New Mexico Tech announced the top awards for the 2021-2022 academic year at the Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14, at the city of Socorro Rodeo and Sports Complex. The top student award recipients are: Tucker Diamond-Ames, Brown Award; Catherine House and Isaiah Jojola, Cramer Awards; Daniel P. Jensen, Langmuir Award; and Kyle Stark, Founders Award.
Tucker Diamond-Ames – Brown Award
The Brown Award is named in honor of Mr. C.T. Brown, who was for many years a member of the Tech Board of Regents. It is presented to the member of the graduating class who, in the opinion of the faculty, ranks highest in scholarship, conduct, and leadership. The award consists of a plaque and a prize of $1,000 dollars. The recipient of the 2022 Brown Award is Tucker Diamond-Ames, a graduating senior who majored in biology.
Diamond-Ames, who is originally from Taos, came to New Mexico Tech after graduating from Capitan High School in 2018. He has been involved in a plethora of research-intense and community-oriented activities over the past four years. Diamond-Ames’ research involvement started during his freshman year when he joined Dr. Snezna Rogelj’s Drug Discovery group. Soon thereafter ̶- and up until his graduation ̶ he worked on cancer research, which involved mouse brain surgery, histopathology, and a great deal of animal care. While only a rising sophomore, Diamond-Ames spent his first university summer as a National Institutes of Health IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) intern with biochemist Dr. Erik Yukl at New Mexico State University.
When COVID-19 began, Diamond-Ames jumped to the front lines with those Tech personnel who were willing to help with COVID-19 testing to help keep the university and entire Socorro community safe. This further strengthened his determination to pursue a medical career, one with a strong emphasis on global health, preventative medicine, and an integral recognition of the importance of mental health overall.
As a proactive member of the Tech Pre-Med Club and Student Mental Health Subcommittee, he helped its club president, Faith Meza, organize numerous educational events that benefited the body, mind, and the soul of not just the club members but the overall Tech community. These activities included bringing CPR and Narcan training to educate fellow members of the Tech Pre-Med Club and other Tech students.
Diamond-Ames recently transitioned from shadowing at Socorro General Hospital to being employed there in the Emergency Room. He is expected to continue in that position during the upcoming year while applying to medical school. He recently was awarded the Shortess Award, the Biology Department’s highest recognition:.
Catherine House – Cramer Award
The Cramer Awards were established to honor Tom Cramer, an engineer and a member of the Tech Board of Regents for 26 years. They are awarded to two graduates in engineering who rank highest in scholarship. Each winner receives a certificate and a $400 cash award.
The first Cramer Award recipient is Catherine House, a graduating senior in the Chemical Engineering Department, with a minor in chemistry. She is originally from Albuquerque.
House worked as a lab assistant for four years in the NMT Materials Engineering Department under Dr. John McCoy on research on engineering epoxies funded by Sandia National Labs. She also interned for the Metallurgy Department at the Nevada Gold Mines and at the Idaho National Laboratory. A Macey Scholar, House served as treasurer for the NMT student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering and the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society.
House has been described as reliable, a fantastic student, and a great asset, volunteering her time to mentor chemical engineering underclassmen. She has participated in several research experiences for undergraduates and has presented her work on a national stage at the student poster session, taking first place at the fall 2020 and spring 2021 AIChE conferences. House will attend graduate school this fall at the University of Pennsylvania.
Isaiah Jojola – Cramer Award
The second recipient of a 2022 Cramer Award is Isaiah Jojola, a graduating senior in civil engineering from Isleta Pueblo. He was one of seven members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Wildlife Crossing Bridge design team from New Mexico Tech that competed in a national competition in Houston, Texas, this spring against teams from Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico. They constructed a 1:10 scale wildlife bridge made of steel, learning about project management, timelines, budget constraints and presentation skills along the way.
Jojola was this year’s ASCE Outstanding Senior Award Recipient. He has taken a position with Wilson and Company, Inc., Engineers and Architects in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His instructor in CE (Civil Engineering) 423, open channel hydraulics, commented that Jojola’s homework and take-home exams were the most comprehensive and professionally presented student work he had seen in 20 years of teaching the course.
Every year New Mexico Tech presents two awards for graduate students – the Langmuir Award and the Founder’s Award.
Daniel P. Jensen – Langmuir Award
The Langmuir Award honors an outstanding scientific research paper by a student or recent graduate of New Mexico Tech. This award consists of a plaque and a $400 cash award. The recipient of the 2022 Cramer Award is Daniel P. Jensen.
A Farmington native, Jensen is one of many extraordinary people who have worked at Langmuir Lab, studying lightning under his advisor, Dr. Richard Sonnenfeld. Jensen earned a bachelor of science degree from New Mexico Tech in 2016 in physics and mathematics and is pursuing a doctorate in physics instrumentation. Since September 2021, he has been working as a graduate research assistant at Los Alamos National Laboratory on a three-year joint internship between New Mexico Tech and LANL.
Dr. Sonnenfeld nominated Jensen for his research paper, “Dart-Leader and K-Leader Velocity From Initiation Site to Termination Time-Resolved With 3D Interferometry,” which was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in March 2021.
Jensen used data from two interferometers collected from a thunderstorm near Langmuir Lab to produce a three-dimensional interferometer data set, the most accurate verified result to date for a broadband lightning interferometer. The data also showed that certain in-cloud lightning processes (K-leaders) slow down as they progress over kilometers, and observation is not possible without this technology.
Jensen has been described by Dr. Sonnenfeld as an “extraordinary young scientist” who produced outstanding research in the study of this exceedingly complex natural phenomenon becoming more frequent and impactful with climate change.
Kyle Stark – Founders Award
The Founders Award honors the people responsible for founding the New Mexico School of Mines in Socorro in 1889. It is given to the person graduating with an advanced degree who is judged to have made an outstanding contribution to the Institute through scholarship, research and involvement in campus affairs. The award consists of a plaque and an $800 cash award. The recipient of the 2022 Cramer Award is Kyle Stark.
Stark, a native of Berryville, Virginia, earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate in hydrology from New Mexico Tech. His research focused on continuously monitoring the flux of water and sediment during flash floods at a state-of-the-art measurement station he built on the Arroyo de los Pinos, which drains part of the Quebradas, across the Rio Grande from Socorro. This effort has included collaborators from the US Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corps of Engineers, Ben Gurion University in Israel, GFZ-Potsdam in Germany, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Land Management, and local landowners.
According to his advisor, Dr. Daniel Cadol, Stark has been indispensable in this project, and has mentored other students working on the project and performed “thoughtful, detailed, and creative research.” Also, during his time at New Mexico Tech, Stark served as president of the Graduate Student Association for two years and served as a mentor to GSA leaders. He has been described as having a “mindset of service.”