CRP News and Updates

July 2023

Congratulations – SME’s new PhD Fellowship and Career Development Grant Successes

SME and the SME Foundation would like to congratulate the following PhD Fellowship and Career Development Grant Recipients for their successes.

These successful outcomes are a result of the SME PhD Fellowship and Career Development Grant Program designed to provide support to fund PhD students planning academic careers and university professors working toward attaining tenure. Since 2015, eight PhD Fellowship Awardees have received their doctorates and ten Career Development Grant recipients have achieved tenure.

Dr. Behzad Vaziri Hassas completed his PhD Fellowship Grant when he received his Ph.D. in Energy and Mineral Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Hassas is a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University, Earth and Environmental Engineering Department. Behzad is involved with various ongoing research projects in Sustainable Minerals, Metals, and Materials (S3M) research group, led by Dr. Nagaraj, and Dr. Farinato. 

Behzad has comprehensive experience and knowledge which spans a broad field of extractive metallurgy, surface chemistry, mineral processing, and separation science. He has proven expertise in flotation, surface chemistry, water chemistry, and hydrometallurgy. Behzad has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles in prestigious journals and has presented his research at several international conferences. He serves the community as an active reviewer for more than 10 high-ranked journals in the field.

Behzad was selected for the SME (Stantec/McIntosh) Ph.D. Fellowship in 2019, and was awarded the 2023 Rong Yu Wan Ph.D. Dissertation Award in Metallurgical Engineering, 2022 SME Ramani Thesis Award (SME Foundation), and 2023 MDPI Minerals Travel Award. His research posters have been awarded first place four times in 2018, 2020, and 2022 in graduate poster contests of SME ED and MPD. He was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Teaching Assistant and 2020 Graduate Merit Award of the Department of Energy and Minerals at Penn State. Behzad was also the recipient of the 2019 Robert E. Murray Innovation Award Scholarship. Moreover, “in recognition of refractory gold concentration and processing,” his research on the flotation of auriferous pyrite has been awarded the 2017 Republic Metals Richard Rubin Memorial Award by International Precious Metals Institute (IPMI). Behzad was also granted the 2015 Cooper-Hansen Fellowship by the Dean’s office in the College of Mines and Earth Science, University of Utah.


Qingqing Huang, Ph.D., P.E., was recently promoted to the rank of Associate Professor and awarded tenure in the Department of Mining Engineering at West Virginia University (WVU) in May 2023.

Dr. Huang's research lies in mineral processing, coal preparation, and extractive metallurgy for metal recovery from primary and secondary sources. She has led and collaborated on diversified research projects to recover rare earth elements (REEs) and other critical minerals (CMs) from different sources, including coarse coal refuse, acid mine drainage and its treatment byproducts, non-coal lithologies, and phosphate processing waste clay. Dr. Huang has served as a PI or Co-PI on various research grants, with her personal shares totaling 1.76 million. She has advised two Ph.D., eight M.S. students, and one postdoc researcher and published 23 peer-reviewed articles throughout her tenure process. 

Dr. Huang was selected and named a 2015-2016 & 2018-2019 distinguished Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) Henry Krumb Lecturer. In addition, she is the recipient of the 2017 SME Rong Yu Wan Ph.D. Dissertation Award based on her doctoral dissertation research and the 2018 SME Mineral & Metallurgical Processing Division (MPD) Outstanding Young Engineer Award for her significant contribution to the mineral processing field. Dr. Huang is also a recipient of the 2020 WVU Statler College's Outstanding Researcher/Junior, the 2023 Inaugural Glen H. Hiner Dean's Leadership Fellow for Engagement and Outreach, and a four-time faculty award recipient in the Department of Mining Engineering at WVU for outstanding research and teaching. As she further advances her professional development, Dr. Huang wishes to continue contributing to quality research, innovative education, and service activities in mining and minerals engineering.


Dr. Amy McBrayer received her Ph.D. from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Amy McBrayer is a mining professional with more than a decade of academic and industry experience. Prior to returning to academia, Amy held various engineering, operations, and logistics roles at large surface coal operations in the Powder River Basin. During her time at South Dakota Mines, she served as both a graduate teaching assistant and a coordinator for a continuing education program. Her dissertation focused on mine production scheduling optimization.

She is excited to begin the next phase of her mining career as a Teaching Assistant Professor at West Virginia University in August 2023.  Through this opportunity, Amy looks to assist in attracting and developing the next generation of mining engineers.  

February 2023

SME Releases 2022 Annual Report.
Read the 2022 SME Annual report, including a special section on the SME Foundation


January 2023

SME Foundation to Host Corporate Roundtable Partner Luncheon on February 27, 2023

The SME Foundation will host current Corporate Roundtable Partners for a luncheon and update on SME and SMEF at MINEXCHANGE 2023 in Denver. All existing Corporate Roundtable Partners are invited to attend, as well as some additional friends of the Foundation. Invitations to this event are being sent from Megan Martin at the end of January. If you would like to attend and did not receive an invitation, please email Megan Martin at

October 2022

Review of FY2022

The Foundation has been successful in the amount of assistance we have been able to provide to future professors, students, young professionals and the community-at-large. Communication and interaction with SME members, local Sections and industry corporations have been encouraged and strengthened. Compared to 2021, FY2022 contributions and financial support for the SME Foundation have increased.

The SME Foundation ended FY2022 with $1,348,564 in donations. This included $625,000 from Corporate Roundtable Partners, $273,133 from Corporate gifts, $250,000 from SME, $224,633 from Individual Donors, $97.700 from Events, $53,134 from dues Statement Donations and $41,170 from SME Sections/Divisions.

FY2022 Program accomplishments include:

  • Jessica Wempen achieved tenure at the University of Utah.
  • Richard Bishop received his PhD at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
  • During the SMEF Annual Gala Dinner at the MINEXCHANGE 2022 SME Annual Conference & Expo, 17 students were recognized and received SMEF scholarships totaling $68,500.
  • During season six of Move Mining, Team “TerraMovers”, made up of team members from the United States and Peru, won the grand prize of $5,000 for their winning concept of an interactive video game called “Goaldigger.”
  • The 2022 Move Mining Next Gen competition season had 21 submissions from students in grades K-12 that all created three-minute videos answering the question, “Why are minerals and mining important to our lives?”
  • The SME Foundation newsletter reached more than 14,000 members on a quarterly basis
  • During the 2022 SMEF Board of Trustees meeting, the SMEF Trustees voted to adopt the updated SME Foundation Five-Year Strategic Plan. The SMEF strategic plan was updated to guide the SME Foundation forward over the next five years to fulfill the mission to attract and leverage resources for a sustainable mining industry through education and outreach.
  • The first Miners Give Back Award was awarded to the SME Pittsburgh Section in recognition for their leadership and contributions to Phase One of the Remediation of the Westmoreland Coal Co.'s Abandoned South No. 2 Mine Portal Area. The Section was recognized for their Phase 1 of the project which included an engineered remediation plan, including sealing the portal, making the site safe for the local community, adding historical information about the site. The Section is now working with the Borough for the next stage of the project. When the entire project is completed, it will provide an outlet to communicate the historical importance of mining in the Export, PA region and the portal site will be identified as an area of interest on a local bike trail. The SME Pittsburgh Section received $2,000 for this award which they generously donated back to the Miners Give Back program. The purpose of this award is to promote humanitarian and service-oriented projects by SME Sections in communities where the sections operate, and to facilitate networking between Sections, as well as improve networking between the Sections and SME. 

Thank you for all of your support. We look forward to the work we will be able to do together in FY2023.

August 2022

June 2022

June 1, 2022--- New Career Development Grant Success Story

Jessica Wempen, Ph.D., P.E., was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor in the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of Utah in 2022. She is interested in research applying advanced remote sensing technologies, including satellite imaging and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology, for mine ground control, mineral exploration, and environmental monitoring. Her funded research has focused on monitoring deformation and seismicity in underground mines and applying hyperspectral remote sensing to identify new resources, including critical minerals. She has been awarded 1.7 million dollars in research funding and supported a diverse research team that has included six M.S. and two Ph.D. students.

Dr. Wempen values multi-disciplinary, collaborative research because of its potential to improve the safety and sustainability of resource extraction. She also values experiential learning and has implemented new technologies in teaching and research. She strives to develop students who understand fundamental concepts, confidently approach and solve problems, and clearly convey their ideas. Dr. Wempen hopes to continue to produce relevant, impactful research and educate technically competent students well prepared for mining careers.


April 2022

April 21, 2022--- SME Annual Report Available Online

The 2021 SME Annual Report is now available online! This year there is a special section dedicated to the SME Foundation listing the SME Foundation Board of Trustees, overviewing SMEF accomplishments and listing our 2021 donors. You can find the SME Foundation section starting on page 17.

March 2022

March 1, 2022--- SME Foundation Board of Trustees Adopt New 5-Year Strategic Plan

The SME Foundation adopted a new strategic plan to lead the Foundation over the next five years.

The new mission of the SME Foundation is to attract and leverage resources for a sustainable mining industry through education and outreach. The vision is to inspire the next generation to meet the needs of a mineral dependent future for a better world. This will be done by focusing on three goals:


The SME Foundation is a leader in creating awareness among industry, media, and the public on the role minerals and mining play in maintaining and improving the quality of life.


Robust mining programs exist across the country with talented, forward-thinking faculty and students with a variety of technologically advanced skills necessary to fill critical roles in the industry.


The SME Foundation continues to bring in corporate, foundation and individual support for its programs and services.