Top Scholastic Awards Announced at 2019 NMT Commencement

May 13, 2019

Margaret House wins Brown Award; Tully Genis and Milagre Coates Take Cramer Awards


SOCORRO, N.M. – New Mexico Tech announced the top scholastic awards for the 2018-2019 school year at the Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11, on campus.

More than 280 members of the Class of 2019 participated in the event. The Class of 2019 includes 445 graduates –300 bachelor’s recipients, 130 master’s recipients and 15 Ph.D.’s.  Hundreds of family and friends filled the venue for an event that culminated with the appearance of students dressed like Storm Troopers shooting confetti over the graduates.

For the full video of the 2019 Commencement, click here. 

The top undergraduate award, the Brown Award, was given to Margaret House. The top engineering awards, the Cramer Awards, were given to Tully Genis and Milagre Coates. The top graduate awards went to Dr. Danielle Turner (Founders Award) and Eshani Hettiarachchi (Langmuir Award)

Margaret House

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.

House has won nearly every award imaginable at New Mexico Tech. She is a Macey Scholar; she is the 2019 Engineering Student of the Year; and she won the national Tau Beta Pi scholarship – just to name a few of her accolades.

House, receiving her bachelors in Chemical Engineering, is finishing her sutdies with a stellar GPA and a full resume of research accomplishments. She has worked in Dr. McCoy’s laboratory in the Materials Engineering Department since 2016 and won second place at the national AIChE student research conference.

A native of the Albuquerque area, House has worked as a teaching assistant in chemical engineering, assisting new freshmen develop and build a “Chem-E Car.” She was accepted to multiple graduate schools. She selected the University of Minnesota, which is known to be a top program in the area of polymers.

While presenting the award, Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Bill Stone joking said that House was also a top student in his wine-tasting class.

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 the male and female seniors graduating in engineering who rank highest in scholarship.  Each recipient receives a certificate and a cash award.

Milagre Coates 

Coates is a native of Glenwood, New Mexico, and a graduate of Aldo Leopold High School in Silver City. She earned two degrees, in computer science and in technical communications. Milagre’s time at New Mexico Tech has been marked by academic excellence, maintaining a stellar GPA.  Coates was nominated for her academic prowess, her leadership, and her even demeanor.

Coates has been involved with the Women in Computer Science program at Tech. She was noted by one professor for her “low-key leadership.” While performing at the top of her class, Milagre always made it look easy.

Tully Genis

A native of Albuquerque, Tully is graduating with a stellar GPA with a bachelor’s in civil engineering.  He is finishing with 125 credit hours at NMT, along with 22 AP credit hours from Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho.

Tully displayed exceptional ability in the classroom and was a leader in his cohort. His advisor Dr. Clint Richardson noted that his senior design clinic was among the most thorough, thoughtful, and unique projects in many years. Tully completed a comprehensive engineering document and financial analysis for a New Mexico Tech billboard.

Richardson also praised Tully for his organizational skills. In one class, Tully typed every homework assignment – all 36 of them.

Eshani Hettiarachchi

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 cash award.

This year’s voting for the Langmuir Award included four worthy candidates. Yet the clear winner was Eshani Hettiarachchi, doctoral student in the Chemistry Department.

Hettiarachchi has published several papers over the past year, but she was nominated for the Langmuir Award for her paper that appeared in the journal “Environmental Science and Letters.”

Hettiarachchi ‘s paper was titled “Mineralogy Controlled Dissolution of Uranium from Airborne Dust in Simulated Lung Fluids (SLFs) and Possible Health Implications.”

Her work sheds light on the potential health impact of legacy uranium mines in New Mexico. Notably, her work demonstrates what sort of uranium presents more health risks, which had never been studied before. She conducted field studies, did laboratory work, modeling, wrote the paper and designed the graphics.

In addition to the academic work, Eshani mentored an undergraduate student throughout the process.

This publication has garnered attention from science media, academics, and the mining industry around the world.

Danielle Turner

The Founder's Award honors the people responsible for founding the New Mexico School of Mines in Socorro in 1889.  It is given to the person graduating today 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 a cash award. 

Turner earned her Ph.D. in biotechnology today, the first such doctorate to be awarded at NMT.

Danielle is well-known to faculty, staff and students at New Mexico Tech.  A native of Roswell, Danielle earned her bachelor’s and master’s in the Biology Department here at New Mexico Tech.

Turner has been a stand-out academically throughout her time in Socorro. For her doctoral work, she has been working on infectious diseases. She and her team have developed new and novel drugs to combat multi-drug resistant bacteria and fungi. Her work has resulted in one patent and another patent pending.

She has developed a topical treatment that has been licensed to a pharmaceutical company – the first such license at New Mexico Tech. To that end, she has worked closely with the university’s Office of Innovation Commercialization to capitalize on these discoveries.

Her advisor Dr. Snezna Rogelj praised Turner for being courageous in the laboratory. She experimented with some of the deadliest organisms permissible, some of which had been isolated from fatalities and sent to New Mexico Tech from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. From that lab work, Danielle identified several distinct cures for these infections.

In addition to her stellar academic and research track record, Turner has displayed supreme leadership. She has worked as a T.A. for five years, taught courses, and mentored master’s students.

Turner will be staying at New Mexico Tech as a post-doc for one more year, then she’ll be headed off to medical school.  

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