Alumni Award Recipients

The NMT Office for Advancement honors special alumni every year during 49ers Homecoming Weekend.


Techie of the Year

Presented to an alum who has demonstrated service and loyalty to New Mexico Tech over many years. It is the highest honor awarded by NMT’s Office for Advancement and Alumni Relations.

Rising Star

Presented to an alum who graduated within the last 10 years, is excelling in their profession, and is an emerging leader in their field. 

NMT Faculty-Alumni Ambassador

This award is presented to an faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to the mission of the university through alumni relations, active research, educational innovation, and service to New Mexico Tech, Socorro, and the state of New Mexico.

Philanthropist of the Year

This award recognizes an alum for their long-time, distinguished, philanthropic contributions to support New Mexico Tech.



Techie of the Year 2023

Techie of the Year 2023Johann Lindig


Johann Lindig (B.S. 1984 Petroleum Engineering; B.S. 1986 Technical Communication) has more than 30 years of experience as a consultant working within higher education and in the private sector to align programs and product development strategies to increase organizational capabilities. She holds a CPIM credential from the Association of Operations Management and a Stanford Certified Project Manager credential from the Stanford Center for Professional Development at Stanford University. A longtime generous donor to New Mexico Tech, she is also a founding member of the Women's Center Advisory Group, which is working to establish a Women's Center and a Diversity Center on the New Mexico Tech campus which will show Tech's commitment to foster equality across all genders, backgrounds, and ethnicities.


Rising Star 2023


2023 Rising Star

Mackenzie Best


Mackenzie Best (M.S. Geochemistry 2020) is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Geobiology at NMT. Her research focuses on astrobiological and biotechnological applications of extreme acid-adapted microorganisms, with a focus on their potential to leach metals from electronic waste. Daughter of alum Jeffrey Best (B.E. Mineral Engineering, 1997), Mackenzie has worked as an ore control geologist at a high-altitude copper mine in Espinar, Peru, as an exploration geologist at the Mumi copper and cobalt mine in Kolwezi, DRC, and was the geology consultant on a project using open-access imagery to estimate uranium production at mines in East Asia. She has been a Student Trustee on the New Mexico Tech Foundation Board since 2022.

Faculty-Alumni Ambassador 2023

Faculty-Alumni Ambassador 2023

Curtis O'Malley


Curtis O'Malley began at NMT in 2012 as a post-doc researcher evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of a patented invention for the NMT office of Research. He joined the NMT faculty as an adjunct professor the following semester and as a fulltime Assistant professor in 2016.  Dr. O’Malley teaches undergraduate mechanical engineering students from the beginning to end of their time at NMT, having most students in 6 to 8 classes throughout their studies.  Students begin their engineering studies in his freshman intro to engineering course and transition into their careers as part of Jr/Sr Design Clinic classes.  He also teaches various other mechanics and design classes along the way.

Dr. O’Malley is already an award-winning STEM educator, receiving recognition for his numerous teaching, mentoring, and service achievements including the Air Force Research Lab, New Mexico Tech Distinguished Service Award, NMT SGA Faculty Appreciation Award, BBBS STEM awards, and Insight into Diversity Magazine. He directs numerous K-12 initiatives including the Robotic STEM Outreach Program, which has impacted students and teachers at schools from every corner of the state, and it continues to grow. The program works with teachers to design and support robotics activities and challenges that meet the needs, interest, and experience level of their students. The mechanical outreach program is expected to grow from 30 schools last year to supporting 50 mostly rural and Title 1 schools across NM this year.  The program is supported by industry sponsors, individual donors, and the NM legislature. Professor O'Malley mentors on average 100 college students a year and trains and employs over 20 undergraduate and graduate students as he involves them in mentoring roles for K-12 programs. He holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech.

Philanthropist of the Year 2023

Philanthropist of the Year 2023M. Pat Miller


M. Pat Miller (B.S. Petroleum Engineering, 1961) After graduating from NMT, Pat worked for six years as a Drilling Engineer for two drilling contractors in the United States and Mozambique. In 1967 he went to work with Texaco where he remained until his retirement in 1994. His assignments were in the U.S., Africa, the Far East, Ecuador, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia and Belgium. Most of his career with Texaco involved drilling, either managing projects or supporting and helping supervise the personnel running projects. His major interest outside work has always been investing. After helping to start a very successful investment club in 1991, he became involved with the National Association of Investors (NAIC). After retirement he became very active in the Southeast Florida Council of the NAIC and served as President for two years. Since 2004 he has been president of The M. Pat Miller Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization which provides funding for scholarships. At NMT he established the C&E Miller Scholarship (in honor of his parents) and the M. Pat Miller Investment Club fund, which supports the NMT Student Investment Club. He served a term as a NMT Foundation  Board Trustee and has been an extremely generous supporter of NMT and its students for years.



Techie of the Year 2022

Techie of the Year 2021Scott Williams


Scott Williams (B.S. 1972 Basic Sciences; M.S. 1984 Mining Engineering; and Master 1985 Science for Teachers) was a science and math teacher, as well as the gymnastics coach, at Socorro High School for many years. His NMT mining degree led him to a career that took him, and his wife Judy, all over the world, including Chile, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Suriname and Alaska. They lived for 6 years in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territory in Canada where he helped develop Canada’s first diamond mine. Scott has been a long-time supporter of NMT and most recently was the initiator in creating a “Class of 1972” endowment. Scott also led the successful effort to bring his classmates back to campus for their Class of 1972 Golden Reunion this year.

Rising Star 2022


2022 Rising Star

Damian Banks


Damian Banks (B.S. 2022, Basic Sciences) As a student Damian created the first New Mexico Tech Esports club and led the team to become competitive in several leagues.  Damian served as a student trustee for the NMT Foundation from 2020-2022. He is the founder of Ecliptix Gaming (2013) and is involved in a lot of community outreach through Esports. Damian is also a full-time employee in the NMT Advancement and Alumni Relations office. 

Faculty-Alumni Ambassador 2022

Faculty-Alumni Ambassador 2022

Navid Mojtabai


Navid Mojtabai (B.S. Mining Engineering, 1982, and M.S. Mining Engineering, 1985) Navid is, and has been for many years, the beloved chair of the Mineral Engineering department. He received his Ph.D. in Mining Engineering from University of Arizona in 1990, and he joined New Mexico Tech as a faculty member that same year.  What sets Navid apart from his faculty peers is that he stays in very close contact with all of his alumni and they will turn up wherever he might be, leading to a lot of philanthropic gifts for the NMT Mineral Engineering department and its students.

Philanthropist of the Year 2022

Philanthropist of the Year 2022John Crum


John Crum (B.S. Petroleum Engineering, 1975) After a long and illustrious career in the oil and gas industry, he retired as Senior Vice President from Apache Oil.  John and his wife Vicki have hosted many Houston-area NMT alumni receptions and recently he brought his leadership skills to NMT where he serves as the Co-Chair for New Mexico Tech’s “Launching Tech to New Heights” campaign. He is working with NMT to increase industry partnerships and support for the new wing for the Petroleum Recovery Research Center, to which he has personally committed a substantial pledge.




Techie of the Year 2021

Techie of the Year 2021Van Romero


Van Romero (B.S. 1977 Physics and M.S. 1979 Physics) earned his Ph.D. in Physics at University of New York in 1991. Early in his career he was Manager of the Thermal Hydraulic Programs at General Electric Knolls Atomic Power Lab in New York, then served as a Deputy Director at the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas, and was a Senior Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories. He returned to Socorro as Director of the Energetic Materials Research & Testing Center (EMRTC) from 1995-1997. He now serves NMT as a Professor of Physics, Vice President of Research, and Director of the Geophysical Research Center. He has a deep knowledge of and connection with NMT history, is always enthusiastic about engaging with NMT alumni, and has hosted many VIP events at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory (and cooked many steaks at 10,600 feet). He and his family always support and attend NMT alumni events; they won the Mad Hatter hat competition at the 2018 President’s Club reception. He has donated consistently to NMT scholarships, programs, and departments. 

Rising Star 2021


2021 Rising Star

Zoë Havlena


Zoë Havlena (B.S. 2017 and M.S. 2019, Biology) is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Geobiology at NMT (advisor Dr. Daniel Jones). Her research involves the study of microbiology associated with gypsum deposits in actively forming sulfidic cave systems; her work is conducted at two sites: Frasassi cave system (Italy) and Lehman caves (Great Basin National Park, Nevada). Her master's thesis was published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in early 2021, and she was awarded a NASA Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) grant in August 2021. In October 2020 she was elected a student representative for the Geological Society of America's  Geobiology and Geomicrobiology Divison. Zoë is also the daughter of an alum, Jeffrey Havlena (B.S. Geology 1983 and M.S. Hydrology 1988). In addition to her academic pursuits, Zoë has been a member of New Mexico Search and Rescue (NM SAR) since 2013; she has been a Field Coordinator since 2019, and is the youngest Incident Commander in NM SAR. 

Faculty-Alumni Ambassador 2021

2021 Faculty-Alumni Ambassador

Sharon Sessions


Sharon Sessions (B.S. Math and Physics 1997 and M.S. Physics 1998) earned her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Oregon in 2002. She did a post-doc at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems before returning to NMT as a Physics faculty member in 2003. She became a full Professor in 2018 and the NMT Director of Outreach in 2020. She served as editor for The Journal of Climate (2015-2018), a Board Member for Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA), and Program Director for Mentoring Kids Works (pairing NMT student mentors with at-risk third graders to improve reading literacy). She is the NMT Liaison for STEM Outreach and Mentoring: Fueling Opportunity through Relationships, Community, and Education (STORM FORCE) and a Socorro Consolidated School District Board Member. Among her awards and honors, she has received the 2019 NMT Distinguished Service Award, is a New Mexico Technology Council 2020 Women in Technology honoree, and Albuquerque Business First 2020 Women of Influence Award honoree.

Philanthropist of the Year 2021

2021 Philanthropist of the YearElise Brower


Elise Brower (B.S. Chemistry 1962, M.S. Chemistry 1966, and Ph.D. Geochemistry 1971) has always, first and foremost, been a musician who played piano, organ, recorder, and
oboe, and taught piano privately. She and her husband Kay (a chemistry professor at Tech from 1956 to 1996) formed a family quartet with their daughters Karen (on violin) and Candace (on cello). Their living room was long the epicenter of musical activity in Socorro, at one time housing three harpsichords, a pipe organ, a grand piano, and numerous string and wind instruments. The Browers were avid supporters of the arts, and were instrumental in founding the Performing Arts Series at Tech. Kay (cello) and Elise (oboe) also played in the Tech orchestra for many years. After Kay's passing in 2014, Elise continued to serve as artistic director of Las Cantantes (a women’s chorus founded in 1986), music director of the Socorro Unitarian-Universalist Church, and offerinng private piano lessons. The Browers
established the Kay and Elise Brower Music Scholarship to support NMT students who participate in NMT music ensembles.




Techie of the Year 2020

PGT 2020Doc Stanley


Ronald "Doc" Stanley (B.S. 1961 and M.S. 1964, Physics) spent two years as NMT faculty after earning his Ph.D. in Physics at University College Dublin, Ireland in 1968. He then moved to teaching science and coaching student golf, basketball, and baseball teams at Socorro High School for more than 20 years. A long-time NMT donor, he has also produced beautiful gifts and awards for NMT and the Office for Advancement for President's Club Dinner gifts, 49er's trophies, and more.

Rising Star 2020

2019 Founders Award presentation

Danielle Turner (right)


Danielle Turner (B.S. 2015 and M.S. 2017, Biology; Ph.D. 2019 Biotechnology) was awarded the first Ph.D. in Biotechnology at NMT. During her time at New Mexico Tech, she and her team have developed new drugs to combat multidrug-resistant bacteria and fungi. During the spring of 2020, she was part of the Biology Department team producing and distributing face shields and gallons of hand sanitizer, first for NMT and the Socorro community, but by June statewide. She was named the NMT supervisor and site coordinator for the NM COVID-19 Emergency Supply Collaborative.

Philanthropist of the Year 2020

2019 Deju University House GroundbreakingRaul Deju (right)


Raul Deju (B.S. Mathematics, 1966 and Ph.D. Hydrology, 1969) is among NMT's most prominent and successful graduates, having launched an extremely productive career after earning his degrees. He and his wife Shari have been involved with and generous supporters of multiple NMT programs and projects, including (but not limited to) the Deju University House and the Bright Stars Scholars program. He has served on the NMT Foundation Board of Trustees for several years and is a member of the 1889 Society.


Techie of the Year 2019 BobRobert Eveleth (right)


Robert “Bob" Eveleth (B.S. Mining Engineering, 1969) has spent more than 35 years researching, rescuing, collecting, identifying, and publishing obscure facts and historic details of NM mining and NMT history. Unofficial historian and “memory of New Mexico’s earth,” he has helped to expand the legacy of New Mexico, mining, and history

Rising Star 2019

GrahamDr. Graham Walsh (right)


Dr. Graham Walsh (M.S. Materials Engineering, 2002, and Ph.D. Materials Engineering, 2010) worked at EMRTC as a student; he was instrumental in bringing Mythbusters to NMT. In 2016 he and his wife started their own business, Explosives Test Center, LLC; one sign of its success is that it has hired other NMT graduates.

Philanthropist of the Year 2019 KenKen Fagan (right)

Ken Fagan (B.S. Petroleum Engineering, 1961) and his wife Marge have been generous supporters of the New Mexico Tech Petroleum Engineering Department and its students, for many years. The Fagan Scholarship is awarded to multiple undergraduate Petroleum Engineering students each year.