Alumni Profiles
Poised to Help Grow the U.S. Nuclear Energy Portfolio

U.S. nuclear energy is likely to grow rapidly over the next decade, and AREVA, the world’s largest nuclear energy technology provider, is expected to play a major role in this growth. If so, then as strategy director for AREVA’s North American division, Mari Angeles Major-Sosias ’85, MS ’92 could play a key role in reshaping the country’s nuclear energy industry. Supported by a team of strategists representing AREVA’s key business operations in nuclear fuel production, spent fuel management, reactors and service, and power distribution and transmission, as well as specialists in communications, government relations and corporate marketing, she interprets the continent’s energy landscape, identifies opportunities and formulates a strategy that connects the dots. “That’s the part of my job I like the most,” she says, “taking the pieces of the puzzle and making a complete picture.” One solution that recently emerged out of a collaboration between her strategy group and the enrichment business unit is the multi-billion-dollar uranium enrichment plant being built in Idaho that is slated to open in 2014.

A regionally coordinated approach like this is new for AREVA. Until 2006, the French company’s numerous North American businesses functioned separately and reported directly to Paris. Now a single North American umbrella corporation, AREVA Inc, coordinates with Paris and helps bridge the gap between the two cultures. “That is a critical part of my job,” said Mari Angeles.

Another critical part is building a strong case to support her recommendations. Often months of work will go into research and planning before a proposal is sent to Paris. If they are given the green light, the project is implemented by a dedicated group within AREVA Inc. “It’s a feeling similar to having a child, raising him to succeed, then sending him off to college to see if he can make it in the real world,” Mari Angeles jokes.

This wasn’t the career Mari Angeles envisioned for herself as a 20-year-old living in Golden. She earned a bachelor’s in geophysical engineering with a minor in geology and planned on pursuing a career in the oil industry. But with crude at $11 per barrel when she graduated in 1985, her options were limited. After a couple of years working as a geophysicist, she returned to campus for a master’s in mineral economics. While pondering a thesis topic, she began working for a Denver-based company doing market analysis on rare earth and specialty metals. This exposure led to her thesis on niobium. After graduating in 1992, she continued analyzing rare earth metal markets, with an increasing emphasis in uranium. In 1997 she joined the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington, DC. Two years later she moved to U.S. Enrichment Corporation, formed when the Department of Energy privatized its uranium enrichment operations. Here she was tasked with managing the disposition of large inventories of uranium inherited from DOE into the global market without adversely impacting the global market.

Although equipped with an intimate knowledge of the global uranium market, her move to AREVA Inc. as director of strategy in 2006 meant understanding a much wider landscape, including uranium mining and enrichment, reactor construction and service, spent fuel recycling and storage, and power distribution and transmission: “It was a big eye opener,” she admits.

On the other hand, she found it easy to adapt to the culture of a multinational company operating in 41 countries. With a Spanish mother and a diplomat father from Trinidad and Tobago, she grew up in many different countries and speaks four languages fluently. “I spoke English with my father and always studied in either British or American schools. Of course I spoke Spanish with my mother at home. And growing up mostly in Brazil, I learned Portuguese. French was my ‘second language’ through school, and at Mines my roommates were from France and Belgium, so I heard French all night long,” she said, laughing.

She’s enthusiastic about her company. She speaks of the AREVA Way, a corporate statement that defines a commitment to sustainable energy solutions. And she describes a sense of mission among those who work for AREVA to offer the world CO2-free energy solutions, and not just nuclear: there’s a growing emphasis on wind and biomass.

She’s similarly enthusiastic about Mines, speaking wistfully of playing intramural soccer and working to make International Day a significant annual campus event. This interest was fanned recently when she learned of Mines’ nuclear engineering program during an alumni event in Washington DC. Told that the program would span the entire fuel cycle by combining the diverse expertise of departments across campus, she was impressed. “It mirrors just how AREVA is structured,” she said.
“I was so excited I almost dropped my drink!”

Mari Angeles lives in Maryland with her husband Gary, a salsa musician and teacher. Their son, Alejandro (Alex), graduated high school this year and is now a freshman at Oswego State University of New York.

Alumni-Faculty Tenured, Promoted

Seven alumni currently serving as faculty at Mines received promotions and/or tenure at the end of the 2007-2008 academic year. The alumni association is proud to recognize the achievements of these special members of our alumni and campus communities.

Joe Beach MS ’99, PhD ’02 promoted to associate research professor of physics. Both Mines degrees in applied physics. Researches photovoltaics and sustainable energy. He says: “I came to Colorado School of Mines for graduate school specifically to become involved in sustainable energy. I am happy that it has given me the opportunity to continue working in that field as a post-doc, entrepreneur and research professor. CSM has a great opportunity to help the U.S. adopt sustainable energy.”

Mike Colagrosso ’99 received tenure and promoted to associate professor of mathematical and computer science. BS in mathematical and computer sciences from Mines, MS (2001) and PhD (2002) from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Teaches Operating Systems, Machine Learning and Advanced Pattern Classification. Researches wireless, low-power computers. (“I put them in environments, like underground mines, to sense their surroundings and alert people to interesting events.”) What he says: “In Top Gun, the best of the best have the option to come back to be instructors. On good days, I feel like that at Mines. On bad days, I’m astonished that students haven’t seen Top Gun.”

Left to right: Jennifer Miskimmins, Hugh Miller, Mike Colagrosso, Paul Santi, Jim Ranville

Hugh Miller ’86, MS ’91, PhD ’96 received tenure as associate professor of mining engineering. Bachelor’s degree in geophysical engineering, master’s and doctorate in mining engineering. Teaches Mine Investment Analysis, Senior Mine Design, Introduction to Mining, and Mine Safety. Researches occupational health and safety, artesianal mining in the developing world, mining systems and equipment technology, hydraulic excavation and waterjet technology. What he says: “Mines is a special place and I feel privileged to be part of the faculty.”

Jennifer L. Miskimins MS ’00, PhD ’02 received tenure and promoted to associate professor of petroleum engineering. Both Mines degrees in petroleum engineering. Teaches Well Stimulation, Advanced Well Stimulation, Petroleum Economics & Evaluation. Researches well stimulation, completions and unconventional reservoirs. What she says: “I think being a PE alum helps form a strong connection with other alumni from the department. You understand what they went through to obtain their degrees and you share that sense of accomplishment. From a teaching aspect, this knowledge helps tremendously to relate to and interact with current students.”

Vilem Petr PhD ’01 promoted to associate research professor of mining. Mines degree: mining and earth systems engineering. Teaches Explosive Engineering I, Explosive Engineering II and Rock Fragmentation. Researches underground and surface mining technologies; construction and geotechnical engineering; blasting, vibration and their environmental effects; blast resistant concrete/construction materials; industrial explosives; explosive welding; explosive cleanup for power plants; and post-blast forensic investigation. What he tells his students every semester: “If you will do, it will be done.”

James F. Ranville MS ’88, PhD ’92 received tenure as associate professor of chemistry and geochemistry. Both Mines degrees in geochemistry. Teaches Surface Chemistry, Water Analysis and Geochemical Analysis. Researches geochemistry and environmental impact of metals in the aquatic environment, particularly metal-containing nanoparticles, uranium and metals released from abandoned mine sites. What he says about leaving a position at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia to return to Mines: “The beauty of the Colorado Rockies aside, there are numerous sites within a short drive where the environmental impact of metals can be studied. And it is a great place to do environmental geochemistry research—there are great opportunities to collaborate with the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

Paul M. Santi PhD ’95 promoted to professor of geology and geological engineering. Mines degree: geology and geological engineering. Teaches Geological Principles and Processes, Geological Engineering Site Investigation, Field Geology, Case Histories in Geological Engineering and Hydrogeology, Advanced Geotechnics and Advanced Geological Engineering Design. Researches debris flow mechanics and mitigation, landslide and rockfall analysis and mitigation, engineering of weak rocks and geological engineering education. What he says: “The CSM name seems to elicit three types of responses, depending on the listener: ‘The School of Mimes?’ ‘The School of Minds?’ and ‘Wow, really!?’ That’s quite a good university, isn’t it?”