains. She specializes in Northeast Asia and has spent years conducting research in China, Japan, and South Korea. Her book Risk Management Strategies of Japanese Companies in China (Routledge 2019) explores how Japanese multinational corporations mitigate political risk in China. Her current research examines how Japan, China, and the United States cooperate and compete to manage complex supply chains in Southeast Asia, focusing on industries essential for the transition to green energy.

Vekasi received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Before joining the faculty at the University of Maine, she taught at New College of Florida, was a visiting Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo, and a Fulbright Fellow at Tohoku University. She is a member of the Mansfield Foundation’s US-Japan Network for the Future and a 2019 National Asia Research Program Fellow with the National Bureau of Asian Research; she is also a nonresident fellow. From 2021 to 2022, she was an academic associate at the Harvard University US-Japan Program.

Eric J. Werner - The University of Tampa

Eric J. Werner, The University of Tampa

Invited Speaker

Topical Session: Mineral Processing and Recycling

Presentation Title: Development of Rare Earth Element Separation Methods Utilizing a Tripodal CMPO Ligand System

Biography: Eric J. Werner earned his undergraduate chemistry degree from the University of Florida (B.S., 2002). He pursued graduate studies in the group of Prof. K. N. Raymond at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D., 2007) with a focus on the development of hydroxypyridonate-based Gd3+ complexes as improved MRI contrast agents. After beginning his independent career as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Armstrong State University in 2007, he moved to The University of Tampa in 2010. He is now a Professor of Chemistry with an active undergraduate research program in f-element coordination chemistry. Current research aims include the development of luminescent lanthanide-based sensors and improved rare earth element separation methods.